Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) announced the start of an easy lending program that overseas Filipino workers displaced by the global financial crisis can avail of as part of the Presidentʼs Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program.
An agency of the Department of Labor and Employment, OWWA will directly lend a displaced OFW up to P50000.00 to start or expand his livelihood project.
OWWA Administrator Carmelita S. Dimzon said today (January 26, 2009) that the money is available at low 5% interest per annum, no collateral, and payable over 24 months after a grace period of 90 days, interest free.
Labor Secretary Marianito Roque approved the procedures for application and availment of FELSF under an administrative order issued last January 19, 2009. Applications may be filed with the family welfare officer at the Regional Welfare Office of OWWA.
Administrator Dimzon made the announcement during the releases of loans to the first four borrowers of the lending program or the Filipino Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund (FELSF).
The four borrowers were Lilia Camacho of Pasig City; Vedasto Marmol, Jr. of Malabon; Maria Garces of Tanza, Cavite; and Rose Ann Bucao of Gen. Trias, Cavite.
Administrator Dimzon said that more FELSF loan releases have been scheduled within the next few days in other regions.
As an economic safety net, the FELSF was allocated P100 million by the OWWA board of trustees. The guidelines and procedures were approved by the OWWA board of trustees earlier this month.
Dimzon said that OFWs must first attend free business courses on the production and management of their livelihood projects to borrow from the FELSF. These skills are important to an OFW with the ambition of transforming into an entrepreneur with a sustainable, income-producing project for the long-term, Dimzon said.
Loan requirements include proof of OWWA membership, proof of displacement due to the global financial crisis, business proposal, and promissory note, and marital consent for married borrowers.
The Department of Labor and Employment defined an OFW displaced due to the global financial crisis as one terminated on or after October 15, 2008. The reasons for termination are closures or downsizing of their companies as a result of the crisis.
The National Reintegration Center for OFWs and the OWWA Regional Welfare Offices will endorse or pre-qualify OFWs as a displaced OFWs based on the following:
1)inclusion of the name of applicant in the list of displaced OFWs provided by the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOS) to appropriate DOLE agencies;
2) upon validation of the information directly with the POLOS;
3) upon interview and validation personally with the applicant to prove that his/her displacement is due to the global financial crisis.
If loan applications are complete with required documents, OWWA will immediately act on loan applications upon its submission. Attendance in the free business courses is a pre-qualifying phase.
The FELSF is the second component of the integrated livelihood program of the Department of Labor and Employment for displaced OFWs due to the global financial crisis. This is under the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO). It consists of a package of assistance and services of DOLE. It includes business mentoring services, business skills training, and assistance in acquiring raw materials, equipments, tools and jigs.
Training centers are accredited co-partners (ACPs) of the Department of Labor and Employment. They included the Technology Resource Center (TRC), an agency of the Department of Science and Technology, and Dream Incorporated. DOLE is funding the training courses, including trainors, teaching materials and raw materials and equipment.