Planning on expanding to the Philippines? Here are some helpful resources

Are you thinking about doing business in the Philippines? With almost 100,000,000 people, mostly English speaking, a fast growing economy and the worlds largest centre for voice based outsourcing – the Philippines is a hot market.

Many business owners are coming to the Philippines looking to setup their restaurant chain, expand their retail business, outsource some of their operations or getting into the outsourcing business themselves.

I have compiled a bunch of resources that will help you along the way with your research of the Philippine market.

BPOs

Simon Meers of Wint and Kidd, tells his story about how he transitioned his Australian business to the Philippines and eventually opened a BPO. Read more about Simon’s story.

Clare Matchett, another Australian shares her story about human resource challenges in the Philippines, how they recruit, hire and manage their team as well as why she learned Tagalog. Read more about Clare’s story.

David Elefant has worked with tons of business owners wanting to setup in the Philippines. He is a fantastic resource to get your setup questions answered. Read more about David and what he is doing in the Philippines.

If your interested in learning more about setting up in the Philippines then check outMike O’Hagan‘s tours. He brings in entrepreneurs looking to see first hand how it all works. Read more about Mike.

Then of course there are questions about taxes, Government organizations, etc. Here are some resources on SSS, PhilHealth, Pagibig and PEZA.

Restaurant / Retail

Adrien of Singapore’s Salad Stop in the the process of expanding his restaurant chain into the Philippines. Read more about his adventure.

Eileen Grey, a business women in the Philippines who has grown The Picture Company into a multi-location success story. Read more about her experience here.

Andrew Masigan talks about his restaurant chain in the Philippines and how he got started. With 14 stores open and 2 more on the way, Andrew has some great experiences to share about operating in the Philippines.

Here is a video we shot a while back with startup founders and other stakeholders as to why they think the Philippines is a great place to do business.

Executive Interview: Simon Meers, Managing Director, Wint & Kidd Inc (Philippines)

As part of a new series on this blog we will be profiling PayrollHero users to learn more about them, their business, where they go to learn and best practices. 

Simon MeersLast week we spoke with Clare from SeekingService, this week is Simon Meers, Managing Director, Wint & Kidd Inc (Philippines). We asked Simon a few questions and his responses are below:

1. What brought you to the Philippines?
We were in the process of implementing a new ERP system for our company in Australia (Air-Met Scientific); we had a database of some 30,000 customer records that needed to be cleaned up before we uploaded it into our new system. I was looking for a team to do that and all roads were leading to the Philippines. I employed 5 or 6 people in 2013 to undertake that work and having successfully completed that task I realised that my team in the Philippines could undertake other activities to support my business. I currently have 14 team members providing support services in data management, sales and marketing, technical service support, website SEO and content management.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 9.50.50 AM2. Tell us about Wint and Kidd?
Recently we moved to a larger office and incorporated a local entity in the Philippines (Wint and Kidd), WK is a boutique BPO for my business (Airmet) and we are offering that service to other Australian businesses. We currently have capacity for 45 employees and 14 are employed to service Airmet.

3. What is the background on the company name?
Albert “Wint” and Charles “Kidd” are fictional characters (villains) in the James Bond novel, and the 1971 film Diamonds Are Forever in the James Bond series. They are referred to in the novel and the film as “WINT and KIDD”, and act as enforcers for the smuggling chain of the Spangled Mob. It is their mission, amongst other things, to make sure the smuggling of diamonds, and everything connected to it go off without a hitch. I am a fan of the movie and the in particular the era of movies produced in the 70’s. In addition the name sounds like a professional consulting company.

4. What makes your company different?
At Wint and Kidd we believe that outsourcing or off-shoring should be used to transform a business not necessarily replace elements of it. We want to support businesses to deploy new ideas with ease, try new concepts without it being cost prohibitive, redirect key members of their current team to high pay off activities. There are other companies that provide outsourcing in the Philippines. They may share the same basic broad concept, but our partners work with us because of the people we provide and how our services are delivered. We understand that outsourcing must be efficient, effective and highly professional to succeed; we set out to connect people with what matters most — the experience for them and their customers.

5. When it comes to HR policies, what do you different that your employees love?
The Philippines employment law is very well established, in addition to meeting all our employment obligations we encourage our team members to work with energy and passion, to take responsibility and get involved in our continual improvement processes. Our offices are spacious and we have the latest technology, we promote a friendly and family atmosphere which is very important in the Filipino culture. We celebrate birthdays and other significant events; this encourages loyalty and a sense of belonging to an organisation that is genuinely interesting in the well being of its team members.

