Talk Show on Potentials of Remittances for Micro Enterprise Development

Remittances, the portion of migrant workers' earnings that are sent back home to their families, have been a critical means of financial support for families in the Philippines for a few decades now. For the most part, however, these inflows have been historically hidden from plain view and are not that easy to account for. But all that is changing as the scale of migration increases and the corresponding growth in remittances gains widespread attention.

This has been elaborated by the different speakers during the talk show on “Potentials of Remittances for Micro Enterprise Development” hosted by Ariel Ayala of the Catholic Media Network at the SM Megatrade Hall 3, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines, during the 3rd IFAD-Philippines Knowledge and Learning Market. It was attended by some 100 participants from various migrant groups, local government units, national government agencies, the media, and NGOs.

Angela Villalba, Executive Director of Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Inc. pointed out some concerns:
  • No direct link between remittances and rural development but remittance was able to put food on the table, send children to school and other activities related to household consumption
  • There are few cases where remittances were put into micro enterprises in rural areas such as a rice center in Surigao, coco fiber processing in Davao and integrated farming in Bukidnon

Observations and insights from Mr. Benel Lagua, President & COO of the Small Business Guarantee & Finance Corporation:

  • Remittances in 2008 amounted to PhP16.4 billion and continue to grow on an annual basis.
  • The link between agriculture development and remittances has not been established, but that definitely the potential can be tapped, thus the need for real intervention and not just allow market forces to dominate.
  • Remittances coming into families in the Philippines are spent for consumption, housing, and education.
Experiences and inputs from Sana F.K. Jatta, CPM of IFAD:
  • IFAD study on remittances focuses on gender, behavior and the investments made using the money
  • Study shows that more women remitted than men
  • Remittances related to agriculture were for purchase of land and technology
The different speakers shared the same views and came up with the following suggestions and recommendations.

Ms. Villalba said that an NGO may suggest to IFAD, SBGFC, and other government agencies the promotion of social ventures supported by appropriate policies.

Mr. Lagua emphasized that remittances per se will not bring development; it is not the panacea or ultimate solution to our problems. Our migrant workers should be encouraged to invest in agriculture and the government should provide the necessary infrastructures and market opportunities as well.

Some feedback from the audience:

"The talk show was nice but the time was limited!" - Susan Perez, DAR-FAPsO.

"An informative and incisive discussion!" – Marlene Tablante, KLM-TWG

Reported by KLM3 Knowledge Facilitators:

Amor Grace B. Babaran
DARPO-IX, Zamboanga del Norte

Orlen Ocleasa
M&E Coordinator, ACDI VOCA