Philnetz e.V. board members Cristina Fernandez and Emmalyn L. Kotte participated at the Global Forum on Remittances and Development (GFRD) that was held in Milan, Italy on June 16 – 19, 2015. Also at the event were Jeff Carado and Lucita Borbon – Kampa, both trainers at the Financial Literacy Seminars that were conducted by Philnetz and ATIKHA Overseas Workers and Communities Initiative, Inc. in several German cities in 2014 and January 2015.
A GFRD side event organized by ATIKHA and Pinoy Worldwide Initiative for Investment Savings and Entrepreneurship (Pinoy WISE) on June 19, 2015 gave Philnetz a good opportunity to meet representatives of organizations that promote their products and services for overseas Filipinos. Theme of the event was „Engaging Overseas Filipinos in Rural Development“. National and local government officials from the Philippines, among them Senator Ralph Recto, Batangas governor Vilma Santos Recto and Congressman Rico Geron, spoke at the event.
Senator Recto said that the Philippines, with a population of almost 103 million, is the world’s 12th biggest market. He cited the country’s deficits in rice, fish, livestock, fruit and vegetable production and pointed out that the country’s total food import bill is about P290 billion a year. There are many opportunities awaiting overseas Filipino investors, he said, urging participants at the conference to invest in agriculture and food processing. Such investments will not only give overseas Filipinos a chance to earn but will also support the country´s efforts towards food security.
Santos Recto commended the various initiatives of organizations in the Philippines and in Europe to help channel bigger portions of overseas Filipinos´ remittances towards more savings and investments. She cited local government initiatives in her region that aim to support overseas Filipinos and their families towards this end: the Regional Committee on Migration and Development, the creation of Batangas Province Migrants´ Center (a one stop shop that coordinates and facilitates the delivery of support services to migrant workes by various national government agencies and advocacy groups like ATIKHA); counselling services to OFWs who encounter problems with their employers; financial and livelihood assistance to OFWs who lose their jobs and a financial literacy program for the families of OFWs.
Congressman Rico Geron cited Soro-soro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) as one investment possibility for overseas Filipinos. From the small farmers organization that started in Batangas City in 1969, it is now the country’s biggest agri-business cooperative with almost 21,000 members and total assets worth 1.8 billion pesos in five Philippine regions, he said. Among its member investors are more than 280 Filipinos based in Italy.
SIDC business activities include animal feed and ricemilling, livestock and crop production, savings and loans, cooperative supermarket operation, meat shops, cable television and internet services, gasoline station, communal farm, water refilling station, Agro-Eco tourism resort, organic fertilizer, aqua culture, and organic farming. These are concentrated in the so called CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon provinces) region in southwestern Luzon.
Local government officials from Tarlac, Bohol and the Southern Tagalog region presented other investment opportunities in agri-business and tourism related business activities.
Dr. Noel Soliman, president of the Federation of Goat and Sheep Producers Association of the Philippines, talked about business opportunities in goat raising. Josephine Cervero spoke about products and services that are offered by Land Bank of the Philippines to overseas Filipinos – e.g. OFW reintegration program; Personal Equity and Retirement Account.
22.07.2015, Emmalyn L. Kotte