Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Archive for the ‘Overseas Filipinos’ Category

Let Overseas Filipinos Participate

Posted by butalidnl on 20 January 2016

The issue of Grace Poe not being Filipino enough to be president is mostly political bluster (or legalistic gymnastics); but it reveals a deep-seated bias of many Filipinos against kababayans who have lived and worked abroad. For these people, Grace Poe’s real ‘crime’ is that she spent some years out of the country. This is ironic: the Philippines hails Overseas Filipinos as its new heroes; but if we try to do more, we are often treated with suspicion as ‘meddling foreigners’.

We Overseas Filipinos do not want to be treated merely as ninongs to the Philippines – whose only role is to give gifts. We feel that remittances should be the beginning of our involvement with the Philippines, not the end.  But there are many barriers to our full involvement.

There are many limits to our economic participation. Overseas Filipinos can only invest in micro (e.g. sari-sari stores or jeepneys ) and sometimes small businesses . Citizenship or residency requirements limit those residing abroad from investing in more substantial ventures.
When we buy real estate e.g. condominiums, we are forced to surrender most of our rights to our relatives. Banks require that we assign signing rights to a relative;  making them virtually the owners of the unit while we are paying off the loan. Even if we happen to be in the Philippines at the time of a signing, our relative still has to sign for us.

In politics, Overseas Filipinos are still a bit disenfranchised. It was only recently that the provision in the Overseas Absentee Voting law requiring us to sign an ‘Intent to Return’ affidavit before registering to vote was scrapped. This provision had discouraged many from registering to vote, for fear of endangering their legal status in their host country.
Overseas Filipinos are not represented in Congress – ideally, there should be a few congressmen who are directly elected from among us. Now, all we have are OF relatives who claim to do so.
Residency requirements completely bar us from running for office. Even in the case of Grace Poe, who has lived the required number of years in the Philippines, people still raise all kinds of technicalities to keep her from running for President.

Natural Born
Some people say that Grace Poe is a naturalized Filipino. She is not. She is a natural-born Filipino who went abroad, acquired the citizenship of her host country (making her a dual citizen), and then opted to renounce her foreign citizenship. She remains a natural-born Filipino.

Many Overseas Filipinos have reacquired their Filipino ciitzenship after the Dual Citizenship Law was enacted in 2002.  Those who reacquire Filipino citizenship are also natural-born Filipinos. Having two citizenships does not make them a lower category of Filipino citizen.
Overseas Filipinos who reacquire their Filipino citizenship do so for a variety of reasons: to vote at elections; to buy land or invest; to exercise a profession. Some do it mainly for ‘sentimental’ reasons – strengthening their feeling of ‘Filipino-ness’. Whatever the reason, OFs do so because they want to be more involved with the Philippines.

The government, and most people, think that our relatives could represent us. This is only true to a limited extent. Of course, we love our relatives. For many of us, they are the reason why we are abroad in the first place. But this does not mean that they think like us, or that their interests are the same as ours.
Often, when OFs leave relatives in charge of houses that we build; the relative takes on the effective ownership of those houses. They can make alterations to the house, or they take on boarders or subdivide the house and rent the rooms out to people. When we visit the Philippines, we could not stay in the house because there is no more room for us.

There are many relatives who ask our help in setting up a ‘business’. This is probably a tricycle, a market stall or other micro business. But, most of the time, the business is not managed well: equipment is not maintained well; or there is not enough working capital (because it got spent for ‘urgent’ uses); or they take out a loan, which they cannot repay. In a few years, nothing is left of the ‘business’. Overseas Filipinos know this, and only ‘invest’ money that they can afford to lose, because very often, that is what happens.

In politics, representatives of OF families have run in elections or lobby the government for ‘better’ laws. Actually, the laws they want would be better for themselves, and not necessarily for OFs. For example, OFs would like to do away with the arrangement where a fixed percentage of salaries is remitted to the families. The relatives are very much against changing this arrangement.

Brain Gain
The potential for OFs to contribute to the country’s development goes far beyond our monetary contribution. OFs have gained skills, knowledge, insights, networks, values etc. due to our exposure to the wider world.  In order to unleash this potential, all kinds of hurdles to OF participation in Philippine development need to be dismantled.
If Overseas Filipinos are allowed to directly invest in and run a whole range of companies, it will result in a stream of money that will greatly surpass traditional remittances.

If Overseas Filipinos are allowed to fully participate in politics, it will have a positive effect on the country’s politics, especially that of national elections.

