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Top Investments and Business Opportunities that Are Ideal for OFWs



BY JOHN SULIT

It’s every OFW’s dream to finally come home to the Philippines to be with their loved ones. It’s also their dream to put up their own business so that they don’t need to go away again just to earn a living. Below are some business and investment ideas that can generate extra income for you and your family. Consider investing your money in some of these and watch as your money grows.

Set Up an Online / E-Commerce Store

Online stores are on the rise because of the ease of running one and the really good income that you can earn. Setting up a Facebook or Instagram account is free. You can also sell your products on websites such as Shopify, OLX, or Zalora. If you want your own e-commerce site, you just need to pay a yearly fee, plus the cost of advertising your e-commerce site on search engines and social media.

Online stores are a good way of earning just by interacting with your customers online, as well as selling goods and services that people love. You can set up an online shop in minutes and start uploading photos of the products that you’re selling. You can sell food, gadgets, shoes, clothing, accessories, household items, and basically anything that people are interested in buying. The trick is to advertise your store extensively so that the number of your followers will grow. The more followers you have, the more people will be able to see and buy your products.

Get a Food Cart Franchise

A food cart franchise is easy and affordable. You don’t have to build a business from scratch because the business is already existing. You also receive plenty of training when it comes to operation, finance, and human resource. You can earn a pretty good income from even just one food cart, provided that it’s in a really good location with a lot of people traffic. The food should also taste delicious and can be bought at an affordable price. In order to be successful with this kind of business, you need to undergo regular training sessions and seminars. Given its relatively low package cost, for just ₱30,000 to ₱50,000, simply consider a cash loan application and you’re already on your way to becoming a food cart franchise!

Let Your Talent Shine with Arts and Crafts

If you have the talent for arts and crafts, share it with the world and start earning from it. Earn money from your paintings, drawings, photos, or letterings. You can sell them as finished products, or you can hold classes and teach people so they can get better at their craft. If you like making beautiful things from scratch, like candles, soaps, jewelry, home décor, or furnishings, you can sell your lovely creations online, or you can also consign them to a physical store.

Go Into Tourism and Travel Services

A travel agency or a ticketing service is not an uncommon choice for OFWs when it comes to business and investments. OFWs are very familiar when it comes to travels and tours, as well as booking fares, hotel accommodations, and holiday packages. Why not make a business of it and help other people with their travel needs?

Various Service-Oriented Opportunities

Health and wellness spas, beauty salons, and barber shops are still one of the best options when it comes to investing your hard earned money. Other options include tutorial services, training centers, money changers, money remittance centers, office services, bills payment centers, and printing services.

Remember that any business will be successful if you will educate yourself with running it properly. You can always consider a low interest BPI personal loan to help you get started and use a little bit of your savings to help out with the expenses. When it comes to business and investments, remember to go slowly but surely. Everything else will follow.

OSSCO: One-stop service center for OFWs


For the benefit of current and prospective Overseas Filipino Workers, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) launched a one-stop shop where government services concerning OFWs are made more accessible.

Dubbed OSSCO or "One-Stop Service Center for OFWs", the center is located at the ground floor of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration office along Ortigas Avenue. Regular office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said OSSCO seeks to reduce transportation expenses of OFWs and shorten the processing time of their documents.

Aside from making available to OFWs information on their respective programs and services and responding to queries of clients, the various government offices’ services to OFWs are as follows:

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
  • Passport Services
  • Passport Validity Extension for Balik-Manggagawa (vacationing Workers)
Overseas Welfare Workers Administration (OWWA)
Processing of OWWA Membership/Renewal of Membership
Technical Education and Skills Development (TESDA)
  •  Assistance for Competency Assessment
  • Verification of Certificates and Special Order
  • Assistance for Replacement of National Certificates (NC)/ Certificates of Competency (COC)
  • Training Assistance and Scholarship Program
Professional Regulation Commission (PRC)
Issuance of Professional License
Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA)
Issuance/ Revalidation of Seaman’s Book
 Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF)
Processing of Pag-ibig Membership
 Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC)
  •  Payment of Philhealth Contribution
  • Member registration and updating
 Social Security System (SSS)
  • Registration and Membership Data Amendment
  • Acceptance of Loan and Benefits Claim Applications
  • Loan Verification and Status
  • UMID Capturing and Card Releasing
  • Response to Queries

 Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)
  • Certificate of Live Birth
  • Certificate of Marriage
  • Certificate of Death
  • Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR)
 Bureau of Immigration (BI)
Departure Clearance Information
 National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
Issuance of NBI Clearance
 Commission on Higher Education (CHED)
Verification and Authentication of School Credentials
 Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA)
  • Travel Tax Payment
  • Processing of Travel Tax Exemption and Reduced Travel Tax
  • Response to Queries
 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
  • Documentation of Workers (Landbased and Seabased)
  • Documentation of Workers-On-Leave/Balik-Manggagawa
  • Registration of Landbased Worker-Applicants
  • Verification/Certification of OFW Records
  • Provision of Legal Assistance
  • Response to Queries

3 Notorious Airport Modus that Every OFW Should Know


BY JONATHAN ONG

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are considered the country's modern day heroes and rightly so, as they brave working abroad just to earn enough to support the family they’ve left behind in the Philippines.

Because of their efforts, they have become one of the biggest contributors to the Philippines’ economy. It’s no wonder, then, how the number of OFWs leaving to work abroad continues to grow.

You would think that, as modern day heroes, everyone in the country will do what they can to protect our OFWs. Unfortunately, unscrupulous people have been preying on them even as soon as they set foot in the airport on their way home.

Airport scams are popular these days, and a lot of them prey on unsuspecting OFWs, along with older passengers and tourists. To protect yourself from becoming the next airport scam victim, learn what these scams are about and what you need to do to avoid them.

NAIA Airport Police Scam

In July of this year, one brave OFW, Niel Caubal Laude, a rig electrician in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, exposed a modus operandi that he experienced himself at the arrival area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (NAIA 1).

According to his story, there is a syndicate group posing as airport police victimizing travelers who missed the airport shuttle bus from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3.

This modus involves the group offering a free ride to the travelers going to Terminal 3. However, along the way, the shuttle will take an alternative route and will be stuck in traffic, which will cause the travelers to miss their flight.

The victims will then be offered an overnight stay in the ticketing office's supposed guest house and will be asked to purchase a plane ticket there—only to find out that they’ll be 100% overpriced.

To avoid being victimized by this scam, contact the aircraft hotline to inform them that you missed the shuttle and that you’ll be late for your flight, and will, thus, need to rebook it. Do not entertain any unusual individuals in the airport, and instead, immediately contact the official NAIA security personnel at +632 877-7888.

Tangay Bagahe

One of the most recent scams was reported by an OFW, named Elyn Casim, involving three airport checkers in NAIA, who were caught on CCTV to have stolen her luggage.

She claimed that she forgot the bag in the x-ray machine when she had to go inside the terminal for a while to ask something from the OWWA. The bag was already missing when she returned for it.

Casim's luggage was said to contain PHP50,000, along with jewelry and personal documents.

To avoid the same thing from happening to you, always be vigilant and make sure not to leave your luggage unattended.

Tanim Bala

This one is the most popular modus at the NAIA in recent weeks. The NBI has recently confirmed that there exists a syndicate group in the airport involved in planting bullets in traveler's bags with a plan to extort money from them.

There has been a growing number of victims already including an American pastor, a Japanese businessman, and even elderly domestic helpers. This scam has earned the ire of many all over the world, with netizens going online, and sharing their thoughts about it using the hashtags #TanimBala or #LaglagBala.

OFWs and other travelers are being advised to take extra care with their luggage because of this scam. When traveling, use a bag without pockets, preferably a plastic case with a secure padlock. Some also recommend wrapping your luggage tightly with plastic wrap.

