By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA — Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III on September 6 announced that returning OFWs and their families can now avail of livelihood loan assistance ranging from 100,000 to 2 million pesos, following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the implementation of the OFW-Enterprise Development and Loan Program (OFW-EDLP).
The OFW-EDLP was formed through the combined efforts DOLE and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“This joint undertaking addresses one of the eight-point labor and employment agenda of DOLE, which is to bring more focus and accessibility on workers’ protection and welfare program, specifically the OFWs,” Bello said.
In a press statement released by the OWWA, the MOU signed by the DOLE-OWWA collaboration as well as the DTI will formalize the joint conduct of developmental trainings for OFWs under the Enhanced Entrepreneurial Development Training (EEDT) through the auspices of OWWA and other activities.
According to OWWA, the EEDT or the business development intervention of the agency will help OFWs who are planning to venture into micro, small and medium enterprises (that will include business planning and project specific skills) to equip them with the needed knowledge and skills to pursue their intended business.
“Through DTI’s assistance, OFWs will have access to training and technical support in starting an enterprise, as well as opportunities to attend special events such as conferences, exhibitions, symposia, caravans, and other promotional activities initiated by DTI and the private sector,” OWWA said.
“OFWs who complete the EEDT may avail of the loan from P100,000 up to P2 million under the OFW-EDLP in partnership with LandBank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines,” OWWA added. For group borrowers, the loanable amount can be up to a maximum of P5 million.
According to DOLE, qualified borrowers of the loan program should have the following requirements:
• Certified OWWA members – both active and non-active.
• Currently employed OFWs or have returned o he Philippines within the last three years (except on cases where the applicant has an on-going business prior to the time of application, and has completed the EEDT.
• Partnerships, corporations, and cooperatives whose members are OFWs who have been certified as OWWA members, are also qualified to avail of said loan program.
Under the loan assistance program, the loanable amount will carry a fixed interest rate of 7.5 percent per annum for the duration of the loan and can be used either as a working capital or for acquisition of fixed assets needed for business operations.
“However, the program requires that the proposed project should have a ready market and should generate a monthly income of at least P10,000,” DOLE said.
In addition, DOLE also explained that qualified borrowers can choose between a short term loan (payable within a year) or a long term loan (payable based on the cash flow but not to exceed seven years, inclusive of the maximum 2-year grace period on the capital).
As for interested applicants who want to avail of the OFW enterprise development and loan program, the following must be secured as part of the required documents to ensure a smooth loan application:
• OWWA certification (to ensure that the borrower is a bona fide overseas worker)
• Duly filled-out EDLP application form (including statement of assets and liabilities)
• Business plan (including financial projections, source of equity, list of suppliers/markets or buyers and contact numbers)
• Barangay certification as to residency in a given address
• Sketch of place of residence
• Special Power of Attorney (SPA), if applicable
• For those working abroad, the SPA must be duly authenticated by the consul
“If the applicants have an existing business, they must submit their income tax return for the past three years, audited financial statements for the past three years and latest interim financial statements,” DOLE explained.