Top 15 Business Ideas for Filipino OFWs to Earn Extra Money


Filipino OFWs are among the hardest working people you will ever meet. They are willing to be thousands of miles away from their loved ones just to earn enough money to build a good life for their families. They work day in and out. At the end of each month, they remit 80% of their income back home.

Becoming an OFW is such a big sacrifice emotionally and financially. To help Filipino OFWs grow more money, here are the top 15 business ideas for Filipino OFWs to earn extra money.

1. E-Commerce Business

E-Commerce remains to be one of the most viable ways of starting out a business for a number of reasons:

  • You can run it from home.
  • Low start-up capital requirement.
  • Low operating expenses.
  • It can run 24/7.
  • Flexible business modeling.

You do not have to be a tech wizard to succeed in your e-commerce business. All you need is the drive and will to succeed! And the Filipino OFW best personifies grit and determination.

It all starts with an idea. What do you want to sell online?

You can sell products or services. If you want to sell products, fashion apparel remains the highest selling online item. If you want to sell services, find out what your specialization is. Were you an accountant overseas? Then you can offer payroll preparation, tax audit, preparation of financial systems or business set up services.

Your initial capital should be enough to cover the following:

  • E-Commerce Website
  • High Powered PC
  • Hardware
  • 3mbps Internet Bandwidth

If you plan to sell products, you should find authorized wholesalers and finalize the delivery system. Finally, you will have to set up a merchant account to receive payment.

2. Real Estate Business

One time I was passing by the Southern Luzon Expressway and was surprised at the number of high rises that were put up by various real estate developers.

I asked a friend of mine who worked in real estate if those units were sold out. According to her, the units from the first development were all sold out which was why the developers were building new high rises.

She said most of the investors were OFWs. Many real estate agents target OFWs because they have the money to purchase these units.

Real estate is an investment that pays out over time. You will make money if you know where to invest. An OFW would have the capacity to buy and sell a property.

Another option for the OFW would be to build then sell a property. Single detached units are particularly in demand and compared to residential houses are much more affordable to construct.

Southern Metro Manila is one of the fastest growing areas where a property is still considered undervalued.

You can buy an 80 square meter lot and construct a 3-storey, 3-bedrooms and 3-toilet and bath dwelling with 200 square meters of floor space for 3-4 Million Pesos and easily sell it for 6-6.5 Million Pesos!

Real estate agents say good value properties can be sold within four months.

3. Restaurant / Food Retail

Of course, the food business will always be a popular business idea for Filipino OFWs.

We have many Filipino OFWs, who work on cruise ships, hotels and restaurants abroad as cooks or chefs. They have picked up cooking and food presentation techniques that they can use for their own food business.

Related: Top 10 Online Food Business Ideas in the Philippines

There are a few ways an OFW can get into the food business:

  • Create own concept.
  • Buy a food franchise.
  • Start a food delivery business.
  • Start a catering business.
  • Start a bakeshop.
  • Start a carinderia.

Either one of these business models can be capital-intensive because of the cost of equipment.

Many prefer a bakeshop, catering or a food delivery business because these can be run from home. You don’t have to worry about rent, and you can use the cooking equipment at home.

But for sure, you will always find a market for your products as long as the food is good!

4. Laundromat

Laundromat is another fast-growing business idea for Filipino OFWs. More Filipino families are becoming dual-income to maintain a household. Parents have less time attending to the usual chores and laundry is probably the most arduous task.

Before we only had the serviced Laundromat. For the past few years, there has been a proliferation of self-service Laundromat businesses. These types of Laundromats offer the advantage of cost. It is cheaper to use self-service Laundromats than serviced ones.

I’ve seen self-service Laundromats or Coin Laundry stations packed with customers especially after office hours. Many are fitted with cable TV and serve coffee, soft drinks, and snacks.

But the cost of equipment, leasehold improvement, and initial inventory may be on the high side. An industrial laundry machine will cost at least 350,000 Pesos. You will need a few plus a dryer.

An option for the OFW would be to set up a corporation with other OFWs so they can raise the necessary capital to fund the project.

If you have the space for it, you can set your Laundromat in your house. My friend did!

