The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has inked an agreement with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in building their businesses in the Philippines.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the DTI said the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between “aims to create a partnership where their respective programs and activities will be integrated with each other for the purpose of implementation and accomplishment of an integral part of the Full-Cycle Reintegration Program.”
Among the efforts cited by DTI Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual to help OFWs in starting their business in the country are: business registration assistance; entrepreneurial trainings, seminars and workshops; and market access to ensure their “efficient integration” into the Philippine economy.
Moreover, aligned with DTI’s goal of upgrading, upskilling, and upsizing the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the DTI said it will also equip potential and starting OFW entrepreneurs with the “necessary” skills, knowledge, and resources for their businesses to thrive.
“Under the signed MOA, the Department will also conduct assessment to identify the needs of the OFW beneficiaries and match them with appropriate DTI programs best suited to their needs,” the DTI statement read.
Aside from this, the DTI and DMW committed to create a technical working group (TWG) with at least two representatives from each department to implement and monitor the guidelines of the said agreement.
“The TWG is tasked to promote and strengthen the expansion of this program to local government units [LGUs] and other stakeholders,” the DTI said.
In his speech, Pascual cited the huge contribution of overseas workers to the economy.
“Salamat sa ating mga makabagong bayani. Your remittances have been a great source of stability for our country’s economy through the years. Last year, personal cash remittances grew 3.6 percent to $36.14 billion. This accounted for 8.9 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product [GDP],” Pascual said.
Citing figures from Statista, the DTI said 95 percent of OFW remittances are spent on household expenses, about 30 percent are saved, and 6.5 percent are invested.
“This shows OFWs’ interest in building a future in the Philippines,” Pascual said.
The trade chief also noted, “We are here to ensure that you have the support and resources you need to succeed, especially as you plan to invest your hard-earned money in the Philippines.”
Among DTI’s existing programs for OFWs is its attached agency Small Business Corporation’s (SBCorp) Helping the Economy Recover thru OFW Enterprise Start-ups (HEROES) program.
According to SBCorp’s website, the HEROES Program provides displaced OFWs the opportunity to start their own businesses amid the uncertain economic situation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As part of the government’s reintegration program for OFWs, repatriated Filipino borrowers that accessed this innovative financing program have been able to pivot to entrepreneurship to sustain themselves and their families during and beyond the height of the pandemic,” SBCorp said.
As of year-end 2022, SBCorp noted it has been able to release P60.91 million in loans to 1,115 OFWs who were displaced due to the pandemic and national health emergency starting in March 2020. Loan beneficiaries included start-up micro businesses mostly in the services (42 percent) and trading (31 percent) industries.