Although the government has allocated P100 million for a livelihood assistance fund for displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to start their own business, not many OFWs want to avail themselves of this fund and become entrepreneurs.
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Carmelita Dimzon said few of the recorded 5,000 OFWs displaced by the global financial crisis are availing themselves of the livelihood assistance program.
Dimzon said that the P100 million taken from OWWA’s P11-billion fund was allocated mainly for the purpose of providing financial assistance for displaced OFWs interested in putting up their own businesses.
“From the P100 million, we will be providing a P10,000 grant for displaced OFWs. They will undergo counseling and training for the setting up of a small business,” Dimzon noted.
“It’s a grant the OFWs will not be paying for and we will not be asking for collateral but the workers will be getting the necessary raw materials for their business and not cash,” Dimzon added.
After they have successfully put up their business, OFWs can seek additional assistance and secure a maximum loan of P50,000 from OWWA if they would need additional capital and equipment.
According to Dimzon, the OWWA has already extended the P10,000 grant to 253 displaced OFWs. Of this number, 45 OFWs have taken skills training and business counseling, while eight have availed of additional loans.
Out of 10 displaced OFWs, Dimzon said nine would like to apply again for overseas employment “because they have been used to earning dollars” and want to find work in companies unaffected by the economic crisis.
Labor Secretary Marianito Roque also admitted that most of the displaced workers would rather avail of the government’s program to facilitate their re-employment overseas.
But Dimzon said displaced workers have yet to realize that they can be better off putting up their own business here than returning to work overseas.
Dimzon cited the success story of two displaced OFW women who put up a meat processing business and are now earning P1,000 daily.
Meanwhile, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto, in a briefing at Malacañang yesterday, said that there would be around 800,000 Filipinos here and overseas who would be vulnerable to the global crisis. These would belong to the domestic export sector as well as OFWs in export-oriented economies.
Recto noted that another 900,000 Filipinos representing fresh graduates and non-graduates will look for jobs this year.
He said that the government would be able to generate some 500,000 new jobs this year, way below the one million annual target of President Arroyo under her Medium Term Development Plan. – Mayen Jaymalin with Marvin Sy, Paolo Romero, Charlie Lagasca, Philippine Star