I hope the Philippines makes a start at this. The Supreme Court could start this off by declaring Grace Poe as a natural-born Filipino, declare that her period as a US citizen is irrlevant to her present candidacy, and allow her to run for president.




Posted in Overseas Filipinos, Philippine politics, Philippines, politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

A Visit to Litomerice

Posted by butalidnl on 10 December 2014

On 2 December 2014, I went with a group of Filipinos to Litomerice, 64 kilometers north of Prague. which is located next to the foothills of the Sudetes mountain range in the northern part of the Czech Republic. Litomerice has a special link to the Philippines – it is the hometown of Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal’s close friend.  On 13 May 1887, Rizal visited Blumetritt in Litomerice (it was then known as Leitmeritz, and it was part of the Austria-Hungarian empire). He spent 4 days there.
Blumentritt is recognized by the Czechs as a great intellectual, and his friendship with Rizal is celebrated. In Litomerice, the date of Rizal’s arrival is a holiday, and there are ceremonies to mark the event. The town’s Bastion (which is a tower that was part of the town’s medieval defenses) has been transformed into a Rizal-Blumentritt exhibit. There is also a small park dedicated to Rizal, where a bust of Rizal is located. We also saw a Rizal bust in the main square (at the Salva Guarda Hotel).
Litomerice has a sister-city relationship with Calamba (Rizal’s birthplace) and with Dapitan (where Rizal was exiled), in the Philippines.
Blumentritt was a very close friend of Rizal, even though they only met personally during those 4 days. They corresponded extensively, and Rizal’s last letter before his execution was addressed to Blumentritt.

The Philippine-Czech connection goes deeper. The Rizal-Blumentritt friendship was part of the interaction of emigre Filipinos with others working for their nations’ freedom. Filipinos interacted with groups from Cuba to Eastern Europe, including the Czechs – who wanted to be independent from Austria-Hungary.

If you look at the Czech flag, you will notice an uncanny resemblance to the Philippine flag. Their flag has blue triangle, and two strips of white and red. If you interchange the blue with the white, and then add a sun and stars, you will get the Philippine flag.

During World War II, when the Japanese army invaded, the Czech community was the only foreign community in Manila that volunteered to fight against the Japanese. Fourteen of them joined the Filipinos and Americans in the Battle of Bataan, and they took part in the Bataan Death March. Six survived the war.

About 3 kilometers away from Litomerice is Terezin (the Germans called it Theresienstadt). The Germans converted this fortress town into a Jewish ghetto, and the town’s prison into a concentration camp. The Terezin camp was only a transit camp, and executions were not done en masse; however, lots of people died there, mainly from disease and exhaustion.

Rosa Delma Machanova, a Filipina from Romblon, works as a guide in Terezin’s camp. She gave us an animated explanation while we toured the camp, including details about the cruelty of the camp commander, escape attempts, how prisoners were forced to kill other prisoners, etc.
After the war, the camp chief was imprisoned in Terezin while awaiting his trial and eventual execution.
Terezin was also where Gavrilo Princip, whose murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand triggered World War I, was imprisoned.


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Pasali: Bringing Peace and Lifting Families out of Poverty

Posted by butalidnl on 31 December 2013

This post is about Pasali, an organization which works in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. It is active in 7 municipalities and 1 city in the southern Mindanao, but is most active in one particular town – Palimbang, in the province of Sultan Kudarat, where it does almost half of its work.

Palimbang is a town that is different from most other Philippine towns. For starters, the majority of its population is Muslim, and that in itself is unique, since only 5% of Filipinos are Muslim (81% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic, and 10% follow other Christian religions). Palimbang lacks roads, electricity, and even mobile phone access – very un-Philippines. To make things worse, about 45% of the people live below the poverty line – making it one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines.

Palimbang is special in another way – it is the cradle of the Muslim rebellion (which started in 1972, and has not quite ended). Major battles raged there between the rebels and the government military till less than a decade ago; hostilities continued till 2011.
Palimbang has a Muslim majority, but it has a substantial Christian minority. They were in a state of armed ceasefire with each other (always at the brink of hostilities) when Pasali started its work there in 2004. And both Christians and Muslims looked down on the Manobo tribespeople living in Palimbang’s hills.

Businesses and government development bodies avoid Palimbang like the plague. And so do NGOs. Except Pasali. In 2004, Pasali moved in (it had been founded in 1994 in Rotterdam, as a group of Filipino seafarers which pooled their financial resources for themselves, and for Philippine projects). Pasali started by forcing the Muslims and Christians to work together to build its Technical Center – and promoted cooperation instead of hostilities. Since there was no school serving the Manobos in the hills, Pasali launched a program of having Muslim and Christian families host Manobo children, who were able to then go to school in the lowlands.

