As a Filipino, it can be hard to find a regular job. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the unemployment rate is slowly rising, with 7.5% or an estimated of 2.9 million individuals without a place of work compared to 7.1% in January 2013. The Philippines has few industries and graduates have a hard time finding a job they like. Most of them end up stacking shelves at local supermarkets or working as cashiers, jobs that could hardly be seen as suitable for someone who has just graduated from university. The reality is harsh, with many Filipinos opting to work abroad in order to support themselves and their families.
However if you’re a foreigner, things may look different to you. You already have the capital required to make it, the only thing that you need is a business idea and the right people to help you implement it. Luckily, Filipinos are hardworking people and it’s a known fact that Filipino VAs are some of the most resourceful and industrious English speaking workers that you can employ online. Because of this, opening a business in the Philippines is mostly about getting around the legislation and finding and providing Filipinos with an opportunity that they do not yet have.
Here are a couple of business ideas to kick start your idea-generating part of the brain. While not entirely new or exclusive, these ideas can give you a base from which to create your next winning business.
1. Rice retail business.
If you were born and raised in the Western hemisphere, bread is probably a staple in almost every Western cuisine. However when it comes to SE Asia, rice is king. Every Filipino eats rice. Getting into the rice retail business requires a starting capital of P60,000 to get something that is profitable right off the bat. If you’re not a Filipino, you’ll have to find one because that is the only way you will be able to start this business. Once you have your local partner, you will require a business permit, licenses with the DTI or the SEC if it is a partnership or corporation and also a license from the National Food Authority.
This isn’t a new idea by any means and it is mainly an arbitrage business. However, if you’re just starting out, it’s a nice starting point until you’re ready to tackle bigger fish.
2. Tarpaulin printing business
Tarpaulin is used as drop sheet for painting and can be used on anything from food carts to electoral billboards and even to funerals. Graphics printed on tarpaulin are cheap and the material is resistant, making it a good fit for Philippines’ tropical weather.
3. CAD plotting business
Another specialized type of business, the main target customers would be architects and engineers. A plotter works like a regular printer except that it can take paper sizes larger than the standard A4 through A1 sizes
4. Second-hand clothing business
Known locally as Ukay-Ukay, used clothing is big with Filipinos because of the reduced prices it offers them. You can import clothes from other countries for cheap (clothes that did not pass local standards for example). This can be an alternative to opening a boutique or buying space in a department store.
5. Pandesal making business
Another staple diet of Filipino diets, Pandesal is a common bread eaten at breakfast or as snacks. Instead of opening a general bakery, it’s best to open a small bakery that specializes in making Pandesal. Assure that your Pandesal is of high quality and you will have no problem attracting customers.
6. Shoe, bag and leather repair business
Filipino markets are flooded with shoe and bag replicas from China, so almost everybody owns one. But while they’re cheap, they also break very easily. People would rather have them fixed instead of thrown away. That’s where a shoe, bag and leather repair business comes in.
7. Street food business
Street food carts are seen all over the Philippines. Isaw or grilled intestines, betamax (dried pork blood), pig ears (called walkman), chicken head and feet are all popular street foods. You can buy all of these products and the only requirement is to grill them on charcoal before they can be sold.
8. Personalized T-Shirt Printing
With recent advances in technology, almost everyone can buy a printer, t-shirt transfer paper and a couple of blank t-shirts to start off their business. Selling custom t-shirts is an evergreen niche.
9. Meat shop business
You will find many meat shops in wet markets and setting up shop near other shops similar to yours is a sure way to fail (unless you don’t mind operating on abysmal margins)
10. Cellphone loading business
Another idea for a business that does not require a big starting capital. Eloading allows people to sell credits from all telecom networks.
These are just a couple of business ideas to help you find the ideal one. Remember, if you’re going to open a business in the Philippines, you should create something that locals could not replicate. Otherwise, if you get into markets where arbitrage is everything, you will most assuredly lose to the competition who is willing to work harder for lower margins.