By Blessing Angel Agliam
The Ilocos Norte Sustainable Development Center (SDC) continues to provide capital loan assistance to overseas Filipinos and their families through the Overseas Filipinos Remittances for Development (OFs-ReD) Program, with briefing and orientation for the current set of applicants scheduled next week.
The OFs-ReD Program aims to boost local employment and augment insufficient income among families of OFs and migrants living in the province. Loan assistance is given to former or active OFs for them to invest in business and thus be able to earn a good living without having to leave the country.
Mr. Edwin Cariño, head of the SDC, pointed out that insufficient salaries and lack of job opportunities compel them to depart from home and work abroad.
At next week’s briefing, the Migrant and Development Council (MDC) will be evaluating the feasibility of applicants’ project statements for their businesses as well as imparting technical business knowledge, such as proper bookkeeping.
Years ago, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos had dubbed migration as a “wicked problem” and expressed her sentiment about the increasing number of Ilocanos migrating overseas.
While this had somewhat boosted economic growth, there was a lack of rural development and local investment. Thus, she had made it her goal to provide Ilocano families with opportunities to make a decent wage while staying in the province, or to migrate “to earn, learn, and quickly, return.”
The OFs-ReD Program was initially funded in 2013 by the Western Union Foundation in New York through the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO). The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) and Cooperative Bank of Ilocos Norte (CBIN) also supplemented the fund. Today, the CBIN handles and protects the fund.
SDC always open for OFs-ReD applicants
“[The program] is not high in interest, easily accessible, and manageable,” Cariño assured, saying that the SDC is always open for applicants.
Interested applicants must present proof of having been an OFW or migrant at the SDC in the Provincial Capitol, such as contracts, passports and previous employment records. If the applicant is currently abroad, a spouse or other family member may apply on their behalf.
The SDC will then conduct an investigation to ensure that the applicant is eligible for the loan, such as their standing with regards to any other loans, and to guarantee retrievability of the loan.
The loan has an interest rate of one percent every month with no service fee, but requires insurance.
Cariño expounded that “there are cases na nagfa-fail, pero pwedeng i-retrieve ang kontrata mula sa re-insurer.” However, he stressed that the majority of OFWs and migrants have succeeded in gaining profit through OFs-RED Program.
He added that the SDC is planning to gather all incumbent applicants together with previous loan beneficiaries for business development training in order to sharpen their marketing and entrepreneurial skills. – (Blessing Angel Agliam, PGIN-CMO Trainee)