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DOST’s iFWD PH Program can help transform OFWs into technopreneur

The iFWD PH Program by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) provides a comprehensive support system for returned Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who wish to start their own technology-based enterprise in the Philippines. With collaboration from major partners, the program aims to empower OFWs to leverage their skills and savings into sustainable livelihoods that contribute to nation-building.

Launched in 2020 in Metro Manila, the program is DOST’s initiative to assist OFWs who lost their jobs abroad due to the pandemic and have had to go back home with no immediate prospects of employment. Since its inception, at least 626 OFWs were trained under Phase 1, or capacity building and business development; and 74 OFW-led businesses received funding support under Phase 2. It also has generated 104 employment opportunities, excluding those among OFW business owners.

Who is eligible to enroll? The program targets OFWs who returned to the Philippines in the past 3 years, without an existing overseas work contract. For OFWs with active contracts, a family member can enroll and continue the business. The goal is long-term commitment to build the enterprise. If the OFW needs to re-migrate, the family sustains the business.

What technology sectors are covered? The program prioritizes science and technology-powered businesses in sectors like food processing, furniture, gifts and houseware, agriculture and aquatic resources, metals and engineering, health and pharmaceuticals, ICT and electronics, and science and technology (S&T) services.

What if an OFW already has a business concept? The program allows pitching your concept in Phase 1. You can then enrich your idea into a full business plan as required for Phase 2 funding support. For those without concepts, the training provided in Phase 1 will help you develop promising technopreneurship ideas.

What if the OFW does not have a business concept but would like to enroll in iFWD PH? You will have a chance to build your business concept during the Phase 1 of the program. You may also visit the following sites for background about the technologies available in DOST:

iFWD PH made even better

(From left, front row) iFWD PH project director Bianca Claudette R. Canlas, DOST-NCR Regional Director Engr. Romelen T. Tresvalles, SCALE NCR president Maria Cristina L. Ibanez, and Engr. Federico Gonzalez, executive director of De La Salle University Animo Labs, together with other project proponents. (PIA-NCR photo)

On February 28, 2024, the DOST-National Capital Region partnered with a consortium of technology business innovators (TBIs) dubbed, the Strategic and Collaborative Alliance for Leveraging Ecosystem of Startups - National Capital Region (SCALE NCR), to further help returning OFWs and their families who are enrolled in iFWD PH to be guided by mentors from the Technological Institute of the Philippines Nurture Innovation and Revolution Office, Adamson University Neo Science and Technology Incubation Center, De La Salle University Animo Labs, Mapua Think and Tinker Laboratory, Miriam College TBI, UPSCALE Innovation Hub, TOMASinno Center, and QBO Innovation Hub.

SCALE NCR is equipped to offer comprehensive support for business ideation and incubation, aligning with the needs of technology-based startups, including those participating in the iFWD PH. The consortium commits to supporting the program by developing modules and knowledge materials for Phase 1 and Phase 2 activities.

Related story:

OFWs can get up to P500,000 funding for STI-related biz startups

Are permits required in iFWD PH? Yes, registering with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), or Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), plus securing a mayor's business permit are required before Phase 2. These will be discussed in Phase 1.

Is Phase 1 required before Phase 2? Yes, the capability building of Phase 1 is required to equip OFWs with knowledge and finalize their concept. A viable business plan created in Phase 1 is compulsory for Phase 2 aid application.

What are Phase 1 requirements? Documents needed include iFWD PH application form, passport copy, proof of recent return to the Philippines, and self-certification of overseas contract status. 

Submission is through the e-portal:; or; or you can check this list of DOST Attached Agencies and Regional Offices.

DOST Regional Offices, or at the nearest DOST Regional Office or Cluster Offices.

When can requirements be submitted? The program is still accepting applications on a rolling basis. Interested OFWs are encouraged to submit requirements as soon as possible.

Through collaboration with major partners, the iFWD PH Program provides holistic support - from capacity building to innovation funding and business development assistance. By creating sustainable technopreneurship opportunities, the program enables returned OFWs to uplift their families and contribute to national progress. (JCO/PIA-NCR)

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Jerome Carlo Paunan



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