From seafarers to entrepreneurs

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BEING a seaman or a seafarer is not forever.

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Outgoing Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz stressed this point to Filipino seafarers as she encouraged them to become entrepreneurs even before they would decide to retire for good from sea life.

“You should know right from the start that being a seafarer is not forever. That is why it is important that from day one of your job as a seafarer you should already be making long-term plans on what to do with your life after your life as a mariner,” said Baldoz during the opening of the 2016 Department of Labor and Employment-National Reintegraton Center for OFWs-Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines (DOLE-NRCO-ISP) Business Plan Competition held at SM Manila over the weekend.

Baldoz pointed out that the business plan competition is aimed at harnessing the seafarers’ and other labor sector workers’ capacities for business enterprises development.

She noted that it has already been proven that the Filipinos are as good, if not better, as the Chinese and Indians in running a business.

“It is not true that Filipinos are not good in business. This is our advise not only to our maritime sector but also to the entire labor sectors that we may be able to develop our entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial spirit,” she added.

“This partnership project betweeen DOLE-NRCO and ISP has proven that with the right partnership between the government and the private sector, we can develop our seafarers to become entrepreneurs. We can show with great pride to the whole world that Filipino workers are not only technically competent but are good and talented businessmen as well,” Baldoz further said.

She also stressed that knowledge is not enough in business, saying that equally important is for one to have the passion, determination and patience in his or her chosen line to become successful.

“It is not only the knowhow, but you should also have the heart, the passion for excellence and determination to overcome the problems that you may encounter while you are patiently nurturing your start-up business,” she said.

Baldoz emphasized that Filipino seafarers are the best in the world, thus it is not also impossible that with proper knowledge and guidance, patience and determination in the ins and outs of business, they would also become the chief executive officer and owners of their own companies.

“From being a world-class seafarers, your next mission, your next goal in life is to become global entrepreneurs,” she said.

NRCO chief Director Chona Mantilla said that the business competition plan is open to all active seafarers, preferably those who are planning to retire from sea life and interested to venture into entrepreneurship. The plan is open as well for seafarers who have been inactive for not more than five years.

According to Mantilla, the competition is only for start-up business plan or for those who are planning to open a business for the first time.

“We wanted to foster the development of new business in the countryside or hometowns of seafarers and their families. Having a small micro-business enterprise will generate employment to their friends, neighbors, members of their families and other relatives,” Mantilla added.

Interested parties may join either solo, in pairs or by groups with a minimum of three members.

A P500,000 cash prize, courtesy of ISP, will be awarded to the grand prize winner. Four runner-up winners will receive P50,000 each, and three consolation prizes of P20,000 each.

Capt. Gaudencio Morales, ISP president, said cash prizes can be used by the winners as capital to encourage seafarers to venture into businesses through the guidance of business experts that would be made available to them by the NCRO-ISP.

“This business plan competition is an avenue for our seafarers to learn how to run a business. It is a continuing effort to achieve our eventual goal of seafarers empowerment,” Morales added.

The DOLE-NRCO-ISP’s seafarers to entrepreneurs project is now on its second year of implementation.

Last year’s grand winner was Chief Mate William Gaspay, 58, of Masinloc, Zambales, whose sea-weeds farming business venture is now being run by his son, Leyzam.

“Palaging ubos biyaya kami dati (Before, nothing was left from my father’s earnings as a seaman). But now, I can say that we are starting to reap the fruits of my father’s labor. Our business is now earning,” Leyzam told The Times.

According to Leyzam, what they are earning now from their business venture is already enough to support a family.

“My father is still gainfully employed as a chief mate. But unlike before, he is now confident and has the peace of mind that our family has already this business to lean on if ever he decides to retire later on,” he added.

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