THE Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) said on Wednesday that it’s on track to meet the target of producing half-a-million graduates for its public-private partnership (PPP) initiative that gives training to micro-retailers.
In collaboration with Coca-Cola Philippines, the agency started to provide entrepreneurial skills training to Filipino women in 2011 through the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they signed a memorandum of agreement in December 2019 to elevate this into a blended digital learning platform. Hence, the upgraded version called the iSTAR Program was inaugurated in March 2022.
“Actually, we already surpassed the mark of more than 300,000 [finishers]. So by the end of this year, we will hit the mark of 500,000,” Aniceto D. Bertiz III, deputy director general for Tesda operations, told reporters in a sideline interview during the mass graduation of 500 iSTAR beneficiaries held at the Tesda Complex in Taguig.
Apart from this batch produced by the Tesda Women’s Center for Excellence who mostly comes from Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon, a bigger number of completers from the southern part of the country are set to march in the next couple of months.
“In May, we have more than 2,000 graduates that will be in Mindanao,” he said of such continuous program that is now more accessible to learners “because it transformed or evolved into a digital platform.”
Bertiz is hopeful to reach their goal since the program now caters not only to women but also across all genders and different sectors. In fact, he revealed that around 19,000 of the 20,000 displaced overseas Filipino workers who enrolled to iSTAR last December have already graduated.
The program’s hybrid training consists of online study, self-paced learning sessions and business coaching classes developed by Tesda and Coca-Cola Philippines to help businesses that were badly hit by the health crisis.
Integrated into the Tesda Online Program, the iSTAR Program now offers modules, such as “Safe Stores Education,” “Building Business Mindset,” Planning the Business,” “Managing Business Operations,” “Ensuring Business Sustainability and Success,” and “Access to Business Coaching, Resources, and Peer Mentoring.”
Apart from its education aspect, each graduate receives an initial capital of P10,000, either in kind or cash basis, for as long as they comply with the requirements. The amount helps start or expand the beneficiary’s existing business. Additional funding will be given to profitable enterprises for further expansion.
To date, around P3 billion seed fund has been extended to the beneficiaries, according to Bertiz. He cited that the program has been proven effective given its almost 98 percent success rate, based on Tesda surveys.
Lauding the iSTAR graduates for finishing the online entrepreneurial skills training, Tesda Director General Danilo P. Cruz urged them to use their learnings to drive economic growth and create jobs for others.
“Your micro-retail business is not only a source of income for you, but also a valuable service to your community, as you provide access to goods and services that contribute to the betterment of the quality of life,” he said.
“Keep in mind that entrepreneurship is a journey, and there will always be new challenges to face. But as a successful graduate and entrepreneur, you have the skills, knowledge, and drive to overcome any obstacle that comes your way. Keep pushing forward and continue to make a positive impact in your community,” he stressed.