“We want our OFWs to be their own boss by investing on livelihood projects and considering entrepreneurial opportunities through the assistance of the government’s strengthened reintegration program.”

So said Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday in an effort to turn more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) into successful businessmen, adding that government fund remains available to them thru the P2-Billion OFW National Reintegration Program Fund.

The said fund aims to support OFWs and their families planning to put up businesses to maximize their gains from working overseas, mitigate the social cost of migration, and cushion the impact of forced repatriation, according to Sec. Baldoz.

The loan program, being managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines, has an annual rate of 7.5 percent in declining balance with a flexible payment scheme maximum of 5 years and an incentive grace period of two years.

“A borrower can borrow a maximum of P2 million,” Sec. Baldoz said.

Since June 2011, the government has approved 410 loan applications of 432 OFW beneficiaries.

Accordingly the P2-Billion OFW National Reintegration Program Fund is in response to the 22-point labor and employment agenda of President Benigno Aquino III, which also puts premium on giving financial support and stability to OFWs through training, investment, and savings programs.

“This program empowers our OFWs in boosting sustainable employment-creation and increased productivity. With more successful small businesses, it will inspire more OFWs and provide them hope that, indeed, there is life after working abroad,” Baldoz added.

One successful story recounted by Sec. Baldoz was that of Nicasio Bolingkit from Zamboanga City, an OFW-turned-entrepreneur who availed of a loan from the fund after working for 18 years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He started investing in 2010.

According to a report from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Bolingkit borrowed the amount of P800,000 which helped him expand his dressed-chicken business, “Manukang Bayan Atbp”.

“Overseas employment is not permanent. It entails a lot of hardships and sacrifices in foreign lands…Darating ang panahon na uuwi rin tayo dito sa Pilipinas. Mabuti nang may pinaglaanan tayo sa ating pinaghirapan sa pakikipagsapalaran sa ibang bansa,” Bolingkit shared. (with reports from dole.gov.ph)