The first batch of women scholars, composed of former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families under the Women Entrepreneurs Reintegrated and Economically Active at Home (WOMEN REACH!) Program, recently graduated from the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Basic Entrepreneurship and Gender Sensitivity Training.
The WOMEN REACH! Program is a partnership program of Coca-Cola Philippines, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that seeks to provide women OFWs with micro-entrepreneurial skills training and business enhancement kits upon their return and to encourage them to stay for good in the country.
Barely four months after the roll-out of the WOMEN REACH! Program, 43 women graduated with the technical skills and network to help them better manage their chosen micro-enterprises, many of which are home-based sari-sari stores andcarinderia.
“This is our way of helping women OFWs, their families, and their communities, achieve economic sustainability in the long run. By giving them technical skills and access to resources, the Company is helping women overcome the obstacles that they may encounter in running their micro-enterprises,” said Atty. Adel Tamano, Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola Philippines.
Most women OFWs are often caught unaware of the social cost of working abroad. The DOLE’s Institute for Labor Studies said that the continuing feminization of migration has the most detrimental impact to the family and children, especially when it’s the mother who goes abroad for work. The ILS cited that families often go through a lot of major adjustments when women migrate because along with her also goes the caregiving and nurturing responsibilities.
A combination of several program components, the WOMEN REACH! Program is composed of the STAR program of Coca-Cola Philippines and TESDA, and the Assist WELL (Welfare, Employment, Livelihood, and Legal) program of DOLE and its attached agencies, which aims to swiftly and efficiently provide assistance for returning OFWs.
The STAR Program is part of the 5by20 global initiative of the Coca-Cola Company to empower 5 million women within its value chain by the year 2020. Started in 2011, the STAR Program is implemented nationwide and has already touched the lives of more than 47,000 women micro-entrepreneurs, out of the 200,000 target in the Philippines up to year 2020.
Under the WOMEN REACH! Program, returning women OFWs with existing micro-retailing businesses, such as sari-sari stores or carinderiaautomatically qualify for STAR Program scholarship and undergo the Basic Entrepreneurship and Gender Sensitivity Training at the STAR Center for Excellence inside the TESDA Women’s Center in Taguig City.
By virtue of DOLE Order No. 139-14, the Assist WELL Program is a package of free assistance and services to ensure the successful reintegration of returning OFWs. Currently, there are international Assist WELL Processing Centers in Seoul, South Korea and in Dubai, UAE. In the Philippines, one process center is established in every region, except for regions 8 and 6, which have two centers each, and the National Capital Region which has processing centers at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs.