I want a business in the Philippines

Our building in Cebu, Philippines owned by Matt and April WilkieSimple answer don’t we all. There are many issues you have to take into account the biggest one is many of the people in power welcome your money but generally they want control of most of the businesses they can control. If you look at the so-called Elite here. They own the department stores, Malls, Animal feeds,Breweries, telecommunication companies in fact almost anything that creates serious profits. Either via owning a large quantity of shares or outright ownership which basically means even if you were a big fish your swimming in a sea of sharks.

So what can i do? Well there are people who have made money here via furniture exports aswell as other products they ship back to theyre country of origin (generally). Some people have pension houses or a spare house they rent out. Others have restaurants, web cafe or other small ventures but generally you need to have a good network of contacts and a prime location. You are not only competing in a world which you are new in but the competition is likely to be well-educated, hard-working and if that doesn’t work maybe death threats if they can’t force you out fairly. Welcome to the Philippines!!

It all sounds a bit crazy and the last place on the planet you would want to start a business but to be honest it comes down to the individual and deciding what you want to do. Me im one who will give it time and invest in small ventures to see how they grow and if people start sniffing around. Currently a small piggery is fattening pigs for market. Next goats then a small eatery which will eventually be a restaurant if it builds to that level. None of these businesses turn a great profit or are even predicted to. But if i can just skim a bit off each business in one to two years time i will already have enough income to survive in the Philippines without taking too much risks.

What about an existing business?? well you will find internet cafe advertising regularly up for sale with “owner leaving” or multicab routes with “owner leaving” in fact most businesses, including fisheries, farms etc. Because most of these businesses are starved of either investment or too many in similar locations. Internet cafes are everywhere here but it doesn’t mean it’s a business dead in the water.
I’ve looked at several and they generally are based round either gamers or net browsers. After spending a bit of time in the Industry you realise gaming is a small part of this trade. Gamers are generally addicts that will eventually buy theyre own equipment as soon as they can afford it. It’s a high bandwidth business and very noisy. The browser can be a student needing info for subjects or someone collecting emails or browsing for a husband. But the point is you need to cater for all and the best way of doing it is splitting the gamers away from the normal users. Easy way of doing this is you don’t need high spec PCs for browsing! gamers will avoid those machines.
So how do you increase revenues? look at the existing business what is it missing something made you think i can do this and here are a few things you can do :-

  • Setup a voip phone service get a separate booth built so people have privacy to talk.
  • Look at food habits of the people using your place are you missing out ?
  • Hot and cold drinks, personally i would install a coffee maker which will leave coffee lingering to make people want one.
  • Photocopying, printing, scanning things students all need doing aswell as the general population.
  • Do computer repairs aswell as offer staff extra incentives/pay for each repair to get them interested.
  • Customer service is a major thing lacking in many of the businesses keep the customers happy and coming back.
  • Check out the competition before you buy to see what works for them.
  • Online learning classes in the evenings ok you may not be able to offer more than a printed diploma but some people don’t know how to use a PC, some people want to know how to build a website there is a growing demand for this type of thing.
  • Web hosting, web development and website design (if you can’t do it yourself find an employee who can there are enough people looking for work!)

There are plenty of other ideas but ill write-up about that later. Point is business fails for several factors here and a lot of it comes down to a lack of interest from the owners especially with smaller ventures. They lack capital and after taking a few hits with others developing around them they start to go bust. Being unique or finding a pocket of new business is the way forward. Doing things many locals can’t afford will always get you ahead of the game. We are in the middle of a world food crisis and what has happened in the Philippines to the farming?? Currently hundreds of millions of dollars for fertilizer have gone missing. If you search any of the main sites you will see farms for sale, fisheries etc and the price of buying is very cheap. One of the main sites I look for things is shown below take a look for yourself.

Now a country that still has people dying due to a lack of food and is at the beginning of what i would call an Industrial revolution where people are heading to the cities either by free will for education or a better job. Or simply forced off the land they own to make room for a golf course for those with enough power to make their life hell. Either way people are heading to the cities. But the West is sat on the ropes right now as its bracing itself for a recession that may last several years is the West going to need the thousands of nurses that leave the shores of the Philippines each month? probably not. China is also starting to look to employ more of its own people and where the Philippines has prospered with OFWs may start to see a decline. So whats my point?? Well you have a country that imports nearly everything yet its full of resources and land that can provide high yields of food if managed properly. Organic farming is a growing industry and likely to be a business with a future. Getting away from the fertilizers that literally destroy the ground and if you’re a foreigner (with a wife! you can’t own the land) you can get a farm currently at low value with plenty of land to begin creating crops and without any debts that could in the future destroy your business. So what do i need to be a farmer? Biggest problem people have currently is thieves. Maybe not so much for rice in a rice field. But goats, chickens, ducks are all easy targets. Farming is a business i will be venturing into but i advise anyone doing it to do the research before jumping in. Many of the farming methods that are currently used are out of date in comparison to such places as Thailand and China. So a few afternoons seeing what others are doing will get you in the picture of how to make a business but a few years will be needed to make it successful.

Its past 1am so ill offer the last three ways of this topic for today of how to make money. Firstly live here and rent your house out where you currently are if you own it. If you’re in the UK you already know you are likely to be looking at £400+ for the property add to the fact you can sell any excess stuff you don’t need you can invest in savings and head to the sun. There are no heating bills, low property tax, cheap to dine out, low rent and great climate to name but a few reasons to come here. For around P40,000 a month (which is getting towards £450 a month) you can live here comfortably. But you need to take into account your lifestyle because if you look at things as a holiday you will spend money like its water. But if you look at things as they are in the UK as just the routine of life you will probably be saving money each month. You can rent a 2 bedroom apartment for around £35 a month YES a month after shopping around.

The second way is shipping goods. Well its sort of the Philippines basically live here and export back from either China or Thailand goods for sale. You will be surprised how easy it is to sell products if you get them at the right price and if it’s a good enough market you can eventually just opt to be an overseas buyer for a company as you are already here and can prove that your ideas work. The reason I didn’t add the Philippines is quite simply the headaches of the tax rates here are way too high and the corruption in the customs is some of the worst in the country.

Final way is to invest. The Philippines is starved of cash and if you’ve been here you can see by the number of pawn shops that are trading everywhere. Simply look at time deposits or other ventures which i can offer more details on if you want to email me at mattwilkie@tropicalpenpals.com the rates can be as much as 20% interest per year and higher but also tax-free. So if you cant retire today if you start investing you will soon see a growing nest egg that will set you up for a prosperous future.