Good Small Business Opportunities in the Philippines

The Philippines boasts a business environment that has vastly improved since the start of the decade. If you want to capitalize on this momentum, here are four promising business ideas to consider, even with limited capital: 

  1. Freelance, outsourced services 

Thanks to a strong grasp of the English language, familiarity with Western business culture, and growing support from the national government, the Philippine workforce has enjoyed a sterling reputation in the global business process outsourcing (BPO) industry since the turn of the millennium.

The service outsourcing model welcomes aspiring business owners, even as smaller-scale, startup-stage entities. With a global client base, there is no shortage of opportunities to provide services such as content creation (writing, graphic design, and multimedia), web design and development, and virtual assistant functions. These projects may also vary in terms of labor required (individual/team) and duration (project-based/long-term).

Small businesses don’t require a lot of capital upfront for this line of work. In fact, for a solo freelancer, all it takes to get started is a capable computer and a reliable internet connection. 

  1. Food businesses

Everyone loves to eat, so food businesses are always a promising prospect. From local takes on global cuisine to the Philippines’ own diverse and distinctive culinary tradition, inspiration abounds when it comes to building a food business.

Business opportunities in this category also come in many forms:

  • Smallfood carts are never lacking for location opportunities in shopping malls, food courts, and even school campuses. Plus, a business owner can either franchise a known brand or start an own enterprise.

  • Food trucks and food parks are trendy. These options are particularly attractive for owners with limited time because they typically operate on weekends (evenings, at that).

  • Meal plan delivery services address customers’ need for health-friendly meals, variety, and convenience.

  • Themed cafes or bistros (such as cat cafes and the like) can tap a niche audience and earn loyal followings. However, it might require a large sum upfront to secure a location that will allow pets or animals on business premises.

  1. E-commerce 

Filipino consumers are slowly but steadily adding online stores to their trusted lists of shopping destinations, with over 26 million e-commerce users as of 2015.

It’s an inevitable evolution for Filipinos, who are among the world’s heaviest internet users. Worsening traffic and mall crowd situations add to practical the appeal of online shopping.

E-commerce also does not demand a large investment to begin. Various e-commerce websites, such as Lazada, OLX, and Zalora, serve as a reliable launching platform. Even Facebook and Instagram are widely used by hobbyists and occasional entrepreneurs to buy and sell stuff.

For serious entrepreneurs, you can hire a web developer to create your own e-commerce website and establish your brand as an online shopping destination. You can also explore web hosting sites that allow you to set up a virtual storefront.

  1. Social enterprises

Social enterprises enable entrepreneurs to capitalize on the Philippines’ abundant economic opportunities while creating a positive and lasting impact on a local community or group of beneficiaries.

Examples of social enterprise models that currently do well in the local market include:

  • Packaging and marketing handicrafts made by members of local communities for a global audience

  • Arranging and coordinating tours that showcase notable sights and local industries, while promoting responsible travel

  • Creating personal care products based on all-natural and locally sourced ingredients

Driven by a social mission, social enterprises use market-based strategies to become self-sustaining commercial entities.