Filipinos looking for loans in OWWA can find that this government agency features a number of programs available including livelihood assistance programs and reintegration programs. These loan programs are helpful for Overseas Filipino Workers and seafarers who are starting a business project, or those who want to go home to the Philippines for good.
Take note that there are some programs that are not classified as loans, but they are financial assistance aid wherein they are given as a one-time cash grant. So please be aware of the difference that a loan is something that you have to pay back with interest, while a cash grant is a free financial assistance with no need to pay back.
OWWA members who want to inquire about OWWA loans may visit the nearest Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) office in their area or they may also check the updates through the OWWA website.
In this article, we hope to shed light about available loan options for migrant Filipino workers- land-based or otherwise – through the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA), an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment meant to safeguard the rights and welfare of the overseas Filipino workers wherever they may be. We hope that this article helps OFWs see their short-term and long-term financial situation, and that there is no harm in borrowing money to improve their lives.
By virtue of R.A. 10801 or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Act of 2016, a national government agency aptly named as the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) was chartered with the sole purpose of protecting and safeguarding member OFWs and their families by creating and implementing member-exclusive welfare programs and services.
It was formerly known as Welfare and Training Fund for Overseas Workers and is in charge of handling, utilizing, and administering the OWWA Fund as needed.
As a national agency, OWWA’s programs and services are meant to protect the interest, facilitate the implementation of government services in all phases of overseas employment, and provide social, educational, cultural, and financial services to help develop, support, and finance efforts to improve the life and future of OFWs and their beneficiaries.
These programs are made available to all OWWA members who judiciously pay their $25 membership dues every two years. This membership option is exclusively available to OFWs, whether land-based workers or seafarers, who were and are still being deployed to other countries in an effort to ease the tight domestic labor market and generate foreign exchange while helping stabilize their personal finances and employment needs.
If you are an active OWWA member looking to become an entrepreneur but are struggling with fundings, then congratulations! You just caught a lifeline. OWWA offers numerous financing opportunities in the form of loans and financial assistance to help ease the burden of starting your own business.
Sure, they all have numerous requirements and qualifications, but for what it’s worth, it does work wonders as a leverage when getting your business off the ground.
Here are some of the available OWWA Loans for Land-based OFWs and Seafarers:
OWWA Business Loans
1. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Enterprise Development and Loan Program (OFW-EDLP)
The Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Enterprise Development and Loan Program (OFW-EDLP), formerly known as the OFW Reintegration Program (ORP), is a collaborative loan program between OWWA, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP). It’s an initiative meant to help OFWs who were displaced due to conflict, political crisis, policy changes, or other distressing situations prepare and rebuild their lives back home.
Under the OFW-EDLP, credit assistance ranging from Php 100,000.00 to Php 2,000,000.00 (for individual borrowers) and Php 100,000.00 to Php 5,000,000.00 (for group loans) are offered to displaced land-based OFWs or seafarers to support and provide opportunities so they may run their own business in the following industries, in lieu of overseas employment:
- Franchising business
- Rental business
- Construction business
- Service/Trading business
- Transportation service
- Agricultural and non-agricultural production
- Contract tie-up with the country’s top 1000 corporations
- Other viable projects, whether existing or new.
The loan is afforded to OWWA members who need funds for their business’ working capital or fixed asset acquisition. The loanable amount may vary but the equity should not be more than 20% of the Total Project Cost (TPC). The interest rate is set at 7.5% per annum for the duration of the loan and the borrower must have completed the Enhanced Entrepreneurial Development Training (EEDT) – a training program that helps OFWs gain more knowledge and skills regarding finance, business management, and other business-related topics.
2. Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP): Special Offer Landbank Loan For OFW
Yet another business loan that OFWs and seafarers may avail is the Special Offer Landbank Loan for oFWs. The loan program is not under OWWA. It is initiated by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and it requires the borrowers to have active OWWA membership.