Ten Years Later
Now, after almost ten years of work in Palimbang, many people in Palimbang are still quite poor. However, Pasali has improved the lives of many in various ways:
The Muslims and Christians work together in various ways – they help each other till their fields, are organized into mixed associations and cooperatives, etc.
The Manobos, from being despised by Muslims and Christians, have become valued members of the community. The Manobos now ‘export’ corn and vegetables which is sold all over Palimbang. And many families have close relationships with Manobo children, from many years of serving as host families for them.
Pasali installs water systems (including the revolutionary Hydraulic Ram Pump, which pumps water uphill – up to 200 meters vertically – without using a motor). This has brought water to hilltribes all over Mindanao island. But almost as important is the fact that Pasali’s water technicians started off as boys from the area; and they were child soldiers before becoming water technicians. These water technicians are now role models for the youth of Palimbang – children used to look up to rebels as role models, now their role models are Pasali water technicians, or farm machinery operators.
Pasali has a rudimentary Farm Machinery Pool, which has simple machinery that are used by rice farmers. This not only helps the farmers, but offers employment to local youth.

Reducing Poverty
Now that Pasali has brought peace and cooperation among the ethnic groups in Palimbang,  Pasali is setting its sights on lifting its population out of poverty.  It has some projects in this direction:
Farm Machinery and Improved Farming Methods. Pasali is promoting SRI (System of Rice Intensification) which increases rice yields with lesser inputs (uses organic fertilizer, but no herbicides and very little pesticides, less water, less seeds). This, in combination with farm machinery (Pasali hopes to raise money for these in the coming year), would effectively double their harvests, and lift them out of poverty.  This will be done in batches of 250 families at a time, over a two year period.
Reforestation and the Planting of Rubber Trees. The hills where the Manobo highlanders live are bare – they had been cut clean by successive logging companies in decades past. They want to restore their forest and also plant rubber trees to augment their income.  Pasali has made a start, by planting 20 hectares of rubber trees in the last two years. It plans to plant up to a total of 200 hectares to rubber in the coming years, as well as to restore up to more than 3500 hectares of native forest.

I believe that Pasali does quite good work. It is able to do a lot with modest resources; but could do a lot more if given more support. While helping one town (Palimbang, population of 115,000) in the Philippines (population of 105 million) seems like a drop in the bucket; Palimbang is one of the most difficult places to work in the whole country. If Pasali succeeds in Palimbang, it will mean a lot for lifting other poor communities in the country. After all, if they could succeed in Palimbang, others could succeed everywhere else in the Philippines.

See also: Pasali Philippines Foundation

Posted in Overseas Filipinos, Pasali, Philippine economics, Philippine politics, Philippines, politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Recovering from Yolanda

Posted by butalidnl on 2 December 2013

In the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda, some people wonder if the Philippines will suffer a similar fate as Haiti – where people have not yet fully recovered after four years, inspite of massive international aid. I believe that this will not happen in the Philippines – the country will recover faster and in a better way than most people expect.

State of the Economy
The Philippine economy was growing fast before the typhoon, and it will continue to do so despite it. Gross Domestic Product growth was more than 7% in 2012; it is expected to decrease to be 6% in 2013 because of the typhoon. Part of this is because the storm struck near the end of the year; but economists project that it will also be 6% in 2014.

Typhoon Yolanda devastated Region 8 (Samar and Leyte); it damaged parts of Region 7 (Central Visayas) and Region 8 (Western Visayas). While it affected about 13 million people directly, all this happened in only 3 out of 14 of the country’s regions; affecting less than 15% of the total Philippine population.

More importantly, Yolanda missed the country’s important industrial and commercial areas of Metro Manila and Cebu. These centers now serve as hubs for the relief effort to the affected areas. They are now hubs for the relief effort: cargo planes fly from them with needed supplies; evacuees stay there temporarily. The parts of the Philippines that were untouched have mobilized their whole government machinery, businesses and private citizens, to provide relief. Region 8 regional agencies have temporarily moved their base to Cebu, ensuring continued operations. Local government units, from Metro Manila to Davao, have sent personnel and equipment to help.

The breadth and depth of the support that comes from the rest of the Philippines will ensure that the relief and rehabilitation of the affected areas can be sustained. While foreign support was needed, and thankfully provided, in the immediate aftermath of the storm; they will not be able to help forever.