6. Where do you go for learning? (ie. what blogs, magazines, papers, etc do you read, watch)
I am a member of a CEO group which meets monthly to share experiences, I typically have 4 or 5 business books on the go at once because I find that most books should be only 100 pages long yet they pad them out for “perceived” value so I tend to skim them and move from one to the other. I have basically given up on watching commercial television; I get my fix from subscriptions to Netflix, Stan and dedicated sports streaming services. I was a “news hound” but to be honest it was just putting stress on my life and suffocating me with bad news stories so I just stopped watching the news and now just read my iPad over breakfast to keep up with the headlines.

7. Android or iPhone?
I started with the iPhone some years ago and have continued to support that product; I find it easy and intuitive.

8. Where do you find most of your talent? (which job site? what tactic do you use, etc?)
I tend to find people rather than advertise and hope that they can find me. I typically use LinkedIn to find people and then reach out for a conversation around opportunities. I use DISC profiling to ensure that any candidates are really well suited to the roles I have on offer.

9. What does 2016 look like for Wint and Kidd?
We will grow our services and continue to add real value to more businesses in the Australian market. My personal bent is business renovation and change management, I never stop looking for ways to improve my own business; I want to share my experiences and assist others.

10. Who is your ideal client?
We love clients who are looking to make real structural change to how they operate. Anyone can shift a bit of work offshore, we are not interested in clients who just want an ego boost by being able to say that they have a VA, we are in the business of driving measurable results, and our business is only as good as the experience we provide for our clients; we specialise in business transformation and my team in the Philippines is only one piece of that puzzle.

11. What was the biggest challenge when you setup in the Philippines?
There are so many layers of government that want a piece of the action and relationships between each group fragmented. Often you need to ask the same question in three different ways before you land in the right place.

12. What was the biggest positive surprise when you setup in the Philippines?
There is an enormous pool of talent in the Philippines and no shortage of human capital coming onto the market. The Filipino culture is one of resilience and this makes them ideal operators for contact or call centre work applications. Filipinos understand our culture; they get our jokes and share many of our values. They are a largely “Christian” based society which means they celebrate and share most of our religious holidays which is very convenient. The time zone is only 2 hours difference from the Australian East coast and is identical to the Australian West coast.

Capture13. What were you doing before PayrollHero (for your hr tools) and how is it now with PayrollHero?
When I set up Wint and Kidd I wanted to leverage the best technology available, all my systems use cloud based software and PayrollHero was an obvious choice. It provides me with the visability I need when I am back in Australia, the system allows my internal accountant to maximise her time and the integration with the statutory bodies is very convenient.


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Executive Interview: Mike O’Hagan of Mike’s Manila Tours

As part of a new series on this blog we will be profiling executives that are working to help entrepreneurs and business owners expand into new markets. 

Mike O'HaganWe spoke with David Elefant a while back about doing business in the Philippines, today is Mike O’Hagan who conducts tours of Philippine BPOs to Australians who are interested in setting up their operations in the Philippines.

1. Can you tell me more about your business (tours)?
Every 2-3 weeks, I bring 6 Western business owners to the Philippines where I teach and show them “how to offshore”, all the alternatives with the do’s and don’ts. They range from pre-start-ups, micro, small, medium, large and even listed companies.

There are seven different offshoring solutions – I teach all seven. We cover back office process, specialised services and manufacturing.

I also give them a massive dose of entrepreneurship.

The business is called MikesManilaTours and was started 3 years ago. I started after I made many mistakes when establishing a couple of offshored teams here and after observing many others making the same mistakes.

Mike's Manila ToursMy role is to educate – as opposed to showing them their prefect solution. That is why unlike other offshoring tours where commissions are involved, my tours are unbiased and are designed to equip business owners with enough information about the good and bad sides of offshoring in order for them to make a wise decision for their business.

2. Why do you like the Philippines so much?
Offshoring is a worldwide trend. The mantra is make it in the east, sell it in the west. I’ve been involved in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Russia and Ireland. They have their points but none match the Philippines for friendly, helpful well educated people. The Philippines government is backing the industry and making in easy to operate. The country is stable and easy to access.

3. Why is the Philippines a good market for Australian companies to outsource to?
Worldwide, the Philippines stands out due to over 100 years of education in English with Christian core values combined with 3rd world wages and massive numbers of workers. When aligned with the internet/cloud computing and allowed any sized western business to access these educated workers, the Philippines is a unique and very attractive opportunity.