Under this loan program, Filipino migrant workers can avail of a loan ranging from Php 300,000.00 to Php 2,000,000.00. The loan is offered under a special reintegration program, the OFW Reintegration Program (OFW-RP). It provides an eligible OFW with the opportunity and funds to start a business in the Philippines, provided that they can present an OWWA certificate to prove that they are active OWWA members. The loan terms would vary depending on the amount of money taken on credit, but it should be settled in not more than 7 years (including a two-year grace period). Funds are also kept on deposit.
3. Helping the Economy Recover thru OFW Enterprise Start-Ups (HEROES) Loan Program
Just like the Landbank loan offer, the Helping the Economy Recover thru OFW Enterprise Start-Ups (HEROES) Loan Program is not an OWWA program. It is, however, a loan offered by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through the Small Business Corporation (SB Corporation), a government-owned and government-controlled corporation (GOCC) that aims to help micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises. The program is part of DTI’s Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) fund, and is exclusively available to repatriated OFWs who are active OWWA members at the time when they lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the HEROES Loan Program, eligible OFWs may borrow Php 10,000.00 to PHP 100,000.00 without interest and collateral to be repaid in 24 months along with a service fee of 6%. For loans with repayment terms of 36 months, the same term applies but the service fee would be 8%. Note that these loan terms are already inclusive of a 12-month grace period.
To apply, the repatriated OFW will need to submit a video presentation about their business proposal, including the nature of the business, market opportunity, and management capability, among others.
OWWA Seafarers’ Loan
If you are wondering whether there is a specialized loan exclusively for active OWWA members working as seafarers abroad, well, the answer is no. The loan projects offered by OWWA are offered for all OFWs, land-based and sea-based, and only requires that they maintain active OWWA membership.
Having said that, it means that seafarers may also apply for any of the OWWA loan programs, including the OFW-EDLP program, or avail of any of the numerous cash assistance programs and benefits that the agency offers including the scholarships, pangkabuhayan, welfare assistance, social, death, dismemberment, and health benefits, among others. This naturally applies if and only if the seafarer can comply with the requirements of each OWWA program or benefit.
Though there are no loans exclusively designed for seafarers and mariners overseas, there are OWWA programs that are available just for them:
Seafarers Upgrading Program (SUP)
The Seafarers Upgrading Program (SUP) is a short-term job-related OWWA-sponsored training program specifically designed to help seafarers maintain their competitive advantage in the market. It aims to help improve their skills to match the standards of the International Maritime Organizations. Under this program, an eligible seafarer can get a maximum of Php 7,500.00 for every course taken at an accredited maritime training center.
Mariner’s Dugtong Aral (Bridging) Program (MDA)
Just like the SUP, the Mariner’s Dugtong Aral (MDA) Program is not a loan. At best, it is a scholarship program sponsored by OWWA to help Filipino mariners advance their career on-board an ocean-going vessel and become marine officers. Beneficiaries of the MDA are entitled to Php 38,120.00 plus Php 15,000.00 for a 3-month stipend.
OWWA Personal Loans
If you need extra cash to pay for things like home improvements, or debts, then your best bet is to go for personal loans. This loan type usually doesn’t require collateral, but it hinges on credit score and income-to-debt ratio for approval. Applying for a personal loan is similar to applying for a credit card. You’ll receive personal loan funds all at once and begin paying them back the same amount every month until your loan is paid off in full.
Unfortunately, OWWA doesn’t offer any personal loans at this time. There are numerous programs meant to support member OFWs the same way personal loans do, but they are mostly in the form of grants, livelihood assistance, welfare, social, and accidental assistance, even funeral gratuities, and special initiatives. Some may be handed out in the form of cash aids, but they can’t be considered personal loans since there is no need to pay them back.
Here are some of the programs you can look into if you’re an active OWWA member looking to secure funds to build a life back home in the Philippines with your family:
Disability and Dismemberment
OWWA has a Disability and Dismemberment program which gives qualified OFWs up to Php 100,000.00 in cash benefits for any accident-related injuries they sustain while working abroad.