Haiti was a very poor country before the earthquake struck it. It was then the poorest country in the Americas already. The quake only made things worse; it struck the capital, Port-au-Prince, totally flattening it. The country was in no position to provide local relief to the affected areas. They were totally dependent on foreign support.

Haiti needed a lot of help just to recover to pre-earthquake levels; which it has  achieved, in a sense. The problem is that they need to go farther in order to set up a properly functioning economy and society; but funds are more limited now.

Aid Supplies Hinder Local Production
In Haiti, the massive influx of aid supplies has led to the decline of local production of many products. Imported American rice, for example, has largely displaced local rice production.

In the Philippines, the relief effort is emptying the inventories of many local traders of food and other products. Suppliers of construction materials will have a field day supplying the needs of the rebuilding effort. Local resources, from trucks to medical personnel, are being used in the affected areas, and this will mean increased opportunities for local businesses and employment.

Did the Philippines Need the Massive Aid?
Yes, very much. Typhoon Yolanda hit a vast area; millions of people needed help at the same time. The Philippine government was in no position to adequately help all of them. For one, it did not have the logistical resources to reach out to them simultaneously.

The response to the call for help after Yolanda struck was impressive. Many governments immediately pledged or sent aid. Many even sent soldiers and technicians to help. Private funds were raised by Overseas Filipinos and peoples all over the world. People all over the Philippines gathered funds, goods, and volunteered to help. It was all worth it – the affected regions needed all the support that they received in this time of grave need.

The country’s system of decentralized disaster response management proved inadequate to a disaster of Yolanda’s scale.  It had worked well for most of the typhoons that hit it every year; but Yolanda decimated many towns’ capacity to respond by hitting the command centers (city halls), potential first responders and even the pre-positioned relief supplies. The system needs to be upgraded so that it can respond well to really big disasters like Yolanda.

But even if the country is made more resilient to storms, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other disasters, it would still need massive foreign aid in order to respond to a disaster of the scale of Yolanda. Even Japan, arguably one of the most disaster-resilient countries in the world, needed help after the massive tsunami that hit it.

Yolanda was an extremely strong typhoon whose path was entirely within the Visayas. Unlike other storms that hit Luzon or Mindanao, Yolanda hit very many islands (some quite small) making the logistics of extending aid very important, and very difficult. Trucks and cargo handling equipment had to be brought in to remote islands, airports and ports needed to be repaired before meaningful amounts of aid could be brought in. When typhoons  hit Luzon, the affected areas can be reached almost immediately by land; big logistical problems similar to that which followed Yolanda usually do not happen.

How long will it take for the affected areas to recover? Well, recovery will be uneven: Running water has been restored in Tacloban and some other towns; electricity is expected to be restored to most areas by the end of the year. The economic activity of these areas is already starting to recover: jeepneys are running again, shops are opening, many evacuees have returned from Manila and Cebu. But reconstruction will take longer. New guidelines would need to be put in place, e.g. how far away from the shore should houses be built. In many towns, the local government would need to preside over moving the whole town inland. The necessary land for this would need to be acquired by the LGU and then distributed to new owners, perhaps based on the area of the original lands where their houses used to stand. And of course, building new homes and other structures need money (lots of money) and it will take time. All this will strain the available supply of building materials.

In half a year, crops like rice or corn would have been harvested; and coconuts may have been replanted, with shorter-growing crops planted in between.

In a year’s time, Tacloban and most other areas hit by Yolanda will be bustling. But many people will still be in temporary housing (probably tents or shanties) while the construction of more permanent housing would be ongoing. And, hopefully, there would be stronger buildings that are built (or retrofitted), which would serve as evacuation centers.

Four years from now, a visitor to Tacloban or other areas hit by Yolanda, will not see any trace of the storm.

Posted in Overseas Filipinos, Philippines | 1 Comment »

Optimizing Remittances for Development

Posted by butalidnl on 26 April 2013

We Overseas Filipinos (OFs) remit money to relatives and others in the Philippines. The money that we remit is often used by our relatives for basic needs e.g. housing, food, clothing and education. They are also used for occasional expenses like health (medicines, hospitalization), burial expenses etc. But once these kinds of needs are met, we would often begin ‘investing’- i.e. remitting money for the purpose of building up a store of capital, which could be used when we are no longer based abroad, or as an additional source of income for relatives.

