Top 10 Business Opportunities in Manila Philippines


If you want to become successful in business, you should remain focused on the tasks you need to get done. These are the factors you can control. If you want to put up an e-commerce business, spend time with your website designer to fine tune the elements that would make your site accessible, fast, convenient and navigable.

Factors such as government and fiscal policy, inflation, exchange rate fluctuations, peace and order, social unrest and foreign trade policy are beyond your control. These responsibilities belong to those who are voted into public office by the electorate.

The Philippines’ most iconic and successful businessmen were entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity when others saw none. Some of them like Alfredo Yao overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve the level of success that he has. The son of a sidewalk vendor, Yao sought to pursue his dream of having an education through meager earnings.

With his resilience and the help of well-intentioned relatives, Yao was able to finish his studies at a university. But his journey to success came at a serious crossroads when the packaging technology he purchased from Europe went unsold.

Given this predicament, what would you do? Yao used the technology as the basis for the packaging widely associated with Zest-O fruit juices. And the rest, as they say, was history! No mention was made of who the President was during Yao’s time as an entrepreneur or how the equities market was performing. Yao did what he had to do because he was driven by his desire to succeed. What about you?

Business opportunities in Manila, Philippines are everywhere. If you want to find them, you have to start looking! Here is my take on the top 10 business opportunities in Manila, Philippines.

1. Business Process Outsourcing

The BPO industry has long been dubbed as the new engine of economic growth of the Philippines. Since the year 2000, the Philippines’ BPO industry has been growing at an annual rate of 20%. From a US$1.3 Billion industry in 2004, BPO is estimated to generate US$25.5 Billion in export revenues in 2016.

Many have asked me if they need to set up a full-scale call center facility to get started in BPO. My answer to them is, “Get a client first.”

As great as the potential for BPO is, it does not subscribe to the “Field of Dreams” thinking that “If you build it, they will come.” I have heard horror stories of people who spent millions on computers and workstations only to see it gather cobwebs because they were not able to land a client.

You should only open a private facility under these conditions:

  • Due diligence confirms reputation and good standing of the client.
  • The client will guarantee you a minimum 2-year contract.
  • The client is agreeable to pay you per seat per productive hour.
  • The client agrees to establish a “seed fund” to capitalize your center.

Otherwise, here are a few suggestions you may wish to consider if you want to start a business in BPO:

  • Set up and register a corporation with the SEC.
  • If you don’t have a client, focus on networking for the first 3 to 6 months of operation. This means your business from home.
  • Invest in a company website.
  • Do not focus on Fortune 500 companies. These giants already have BPO services contracted out. The money is with small businesses who need to keep a tight rein on their expenses.
  • Always start out small; run operations from a remote location by using project management tools such as Asana, DropBox, SalesForce and communicate via Skype, Slack or Viber.
  • Hire virtual assistants to help you manage tasks.
  • Expand your value proposition and always do more than what is expected. Your clients will reward you with continued business and more referrals.

How much should you expect to make with home-based BPO services? A client that generates US$500,000 a year usually allocates 4% to 6% for BPO services. That is anywhere from US$ 1,500 to US$ 2,500 per month. Now multiply that number by five clients per month.

Depending on the scope of work you can simply designate 1-2 assistants per account. You don’t pay rent; your costs for Internet and power are distributed among clients.

Sounds good, right?

2. Food Retail

Do not let the long lines and packed seats fool you. The food industry is very competitive, and many brands have closed up. That said, the industry itself has evolved to other business models which don’t require the traditional brick-and-mortar establishment.

Here are a few food retail business models you can consider:

The “Hole-the-Wall”. Lately, restaurants are being set up in the most unlikely of locations. And people are coming in droves to eat their food. Personally, I believe people are tired of the mall culture. Food quality in these commercial centers is poor because of high rental costs. Proprietors have to scrimp on food cost to shore up their margins to pay rent.

But these “hole-in-the-wall” establishments pay lower rent because the place is smaller and I believe zoning regulations mean lower rent per square meter. Thus, they can spend more on food quality. I have been to many of these restaurants, and their food is on a higher level than those found inside a mall.

Delivery Service. I guess I’ve established that rent is the cost component that renders the food business unprofitable. Another way to get by rent is to establish a delivery service. Check first with your village association if they allow home-based businesses.

If they do, set up a separate kitchen for food preparation then contract a delivery rider. People love home cooked meals. Come up with a good packaging design that will keep food warm and promote your business as well.

Food Truck. This is slowly gaining ground although in select areas such as Mandaluyong, Makati, and Muntinlupa.

This is a capital-intensive business and given the horrendous traffic conditions in Manila your best option is to land contracts with schools, food markets and the city government.

Normally, these venues will not charge you rent. Instead, they will charge a percentage of your earnings. From what I have learned the rate averages between 5% and 7% of gross income. This is still lower than the 34% charged by mall developers.

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