Education and Livelihood Assistance Program for the Dependents of Deceased OFW Members (ELAP)
As the name suggests, this OWWA program is an Education and Livelihood Assistance Program for the Dependents of Deceased OFW Members (ELAP). It was designed to help the qualified school-age dependents of deceased OFWs who were active OWWA members cope with the loss and pay for their education. They are also entitled to livelihood assistance amounting to Php 15,000.00.
Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program
Under the OFW Reintegration Program (ORP), the OWWA offers the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program to provide livelihood support and assistance for the immediate relief of repatriated, distressed, or displaced OFWs. It is given in the form of a cash aid, amounting to Php 20,000.00, and it can be used as a start-up capital or as an additional business capital.
Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program
Under the OFW Reintegration Program (ORP), OWWA offers the Balik Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program, to distressed Filipina workers who couldn’t find success abroad. The program offers livelihood training programs so repatriated Filipinas can set up a small business and live comfortably back home with their families.
Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Pag-unlad ng Samahang OFWs Program (Tulong PUSO)
Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Pag-unlad ng Samahang OFWs (Tulong PUSO) is not a loan. It is a one-time livelihood assistance offered by OWWA to support proposed business plans and income-generating livelihood endeavors of member OFW groups recognized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Under the Tulong PUSO program, eligible OFW groups can get funds amounting to Php 150,000.00, Php 250,000.00, Php 500,000.00, or Php 1,000,000.00 to start or scale their businesses and they do not need to pay it back.
DOLE-OWWA AKAP for OFWs (DOLE-AKAP)
Though it’s not a loan either, OWWA also offers the DOLE-OWWA-AKAP, a financial assistance program meant to help and support displaced OFWs, regardless if they were temporarily or permanently affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
OWWA Calamity Loans
OWWA does not offer calamity loans either. Instead, they offer a special program called Calamity Assistance wherein OWWA members and their families who have been affected by calamities like floods, typhoons, or earthquakes receive up to Php 3,000.00 in cash aid per member. Remember: the support that OFWs receive in the form of calamity assistance is not a loan, so there’s no need to pay back any amount to OWWA.
Welfare Assistance Program (WAP)
Yet another form of assistance is offered to active OWWA members in the form of the OWWA Welfare Assistance Program (WAP). It is a social benefit program extended to active and non-active OWWA members and their qualified dependents, who are not yet eligible for any of the various OWWA programs and services.
Under this program, affected OFWs and their eligible beneficiaries are provided with cash relief in the following form:
- Calamity assistance for OWWA members OFWs and their families who were affected by natural or human-induced calamities or disasters
- Bereavement assistance for families and dependents of OFWs who died as active OWWA members
- Disability assistance for OFWs who fell victim to crimes or accidents
- Medical assistance for sick OFWs or those who were injured in accidents or crime-related events but are not covered under MEDplus
- Relief assistance for OFWs who are active OWWA members that are displaced or laid-off due to economic, political turmoil, health crises, bankruptcy, and other similar conditions
Supplementary Medical Assistance (MEDplus)
In addition to WAP, OWWA also offers MEDplus, a social benefit program that provides supplemental medical assistance to OFWs who were hospitalized for dreaded diseases. Active OWWA members with active PhilHealth membership can avail of the financial assistance offered under the program which can help relieve the pain of paying for hospital bills. The amount may vary depending on the case rate system, but it should not exceed Php 50,000.00 per member.
OWWA Salary Loans
Just like a personal loan, a salary loan serves almost the same purpose except that the application and repayment terms are more relaxed and are much easier on the pocket. It’s usually offered by banks, lending institutions, or private companies and are disbursed as a lump sum and repaid by making staggered payments decided upon by the borrower.
Now if you are wondering whether OWWA offers salary loans as part of any of their programs, the answer is NO. There aren’t any existing OWWA salary loans available for both land-based OFWs and seafarers as of writing time.
If you need funds, you may look into the various programs and benefits offered by OWWA. None of them qualify as salary loans, but if it’s livelihood or emergency assistance or grants that you are looking for, then you can avail of the OWWA programs yourself if you want to get assistance from OWWA.