Strictly speaking, all remittances contribute to Philippine national development. Remittances that fulfill the recipients’ immediate needs contribute to development: they stimulate the local economy (the multiplier effect); they prepare and nurture the workforce (education and health); etc. However, some remittances have a bigger impact on development than others. The question before us then is: how could we optimize the discretionary part of remittances towards development.

The problem is not that we do not care about making economic (developmental) investments. Rather, it is on how this could best be done. All OFs share the desire to build up resources in the Philippines, which would continue to generate income when we no longer work abroad. Let us take a look at some factors that affect our decisions on economic investments:

Scale. A single OF would have only a limited amount of resources. This means that he/she would be limited in the scale of the investments that could be made. Micro-investments e.g. tricycle, sari-sari store etc. could be readily financed from a single OF’s earnings. Bigger investments e.g. restaurant, grocery store, machine shop would need to be financed from many years of savings, or by pooling the resources of several OFs.

Relatives. OF investments are most often done through our relatives. They are the main beneficiaries of our remittances, and we expect them to also want to create an additional income stream that could generate money when we return for good. However, OF relatives tend to look upon the added income stream from the investment as a thing of the present – additional income to the regular remittance. Thus, while we view it as an ‘investment’, our relatives treat it as just another remittance – which means that they can use it for their daily expenses. This causes all kinds of problems.

But it is difficult for us not to include relatives in our investment plans. In the first place, the remittance is mainly coursed through them. Then, the relatives are usually the ones expected to manage the project. And finally, we have limited options in terms of ‘owning’ the investment – we are usually expected (or have no other choice but) to put the investment under the name of the relative.

A solution to the limiting nature of investing thru relatives is investing with the help of third-party channels. These could include rural banks, local venture-capital companies, or companies with projects open to OF investments. As of yet, these channels are not yet well developed in order to optimally serve the needs of OFs.

Information on Possibilities. OFs are often limited in the choice of which investments to make, because of the lack of information on possiblities. We usually just take on the suggestions of our relatives, or from fellow OFs. Many of us end up buying tricycles or jeepneys, or starting a sari-sari store partly because other investment possibilities are simply unknown. Because of the limited choices, we often decide against making investments. The money gets put in a savings account, we buy real estate (land, cemetery lots, condominium units etc.) or jewelry. Some OFs opt to invest their savings in their host country – by buying a house (which they live in) or investing in the stock market.

Development Intensity
While all remittances support development, we aim to maximize their developmental effect. But development can be interpreted in many different ways. When we seek to optimize remittances for development, we start from the principle that some uses of remittance money result in more development than others; and that it is possible to intervene to shift towards investments with a bigger development effect.

For this, we need to develop a concept of ‘development intensity’, in which investments with a higher intensity would be preferable to those with lower intensity. We can formulate ‘development intensity’ as a value that comes out of a number of factors:

Beneficiaries. This would include employment created for people, and the number of beneficiaries of the products from services, as well as the extent to which they benefit.

Extent it Enables. How the products and services offered increase the capability of people to provide for their own needs (e.g. increases agricultural productivity).
Long-term Viability. How durable the project is, in terms of finance and management.

Environment-Friendliness. Net effect on the environment, compared to the previous situation.

Effect on the Local Economy. How the project improves local economic activity, through its upstream (inputs acquired locally) and downstream (selling in the local market) linkages.

Appropriation of Surplus. Where eventual profits are used for.

The six components for evaluating development intensity would be difficult to measure quantitatively. Quantifying them is made difficult by the fact that the relative weights of the components and their relationships vary. However, even if we can’t yet use it quantitatively, it can be used qualitatively to make a general comparison. Take the example of comparing two investments: one, buying a jeepney; and the other, putting up of a bee-keeping business (these would cost approximately the same).

In terms of beneficiaries, both are equivalent – they employ 1 or 2 people, and the public ‘buys’ the product or service. The jeepney’s marginal utility would be small (resulting in a smaller additional benefit for consumers), since it would simply be added to an already fully served market; while beekeeping would probably be a pioneer (and thus have a bigger marginal utility). Any surplus generated goes to the OF relative. The long-term viability depends on the OF relative, and is thus equivalent. On their effect on the local economy – they both have limited linkages.
In their enabling function, the beehive increases the harvests of surrounding crops and trees, while the jeepney does nothing similar. Also, the jeepney pollutes the environment, while beekeeping is beneficial. Taken all together, we can say that the honey-bee business is more development intense than the jeepney.

In general, we can say that investments that benefit the wider community (rather than just one family), stimulate the local economy, and which are environment-friendly, would tend to be more development intensive than those which don’t.

