News & Events
Running a Business from Overseas
One dream that many of the millions of overseas Filipinos (OFs) share is owning and running their own business in the Philippines. After years, if not decades, of hardwork, without the comfort of their families at their side, creating a steady and sustainable stream of revenue would bring them closer to their family without sacrificing the material comforts that they had enjoyed. Many OFs actually see this opportunity as a retirement goal, the reward for all the labor and loneliness they had endured. For one young couple, however, the dream was realized much earlier.
Today, Princess Abigail Loninia and her husband James are living the dream – they are enjoying secure and rewarding jobs in Singapore, while owning a posh massage salon in Metro Manila. They are not mere investors or armchair investors, but are hands-on managers who look into the operations and financing every single day. “Kailangan talaga na hands-on,” says Princess, who is a finance executive. “Dugo at pawis ang binuhos naming mag-asawa para matupad lahat ‘to. We have to make sure we reap the rewards.”
Two Countries, Two Homes
Still, their hearts remained at home. Despite their success, they would make it a point to come home every year and keep in contact with their family and relatives. Putting up their own business was another dream they cherished – it would keep them more rooted to their home country while enabling them to “give back” to their kababayans.
That dream came true last year when the Loninias opened their Cubao-based outlet of the Mont Albo Massage Hut. Since the launch of their very own branch almost ten months ago, the massage center has been attracting its fair share of loyal customers. It was technology that opened the Loninias’ eyes to this opportunity. Away from home, without any ‘connection’ to a business expert, they found quick but solid assistance through Internet surfing, which made them aware of the BPI Family Ka-Negosyo Business Loans. The bank offered the Loninias a Ka-Negosyo Franchising Loan designed for opening a franchise business. This includes the initial capital and solid guidelines designed to maximize investment and assure a steady return of investment in a few years’ time. A client may want to invest in an established franchise, and he may or may not have the experience in running one. The business support provided by the Ka-Negosyo team is also a shoulder to lean on, especially during the first few months when the new entrepreneurs have to put in the long hours.
“Communicating with BPI Family Bank was easy,” enthuses Princess. “Every document was sent and reviewed through email, and we chatted on the phone, if necessary. We had to go to the Philippines to transact about this loan only a couple of times, including signing the final documents. The distance was never a problem. The Ka-Negosyo team responded fast.”
The Loninias closed the deal in two months, then it took another three months to physically build the massage center. “My husband and I would visit the Philippines every year. “During the actual construction of the center, I was here two months straight. But we take turns. Hindi kami puwedeng umuwi nang sabay.” Setting up the massage center strengthened the couple’s family ties at home. In a sense, it became a family affair. The manager supervising the team is Princess’ best friend in college. The architect who supervised the construction of the salon was her sister. “That’s why there was no delay in building the center,” she says. “I also talk to my best friend every day about what’s going on. I trust her.” Princess combined that winning combination – technological support, hard work, and a sense of family – once she started hiring her staff. “Alam naming ang hirap ng buhay,” repeats Princess. “That’s why we don’t treat our staff as employees but as family who has a stake in this business. If it prospers, they prosper also.”
“We do random audits of the center from Singapore,” says Princess. Financials, always a sensitive issue, are likewise monitored closely through BPI internet banking. “We do keep track of how much money was spent on operations, and how much money came in through customers,” says Princess. “Again, they should tally.” Perhaps the most challenging part of operations is receiving feedback and cascading this to the team. Both Princess and James want to hear first-hand from the customers who visit the center their honest opinion on the service that they had received. “The feedback form given to customers is addressed and emailed to us,” says Princess. “We also have friends who visit the center and avail of the services, without our staff knowing they are our friends. Once we get all this feedback, we meet with the staff virtually once or twice a week. There has to be open communications.”
Vacation may not be at the forefront of their thoughts right now. Princess shares that in a few years’ time, they might open another Mont Albo Massage Hut franchise outlet. The Loninias’ dream has been fulfilled, and it is something they readily share to inspire everyone especially Filipinos working abroad. “I am an OFW, and I know the value of hard earned money,” Princess says. “Maybe we are earning much today but we don’t know what the future holds. Will we still have jobs tomorrow? Anything can happen. That’s why I made sure that no matter what happens, may siguradong negosyo na masasandalan ang pamilya ko. Iba talaga kapag ang kita mo ay kumikita rin.”