OWWA Housing Loans
As important as housing is to OFWs, unfortunately, housing is something that OWWA doesn’t have any loan or programs for. To put it bluntly, No, OWWA currently does not offer any housing loan or assistance program for Filipinos. At present, all the loan programs that OWWA has is about business and their programs revolve around livelihood, medical, social, and educational assistance.
Currently, OWWA is offering scholarships, cash aids, welfare and livelihood grants, and educational and training programs. But maybe in the future, OWWA can incorporate subsidized housing projects in one of their offerings to their member OFWs and their beneficiaries. It will depend on whatever direction the agency will take and whether or not new programs and opportunities, as well as budget, will allow for it to happen.
For now, if you are an OFW looking for housing programs, assistance, or loans, you can look into getting these benefits from your Pag-IBIG membership. If you are looking for loans, Pag-IBIG or bank financing are also available options. There are also some government programs like SSS direct housing loans and NHA Tahanan ng Bagong Bayani program that offer affordable housing. For private ones, the 3B or Bahay ng Bagong Bayani is available if you check the offerings from OFBank or the Landbank of the Philippines.
VIDEO: Applying for an OWWA Loan
Sure, there are a limited number of loan options available for OFWs that require OWWA memberships. But, if you are really interested in taking a loan and borrowing money to start a venture that would make yours and your families life and future better, then you can go ahead and give it a try. Just make sure you pay back whatever you borrow and you do so in a timely manner and everything will be fine and dandy, especially since loans are typically taken from financial institutions or government agencies like OWWA.
Here is an educational video about how OFWs can take business loans via OWWA, posted by Mommy Thoughts on YouTube. Remember, these loan programs are specifically intended for OFWs, and they are being offered to our Modern Heroes in an effort to help them establish a start-up or small business in the Philippines.
The goal is to help them settle back in the country without regressing to their former financial state which will drive them back out of the country. To achieve the financial independence that the country dreams for OFWs like yourself, you need to have a business plan, a strategy, and sufficient funding to hit your objectives for your business. Luckily, OWWA has programs that will give you access to all the resources and training facilities you will ever need to help you get started on your path to successful entrepreneurship.
Here’s a video detailing all the benefits OFWs can get in exchange for the $25 membership fee that you are giving OWWA every two years. The explainer video was published on the Charisse & Sammy Youtube channel, and it’s hosted by Charisse, an OFW from Doha, Qatar.
Frequently Asked Questions
In case you find some information unclear, here are some of the most common questions and answers about the loan projects offered by OWWA, along with some other concerns you may have such as what other projects you can avail of as an OWWA member:
1. Can I avail of any OWWA loans and programs even if I am still working and living abroad?
Yes, of course. OWWA loans, along with other OWWA projects, are all available to active OWWA members who are also OFWs. It doesn’t really matter where you are as long as you can get an OWWA certification. When you have it on hand, you can simply present it to the powers that be at Landbank as part of the documentary requirements. If you are overseas and can;t present it to Landbank in person, here’s what you can do:
- Reach out to the Welfare Officer stationed at the Philippine Embassy in the country where you are currently employed. The Welfare Officer can verify and attest to your OWWA membership.
- The Welfare Officer will then direct you to your preferred OWWA office in the Philippines after your information has been validated.
- You may visit the OWWA Office upon your return to the Philippines to obtain your certification. Or, you may have a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) issued to your spouse or any immediate family member of legal age so they can transact on your behalf. Just make sure the SPA details exactly what the authorized representative can and can’t do in your name.
- Present the OFW Certification together with the other requirements to Landbank. With an SPA on hand, the authorized representative may be sent to transact with the bank on your behalf.
Alternatively, you may inquire from the POLO-OWWA office close to where you are based if you have questions about OWWA programs and services.
2. Am I required to physically attend the Enhanced Entrepreneurial Development Training (EEDT) before I can avail of the OWWA OFW-EDLP?
Yes, you need to have received a Certificate of Attendance as documentation that you completed the EEDT. When applying for a loan, this certification will be a necessary document. Under the EEDT, you will be exposed to the various strategies and techniques for managing, sustaining, and dealing with the challenges in your chosen industry. You will be taught about all this as well as the response times and options in such cases. The training also includes an immersion program to give you an idea about how to run a business at the grassroots level.
