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OWWA offers grants, loans to OFWs

First Posted 22:30:00 02/02/2009

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MANILA, Philippines -- The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) urged displaced overseas Filipino workers on Monday to avail of grants and loans and become entrepreneurs.

OWWA administrator Carmelita Dimzon said agency would be willing to give P10,000 grants to documented and undocumented OFWs who lost their jobs abroad because of the global recession. OFWs who qualify for this grant will not have to pay it back.

Furthermore, Dimzon said OWWA opened a small business funding facility for OFWs. Successful applicants to the P100-million Filipino Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund (FELSF) can borrow up to P50,000.

The money is available at low five percent interest per annum, no collateral, and payable over 24 months after a grace period of 90 days, interest free, according to OWWA.

Those who plan to avail of this loan must take OWWA business courses. So far, 71 displaced OFWs have taken OWWA business courses on meat processing, perfume making, fashion accessories, dimsum making, chocolate manufacturing, and business operation management.

Dimzon said they have the business courses a qualification to ensure that returning OFWs spend the loan wisely.

?OFWs can be successful entrepreneurs, even small entrepreneurs. Now, they understand that overseas employment is not their sole option,? she said.

The OWWA chief said they would like to see more displaced OFWs take up the grant and the loan and go into business. Dimzon said nine out of 10 distressed OFWs preferred to try their luck abroad instead of establishing small businesses here.

?Out of 10 returning OFWs, nine want to go abroad again. They would be happy to get another job,? she said, adding that Filipinos wanted to earn in dollars.

Since recession hit major economies late 2008, hundreds of Filipinos abroad have found themselves without jobs. According to Labor department data, over 5,000 Filipinos were retrenched from their work since October 2008. The bulk of returning OFWs came from semiconductor and electronics manufacturing firms in Taiwan.

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