The same time zone as Western Australia means we generally employ between 6am and 3pm when the biggest player, USA, who employ 75% of the 1 million plus workers engaged in offshoring, employ from 10pm until 4am. This means that Australian businesses don’t need to deal with night differential wage adjustments for their off shored workers.

The workplace culture of Australians also suit the Filipino work ethics.

4. What is the biggest benefit to the Philippines?
It’s the new export. Money coming into the economy, directly into the households – whilst only giving their time and education in return. For years, the Philippines has been struggling with the supply of jobs. Australian businesses offshoring to the Philippines help the country elevate the unemployment problem by providing job opportunities for Filipinos.

I also feel there’s something in – how can we alleviate poverty? Employ them!

5. What is the biggest challenge for Australian companies setting up in the Philippines?
Misinformation. A lot of Australian companies set up in the Philippines without fully understanding what they’re getting themselves into. They fail to understand the different ways they can engage services / solutions, fail to comprehend the education levels and skill gaps in Filipino manpower, and they fail to allot time to understand the culture differences.

MikesManilaTours is structured to overcome these issues.

6. What resources do you consume (and suggest people consume) for learning about HR in the Philippines? (newsletters, blogs? magazines?)
I learn from other business owners. I do this in closed confidential type groups where we share all. My favorite is EO – Entrepreneurs Organisation. I’m very careful with blogs. I place more trust in the personal trustee Filipino staff than most of what’s written online.

7. What area of the Philippines do you suggest people setup their BPO in and why? (Fort, Makati, Pasig, etc)
Manila is typical of capital cities (worldwide) in a way that it attracts the smarter graduates who come for the better opportunities with higher wages. They then discover transport and higher costs dilute the dream. Today, large Aussie businesses are also poaching staff in NCR.

If you need people with high level skills – then Manila is the best choice for you. If your needs are common skills then the provinces are far better. Lower wages, more loyalty with the staff.

8. How many tours do you do a year?
I have 6 other businesses in 4 countries so I run the tours when I’m available. Numbers may be a better way to measure this – to date we have brought over 320 people up. Many have multiple business interests – no idea how many. We estimate we have created about 5000 jobs.

9. How many of your attendees actually end up setting up in the Philippines?
My numbers are a little warped by “Accountants”. Of the 320 about 100 were accountants who notoriously are not very entrepreneurial. About 25% of the accountants do something in the Philippines. Of the remaining 220 people, about 83% take action after the tour. Usually they move some of their processes, then discover they can create more value by developing and adding new processes to their business – some engage specialised services – a few create entirely new businesses from the opportunities that they have realised when they went on tour.

10. What is the most important thing to keep in mind when deciding to do business in the Philippines?
Trust. You must know who to trust. There are many “advisors” who are biased with their advice due to commissions and directed agencies. Every week, I’m finding Aussies in trouble because they received the wrong advice – they didn’t fully understand all the alternatives.

11. any other thoughts? tips? feedback?
Learn before you do. Nothing beats coming to the Philippines and seeing for yourself how it all works – where the big gains can be made.
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Certified Profile: Clare Matchett, ServiceSeeking Manila

As part of a new series on this blog we will be profiling certified PayrollHero users to learn more about them, their business, where they go to learn and best practices. 

First up is Clare Matchett, General Manager for ServiceSeeking Manila.
Clare Matchett, SeekingService Manila, General Manager

1. How would you describe your business? 
ServiceSeeking Manila is the Manila arm of ServiceSeeking.com.au, Australia’s best way to get free quotes from local businesses. Our team handles customer service, sales, data analysis, web development, SEO and a whole lot more.


2. What tools do you use to recruit?
We use traditional recruiting tools like job websites, forums and events. One of the most successful recruitment channels is actually referrals from existing team members. Some of our best staff were encouraged to apply by friends and family who worked with us and loved the company culture and office atmosphere.

3. What is your hiring philosophy? 
We look closely at applicants’ personality and general aptitude and tend to place more emphasis on this than skills, education and past experience in our industry. If someone is the right fit, they’ll have the curiosity, bubbliness and problem solving ability that helps them thrive in a company that moves quickly and believes in collaboration, openness and fun.

4. What blogs / newsletters do you read to stay up to date in your industry?
My favourite newsletter is from Sandler Training, a sales training company with a no nonsense approach to prospecting and winning and keeping clients.

