The frustration of doing business in the Philippines

The last few months i have been busy trying to tie up loose ends to get projects moving. What i have found is things never move like they should and often people expect it not to. If you question things being slow or not being done generally the reply is “this is the Philippines not the West”. Which is true but at the same time how do people in India, Thailand, Malaysia, China get things done because this is Asia? The Philippines is part of some of the presently most industrialised and manufacturing related region on the planet yet it seems to pull in completely the opposite direction.

Prime example is the jewellery business that i want to get started and looking to partner up with some of the larger producers already in Cebu. Why? because i don’t want to do the manufacturing if its already in existence people have enough problems competing with China i am looking to use my network in the UK, Australia and the US to deal with sales i wanted to primarily deal with quality and consistency. Get that right the rest will sell itself. But you mention its a new venture they stop returning calls. Why? they haven’t even seen my background or associates. Financially stable and a large network to feed new stocks into why wouldn’t you do business? truth of the matter i think a lot of it is arrogance and laziness. The arrogance on the assumption you don’t know what your doing yet they don’t even know what your looking to do with their products. Laziness as i have heard more than once that “we don’t need anymore customers”. Well that’s going to work you will soon be needing less customers as well as China continues to expand. Great mentality. The other problem is the one they have just created in that i will continue with the ventures and i have currently sourced some local small scale manufacturing i can start from difference is they have just created competition on their own doorstep and from someone who initially wasn’t interested in that part of the business.

The next issue i have is to do with another venture and people not turning up. I arrange meetings and appointments and it takes a month (yes 4 weeks) to get a reply either via email or text. Another venture i will need to scrap as its embarrassing for me to be let down by my supplier that i am trying to get his business going. Its also more of a embarrassment as the stock is a time sensitive one to restaurants as no stock no cooking!

Pretty much everything we have done has led to more work being done than needed or things being done twice. I am tired and frustrated with it as simply i wonder what is the point sometimes. In the UK i am worth around £70,000+ a year yet here i am scraping around trying to get ventures moving that can help people around us directly and indirectly. It is also the no.1 reason most people give up in business here bad staff. Part of the problem is the brain drain where resources are stretched where the smart and the financially able leave for pastures new many having no interest in coming back to the Philippines unless its for retirement or just a quick visit. The other is culturally people generally have no interest in doing things today that help develop the future tomorrow.

What is my solution to this problem? Simply i will stop developing anything outside of direct control its how the expats who are doing well here are not only surviving but doing well. A lot of the problems most people don’t realise are really problems as its accepted generally but for a westerner trying to develop ventures here its an impossibility to function that way. Business is business and the friendly part of life will be separated from it in future. I hate having my time and more importantly my money wasted.

2 comments for “The frustration of doing business in the Philippines

  1. Enrico
    October 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I am in the same position as you. The only solution is to join them and do it like they do. Thank you for this great article.

    • Tropicalpenpals
      October 28, 2010 at 5:47 am

      totally agree.. they can make a living here so nothing to stop us doing the same.