Another livelihood opportunity program awaits women OFWs, especially those staying for good in the country, as the Department of Labor and Employment and the Coca-Cola Far East, Limited (CCFEL) today launched, through the signing of a memorandum of understanding, a joint initiative, the Women REACH! Program, or “Women Entrepreneurs Reintegrated and Economically Active at Home”.

 

Secretary Baldoz signed the MOU with CCFEL President and General Manager Diego Granizo and Public Affairs and Communication Director Atty. Adel A. Tamano at the TESDA Women’s Center in Taguig City.

 

Gilda Custodio-Maquilan, CCFEL Sustainability and Community Affairs Manager; Rebecca J. Calzado, Administrator, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration; Chona M. Mantilla, Director, National Reintegration Center for OFWs; Ahmma Charisma L. Satumba, Director, Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns; and Juan Carlos Dominguez, Human Resource and Corporate Affairs, Coca-Cola FEMSA, Inc. signed the MOU as witnesses.

 

The Women REACH! Program was conceived by the DOLE and Coca-Cola as a public-private partnership venture under the DOLE’s Assist WELL Program.

 

“Women REACH! is for the economic empowerment of Filipino women migrant workers, especially domestic workers and caregivers returning from overseas work,” said Baldoz.

 

The Assist WELL Program is convergence of reintegration assistance and services initiated by Secretary Baldoz in 2014 through Department Order 139-14 to address the needs of repatriated migrant workers. It involves DOLE agencies lead by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), and the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) which supervises the DOLE’s 36 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices.

 

The Assist WELL Program was strengthened in January this year through Administrative Order No. 21 Series of 2016 to further establish a more cohesive and synchronized convergence of DOLE agencies in providing Assist WELL services.

 

The “WELL” in Assist WELL stands for welfare, employment, livelihood, and legal services.

 

The Women REACH! Program, a combination of the Coca-Cola 5by20 initiative that seeks to empower five million women entrepreneurs worldwide within the Coca-Cola system by 2020, has a two-tier set of target beneficiaries.

 

The first set shall be women OFWs who are already engaged in sari-sari store, grocery store, carinderia, food stall, bakery, or restaurant business. They will automatically qualify as training scholar under the Coca-Cola 5by20 Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program.

 

The second set of beneficiaries shall be women OFWs who are interested in setting up micro-enterprises of their choice and inclination, other than those enumerated in the first tier. They will be invited for an orientation session where they can sign up for training in any of the offered courses at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Women’s Center, including the Basic Entrepreneurship and Gender Sensitivity course, which the CCFEL shall co-develop with the DOLE.

 

Under the DOLE-CCFEL partnership, the latter will allocate 10,000 slots for women for its 5×20 STAR program and slots for women migrants who may wish to engage in other micro businesses but who will first be trained in Basic Entrepreneurship and Gender Sensitivity course. For the latter, through its Assist WELL Program, the DOLE shall provide support for the livelihood component, such as livelihood starter kit, or legal and welfare assistance, as necessary. The DOLE will profile and identify beneficiaries and organize them for the orientation and training sessions.

 

The CCFEL will also provide beneficiaries access to Coca-Cola sales distributors and products; and refer them to partner microfinance institutions for small business loans.

 

Baldoz said women OFWs who are of legal age with basic literacy skills on reading, writing, and basic mathematics, can avail of this program. “They must be committed to allocate time and complete the training course at the TESDA Women’s Center, or in any TESDA or DOLE Regional Office,” she said.

 

Interested training applicants must also have the willingness to undergo the application process with partner microfinance institutions that can help them grow or set-up their respective business, she said.

 

Both the DOLE and Coca-Cola will nominate a program coordinator for the smooth implementation of the Women REACH! Program.

 

Baldoz expressed optimism that the program will support the reverse migration advocacy of the government, especially of vulnerable OFWs.

 

“The Women REACH! Program supports our reintegration program, where we provide a package of services and mechanisms implemented by government and its socials partners to facilitate the productive return of Filipino workers upon completion of overseas employment,” the DOLE Secretary said.

 

END/GSR

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