Coca-Cola partners with OWWA, TESDA, PTTC for OFW RISE Program
With more than 327,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning to the country after being displaced from their jobs abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine government and Coca-Cola Philippines have joined hands to help these “balikbayanis” bounce back from the crisis by enabling them to rebuild their lives here.
Under the OFW Re-Integration through Skills and Entrepreneurship Program or OFW RISE, Coca-Cola and government agencies Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC), an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to jointly develop and implement the program that provides repatriated OFWs the option to become micro-entrepreneurs upon returning to their hometowns.
Finding their way home
DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III shared that the OFW RISE Program will enable displaced overseas Filipinos to sustain their livelihood as the government remains firmly committed to the productive reintegration of OFW returnees into the country.
According to a survey conducted by DOLE’s National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), majority or 60% of the displaced overseas Filipinos dream of establishing a business when they return home. The top businesses they have in mind are sari-sari stores, bigasan, water refilling stations, food store or carinderias, meat processing, farming and livestock raising. The DOLE-NRCO also counted more than 327,000 OFWs are now back to their respective provinces.
“The pandemic should not have to spell the end of our OFW’s dreams. Through the OFW RISE Program, we will continue to keep their dreams alive so they can keep thriving and providing for their families,” said Jonah de Lumen-Pernia, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability director at Coca-Cola Philippines.
Empowering OFWs to rise again through learning
The RISE Program gives OFWs access to web-based training on basic entrepreneurship and business idea development, supported by practical business coaching as well as establishing linkages to livelihood assistance and other microfinancing programs.
Joy Munsayac-Cacal, Public Affairs and Sustainability manager at Coca-Cola Philippines, said that the participating overseas Filipinos will experience the whole entrepreneurial cycle from idea generation to incubation and implementation, and access livelihood support. She noted that some of our OFWs already have their business ideas, but they do not know how to turn these ideas into an economically viable business. “Under OFW RISE, they will learn how to prepare their own business plan and will have the opportunity to access possible livelihood grants and micro-finance loan through OWWA, DTI, and other microfinance institutions, so that they can start their own business successfully,” Munsayac-Cacal said.
Designed in an edutainment format, the digital course runs for just four hours and can be accessed through the TESDA online learning platform using gadgets that can connect to the internet. The online course is easy to follow and understand which can be accessed while the OFWs are quarantined upon their arrival or upon their return to their home provinces. Well-respected actress Dimples Romana is featured in the recruitment and training videos for the program.
Knowing the challenges faced by our OFWs, TESDA Secretary and Director General Isidro Lapeña is glad that their TESDA online learning platform will support and help OFWs rise from this pandemic and develop their own business plans.
Making dreams happen
Among the business opportunities that will open up to repatriated overseas Filipinos is becoming a Coca-Cola partner as distributors, wholesalers, or resellers of its beverage products under the OFW RISE program’s complementary project, Balik Pinas.
In its 108 years presence in the Philippines, Coca-Cola has always been there to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), especially OFWs, as it believes that with proper access to training and resources, these displaced overseas Filipinos will succeed and rise again.
PTTC OIC-Executive Director Nelly Nita Dillera noted that returning OFWs can also aspire to conquer the international arena given their knowledge of the country where they came from, providing them an immediate target market abroad.
For business ideas that need bigger capital, PTTC as the DTI’s delivery arm of capacity building programs for MSME development has also launched HEROES or Helping the Economy Recover thru OFW Enterprise Start-ups Program that taps the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) for financing.
With a P100 million loan facility, HEROES helps repatriated OFWs rebuild their lives through interest-free and collateral-free loans ranging from P10,000 to P100,000 to be used as working capital to start and sustain their own business.
Aside from HEROES, other government financing and grants and micro financing programs for OFWs are the Balik-Pinas! Balik-Hanapbuhay! Tulong PUSO, DOLE-AKAP, ASA Philippines, AlalaysaKaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI), and First Community Cooperative (FICCO).
Balik-hanapbuhay para sabalikbayani
According to OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, the OFW RISE public-private partnership will definitely address the dreams and aspirations of our modern-day heroes as the program assists them towards productive reintegration with various business and livelihood opportunities. He added that the homecoming of our OFWs should be seen as their road to recovery from the crisis and the continued fulfillment of their dreams for their families.
With just a snap of the QR code on flyers and banners placed at the NAIA terminals and quarantine hotels or wherever OFWs are expected to congregate, our balikbayanis can already learn about and apply for the OFW RISE Program.