5. Sari-Sari Store

Many OFWs spend their savings on a jeepney, a taxi or a Sari Sari Store.

A Sari-Sari Store is a good business idea for Filipino OFWs because they can run these from home and it is a cash generating business. You can set up a Sari-Sari Store for 50,000 Pesos.

An OFW can differentiate his or her Sari-Sari Store by offering imported goods such as clothes, toiletries, and canned goods. This will attract a more diversified market and potentially earn more income.

But a Sari-Sari Store must be tightly managed. You must be strict in managing inventory and to discourage freeloading and those who want credit.

6. Cell Phone Retailer and Services

The market for mobile phones will continue to be profitable until 2020 in the near term.

Market analysts expect the number of smartphones in the world to hit 6.1 Billion by 2020. The Philippines presently has 27.4 million smartphone users. This number is estimated to hit 38.4 Million in 2020.

This represents a 40% growth in the number of smartphones in the Philippines versus the estimated 5% growth in population from 2016 and 2020!

Thus, a cell phone retail store is one of the best business ideas for Filipino OFWs. What products and services can you offer?

  • Retail of new and old models
  • Retail of brand new and second-hand models
  • Repair services
  • Upgrading services
  • Unlocking services
  • Pre-paid cards
  • Cell Phone loading services
  • Cell Phone accessories

You do not need a big space to retail cell phones. In fact, you can even sell these from your home.

7. Travel Agency

I’ve met many Filipino OFWs, who have parlayed their experience by setting up a travel agency.

OFWs are experienced travelers and are able to share valuable tips to other travelers or OFWs. Many of these travel agencies target manpower companies as their clients. The manpower agencies enter into a supply/ticketing contract with the agency in exchange for discounts.

There is a process to setting up a travel agency. Some open their travel agencies but buy tickets from other agencies. The problem here is that you will not have a pricing advantage because you will have to add a markup.

If you want to issue tickets, you have to be a member of IATA or International Air Transport Association. The downside here is that the process of becoming a member of IATA will cost millions!

It might be a good idea to get partners to start out the travel agency. One thing you should know is that because of the advantages of digital technology and the Internet, you can run your travel agency from home!

8. Outsourcing

Another viable business idea for Filipino OFWs is outsourcing. This is the Philippines’ new engine of growth and generates billions of dollars every year for the economy.

However, outsourcing is a business idea that you have to work on while still employed with your company. While abroad, you should build up your network of contacts or prospective clients. Find the key decision makers and discuss your plan to set up an outsourcing company when you go home. Tell them how outsourcing can lower their cost of business by 40% without compromising the quality of work.

You’ll be surprised how many would want to sign you up especially if you’ve built up a solid, trustworthy reputation. The Philippines has also built up a reputation for outstanding outsourcing services.

Another approach would be to find a partner who can be your business development manager in another country. He or she will be tasked to market your services for the outsourcing company.

Draw up a list of services you can offer. You do not have to set up an office to run an outsourcing company. You can run it remotely from your home which lowers your monthly expenses and improves your bottom line.

Related: Top 10 Home Based Part Time Online Jobs

9. Beauty Parlor / Barber Shop

Vanity is big business in the Philippines. Filipinos want to look good and are always up to date with the latest hairstyles.

With a beauty parlor and barber shop, you are assured of business every day. This type of business also generates cash and is an affordable expense for most Filipinos.

In addition to finding a location with a high volume of foot traffic, you should find good barbers, hair stylists, pedicurists, and manicurists. Offer a variety of services such as hair coloring, hair perm, hot oil treatment, ear cleaning, and cellophane treatment.

10. Skin Care Clinic / Spa

This is one of the business ideas for Filipino OFWs, which may be immune to economic recession.

More spas and skin clinics are opening in the Philippines. The industry saw rapid 74% growth from 2003 to 2007, and the trend has continued toward 2020.

In times of stress, Filipinos love to pamper themselves with skin and spa treatments. It makes them feel better and rejuvenated. Many would spend up to 1,000 Pesos per day for a skin facial and a therapeutic massage. Some would even spend more money to get a body wrap or aromatherapy.