There’s no fixed schedule for the Enhanced Entrepreneurial Development Training (EEDT) as it typically varies depending on the regional office, so your best bet would be to check with your local OWWA office. Note that with the immersion included, the training may last for at least one day.
3. Can I apply for an OFW-EDLP loan from OWWA even if I am not an active member?
No. Unfortunately, you have to be an active OWWA member in order to avail of the OFW OWWA loan. You may check your membership status or activate your membership by paying $25.00 which is valid for 2 years via the OWWA mobile app. OWWA has also made it easier for you to apply and renew your OWWA membership that way as well.
4. Can I apply for a loan even if I don’t have any properties under my name?
Yes. OWWA requires that an OFW borrower presents a collateral when applying for an OWWA loan because, at the end of the day, the agency needs to know that they will be paid. Even though the OWWA Loan is primarily a no-collateral loan afforded to active OWWA members as a privilege, borrowers are expected to present mortgageable assets as collateral.
Sure, one of the many things that you, as a borrower, can use as collateral is a property in your name. If it is not available, then the following categories of assets can be used as a workaround:
- Lease Rental Contract (which also proves that the business is/will be operational)
- OR/CR of vehicle (chattel mortgage)
- Other contract agreements like Purchase Order or Deed of Assignment.
5. Where can I inquire for more information about these OWWA loans and programs?
If you would like to seek more information about the OWWA loans or other OFW programs initiated by OWWA, then you may visit the POLO-OWWA office closest to you if you are currently abroad. You may also visit the nearest OWWA Regional Welfare Office in your province if you are in the country.
Being an OFW, working away from home, and living in an unfamiliar country is and will always be an extraordinary feat that only OFWs can do. Amid all these struggles, there’s always a reassurance that there is an entire department’s assistance.
It’s always reassuring to know that as an OFW, you have the option to avail of loans, programs, and other benefits from government agencies like the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) to help you achieve your dream of a richer, better life with your family. That even after you return to the Philippines, there is a way to achieve your financial goals, and live your dream of being financially independent when you return to the Philippines to be with your family for good.
Whether you’re a land- or sea-based OFW, there are programs available to you, if only you know where to look. Maybe they aren’t all in the form of loans, these OWWA programs can prove to be of significant help to anyone, especially OFWs during unprecedented times like what happened during the pandemic.
Remember, OWWA is not there to pull you down to debt and despair, but to take you closer to your financial goals and families. It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re a seafarer or a land-based worker, because no matter who you are or what you do, you need to commit to paying back if it’s a loan that you took so as not to get into trouble or cause problems for your family and loved ones, as well.
If you are an OFW, know that more than the family you support, the government values all your hard work and contribution to the country by giving benefits to Overseas Filipino Workers through OWWA so you may rebuild your life by establishing your own businesses or enhancing existing ones, so you can look forward to generating income and supporting your families from here in the Philippines.
If you have concerns, or inquiries or are simply eager to know more about OWWA, its loan offers, programs, or benefits, you can contact OWWA or Land Bank of the Philippines through the details below.
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)
Office Address: F.B. Harrison St, Pasay, Metro Manila
Customer Hotline Number – 1348, (02) 1348 (Regional), (+632) 1348 (International)
Mobile Numbers – +63 917 898 6992 (Globe) / + 63 998 981 6992
OWWA Email Address: email@example.com
OWWA Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/OWWAofficial
OWWA website: https://owwa.gov.ph/
For more information about the OWWA loan programs, as well as other services and benefits for member OFWs and their families, please visit the official website of OWWA at https://owwa.gov.ph/.
Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP):
Customer Hotline Number – +632 8 405 7000
Domestic Toll-Free Number – 1 800 10 405 7000
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
LBP also has 607 Branches, 71 Branch-lite units, 2,810 ATMs, and 58 Lending Centers (as of May 2022).
You may also visit the official website of the Land Bank of the Philippines to check on available programs and loan options at https://www.landbank.com/.