Opening a Retirement Business in the Philippines

Whether or not you are married to a Filipino can impact on your approach to opening a retirement business in the Philippines. If your spouse is Filipino, opening up a business is easier; if you are single or not married to a Filipino, opening a business can be a bit more challenging, but it is still quite do-able nonetheless…

Popular types of retirement businesses among foreign baby boomers who retire to the Philippines are usually a retail business or an exporting business.

“Export” nowadays has become an explosion in the outsourcing industry, which ranges from call centres to businesses as diverse as medical transcription, web development, or even teaching English online. Essentially, an “export business” covers anything that can be outsourced from a foreign country. The Philippines is now the number one country in Asia when it comes to call center seats, so this type of export business is definitely worth exploring. As to outsourcing and the boom in the Philippines, it best to have some experience in knowing how to build infrastructure. If this industry fits your abilities, then pick a specific area of outsourcing. My family business has been very successful selling custom web sites to the US market. Another guy who I personally know is handling tech support for a utility company in Canada. Another person is handling sales for companies in America for merchandise like smokeless cigarettes as well as skin care products, and whatever else he finds saleable with telemarketing agents. Koreans needing to learn to speak read, and write in English in order to get into universities in English-speaking countries in the West are a big market in the Philippines. I know folks who have made successful businesses of teaching English online to the Korean market. Some do this as individuals, on a one-to-one tutorial basis, and others have set up small call centers to teach English using Filipino talent as teachers. This is one of the more difficult businesses to be involved in as there is a lot of competition in this field. If you prefer to go “old school” for export products, there are plenty of folks in “old school” products like the furniture export business, and there are still some garment exporters around (most garment manufacturing has moved to China though). These are mostly extinct business here, but there are some manufacturers around who make a highly specialized product and who still do well. The point that I am trying to get across is that the range of products that can be marketed from the Philippines within the scope of a retirement export business is vast.

Retail covers pretty much anything that can be sold to the general public, and if this is what you want to do, I suggest that it is best to stick to something you know. I know an American fellow married to a Filipina who opened a shawarma business with his “secret ingredients” and he has done very well for many years now. He has expanded from one to several kiosks in major malls. I know another guy who buys overruns from garment factories. He buys the overruns cheaply and in volume, and then turns around and sells the overruns to wholesalers abroad. I know another retired foreign gentleman who owns a retail/wholesale chocolate business in the heart of the Makati financial district, and does very well. Many foreigners open bars and restaurants, but in my opinion this is a tough business unless you have experience in it. I would suggest that any foreigner stay away from doing business–club, restaurant, or whatever–in a red light district unless you are prepared for the havoc it may cause in your life. This country is now number two in the world in regards to franchise businesses, so purchasing a local or a foreign franchise business and then operating it could be another option for a retirement business.

Remember that the big plus in setting up and running a retirement business here is that labor costs are much, much lower than they are in the First World. Labor laws can be difficult to comply with, but issues are certainly surmountable. There is quality talent available here, but despite the “Western” mindset in the Philippines, the foreign employer must realize that there are massive cultural differences that must be understood in order to succeed. These differences that can be easily learned by the foreigner wanting to set up a retirement business as long as that person is open minded, is respectful, and is, of course willing to be very fair about salaries and merit-based incentives.

Of course, the very FIRST thing you should do, if you are serious about starting a retirement business in the Philippines, is to consult a competent attorney, and to get yourself an equally competent auditor/accountant. You can go to the ELRAP INDEXES (Index of Professionals; see tool bar), for a list of professionals you might want to interview in the town you are thinking to do business in. These professionals come recommended to us either first-hand (because we have done business with them directly) or else by recommendation from a trusted source known either to Betsy or to myself.

Lots more discussion on this topic to be covered, so feel free to ask away! If you have any comments or questions about setting up and operating a retirement business as a baby boomer–foreign or “balikbayan” (formerly Filipino)–I would be delighted to hear from you! Send me your thoughts (remember that ELRAP is a friendly website–on our pages please–no vulgarity, and no politics or religion discussed!) via the “REPLY” button on this blog and I will do my best, relying on my years of experience of living and doing business here in the Philippines–to help you out…
Better yet, come here and check the place out yourself by taking an ELRAP tour (see TOURS on the tool bar). Betsy and I lead the tours personally, usually together, and she being a Filipina, and me being a “foreign” resident of over three decades, we can, between us, answer pretty much any question you may have, not just about business, but about life in the Philippines.

In closing let me say that I have been doing business here for 33 years. I did business here as a foreigner “permanent resident” long before I was married to my beautiful wife, and I have continued to do business here since my marriage. I have lived and worked in many countries–both First and Third World, and I say that this is the easiest place in the world to do business, as long as one follows and operates within cultural parameters.
Come on over to the Philippines, and see for yourself if–and why–life here really is more FUN!

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