The Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA) welcomes the first batch of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from the MIMAROPA region as beneficiaries of the Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly from the Philippines (iFWD PH) through a virtual onboarding activity held last month, via zoom.  iFWD PH is a DOST program that provides opportunities for the OFWs and their families to establish technology-based enterprises.

MIMAROPA’s first batch is comprised of 30 OFWs who now form part of iFWD PH’s Batch Malikhain – DOST’s third batch of beneficiaries for 2021 composed of OFWs from various regions.  Of the 30 OFWs, four are from Occidental Mindoro, seven from Oriental Mindoro, five from Marinduque, two from Romblon, and 12 from Palawan. Most of them, 23 in all, are engaged in agriculture and aquaculture while seven are in food processing.

In her welcome remarks, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Director, Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay emphasized the package of technology interventions that will be given through the iFWD PH program which include capacity building sessions; technical assistance on product development; access to DOST facilities for product testing; advisory support for product marketing; funding assistance for equipment acquisition, packaging and labeling; consultancy services; and initial laboratory testing.

The onboarding activity with the theme, “Preparing the Herd Towards Science, Technology, and Innovation” was designed to kickstart the journey of the OFW-beneficiaries towards becoming technopreneurs. During the event, an orientation on the two phases of iFWD PH was held that focused on the activities under Phase 1 or the “Capability Building for the Development and Management of Technology-based Enterprise”. During this phase, core business development training, basic technical training, business concept development, business plan development, and capacity building will be provided. Also, there will be knowledge-sharing sessions with successful beneficiaries of the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) who will also act as Technology-based Entrepreneurship Advisors (TBEAs). Phase 1 will run from June 02 to July 16, 2021.

The beneficiaries were initially oriented on how to navigate the iFWD PH portal which will serve as the main platform of the program. 

Upon completion of Phase 1, OFWs who will be able to produce a viable business plan will be qualified to proceed for Phase 2 of the program or the “Innovation Funding for Technology-based Enterprise”. The second phase will provide the innovation-enabling fund (iFund) for the OFW-beneficiaries for product development and testing, consultancy services, initial laboratory testing, packaging and labeling design and execution for market testing, and equipment acquisition.

The iFWD PH program is DOST’s response to mitigate the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on displaced OFWs, their dependents, and other Filipinos living abroad who would want to go home or invest in the country for financial stability and security. (By: Athena CollineVerdey, DOST-MIMAROPA)

                                         DOST-MIMAROPA and OFWs from the MIMAROPA Region at the iFWD PH Onboarding Activity held last May 19, 2021.