11 Tried and Tested Business Ideas for OFWs

“Bagong Bayani” (new heros) – that’s what we call our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Indeed, they are. They contribute about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). That’s quite a lot!

Being an OFW is not easy. OFWs have to endure being away from their families and the insecurities a foreign land, a foreign culture, might present. But the quest for a greener pasture and the desire to improve their family’s’ condition back home motivates OFWs to face the uncertainties of working in a foreign land.

Payday Fridays mean differently to OFWs that it does to us who work here in the country. Payday Friday is not an opportunity for a lavish night out on the town. For OFWs, it means taking a trip to the nearest remittance center to send the hard-earned money back home to the Philippines.

Indeed, the money our OFWs send back home is hard-earned. So, it would be unwise not to make something out of it.

Are you an OFW? Or, is your relative or are your relatives, OFWs? If you think your income as an OFW is not enough to help your family live comfortably, or if you want to make much more from what you earn abroad, maybe it is time to seek out other investments for you to earn some additional income.

Yes, starting a business or investing your hard-earned money can be quite intimidating or scary at first. But such is life. You have to take risks. But do so with enough safety nets.

Sp, in this article, we will provide you with practical choices that you can consider as your next investment venture. Here are 11 good business ideas OFWs can try.

1. Buy And Sell

Buying and then selling goods is a great way to make some additional income while working abroad. You can sell imported products to people back home in the Philippines. And you don’t need to start big with these. You don’t need a big inventory to start selling.

Start by selling on a per order basis. Just be sure you have someone in the Philippines who can manage the logistics for you, i.e. deliveries and whatnots.

If you are stationed in the United States, you could sell authentic sports jerseys or makeup products to fellow Filipinos back home. You could advertise your storefront via social media, social media ads, and word of mouth from friends and family.

2. Open an online store.

Do you have special skills or talent? Say, photography? Art? Writing? You can use your skills and talent to generate some passive income. For artsy people, setting up a storefront on Etsy should be easy. You can sell clothing, accessories, handcrafted jewelries, craft supplies, and decors among others there! If you love to write, you can write an ebook on topics you love and know about and sell the book on Amazon. Try Amazon Kindle Publishing. If art is not your passion, consider opening an online storefront on Amazon or eBay, where you can sell almost anything imaginable.

3. Invest in the stock market.

You don’t need millions to start investing in the stock market. As a matter of fact, you can investing online for as little as 5,000 pesos. A word of caution, however: If you want to success in the stock market, you have to be diligent in studying how it works. Do your research in order to gain the basic knowledge necessary to make good investments.  There are plenty of resources online; you can also talk to investment experts.

4. Invest in real estate.

The thing about real estate is that it’s worth does not depreciate. Generally, your real estate assets’ worth increase over time. Investing in real estate, if done right way, can be quite profitable.

Say you managed to get a condo unit or an apartment. Have them rented out. Monthly rent generated by your rental properties will help support your family back home, and could even provide you with an opportunity to save and invest in additional ventures.

As always, before you start investing in property, learn as much as you can about how investing in real estate works and what the industry looks like today. Not all property yield revenue. So, make sure you acquire a property that can be profitable.

So, before you purchase any property, make a point to attend some sort of real estate training course, or conduct thorough independent research to gain insight on how to be successful in the real estate business.

5. Safely invest in mutual funds.

Mutual funds and unit investment trust funds are managed funds. They are managed by a financial institution, i.e. Sun Life of Canada, Bank of the Philippine Islands, BDO Unibank among others. Thus, these are safe investment options that requires little to no effort on your part.

How much do you need to start a mutual or UIT fund? Well, you can get started with as little as 5,000 pesos. Because these are managed funds, investing in mutual or UIT funds is great for OFWs. Focus on your work and on your other ventures and let your investment earn you more income over time.

Note however that some financial institutions may require you to appear in person to open a mutual fund account. Other banks may allow you to open a mutual fund or UITF overseas if you already have a savings account with them. Check with your bank of choice first before leaving the country if you think you may be interested in investing in a mutual fund or UITF.

6. Start a recruitment service.

Do you have an extensive network of professional contacts? Perhaps you do. If you’ve travelled enough and have built relationships with professionals, employers, and co-workers abroad, you can tap this business network and start a recruitment service catering to your kababayans back home who wish to try their luck in working abroad as well. Come to think about it. Filipino workers are in demand all over the world, if you think you can play matchmaker for workers and employers, why not give it a try.

