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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) signed on Wednesday, June 7, an agreement to launch business training and mentorship programs for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who want to start businesses in the Philippines.
While there have been similar existing reintegration programs in the past, such as the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) Enterprise Development and Loan Program, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople said that this new program is a form of “handholding” for OFWs in starting businesses.
Reports of OFWs being unsuccessful in their reintegration have surfaced in the past, pushing them to seek work abroad again. ([PODCAST] At Home sa Abroad: Why do so many Filipinos go abroad to work?)
Ople said some reintegrations have been unsuccessful “because there was no handholding.” She explained in a mix of English and Filipino, “They put up a business, even if their house is in a remote area, they would already put up a store. Of course, if there is a big supermarket there, it will have an effect on one’s sales.”
“If you’re an OFW and you’re on your own and you have no one to ask, it is discouraging. First try, first fail, epic fail, and we understand that. So with the help of the DTI, there will be coaching through their Negosyo Centers,” Ople added.
Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said that the department has Negosyo Centers in every province.
“We would make the full resources of our department available in support of our OFWs as they get reintegrated into our society or into their communities on their return from work abroad,” said Pascual.
Ople said that hopefully, OFWs who successfully put up a business would eventually be the ones to coach future OFWs looking to do the same upon return.
These are some of the services returning OFWs can expect from the DMW and DTI’s partnership:
- assistance in the business registration process
- inclusion of OFWs and OFW families in DTI’s business training and development programs
- financial literacy training courses for OFWs through Migrant Workers Offices worldwide, and the OWWA’s regional offices for OFW families
- inclusion of products and services from OFW-owned businesses in DTI trade fairs
- linking up OFW-owned businesses with large companies and government agencies to improve market access and promotions
- issuance of a certificate to OFWs, or their family members, who register their business and undergo entrepreneurship training. This can be used as an endorsement for any livelihood or financial assistance the DMW can grant OFWs.
“We want them to come back with excitement in their hearts on what the future holds for them and their families, through meaningful partnerships across the government bureaucracy and with NGOs and private companies serving as their mentors and cheerleaders,” said Ople.
The two departments signed the memorandum of agreement for the programs on National Migrant Workers’ Day, or the 28th anniversary since the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act was signed in 1995. It is the first commemoration of the law’s anniversary under the fully constituted DMW.
More than 900,000 OFWs returned to the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a 2022 report from the International Organization for Migration, many returned OFWs encountered problems upon their return to the Philippines at the height of the pandemic.
These challenges included finding a job or income-generating activity as the economy slumped to record lows. In the IOM’s survey conducted among returned OFWs late 2020, almost half of the OFWs, or around 48.1%, had the intention to migrate again.
Half of the OFWs or 51.1% had the intention to start a business, 38.4% considered paid employment, and 18.4% did not know what they wanted to pursue, according to the IOM. – Rappler.com