Seafarers group expands cooperative program
Wilma Yamzon (The Philippine Star) - April 23, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A seafarers’ group has expanded its cooperative program to make more loans available to seafarers and encourage them to get into business.

“Seafarers often endure the pain of being away from their families because they have to continue working on ship in the absence of an alternative income other than seafaring. After work on ship, many end up with not having enough to live by,” Capt. Gaudencio Morales, president of the Integrated Seafarers’ of the Philippines (ISP), said.

“We want to see every Filipino seafarer succeed as fully reintegrated member of the Philippine society, living in dignity and prosperity. Our mission is to provide seafarers with avenues and opportunities to live a better life during and after seafaring by being entrepreneurs,” Morales told participants in an entrepreneurship symposium held in Subic, Zambales recently.

In October 2015, the group established the ISP Multipurpose Cooperative that grants loan to qualified borrowers and encourage savings and investments among members.

In just one year in operation, the coop has issued dividend and refund to members from its net income of P3 million.

In less than two years, the coop has grown to having 1,500 members with P30 million equity. It has increased its capitalization to P50 million.

Last year, ISP loans to seafarers and their families reached over P60 million, Morales said.

He said the ISP is also conducting a monthly financial literacy seminar with financial advisors, agribusiness experts and entrepreneurs as lecturers. The seminar is open to all seafarers and their families for free.

The ISP has also partnered with the Department of Labor and organize the NRCO-ISP Business Plan Competition to harness the seafarers capabilities for enterprises development, he said.

Morales said the ISP would propose the creation of a National Reintegration Academy to institutionalize subsidized trainings for reintegration of returning seafarers to society.

The ISP will also seek an expansion of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration reintegration program, specifically in the grant of business loan to seafarers through accredited conduits like ISP Cooperative, aside from Land Bank, he said.

The ISP also wants the passage of new laws that will attract returning seafarers to business investments, he added.

“On the other hand, the ultimate objective of the ISP is the expansion of the cooperative with branches nationwide to serve as financing facility for seafarers in the provinces,” Morales said.

The ISP currently has over 10,000 members.   

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