However, before you start offering recruitment services, you will need to gain accreditation from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

7. Open a small convenience store.

Small convenience stores, thrift shops, and sari-sari stores are aplenty in the country. It’s a good business venture if your spouse or any family member has enough time to spare for it. So, if you have a spouse or family member back home who is eager to work, consider setting up a sari-sari store.

Here’s another brilliant idea: Your little convenience store or sari-sari store can really stand out is you sell some imported items. Right? Also, make sure your store is located in a place with heavy foot traffic. A sari-sari store is a great way to get your entire family involved, and even teach your children about business at a young age.

8. Get into the food cart business.

Snack any time, any day – that’s so Pinoy, right? Snacks are a thing for us Filipinos especially when we are out and about on business or just for pleasure. A great way to capitalize on this is by going into a food cart business. There are a lot of food cart franchises available!

Research on which food cart franchise would be your best option. A good rule of the thumb is to go for  more established and recognized brand. Of course, it would be much pricier compared to an unfamiliar name that the public may not easily patronize.

One of the great things about food cart franchising is that they require minimal labor to operate, meaning you will not have to hire numerous staff members. For optimal results, consider placing your foot cart in a mall, grocery store, or other parking lot with high foot traffic.

9. Open a franchise restaurant.

Franchising is less risky compared to starting your own business from scratch. “Franchises have a higher percentage of success than start-up concepts. This is because there is already a fixed system, the brand is established, and expertise already exists. Franchising is working for yourself but you’re not by yourself,” advises Rommel Juan, owner of the infamous Binalot Chain restaurants.

There are many different franchise opportunities available to you as an OFW, and for a variety of budgets. For instance, you could open your own franchise for as little as ₱300,000.00. A franchise will help ensure the money you make abroad will not be depleted by the time you return home. A franchise is a great investment that has potential to grow and prosper.

Keep in mind that opening a franchise is a big responsibility, but can pay off if it is ran successfully. Juan offers five top franchises to open under ₱500,000.00 including Lot’s a Pizza, Plato Wraps, Peanut World, Bibingkinitan, Chicharific, and RBX Rice In A Box.

Also, there are an abundance of online resources to help you learn how to achieve success in franchising, as well as help you determine what type of franchise would be best for you.

10. Become a blogger.

Are you passionate about writing? Consider starting a blog! As a blogger, you will publish content targeted towards a specific audience on a regular basis. You can make money via advertising sponsorship and affiliate marketing. Many OFWs are highly successful within the blogging industry, and there are many online resources to help you get started on the road to success.

Simply, start with a topic you are passionate about, and promote your posts on your other social media networks to establish a strong following. Profiting from a blog will require up-front effort, and may take a while to get started; however, once you start making money it is a business venture that can prove to be highly profitable and enjoyable.

Things To Think About

Remember that you will not be working overseas forever. Therefore, generate additional income you can rely on when you return. Do not wait until the day you decide to return. Start investing on some business ventures while you still earn abroad. This will provide you some safety nets in case things don’t go your way.

We’ve shown you that there are numerous opportunities to generate passive income while working overseas. Just approach every new business venture with care. Before you start any new business or job, make sure you understand your target market, and conduct thorough research into the industry to help you achieve success.

Above all, do not be discouraged if you are unable to fund a franchise venture on your own. A lot of successful entrepreneurs did not have the funds available to start their new business venture. Keep in mind that there are many financing options available in the market, that can help you get up and running fast.


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Abrugar, V. (2012). 16 Business Ideas for OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) | Business Tips Philippines. [online] Businesstips.ph. Available at: http://businesstips.ph/business-ideas-for-ofws-overseas-filipino-workers/ [Accessed 18 Mar. 2017].

News, A. (2017). 5 business ideas for OFWs. [online] ABS-CBN News. Available at: http://news.abs-cbn.com/business/11/30/14/5-business-ideas-ofws [Accessed 18 Mar. 2017].

Tiongson, R. (2017). 5 ways for an OFW to invest in the Philippines. [online] Business.inquirer.net. Available at: http://business.inquirer.net/194849/5-ways-for-an-ofw-to-invest-in-the-philippines [Accessed 18 Mar. 2017].

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