Many OFWs have worked abroad as Estheticians. They have been trained and certified in the different techniques in skin care, massage, therapy and makeup application.

If you have acquired a wide range of skills as an Esthetician, a skin clinic and spa could be the business for you. It will be capital extensive, but pricing is on the high side. People would not hesitate to pay a high price for a great experience.

You should consider getting a partner or investors if you plan to start at Spa or Skin Clinic. Most of all get good, experienced and certified estheticians.

11. Talent and Arts Center

Many Filipino OFWs go abroad to work as entertainers. So why not monetize those skills by setting up a Talent and Arts Center?

You will cater to a wide market:

  • Children who want to learn to sing, dance or play an instrument
  • People who want to get ahead in the entertainment business
  • Other OFWs who want to go abroad as entertainers

You will need a large space to conduct the daily sessions, but there are some who have been able to set a Talent and Arts Center in their homes. You will also need to hire other talents to help you conduct classes.

12. General Cleaning Services

Similar to the Laundromat, General Cleaning Services will address the needs of homeowners who have little time to attend to cleaning chores.

This is an ideal business for those who have worked in hotels, resorts or households and have a keen idea on how to properly clean and maintain the premises.

General Cleaning Services may include the following tasks:

  • Interior/ Exterior Cleaning
  • Mopping
  • Sweeping
  • Dusting
  • Steam Cleaning of carpets, rugs and upholstery
  • Vacuuming
  • Removal of grout buildup
  • Removal of molds, mildew, and grime
  • Removal of spider webs
  • Cleaning of grease traps, exhaust lines
  • Polishing of kitchen fixtures
  • Window washing

Proprietors calculate their charges based on floor area, the number of rooms and number of people used. The average charge is 35 Pesos to 75 Pesos per square meter. A 300 square meter house can generate sales of 10,500 Pesos to 22,500 Pesos for 3 hours work.

Depending on the services you will offer, it could be a capital intensive business idea. You will have to buy a truck-mounted steel cleaner, dryer, industrial vacuum cleaner and a varied mix of cleaning solutions and solvents.

But you do not have to rent an office and just run the business from home.

13. Internet Shop

This is another business idea Filipino OFWs should consider because its popularity never seems to wane.

First, you can run this from your home. You just need enough space to manage ten workstations and a service area for sending faxes, printing, and cashiering duties.

Second, this is a straight cash business which is affordable for most people. Do not allow credit in the Internet shop.

Third, you can enter into computer lease agreements with a computer supplier. Over the course of the agreement, you have the option to purchase the PCs or sell it to the supplier in exchange for new units. This way you limit your initial cash out.

Fourth, you can improve your value proposition by adding a coffee shop or snack bar. Sell pre-paid cards and cell phone load.

Other than the PCs and workstations, your other major expense would be the ISP. You will need at least 2 ISPs to make sure the business is never interrupted.

14. Taxi Service

Because of Uber, people view the job of a taxi driver with more respect and professionalism.

There will always be a shortfall of public transportation in the Philippines. Also, some people who own cars do not want to test their patience in traffic and would rather hire taxi service.

You can buy a fuel efficient car and hire someone to drive the taxi for you unless you want to drive yourself. Unlike a jeepney service, you charge higher for taxi service, drive around in an air-conditioned vehicle and you are not limited to where you want to work your trade.

15. Language School / Translation Services

A friend of mine shared this story of hiring a former OFW, who used to be an entertainer in Japan to teach his team of agents Japanese.

There are overseas jobs that require the OFW to learn a foreign language. They cannot get the job until they have reached Level 7 proficiency in the language. Level 7 means having the ability to read, write and converse fluently.

Once they have come home, they can monetize those language skills by opening a language school or translations services. Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and French are the most sought after languages to learn.

As a specialized skill, you can charge a premium price for the services.

Start of a new adventure

These are just 15 business ideas for Filipino OFWs to earn extra money. For sure, there are others you may have thought of; if your competence and experience validate the business idea, then you should go for it.

Remember, life doesn’t stop when your contract has ended. On the contrary, it may be the start of a new adventure!

Further reading: 15 Business Ideas to Earn Extra Cash at Home in the Philippines

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