THE Overseas Workers’ Welfare Association (OWWA) has provided a total of P34.2 million to 2,243 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Central Visayas who lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia.

Mae Codilla, OWWA 7 officer-in-charge, said each OFW was provided P26,000 in grants since August this year.

“They are part of the nine companies affected severely..mostly companies in construction and maintenance,” Codilla told Sun.Star Cebu on the sidelines of the opening of the One-Stop Services Center for OFWs (OSSCO) on the second level of SM City Cebu last Friday.

The affected companies are Saudi Oger, Saudi bin Ladin Group, Mohammed Al Mojil, and Al Barghash, Alumco L.L.C.; Rajeh H Al Merri Contracting & Trading Company; Fawzi Salah Al Nairani Contracting Company; Arabtec Construction L.L.C. and Real Estate Development and Investment Company.

Codilla said that OWWA has set aside P500 million in assistance for displaced OFWs in Saudi Arabia who worked for the nine companies. More persons from Central Visayas are expected to avail themselves of the program, she added.

There are 13,000 OFWs from Central Visayas who are based in Saudi Arabia at present.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) 7 Director Evelia Durato said that while OFWs contribute a lot to the economy, the government prefers that they find employment or do business in the country.

Business planning skills

In the OFW center in SM City Cebu, OFWs will be assisted with local job offers or may avail themselves of the entrepreneurship programs of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Last Sept. 6, OWWA and DTI signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize a partnership in conducting training under OWWA’s Enhanced Entrepreneurial Development Training (EEDT) and related activities.

EEDT is the business development intervention of OWWA for OFWs who intend to venture into micro, small and medium enterprises. It includes business planning and project-specific skills orientation to equip OFWs with the necessary knowledge and skills in pursuing their intended business, said OWWA in its website.

The partnership is aligned with the eight-point agenda of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to make workers’ protection and welfare programs more focused and more accessible.

OWWA said that OFWs who complete the EEDT may avail themselves of a loan of P100,000 up to P2 million under the OFW-Enterprise Development and Loan Program (OFW-EDLP) in partnership with Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.