Thursday, January 10, 2008

Entrepreneurial opportunities in Manila

I walked the streets of Manila this week and I found many promising opportunities for business waiting to be tapped.

Walking through the sidewalks, streets and malls of Divisoria last December and it was like passing a squeezer. So many kinds of shoppers and an equal number of all sorts of vendors, hawkers, salespersons, kargadors, shoplifters, pickpockets and plain istambay inching their way, tiptoeing, standing alongside jeepneys, private vehicles, tricycles, karitons, and others. There was no vacant space left; every nook and cranny was taken.

Everything was so interesting. Everybody wants to get ahead, yet the most you could do is take one half-step at a time. Everybody seems hopeful and happy. The buyers, perhaps, are looking forward to a wide variety of goods at bargain prices and the sellers are expecting to sell big volumes.

Last Monday, then again briefly on Tuesday, I went back there. Somehow, the place seems gloomy. It didn't seem like Divisoria without the tens of thousands of sidewalk and itinerant retailers along main and side streets. There were still some along C.M. Recto, but the jeepneys could now pass unhampered. Passing through the alleys of 168, Divisoria Mall and Taborra was like walking in the park, you could even play bowling there. I am now wondering what type of "job" or "business" those displaced retailers and hired salespersons are engaged in. Where are they now selling their goods? What are their sources of livelihood presently?

From the coaches of LRT Line 1, I noticed that Carriedo is clear of street vendors but it is so filled with people walking or standing by the sidewalks. I decided to get off at the train station. So I walked around Plaza Miranda and the streets of Carriedo, Villalobos, R. Hidalgo, Evangelista and all the streets intersecting Cariedo, Evangelista and Avenida Rizal on the day before the Feast of the Black Nazarene. Mayor Lim made Avenida open to motorists again. The Quiapo area is ever bustling and crammed with all sorts of goods-for-sale in stores, on carts, on bilaos and on anything that could easily be folded and carried when the roving traders run from the policeman. There are even massage services (for neck, shoulders, head, foot) along the sidewalks of the plaza next to those selling condo units and gold jewelry.

One unique thing they are selling in Quiapo is prosperity candles that come with instructions on how they are to be lighted, when and where. Each candle symbolizes various aspects of life for the believers; e.g. red is for life; blue, for peace; yellow, good spirit; violet, material wealth; green, money; pink, health; and white or orange, brightness. Nobody could tell me who made the distinctions, but I was admonished just to buy the candles and believe like millions do.

Finally, I went to Kamuning Market, firstly to have my gown re-sewn to my new svelte size (after painstaking healthy eating and exercising). I was told to wait so I went around the market. I was pleasantly surprised to discover so many tailoring and dress shops inside the market. When you think of market, you think of meat and poultry, vegetables, seafoods, and all products related to food and cooking. Not Kamuning—you could find the some of the best tailors and dressmakers there and all products and services related to garments, including textiles and curtain materials.

Best of all, I always go to Kamuning Market to savor the very tasty palabok and pancit bihon of Aling Norma.

Now, for those who are thinking of going into business or perking up their current business, there is a lot of insights you could get from walking the streets of Manila. It is like taking the pulse and temperature of Manila buyers. What are they buying? Where are they buying? How are they buying? When are they buying?

I am telling you, you could make (or buy) anything (yes, anything!) and sell them—people are buying! We have become a certified consumer society and people think and feel that the peso has gained in buying power and so they are spending. Just get out there and start your business. Keep the Christmas lights on.


No comments: