Insights from Entrepreneurial Link: Singapore x Philippines at BLOCK71

Hosting Entrepreneurial Link: Josef Werker from Penbrothers

The Entrepreneurial Link series by NUS Enterprise serves as a bilateral platform for knowledge exchange and networking between start-ups, investors, corporate partners in Singapore and key overseas entrepreneurial hubs. It also aims to deepen the links between the Singapore entrepreneurial ecosystem and the respective overseas hubs.

In this installment of the Entrepreneurial Link, BLOCK71 Singapore together with Penbrothers ventured into the Philippines, one of Asia’s most promising start-up ecosystems, with an interesting panel discussion. The panel consisted of Gui Faria from Upteam, Melissa Kang from Meloy Fund, Amit Saberwal from RedDoorz, Hwee Yong from Enterprise Singapore, and Josef Werker from Penbrothers who moderated the discussion.

From left to right: Gui Faria (Upteam), Melissa Kang (Meloy Fund), Amit Saberwal (RedDoorz), Hwee Yong (Enterprise Singapore), Josef Werker (Penbrothers)

4 Key Insights from the Panelists

Have you been playing around with the possibility of expanding your business into the Philippines? With the country’s vast human resource and huge potential for start-up growth, a strong, structured environment might be the key to winning in the Philippines. Here are 4 key insights that surfaced during the session that might prove to be useful to you in your decision-making process.

1. The Philippines has a large number of human resources to tap on.

The Philippines has a growing younger population where about 20 million are between the age of 20 and 30 with more fresh graduates entering the workforce. What this means for the Philippines is that there is an abundance of human resources to tap on compared to its neighbours in the region such as Singapore. Thus, companies looking to expand into the Philippines should look into utilising this human resource.

2. There is a huge potential for disruption in the Philippines.

Due to current gaps in the Philippines’ development, there is a huge potential for disruption. These gaps offer several pain points for aspiring start-ups to find solutions to. To do so, entrepreneurs must identify pockets of opportunities within the Philippines. These opportunities include infrastructure and consumerism to name a few. One of the problems the Philippines faces regarding infrastructure is the constant traffic jams during peak hours due to the infrastructure not growing with the demand. As for consumerism, a growing middle class, rising GDP, and a younger population would lead to a rise in demand for consumer goods in the Philippines. These pain points should provide entrepreneurs with sufficient entry points into the Philippines.

3. It is tough to sell disruptive technologies in the Philippines due to a resistance to change in large conglomerates.

With that said, there are some obstacles to disruption in the Philippines. Due to the nature of the large conglomerates in the Philippines, they are resistant to change and trying new technologies. This makes it hard for entrepreneurs to pitch to them to get funding or to adopt their proposed technologies. In spite of such difficulties, the pain points mentioned previously still need solving and should provide ample opportunities for entrepreneurs to enter the Philippines.

4. Keep your workforce motivated.

A carrot-and-stick approach can only take you so far when it comes to running a company. Due to the high demand for jobs, Filipino employees come into the company incredibly motivated. However, even the most talented and motivated employees will start to burn out without a framework. To constantly motivate your employees, it is important to give them opportunities to work at the level fitting for them to show their ability.

Missed the live stream? Catch the full video here:

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