BUTUAN CITY – To serve the growing number of returning locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to Caraga due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regional office here, through the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) program, is set to provide business facilities amounting to a total of P6.6M.

The initiative, in support of the national government’s Balik Probinsya-Bagong Pag-Asa Program (BP2), is a measure to empower local industries and at the same time mitigate the effects of the pandemic to the livelihoods and jobs of LSIs, said Regional Director Edwin Banquerigo.

“We have already started purchasing the facilities for these nine SSF projects that are intended to develop our micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) instrumental to rural development especially after the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Banquerigo added.

These projects consist of SSF on food processing in three local government units of Agusan del Norte, SSF on virgin coconut oil (VCO) processing and organic tablea production in Agusan del Sur, SSF on mobile mariculture platform in Surigao del Norte, and SSF on cacao processing, VCO processing and mariculture platform in the Province of Dinagat Islands.

Cooperators of these projects were chosen based on their capacity to reach out to BP2 beneficiaries including returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and individuals or families who have opted to move out of Metro Manila or highly urbanized cities due to loss of a job or other sources of income.

The SSF is meant to improve MSME competitiveness by providing machinery, equipment, tools, systems, accessories, and other auxiliary items, skills, and knowledge under a shared system.

“In the last seven years, the SSF program has touched and helped many individuals lead better lives. It has scaled up a number of MSMEs to the next level. We hope to continue these success stories,” Banquerigo said.

As of 2020, DTI Caraga has already established 169 SSF projects, 71 of which were already fully turned over to the cooperators. ♦

Date of Release: 16 February 2021