MANILA–ONE hundred million pesos, 5,000 enterprises, 10,000 jobs all in rural areas.
These numbers sum up the resources the non-government group Unlad Kabayan pooled from overseas Filipino workers over the last 15 years.
The pooled capital and enterprises and jobs generated were through Unlad Kabayan’s Migrant Savings and Alternative Investment (MSAI) program, says executive director Maria Angela Villalba.
Among the successful enterprises Unlad Kabayan assisted was a rice mill in Matinao, Surigao del Sur that’s run by a former overseas worker and invested at by overseas Filipino savers and investors from countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Netherlands.
Business development services for OFWs over the years “has never been easy,” Villalba said, “especially given existing business environments in rural areas”.
MSAI was envisioned as an alternative for overseas labor migration, and as an option for returning OFWs especially from less-skilled occupations.
Abroad, Unlad its partner NGOs and Filipino organbizations form migrant savings groups and their pooled savings will be invested in enterprises Unlad Kabayan identified.
Unlad Kabayan was then a project of the Hong Kong-based Asian Migrant Center (AMC) in 1996 until it spun off into a Philippine-headquartered nonprofit to operationalize MSAI.
Unlad celebrated its 15th year reflecting the lessons of MSAI during a two-day confrerence on migrant savings and investment funded by the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) program of the European Commission and the United Nations Development Programme. (by JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO of OFW Journalism Consortium)