Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and returning OFWs were encouraged to venture into agribusiness in the first episode of Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan (TNK) webinar series organized by the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Philippine Trade and Investment Centers (PTIC) in Bangkok, Dubai, Jakarta, Jeddah, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Singapore, and Sydney on 30 April.
“We hope that you will invest and start your own agribusiness so that not only will you have a nest egg when you come home, you will also aid our country in building back better towards a more hopeful post-pandemic future,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said during the opening remarks.
In March, DTI and the Department of Agriculture (DA) launched Agri-Negosyo Para Sa OFWs to help repatriated workers find livelihood opportunities and modernize the agriculture industry.
The program builds on the department’s existing initiatives that provide critical support to entrepreneurs, such as the Shared Service Facilities (SSFs) and Negosyo Centers. SSFs offer machinery, equipment, and tools for business, while Negosyo Centers empower entrepreneurs through various MSME development programs. As of March, DTI has 2,833 SSFs and more than 1,100 Negosyo Centers across the country.
DA also supports OFW reintegration through a comprehensive suite of agribusiness programs – from trainings on how to go into agribusiness up to financial support. Repatriated OFWs can consider investing in banana, mango, pineapple, coconut, tuna, and seaweed – commodities with high investment returns, according to DA Undersecretary Cheryl Natividad-Caballero.
In her presentation, Usec. Caballero illustrated how a P108,000 investment in floating rope seaweed can more than double within months after harvest, representing a return of investment (ROI) of 267%.
While the returns are significant, Usec. Caballero encourages OFWs to exercise prudence and seek assistance from the government whenever possible. “Investing in agriculture, of course, entails commitment and discipline. So dito po sa ating pamahalaan, eto po ay isang paglalaan ng oras para kayo ay matulungan at mapalago din ang inyong pangkabuhayan na makakatulong sa inyong kamaganakan at pamilya sa Pilipinas,” she said.
One way the government supports agribusinesses is through the provision of loans and credit facilities. Under Agri-Negosyo (ANYO) for OFWs, qualified applicants can borrow up to P300,000 at zero interest and collateral.
“Bago pa man po nagkaroon ng pandemic ay nailunsad na po ang ANYO Program, pero dahil nais po nating makatulong sa mga OFWs na lubhang naapektuhan ng pandemic, dinisensyo po ito, upon the instructions ni Sec. Dar, nagkaroon po tayo ng special window under ANYO for OFWs,” said Emmalyn Guinto, Chief, Info Services of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC).
Besides ANYO, DA-ACPC offers qualified micro and small enterprises (MSEs) up to P10M on under the SURE COVID-19 loan program. Meanwhile, young agri-entrepreneurs aged 18-30 years old can borrow up to P500,000 at 0% interest for five years under Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA).
Similarly, DA through its extension arm, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), offers capacity-building programs to equip agri-entrepreneurs with the skills, knowledge, and mindset to succeed in business. ATI offers trainings and intensive courses through its vast network of 16 regional training centers, one international center for pig husbandry, 1,042 learning sites, and 900 Farmers and information technology (IT) service centers.
For OFWs who may not be able to participate in ATI’s on-ground and online seminars, the institute offers 70 online courses for free on its e-Learning website, covering a broad range of topics from farming technologies, vegetable and livestock production, to food processing. ATI Director Alfredo S. Aton adds that they have partnerships with TV and radio stations to amplify their message and attract a new generation of farmers.
“Sana po ay suportahan ninyo ang aming mga programa o kaya mag-venture kayo ng farming. Kailangan po natin ang mga bagong breed of farmers na mag-produce po ng pagkain para po sa ating pamilya, sa ating komunidad, at sa ating bansa. Kaagapay po ninyo ang Agricultural Training Institute para makamit ang masaganang ani at mataas na kita,” said Aton.
In the closing remarks, DTI Undersecretary Ireneo V. Vizmonte stressed that the government stands ready to support the entrepreneurial undertakings of repatriated OFWs.
The agribusiness webinar was attended by over 300 participants on Zoom. The simultaneous Facebook Live video also drew significant interest, reaching 11,993 people and garnering 3,357 views.
The TNK Webinar Series will run for the whole year and feature high-level speakers from the government and private sector as part of a dedicated effort to capacitate overseas Filipinos in key areas of entrepreneurship. The second episode, which will discuss bonds, stocks, and mutual fund investments, is scheduled in July.
For more information about the TNK Webinar Series, please follow the DTI FTSC Facebook page.