5. How do you build company culture at ServiceSeeking? 
We emphasise our company values and make these a core part of recruitment, training and annual reviews. Weekly wrap ups with the entire office also let everyone know what others are working on, celebrate the small “wins” and help team members see the importance of their own role in our big picture success.

6. I saw on Linkedin you were “Streamlining HR policies and the recruitment process” can you explain more about that?  
We’ve learned over the years that being different to the average big BPO company is a key factor in our success in Manila. We’ve worked hard to cut out policies and processes that are not in line with our values and can hold our team back from delivering great quality service.

7. Is speaking Tagalog an advantage to you in running the business? 
My tagalog has a long way to go, but I do think employees appreciate when a foreigner takes the time to learn! It has certainly helped me understand more about Philippine culture, and it always gets a smile when I drop a word into the conversation, even with the wrong pronunciation.

8. Regarding the PayrollHero Certifications, what did you think of the certification courses? 
I was very impressed with the certification courses PayrollHero and its training partners provide. We were helped along every step of the way and the support made the transition from outsourced payroll provider to running this in-house much more smooth.

9. Was the certifications helpful in getting the most out of PayrollHero?

Much of the software is intuitive and just “makes sense”, but payroll in the Philippines is notoriously complicated. We’ve been able to transition to using PayrollHero without adding any new team members and this is mostly because of the great communication with the PayrollHero staff. Discrepancy checks were particularly helpful in letting us know where we’re at with the transition and how to set up loans, advances, bonuses, allowances and government contributions correctly.


PayrollHero has a deliberate onboarding process that is designed to understand every customer’s unique needs so that we can quickly and effectively transition your business onto PayrollHero. Reach out today for a free, 30 min. one on one conversation about how PayrollHero can work within your organization.

Rankings on Ease of Doing Business in Southeast Asia

Ease of Doing Business in SE AsiaSoutheast Asia is a hot market for business. There is untapped potential, both in terms of consumer demand and labour markets. With all eyes on Asia, it is important to focus your capital and team where you generate the greatest return on your investment. Which means getting into the details of every country’s laws: ease of setting up a business, access to credit, construction permits, registering property, taxation laws. This can be daunting, not to mention time consuming. Which is why we have come up with a few metrics that will give you a head-start on some high level knowledge on a few chosen countries in SEA.

The countries we have chosen are: Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The metrics we have chosen are from the ease of doing business rankings published by the World Bank Group. They are: overall ease of doing business, starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, paying taxes, enforcing contracts, USD equivalent of a worker in retail/restaurants. For a thorough understanding on how the World Bank Group creates these rankings, you can read the explanation here.The data for rankings and number of procedures has been taken from World Bank Group’s Doing Business publication.

Ease of doing business
Singapore 1
Malaysia 18
Thailand 26
Vietnam 78
The Philippines 95
Indonesia 114

Singapore ranks first on the ease of doing business. This is not surprising. Since its independence, Singapore has positioned itself as a leader in doing business in SEA. By reducing bureaucratic procedures and taking the entire process online, Singapore has lived up to its top position for many years now.

Starting a Business
Singapore 6
Malaysia 13
Thailand 75
Vietnam 125
Indonesia 155
The Philippines 161

This metric is considered by measuring the number of days it takes to start a business. According to the World Bank Group, it takes 3 days to start a business in Singapore while in the Philippines, it takes 34, which gives you a good idea as to why the rankings look like the above. In the Philippines, much of the time is wasted moving from one department to another. It takes 16 independent procedures to start a business.

Dealing with Construction Permits
Singapore 2
Thailand 6
Vietnam 22
Malaysia 28
The Philippines 124
Indonesia 153

Indonesia ranks the lowest. It takes 17 procedures to obtain a construction permit in Indonesia while Singapore requires you to complete 10 procedures.

Getting Electricity
Singapore 11
Thailand 12
The Philippines 16
Malaysia 27
Indonesia 78
Vietnam 135

Vietnam has an average of 10 procedures taking 34 days while Singapore has 4 taking 31 days.

Registering Property
Singapore 24
Thailand 28
Vietnam 33
Malaysia 75
The Philippines 108
Indonesia 117

On average, Indonesia has 5 procedures, taking 25 days, while Singapore has 4 procedures, taking 4.5 days.

Getting Credit
Singapore 17
Thailand 89
Vietnam 36
Malaysia 23
The Philippines 104
Indonesia 71
Paying Taxes
Singapore 5
Malaysia 32
Thailand 62
The Philippines 127
Indonesia 160
Vietnam 173

This statistic is by far the most extreme. The total number of tax payments in Singapore is 5 per year which takes about 82 hours in the year whereas Vietnam has 32 payments per year which takes about 872 hours.

