Forty-three women overseas Filipino worker (OFW) returnees who have decided to stay in the country for good have completed the micro-entrepreneurship training under the Women REACH! (Women Entrepreneurs Reintegrated and Economically Active at Home) Program, a public-private partnership between the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Coca-Cola Philippines, together with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).


Barely four months after the program’s roll-out, the 43 women OFW-returnees have completed the 12-week Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Basic Entrepreneurship and Gender Sensitivity Training where they were equipped with the technical skills and network to help them better manage their chosen micro-enterprise.


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


“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,” she added.


DOLE Undersecretary for Employment Facilitation and Manpower Development Nicon F. Fameronag, who represented Secretary Baldoz during the graduation ceremony, commended the women OFW-returnees and at the same time, challenged them to be role models to the next batch of beneficiaries.


Jean Demegillo, a single mother of two who decided to stay in the country for good, was thankful to the DOLE and to Coca-Cola Philippines.


“Nagpapasalamat ako sa STAR program ng Coca-Cola, TESDA, at DOLE. Dahil sa programang ito, na-realize ko ang mga pagkukulang ko bilang may-ari ng isang tindahan. Salamat po sa inyo na nag-sponsor ng programang ito. Malaki po ang maitutulong nitong mga natutunan ko. Malaki rin po ang kapakinabangan sa aming mga kababaihan. Kaya ini-encourage ko po ang mga kapwa ko kababaihan na maging bahagi ng programang ito para ma-empower din sila,” said Demegillo.

Of the 43 training graduates, 25 will be beneficiaries under the Balik-Pinay, Balik Hanapbuhay program of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) and the Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay program of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA); while the remaining 18 will be beneficiaries under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP).


The 25 women OFW-returnees are: (1) Evy Ignacio, (2) Estrella Magpali, (3) Robelyn Ramos, (4) Josefina Ebit, (5) Elenita Crame, (6) Gilda de Guzman, (7) Adoracion Cascoño, (8) Maria Liezel Macato, and (9) Ma. Rosela Esmeralda, from Marikina City; (10) Anabella Delos Santos, (11) Judith Malacaste, (12) Pliny Dubria, and (13) Esmeralda Lasola, from Taguig City; (14) Vina Prado and (15) Jean Demegillo, from Caloocan City; (16) Lourdes Antonio, (17) Maria Emelita Quijada, (18) Julieta Serviano, (19) Remedios Chavez, (20) Mylyn Bumalay, from Pateros; (21) Merlita Priete from Makati City; (22) Irma Reyes from Pasig City; (23) Jesusa Perez from Manila; (24) Teresa Olga Mundo from Apalit, Pampanga; and (25) Dolores Gordolan from Rizal.


The 18 women OFW-returnees are: (1) Rubilyne Carrion from Sta. Mesa, Manila; (2) Rosemarie Villota and (3) Maria Jazmin Felicio from Sampaloc, Manila; (4) Lucila Lozano, (5) Magdalena Faustino, (6) Celesta Salcedo, (7) Elvira Thelmo, (8) Evelyn Nino, (9) Carmen Thelmo, (10) Conrada Amador, and (11) Lourdes Buse, from Caloocan City; (12) Anabelle Ramos from Taguig City; (13) Imelda Fernandez from Valenzuela City; (14) Joaquina Alcantara and (15) Susana Duronila from Pateros; (16) Violeta Asuncion and (17) Araceli Benigno from Marikina City; and Janetta Naguit from Antipolo City.


Graduates of the training who will meet the requirements for livelihood formation or enhancement will be given starter kits under the DOLE’s Assist WELL (Welfare, Employment, Legal, and Livelihood assistance) Program.


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 type of beneficiaries is composed of women returnees who are already in retail business and are already engaged in a sari-sari store, grocery, 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 type of beneficiaries shall be composed of eligible women OFW returnees who are interested in setting up micro-enterprises of their choice and inclination.


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.


Held at the TESDA Women’s Center in Taguig, the graduation ceremony for the first batch of Women REACH! Program beneficiaries was attended by NRCO Director Chona Mantilla, TESDA Executive Director Ma. Susan Dela Rama, TESDA Women’s Center Chief Ma. Clara Ignacio, TESDA Director Sonia Lipio, and Coca-Cola Sustainability and Community Affairs Manager Gilda Custodio-Maquilan.



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