Micro-enterprise training for repatriated women OFWs held in Kuwait
Addressing the plight of distressed women overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait, Coca-Cola Philippines, in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will be conducting its second micro-enterprise training specifically designed to empower women who wish to start their own business. This initiative leads the various efforts to help these women OFW’s prepare for their reintegration in the country.
There are currently over 2.2 million Filipinos working in various labor sectors abroad, 83 percent are in Asia, with large concentrations in the Middle East. 54% of these OFWs are women who are primarily engaged as laborers or low-skilled workers, would venture abroad in their bid to find better sources of income for their families.
In line with the government’s bid to provide livelihood for returning distressed OFWs, Coca-Cola Philippines, through its 5by20 program and in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), launched the Women Entrepreneurs Reintegrated and Economically Active at Home (WOMEN REACH) program in the State of Kuwait.
The WOMEN REACH program is designed for women OFWs who were employed in the low-skilled labor sector such as domestic helpers, prioritizing those who have experienced distress during their employment period. It is the first-of-its-kind that provides a step-by-step entrepreneurial training, business counselling, and self-assessment for the OFWs to determine the most appropriate business model and scale based on their skills and resources.
“This is our way of continuously empowering women, especially those in the most vulnerable sectors – in this case, the distressed women OFWs who are currently at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait – by helping them prepare for their livelihood, upon resettling back in the country. This program is designed to be highly targeted and responsive to the exact skill set and resources available to these women OFW’s. We are one with the government in up-skilling them to better provide for their families,” said Gilda Maquilan, 5by20 Lead and Sustainability Manager of Coca-Cola Philippines.
In 2017, the pilot training at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait was able to reach 100 distressed women OFWs, most of whom are awaiting the completion of their deportation procedures. The 5-day training program tackled topics such as the creation of a solid business plan, technical assistance in the fine-tuning of these business plans, and gender sensitivity.
The DOLE-POLO office said that WOMEN REACH is a program where OFWs are encouraged to be entrepreneurs. There are now opportunities in the Philippines that can help themuplift their lives and their families, without the need to leave the country.For distressed OFWs who have been subject to physical and emotional abuses, going through the training helps them prepare for a new start once they get home.
Amidst the government-imposed deployment ban to Kuwait, Filipino women OFWs who are still waiting for repatriation to the country will continue to receive their entrepreneurial training. They will also be provided with starter kits through the Balik Pinay, BalikHanapbuhay program of DOLE.
Most of the business plans that were conceived by the participants during the training include: backyard hog and poultry raising, carinderia, sari-sari store, computer rental shop, and online ready-to-wear shop, among others.
Coca-Cola has launched 5by20, a global campaign that aims to empower 5 million women by 2020 across its value chain by providing access to training, access to business resources, and access to peer mentoring. Through its various training, the Coca-Cola 5by20 program empowers women in vulnerable sectors to overcome the obstacles that they may face in achieving business success.