If you are asked by an airport official to open your bag, be aware that you have the right to delay the immediate opening of your bag until the supervisor is present, and until you’re able to obtain the presence of your lawyer or a third party witness.

Don't forget to have the bag photographed in the x-ray machine as well.

As if being known as one of the world’s worst airports is not enough, the NAIA has once again given people the impression that it is not a safe place to be. However, being aware of what to look out for and how to act accordingly will help keep you safe.

OFWs Can Prepare Their Way Home as Cyberpreneurs



Overseas Filipino workers know that they can only stay in their current country of residence so long as their employment permits and contracts are valid. But extensions for these contracts may be set for a limited number of time.

Unless they have a backup plan, many end up back in the Philippines without a source of income. Those who have reintegrated home without problems know this recipe for success: careful planning, proper money management, and keen entrepreneurial skills.

Good thing is, OFWs can find helpful information in the newly launched book, Cyberpreneur Philippines: Online Business Start-up Guide.

As the book suggests, the best time to start an online business is now. Even while based abroad, OFWs can consider opportunities and launch an online business by just logging on to the Internet. No need to risk an entire life's savings in capital-intensive investments, such as food or transportation franchises.

Edited by PageJump co-founder and HayPinas.org's very own Ray Calbay, along with Marv de Leon and Paolo Lising, Cyberpreneur Philippines covers important topics on how to become an online entrepreneur. The contributors - among them are CEOs, top freelancers, and a few OFWs themselves - discuss cyber business planning, online branding and marketing, to competing in the global market.

In his foreword to the book, Senator Bam Aquino notes that "this book will help in the realization of our dream of spurring online-based start-ups, services, and other innovative and up-coming products in our country." Action plans, workbook exercises, and social media prompts also make the book more interactive.

International orders may be placed through Amazon.com, where it's also available as an e-book. It's sold in the Philippines through National Bookstore, PowerBooks, and Fully Booked. Readers are encouraged to log on to the book’s companion website (www.cyberpreneur.ph) for more content or discuss in social media using the #CyberpreneurPH hash tag.

5 Cliches to Bust as a Young Overseas Filipino Worker



BY ANNE QUINTOS

OFW life, for many, is loaded with clichés that we wish would happen to us in real life.

More often than not, waiting for these "moments" can become a trap that keeps you looking for drama rather than working towards your real goals. Well, here's a list of cringe-worthy scene stealers and why you need to bust it for the more important stuff.

Cliche #1: Maalaala Mo Kaya scene at the airport

Scene from the movie "Anak"
Yes, it’s the familiar piece of melodrama we've all seen in our favorite soap operas: the hero/heroine leaves for abroad and everyone readies to fill up their buckets of tears. If you’re lucky enough, you might even have a lover chase a bus, run past airport security just to yell out “STOP!!!”, as you hand in your plane ticket. (P.S. This scene from the movie Anak isn't the best example of that. We just think the kid did well in this scene! But you know what we mean.)

Bust it with: Save (some of) your tears. Communicate your plans, as well as fears, with your family before you leave.


Cliche #2 Big balik-bayan boxes

Scene from the movie "Anak"

Admit it, OFWs have one distinction when at any of the world's airports -- those hulking brown boxes. Yes, the balikbayan box always looks like it’s just about ready to explode and hit everyone on the face with pasalubong (namely an inexplicably large amount of canned spam).

Bust it with: Reduce the size of your balikbayan box to the items your family will need and enjoy.

Cliche #3 Rags to riches transformation

Ze great Amor Powers of Pangako Sa 'Yo

Oh, what a dream it would be to return to the Philippines as Amor Powers, the rags-to-riches protagonist of Pangako Sa 'Yo, or maybe virtually every character played by Dawn Zulueta (who seems to be stuck in that character profile...just a feeling).

