Levelling-up the OFWs
GO NEGOSYO - Joey Concepcion (The Philippine Star) - November 25, 2015 - 9:00am

Senator Cynthia Villar’s statement at our OFW Summit press conference held the other week summed-up today’s reality for Overseas Filipino Workers all over the world: “We already heard countless stories about OFWs, who after working for a long time abroad, went broke because they had no savings nor alternative ways to earn. Programs should be initiated and regularly held to help our OFWs become successful even after their employment abroad.”

Sadly, she is right. Consumer Expectations Survey results for the Third Quarter 2015 conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas found OFW households are saving less from 49.7 percent in the second quarter to 38.2 percent in the third quarter. The percentage of OFW households allocating for investments also fell to 6.2 percent in the third quarter from 6.7 percent in the second quarter.

We understand many OFWs would spend first for their children’s education and their dream homes. But after these basic requirements, spending continues on clothing, fashion accessories, gadgets and the latest smart phones. The list goes on and on. The hardest part is when to stop or learn the need to redirect their funds for savings and investments.  They have to plan for their future because they will not be working for the rest of their lives. They have to think of how they can have replacement income as early as possible. When we conduct Go Negosyo seminars abroad, especially the recent ones with PLDT Global and SME Nation, we learned the reality from the OFWs that all of them would really like to return home someday, if they only have the income opportunity.  Actually, the opportunities are there, but one must prepare for these. One has to plan for the future.  I heard from our friend Doris Magsaysay Ho that the right OFW mindset is to Earn-Learn-Return. 

It is never too late to start with some venture so there is something to work on when the OFW returns.  The families of the OFWs should help prepare for that, perhaps even as an act of reciprocation.  

We in Go Negosyo share in the vision of the Villar SIPAG (Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance) Foundation to empower the OFWs, to inspire them for them to aspire.  To dream and to learn.  

Now on our fifth year, we are conducting today the OFW and Families Summit at the World Trade Center.  This year’s theme is “Ipon Mo, I-Negosyo Mo.”  We believe having the right mindset and knowhow is the great equalizer. Anyone can do it, as long as one has the right character and competencies. Thru entrepreneurship, one can find a good replacement income that can sustain them for the rest of their lives.  OFWs should plan for their own replacement incomes, for their future.

This annual summit gathers OFWs and their dependents who wish to get helpful entrepreneurial insights and be inspired by stories of successful former OFWs-turned entrepreneurs. Senator Cynthia Villar and founding chairman of Villar SIPAG Foundation, Manny Villar, and I will attend this event to inspire OFWs with our messages.

Aside from seasoned entrepreneurs and business experts, we have also invited several former OFWs who became entrepreneurs to be panelists in the first forum:

Imelda Dagus, owner of Dennis Coffee Garden in Zamboanga City; Rosalie Ellasus of Philippine Maize Federation; Myrna Padilla, founder of an IT/BPO called Mynd Consulting, are some of the former OFWs-turned-entrepreneurs who will be featured.

Prudencio Garcia of Mekeni; Zarah Juan of Green Leaf Eco Bags, and MobKard’s Carlo Calimon, will also join this group of successful former OFWs for the first forum of the summit.

As we always believe in the potential of agriculture, especially when we talk to majority of Filipinos who live in the countryside where the farms are, we try to present various working-agrinegosyo models, ventures that make money.  This is to show there is money in agriculture, if only we learn the right way to do it, the right technology and processes and value-adding strategies that would lead to better efficiencies, products and incomes. We can learn much from the with successful agripreneurs such as Henry Lim Bon Lion of SL Agritech, Joseph Calata of Calata Corporation, Edith Dacuycuy of REFMAD Farms, Leo Dator of Itlog Ni Kuya, Lomboy Farm’s Avelino Lomboy, Paco Magsaysay of Real Fresh Dairy Farms Inc., Antuza Refalda of Kalinga Brew and Paris Uy of Livegreen International Inc.

Knowing the marketability of existing bsuiness concepts and brand, we are also presenting models on franchising and direct selling. Rico Garcia (World Ventures), Greny Guadamor (Max International), Rhea Horrilleno -Gudani (Nu Skin), Joey Sarmiento (chair of Direct Selling Association of the Philippines), Cyd Bascar (Crystal Clear), Prof. Euclid Cezar (Famous Belgian Waffle), Ricardo Z. Cuna, (Fiorgelato), Jerry Neil C. Ilao, (Ink All You Can), Jean Uvero (Nail It) and Carolina T. Rivera (Crystal Clear franchisor) will sit as panelists for this forum.

Aside from the forums, there will also be discussions about various special topics from experts in different fields:

Michelle Molas, Product Marketing Manager for Ads Marketing of Google Philippines will have a presentation on “Google for Business.” Randell Tiongson, Director of Registered Financial Planner Institute Philippines will supply the attendees of important knowledge about financial literacy. Meanwhile, Benel Lagua, EVP & Chief Development Officer of Development Bank of the Philippines will discuss financing opportunities for SMEs.

Since the summit is made especially for OFWs, we found it important to invite experts who can talk about OFW protection:

Atty. Angelo Jimenez, Asia Pacific Basin for Energy Strategies EVP will talk about the National Reintegration Center for OFWs. Susan Ople, Head of Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute will discuss the very important topic of illegal recruitment and human trafficking amongst OFWs. Lastly, Atty. Minerva A. Sobreviga-Retanal of the Anti-Fraud Division of National Bureau of Investigation will give everyone crucial information on business investment scams to avoid falling for these schemes.

Aside from the precious advice on entrepreneurship, participants will also have a chance to take home a house and lot from Camella Homes, business franchises from Kettle Korn, sari-sari store package from All Day, home appliances from Savers and business packages from event partners and sponsors.

Empowering the OFWs is our commitment. We hope they all can live better lives, back here in our country, together with their families, and managing their own businesses.

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