THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is producing livelihood kits to jump-start entrepreneurship in the poorest and most calamity-affected parts of the country, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters Friday.

The program has a budget of up to P350 million, with P200 million already approved.

The DTI in 2018 distributed livelihood starter kits, including variety store and sewing packages, to displaced persons in Marawi City following the 2017 siege.

The program which begins next year will focus on 4th to 6th-class municipalities, particularly those in calamity-stricken areas.

“Bawat 4th to 6th class municipality will apply. Uunahin para talaga grassroots level. Kasama na rin ‘yung na-calamity (Each 4th to 6th-class municipality can apply. We will give them priority so the grassroots will benefit. These include places that have experienced calamities),” Mr. Lopez said.

Local government units (LGUs) are classified into seven categories by their income levels, from first to sixth class. A seventh class of “special” LGUs includes Quezon City, the city of Manila, and Borongan, Eastern Samar.

“Initially ’yung binibigyan, ‘yung dati rin may negosyo. Kasi hindi rin naman lahat ready mag-negosyo. (Initially, the beneficiaries will be those who have run businesses before, because not everyone is ready to run a business).”

Each package costs P10,000, and the program hopes to reach 35,000 beneficiaries.

Mr. Lopez said that the program will work alongside the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) program, under which entrepreneurs can borrow money to improve their businesses.

He added that there will be an additional P1.5 billion worth of funding for the P3 program in 2020.

The P3 program was created to provide an alternative to so-called “5-6” usurers by providing low-interest, no-collateral loans for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). — Jenina P. Ibañez