Did you know that among Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), there are so-called 45-day millionaires?
From what I understand, these are those guys who earn really big money and truly once their US dollar, for example, paychecks are converted to Philippine peso, the bills amount to millions.
I have not found the answer to this yet, but if we go by the stories of some folks “throwing parties for two weeks”, plus the additional days of shopping, and gift giving, and what have you, one month and a half month could be it.
Another explanation could be that after 45-days, the OFW has to return overseas and resume earning dollars again.
Had it not been due to their basic computer literacy training, many of them might still be trapped in this 45-day millionaire syndrome.
Alas, there is a way out.
Against this backdrop, graduates of the “Tulay”, the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Program Community Technology Skills Program for Overseas Filipino Workers, have began to organize themselves into either alumni groups or cooperatives with business and livelihood projects for members.
An example is the OWWA Microsoft Tulay Alumni Organization of graduates from the Cordilleras and Baguio. Headed by Ediltrudis Irma Person of Tulay Batch 1, her members engage in livelihood activities such a detergent products, Internet café operations, transient homes management, restaurants and meat processing.
In the process of being formalized is the Tulay OFW Cooperative based in Butuan City and spearheaded by former OFW Elisa Capon-Moran. A start up venture being contemplated is smoked fish production.
“OFWs who are trained with basic IT skills have the advantage to explore other business opportunities. With their new found skills, the window of possibilities is endless,” said Susan Ople, president, Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute.
This month, the BOPC received from Microsoft Philippines more than $200,000 in cash and software grants for the expansion of the “Tulay” for OFWs program.
In the Philippines, “Tulay” was launched by Microsoft in 2004 in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment, specifically its attached agency Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. Its objective is to provide technology tools and skills training to OFWs and their families.
In 2008, Microsoft started working with the Ople Center, a private non-profit organization that has partnered with OWWA, to put up more learning centers.
“Over the years, “Tulay” has been successful in boosting opportunities for Filipino migrant workers and their beneficiaries. We are happy with the development of “Tulay”. Through the expansion of new training centers, more and more OFWs and their families can take advantage of these opportunities,” said Carmelita Dimzon, Administrator, OWWA, in a press release.
In her progress report and new directions announcement, Ople underscored, “Once empowered…now that they are computer literate, their horizon suddenly expands.”
Thus the challenge of bringing them up to the next level from computer literacy to financial literacy. Combining computer literacy with financial literacy, as she put it.
“We are looking also into possible tie-ups with local government units to pilot test a more OFW-friendly business environment,” she said. “We would like to increase the number of OFWs and their dependents who are able to obtain new sources of income, better jobs, and or put up small businesses after graduating from the Tulay program.”
She underscored, “Given options and when pointed to the right direction, a “Tulay” graduate is empowered enough to consider pursuing other computer courses or opening a small business.”
Since 2004, over 20,000 people have been trained under the “Tulay” program. With the expansion of the program and opening of new centers, “Tulay” is expecting 258,000 individuals to benefit from the program in the next three years.
By EDISON ONG