The Department of Trade and Industry – Regional Operations Group (DTI-ROG) formalized a partnership with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on 06 September 2016 to help repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) adjust on their return to the country through entrepreneurship.
The Enterprise Development and Loan Program (EDLP) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DTI and OWWA will implement joint and convergent programs, projects, and services for OFWs and their families who intend to pursue micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in support of the reintegration program.
DTI-ROG Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya noted the current situation of OFWs, especially those who were displaced from Saudi Arabia after they were retrenched due to the oil crisis.
Maglaya said that the partnership will help the OFWs and their families start a business and have the option to either pursue it and remain in the country for good or continue working abroad and leave the business to their families or relatives.
“Now with this situation with our OFWs, it’s good that we have partnered with OWWA because what we really want to happen is that they would still be able to help their families, be able to get a good and decent job, without leaving the country,” Maglaya said.
She added that the partnership is very timely as both agencies want to advance entrepreneurship and work with OFWs.
“With this partnership, what we are talking about here is work and business. Trabaho meaning…get employed, and negosyo…to start a business and become an entrepreneur. We have two tracks here for our OFWs and their relatives.”
Under the agreement, DTI will package priority MSME business models for promotion among prospective OFW-entrepreneurs or investors; facilitate or assist in the provision of resource persons for OWWA-organized entrepreneurship development trainings and related activities; and provide technical assistance to prospective and current OFW-entrepreneurs through the Negosyo Centers and network of mentors or experts both from the government and private sector.
The Enterprise Development and Loan Program, formerly the P2 billion OFW Reintegration Program, is the most important part for OFWs’ social preparation upon their return to the Philippines, according to OWWA Administrator Rebecca Calzado.
Calzado said that the partnership will help provide options for the OFWs to pursue business over overseas employment.
“This is what the MOU is all about—for returning OFWs who wish to find an alternative to overseas employment. These are programs that the government can offer,” said Calzado.
In coordination with DTI-ROG, OWWA will sustain promotion of MSMEs as part of the entrepreneurship development component of the Reintegration Program for OFWs; organize entrepreneurship development trainings and related activities, and refer OFWs or their families who intend to venture in businesses to DTI for access to training; make available its business loan program for OFW ventures in business either for expansion or start-up operations; and ensure the support of its Regional and Overseas Offices in the promotion of MSMEs among prospective OFW-entrepreneurs.
The DTI and OWWA also agreed to develop and distribute MSME materials as well as information and procedures on starting a business; holding of caravans and seminars in target areas locally and overseas; and project monitoring evaluation, counselling and mentoring of OFW-entrepreneurs, and improvement of MSME operations.