For seafarer William Gaspay, the DOLE’s and the Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines’ Business Plan Competition is a big opportunity for a Filipino seafarer like him who intended to venture into social entrepreneurship.


The 58-year old seafarer from Novaliches, Quezon City, is now an entrepreneur who has made his seaweeds farming business plan a reality, after bagging the 2015 National Reintegration Center for OFWs-ISP Business Plan of the Year plum.


“From Seafarers to Enterpreneurs: The 2015 NRCO-ISP Business Plan Competition (Harnessing Seafarers’ Capacities for Business Enterprises Development)” is a convergence project of the Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agency, the NRCO, and ISP.


Early this year, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz congratulated Gaspay for his successful stint in the competition, which resulted to the establishment of his new-found venture in the Philippines.


“I hope that these enterprises could help improve not just the lives of their families, but also support the growth of jobs in their respective communities, as what the program envisions,” said Baldoz.


Gaspay said that joining the competition was not easy, since he has to hurdle a lot of challenges.


Marami po kaming pinagdaanang challenges sa competition na ito. Laking pasasalamat po talaga naming sa Panginoon at pinahintulutan po kaming makasali dito,” he narrated.


Gaspay added he felt elated after his Seaweeds Farming business proposal was chosen as the Business Plan of the Year winner in the 2015 NRCO-ISP Business Plan Competition.


Kung ano po ang kalooban ng Diyos, iyon po ay mangyayari,” he said after bagging the grand prize.


Aside from being awarded as the Business Plan of 2015, Gaspay has also received a cash prize worth P500,000, given to him in three tranches.


The first tranche, amounting to P50,000 was awarded on the final round of the Competition; while the second tranche in the amount of P300,000 was given to Gaspay on 20 January 2016, after securing proper requirements and documents stated in the competition’s guidelines.


Meanwhile, the last tranche of prize amounting to P150,000, was received by Gaspay’s son, Leyzam, on 29 March 2016.


Malaking tulong po ‘yung napalunan naming prize sa business plan competition na ‘to. ‘Yung prize po ay naging start-up business capital po namin,” said Mr. Leyzam after claiming the prize.


Leyzam expressed further his gratitude, especially to the NRCO and ISP, for the opportunity they provided to their family after winning the competition.


Kami po ay nagpapasalamat sa Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines, ang nag-sponsor ng premyo ng competition, at sa National Reintegration Center for OFWs sa ilalim ng Department of Labor and Employment. Malaking tulong po sila sa amin na maitayo ang business na ito at sana po ay marami pa po kayong matulungan na katulad naming nagsisimula pa lang sa ganitong negosyo,”


Executive Director Chona Mantilla, said that aside from the awarding of the last tranche, the NRCO and ISP has also visited Gaspay’s seaweeds farm in Masinloc, Zambales.


“It is good to note that from a one-fourth hectare farm since the project started on the first quarter of 2016, the farm has already expanded to one hectare by March 2016,” said Mantilla.


“The first batch of seaweeds planted in January was harvested while some were used as propagules, and by April 2016, another batch of seaweeds will be harvested,” she added.


Assisting the Gaspays in putting up their seaweeds farms is the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Region III.


The 2015 Business Plan Competition is a pilot project of the NRCO and ISP.
It primarily aims to encourage and handhold seafarers intending to venture into social entrepreneurship and support the growth of jobs in their hometowns.


The NRCO is mandated to develop, promote and implement a national agenda on sustainable return and reintegration to address the multi-faceted reintegration needs of returning Overseas Filipino Workers and their families, including the development of their hometowns or communities.


The Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines is a non-stock and non-profit organization formed and established for the welfare of Filipino seafarers and their families. It aims to create avenues where the seafarers’ families can improve their lives while the seafarers are on active duty; and to provide ways for their easier social reintegration after the culmination of their overseas jobs.


END/Tim Laderas with reports from NRCO

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