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DTI urged to create startups office

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A neophyte lawmaker urged on Saturday the Department of Trade and Industry to create a special office that would cater to startup entrepreneurs as part of government efforts to help overseas Filipino workers displaced from their jobs in the Middle East.

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte also asked local chief executives to initiate ordinances that would provide incentives to startup enterprises.

Through these proposals, Villafuerte said he hopes the government would be able to kickstart the stalled Philippine Roadmap for Digital Startups. 

Drawn up by the Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Technology Office, the roadmap is supposed to come up with at least 500 startups in the country with total funding of $200 million and a valuation of $2 billion by 2020.

“My proposal will not only benefit our returning OFWs but also other budding entrepreneurs who have come up with innovative products, ideas or business models that need adequate funding to take off,” the lawmaker said.

Villafuerte referred to a report about the DTI partnering with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in coming up with entrepreneurship programs for Filipinos who were repatriated from the Middle East.

“Many of our OFWs, who have accumulated a vast amount of experience and knowledge from working overseas, have a lot of potential to become successful entrepreneurs,” said Villafuerte, vice chairman of the House committee on local government. 

A case in point, Villafuerte said, is Myrna Padilla, a former housekeeper in Hong Kong who is now the president and CEO of Mynd Consulting and Outsourcing Phils., which is among the biggest business process outsourcing firms in Davao City.

Another former OFW, Bong Clavel, now owns Z-Jay Marketing, the biggest agri-veterinary supplies store in Alabel, Sarangani. He used to be a boiler operator in the Marshall Islands, the solon added.

After struggling with problems with his startups, Clavel was able to expand his business to include a fleet of minicabs and tuna fishing boats, Villafuerte said. 

OFWs like Clavel and Padilla, he added, would find it easier to hurdle challenges to their startups if a bill he had filed in Congress were to become law.

Under Villauerte’s House Bill No. 2882, the DTI is mandated to create a special Startup Office with an initial allocation of P100 million from the department’s funds. The office is allowed to accept private sector contributions and donations subject to certain implementing rules and regulations that would be publicized once the measure is enacted into law.

The DTI would also develop and maintain a “startup website” to serve as the primary source of information regarding the implementation of the startup law, Villafuerte said.


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