In order to optimize remittances for development, we seek not only to stimulate Overseas Filipinos to make more development intensive investments, we should also help them surpass the limitations of scale, relatives and lack of knowledge. Concretely, this could be addressed in a number of ways.

Financial Literacy
Both the Overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines would benefit from trainings on ‘financial literacy’. This would teach them how to be more systematic in handling their finances, including how they could save money for investments. These trainings can be given abroad, as well as in the Philippines. Ideally, the financial literacy training should be part of the pre-departure briefing, and that the potential OF should take it together with their partner.
In addition to the basic trainings, there is also a need for trainings that give them skills in setting up and running a business – a training on Business Management. This should be done in the Philippines.

Government Policy
The Philippine government could do a lot toward helping OFs’ remittances be more development intense. These would include:

Recognizing OF investments as Filipino. A law that would recognize all investments done by natural-born Filipinos, regardless of their present citizenship, as Filipino will go a long way toward encouraging OFs to invest in businesses in the Philippines. There are laws that limit business ownership to Filipino passport holders, and even to Philippine-residents; and these inhibit many OFs from investing. But more than that, there are many laws that limit government agencies’ (e.g. DOST, DTI) support to businesses only to those which are ‘100% Filipino owned’ . With this law, OF-initiated businesses can fully avail of government support.
Such a recognition would also enable OFs to invest on their own, lessening the need for them to go through their relatives.

Directing Line Agencies to Help OFs. Line agencies, e.g. DTI could do a lot more to help OFs and their families invest in business. The government could create an inter-agency body at the provincial level to assist OF investments by providing them with technical support and management knowhow, credit, etc.

Accredit Filipino Businesses Established Abroad. Many OFs have set up businesses abroad, or have formed cooperatives. There should be a speedy process of accrediting these for doing business in the Philippines.

Amending Laws that Restrict OF Investment. There are laws that block non-Philippine residents (even if they hold Philippine passports) from investing in some economic sectors (e.g. retail trade). These laws need to be amended accordingly.

Investment Projects
Educating and Assisting OFs are important things to do; but in the end, there need to be actual projects for them to invest in. These projects should be as development intensive as possible; and they would preferably be medium-sized businesses (i.e. have 10-199 employees, or P3000 to P100,000 capital). They could take the following forms:

Shares of Stock in Existing SMEs. These corporations would open up their ownership to OFs to up to 50% of the shares of stock.

SMEs with Modules than OFs can invest in. The company would offer distinct business units which OFs can buy, and which will be managed by the company. These would range from ‘time-share’ arrangements in tourist accomodations, to units of land tilled to crops or trees, etc.

SMEs set up by OFs. These would be managed either by a returning OF, or by a management team that is hired by the OFs. The OF-entrepreneur will have either invested his/her savings over many years, or be managing the money of an organization or group of OFs.
These interventions would be done by OF organizations, NGOs in the Philippines, businesses in the Philippines, and the Philippine government. In order to make investing in these SMEs attractive to OFs, they need to show that they are reliable and profitable. It would be good if the government can set up a system of investment insurance for OFs, or of accrediting SMEs for OF investment.
Not all OFs will prefer to invest through SMEs. Most probably the majority of OFs will continue to prefer investing in micro-businesses that are run by their relatives. For them, the financial literacy and business management trainings, as well as other support from government agencies, rural banks and NGOs would go a long way to making their micro-investments succeed.

Our aim will be both to empower OFs who invest in micro-businesses, and to enable a smaller number of OFs to invest in SMEs.

What OF Organizations can do
OF organizations could actively intervene in order to help OFs invest in more development intensive investments. Some of these ways include:

Organizing Trainings. We could organize trainings in financial literacy and business management to cater to their members, as well as other OFs.
Lobby. The Philippine government needs to be prodded to support more OF investments, through better laws and through the work of government agencies. The government should also amend laws that restrict OF investments. OF organizations can work with OF-supportive NGOs in the Philippines to undertake such a lobby.

Lobby. The Philippine government needs to be prodded to support more OF investments, through better laws and through the work of government agencies. The government should also amend laws that restrict OF investments. OF organizations can work with OF-supportive NGOs in the Philippines to undertake such a lobby.

Promote Investment Projects. OF organizations could set up investment projects in the Philippines themselves. Or, they could check out the possibilities offered by NGOs, businesses, government and other OF organizations in the Philippines, so as to recommend which would be good for their members to invest in.

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