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From sack to bigger opportunities: OFW association achieves sustainability through DOLE aid

 

The Bacarra Overseas Filipino Workers Association, Inc.  (BOFWA) was organized in 2002 and was registered with the Department of Labor and Employment-Regional Office I in 2004.  Back then, it was composed of 43 former OFWs and dependents of active OFWs struggling to find means to support their respective families’ needs.

Fifteen years after, the BOFWA has expanded with 82 members and is now arguably among Region I’s most sustainable associations holding recognitions from various agencies. 

Among these are:  2018 Gawad Saka Award from the DA; OWWA Certificate of Appreciation on the 2017 Migrant Workers’ Day; Certificate of Appreciation from the Province of Ilocos Norte in 2017 and 2016 Best OFW Family Circle Award from OWWA.  

It also holds nominations for the 2019 Search for Best DOLE Livelihood Project for group category and the Search for SIKAP Award of Senator Cynthia Villar in 2017. 

Through a P500 thousand start-up capital from the DOLE-RO I, the BOFWA ventured in sack and eco bag making project in 2016.  The assistance which is under the Bottom-up Budgeting consisted of three sewing machines, two units of bag closer, raw materials, electric fans, working tables and other needed tools. 

The LGU of Bacarra provided the production area which also houses the association’s office and stock room.  

Majority of the members have undergone skills trainings on industrial sewing machine operations, dress making, tailoring, welding and metal fabrication and wiring installation.  Others have trained on entrepreneurial competency and business management, silkscreen printing and capacity building under the Sustainable Livelihood Framework (SLF).  

The SLF is a five-year strategy started in 2015 which aims to facilitate the transition of livelihood projects of DILP beneficiaries into sustainable and competitive enterprises.  Under the SLF, the enrolled or demonstration projects will be given interventions that will help enhance their organizational maturity; increase their access to productive resources such as training, capital, credit and technology; and make them compliant with business and labor standards.

The members produce around 60,000 sacks annually. Each piece is sold at P10.  Aside from sacks, the BOFWA also makes ecobags, umbrella cases, purses, pouches and bottle holders.  Their profits from these additional products range from P4 to P10 each. 

Since Bacarra and its neighboring municipalities are agriculture-based, farmers, traders and millers need an average 500 thousand sacks annually.  The lack of producers of sacks in the province was an opportunity for the association to easily establish markets for their products. 

Using their income from the project, the association has ventured into relending and distribution of moringa food supplements where they earn P15 per unit.

“We are now earning the benefits of the project in terms of our association’s growth and the creation of jobs in our community.  But most importantly, it is helping us meet our families’ needs,” Flordeliza Aceret, BOFWA President, said.

Flordeliza, 58 years old, is a former OFW from Hong Kong who opted to venture into self-employment after her sad experience with her employer.

According to her, members benefit not only from profit sharing scheme, but also from scholarship grants, medical, death and wedding assistance.

“With full support from the DOLE and other agencies, and with the commitment of all BOFWA members, I know we will be able to reach greater heights,” Flordeliza said.

Owing to BOFWA’s remarkable track record, it is also a recipient of livelihood assistance from other agencies such as OWWA and provincial government of Ilocos Norte. END/Arly Sta. Ana-Valdez with report from Leonavella Duldulao, DOLE-INFO

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2019-04-10
RD Nat V. Lacambra
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