Bust it with: As an OFW, don't expect a luxury car and a brand-new house and lot to come as fast as TV commercial breaks. Dream big, take calculated risks, but be realistic. For sure, drastic Cinderella transformations happen only in a teleserye montage because long work hours are probably too dull to feature in prime-time TV.

Cliche #4 Prince (or princess) charming

Scene from the movie "La Visa Loca"

Love knows no race. While this remains to be true, what is not cool is when others set stereotypes that the end goal of going abroad is just to marry a local. If someone asks “oh, are you living in this country because you want to marry Mr. Darcy?”, would it be absolutely defensive to answer “No, Mr. Darcy is awesome, but I got here because I kick-ass at my job” or "I'm here because I want to try things on my own. Without Mr. Darcy," or something?

Bust it with: Prince (or princess) could come whenever he wants, but I'M working hard to make my own dreams come true. Thank you very much. 


Cliche #5 Modern-day hero

Scene from PAL's commercial

This is what many people quite so liberally dub the OFWs. Modern day heroes. The Rizal s and Bonifacios of this age. It is a flattering title, and a generous one at that. 

 Bust it with: Don't give in to this, for crying out loud! Yes, OFWs sacrifice much, but what about those who choose to stay in our country to make an honest living? What about those who have to go against all plunderers in the Senate? Those who brave through the buwis-buhay daily commute in Manila? Don't they fight their battles to make both ends meet for their families as well? They’re all heroes too, at least in my book. 

Moving overseas for a new job?

You need to prepare yourself for it. Buy Abroad Me: 22 Success Strategies for Young Overseas Filipinos to learn how you can make the most of your overseas experience.

It’s Ramadan Sale! Should You Shop Or Not?



BY BURN GUTTIEREZ

The Middle East is an adopted home to many OFW’s (overseas Filipino workers) where they also experience one of the holiest months in Islam. The month of Ramadan is also synonymous to the 3-day mall sales in the Philippines. Only that it’s 30 days/nights for most locals (and Pinoys as well) of splurging and spending extra on food, personal items, appliances, clothes, gadgets, etc. on huge discounts!

Even some remittance centers lower their fees and charges during this month. Awesome, isn’t it?

The only usual problem I observe is that many Filipinos would spend above their means during this season just because their colleagues are spending too. Or that because they are bored in their apartment during the night so they need to go out and window-shop around downtown. Just to kill homesickness and boredom.

Most often, this window-shopping would lead to pulling out of wallets and actual shopping of unnecessary things. Kahit isang supot lang.

They believe that it’s the time to buy the things that they want even if they have to use their credit cards or to borrow money from their apartment buddy or workmate.

Buying The Things You Need on Discount

There’s nothing wrong in shopping on great discounts. In fact, if you have extra cash or savings (not emergency fund) this is the great time to buy those things that you really need.

Perhaps this is the time for you to consider replacing your very old and worn out pair of shoes? Go ahead. Buy a new pair on discount. But make sure they are of great quality as well.

Or probably you’re just a few days away from your vacation to the Philippines, maybe you can score a couple of shirts and dress to surprise your kids and wife?

But always remember, do this only if you have extra cash from your “lifestyle” budget. If you or your family are currently paying off debts or supporting a family member in distress, maybe you can delay your spending itch a little bit more until all your obligations are done.

Saving more money is far more greater than buying things you don’t need even if they are sold at discount prices.

Reminder: Obey Local Traditions During Ramadan

I hope that our OFW’s will respect this rich and holy tradition of the countries where they are currently living and working by not eating or drinking in public. Couples should also refrain from displaying too much affection when outside.

In countries like Saudi Arabia, policies are very strict that violators who will be caught disrespecting Ramadan may be imprisoned or deported to their home countries. So be careful, fellow Filipinos.

Ramadan Kareem. Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim readers.

This post was first published in Burn's blog, Rock To Riches.

Join the OFW UsapangPiso group in Facebook to learn how to plan your finances the right way and how to grow your money in various financial instruments and investment vehicles such as stocks, mutual funds, UITF’s, bonds, money market, real estate, and others.