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Business-minded OFWs, seafarers get entrepreneurship training

Business-minded OFWs, seafarers get entrepreneurship training
Roderick Abad - December 18, 2019

A TOTAL of 508 enterprising individuals, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and seafarers, gained valuable insights on how to start their foray in whatever kind of business they are interested in from some of the country’s successful entrepreneurs during the 34th edition of the Mentor Me On Wheels (MMOW) held last week at the Music Hall of SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

“I know your dream is to come back home. Our role here as a mentor and as an entrepreneur is to make sure that the Philippines continues to grow as you do your work overseas and bring financial help to your family,” Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and GoNegosyo Founder Joey Concepcion told the OFWs and seafarers, who joined the mentorship event. “Eventually, as you retire, we want you to come back and start your own business. And I’m glad that many of you here are attending to be coached by many of our top entrepreneurs.”

The business consultant emphasized that both the public and private sectors are pursuing relentlessly the effort in giving them a chance to really come back home and be part of a shared economy.

“I know many of you will be going back to where you work. You might find an idea where you are working. You might be able to bring that back to the Philippines and, again, fully start a business,” he said.

GoNegosyo’s mentorship program, together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), honors the sacrifices of Filipino labors based abroad to elevate their economic status not only of their families, but the entire country, as well.

From April to September 2018, there were about 2.3 million OFWs, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority. Approximately, the remittance they sent home during the period aggregated to P235.9 billion, up from P205.2 billion the prior year.

Per The Economist, 378,000 of the 1.2 million seafarers globally this year are Filipinos. Around 250,000 of them are at sea at any given day. Party-list group ACTS-OFW reported that the money they sent to the country amounted to $32.21 billion in 2018, accounting for 19 percent of the total OFW remittances.

Since the MMOW started last year, Concepcion observed that they have been receiving interests from OFWs and seamen, together with their families, to venture in any business, even in small scale, but with growth potential to earn them additional source of income.

“I was talking to somebody who was working in a commercial liner, and he’s in charge of refrigeration there. So what he can do is he can use that skill and start up a shop here once he comes back home,” he told the BusinessMirror in a chance interview during the event.

Among the many entities to choose from, he emphasized, food is a good business to start with.

“But the business that we want to push is that with a higher level of innovation. That’s why the online people are here, because we want the participants to understand how they can access the market and money through online platforms. So that’s one of our programs,” the GoNegosyo founder pointed out.

He, likewise, cited tourism and agriculture as ideal businesses that OFWs and seafarers can venture into.

“There was somebody here who came up with a flavored rice. I think that’s a great idea,” Concepcion said. “So you can see a number of people, as we go through the process, they’re upgrading more good products that may be better
differentiators.” At the MMOW, participants availed a one-on-one free consultation sessions with around 100 distinguished entrep-mentors. Success stories of OFW-turned-entrepreneurs were also featured. Different livelihood opportunities from key business players, including ride-hailing app providers Angkas and Grab, were also highlighted for interested attendees.

Since its inception in 2018, this mentoring program has gathered around 1,000 mentors nationwide to cater to around 15,000 mentees. Along with the Mentor Me Online app, it aims to teach technical know-hows and practical entrepreneurship strategies to micro and small entrepreneurs.

This special leg was supported by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Villar SIPAG Foundation, DTI, Parola Maritime Agency Corp. and Philippine Transmarine Carriers Inc.