To understand more about taxation laws on some countries in the APAC region, you can read about it here for Singapore and for the Philippines.

Enforcing Contracts
Singapore 1
Thailand 25
Malaysia 29
Vietnam 47
The Philippines 124
Indonesia 172

In Singapore there are 21 procedures for enforcing contracts which takes about 150 days whereas Indonesia has 40 procedures, taking about 451 days.

Corruption Perception Index
Singapore 84
Malaysia 52
Thailand 38
The Philippines 38
Indonesia 34
Vietnam 31

The corruption perception index is a measure of how people within the country view the public sector. The index is relative to every other country on the list. It ranges from 0 (weakest perception) to 100 (cleanest perception).

Considering the countries we have chosen, it is pretty obvious why Singapore stands out. It is one of the most mature markets in SEA. The other countries are still in a developing stage. Singapore stands more as a reference point on these lists. Many of the SEA nations are held back by the large number of bureaucratic procedures and rampant corruption.

In addition to these factors, we should also consider the cost of doing business, in terms of labour, land and capital costs. There is a trade-off between cost and efficiency which we have avoided considering in order to bring out the basic metric of ease of doing business in SEA.

Hope this was helpful and relevant for your business! Watch out for more posts on rankings in SEA.

If you are in need of a payroll solution for your business, check out our Southeast Asia offerings here – PayrollHero.Asia

– – Related Posts – –

Doing Business in the Philippines

4 Job Boards to Hire Your Best Recruits in Southeast Asia

unnamed-1Today, there are a mind boggling number of channels to use while searching for the best candidate to join your team. In Singapore, the number one channel for recruiters to hire employees is through an online jobs portal. The other Southeast Asian nations are catching up to the trend. Which means, not only do you have to post in multiple online portals, you also have to stand out from every other company in your industry because everyone is using the most popular channel. We want to help you with that. Here we have a list of jobs portals, both conventional and specialized, for restaurant and retail owners to recruit staff.

Recruitasia: This website is devoted to the hospitality sector in Singapore. This is a great site for very specific roles for your establishment. It also provides industry news so that you can stay ahead of the curve when you are recruiting. Currently, the website is in beta stage. During this stage, jobs can be posted free of charge while the website is adding new features and receiving customer feedback to improve their application procedure.

JobsDB: This website runs ads in many Southeast Asian countries: Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and China. In Singapore, it currently has 300 positions posted on the website under F&B. In the Philippines, the site features 960 positions. Every recruiting ad costs SGD 99. However, JobsDB is turning over all Job ads to JobStreet.com.ph in order to streamline the two recruiting sites into one.

JobStreet.com: JobStreet runs in Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Currently, the Singapore site is featuring approximately 800 vacant positions in the F&B industry.This is the largest recruitment website in the Philippines and one you cannot miss while posting ads. The Philippine website is currently running a promo package that is 40% off the standard price (the standard price being PHP 5,600). The Singapore website runs 3 packages, based on number of ads you want to post and how long you want them to stay live. The price ranges between SGD 180 to SGD 400.

KalibrrKalibrr: This startup recruitment website works on a completely different pricing strategy. Instead of charging employers per ad, the ads are free and the database is open for employers to find their best candidate. They are charged a minimal fee of PHP 50 only when they want to contact the candidate. This company is becoming increasingly popular in the Philippines with around 1000 applicants signing up every day. Kalibrr features restaurants and retail as the most popular searches. (Disclosure, both Mike Stephenson and Stephen Jagger of PayrollHero are investors in Kalibrr)

These four are a few of the most popular recruiting website in Southeast Asia. We hope this list is useful and do let us know if you have any additions to the list that are unconventional or special to the retail or restaurant industries.

Cloud Computing Part II: 5 Companies that are Changing the way Business is Done

pablo

As a sequel to our previous post on cloud computing, we thought we would give you an idea of how cloud computing is being used by companies to help businesses in South East Asia. Below we have 5 companies that are changing the way businesses function. Some of them are catered towards bringing in more consumers through the door while others are helping business move day-to-day operations into the cloud so that businesses can spend more time and money on their core competencies.

Loyalty Apps

Perx: This Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software collects loyalty cards into one neat app. For a consumer, you earn points every time you purchase something. Accumulation of points leads to rewards. Perx says that consumers spend 7 times more with the app than without it. Some of the merchants under Perx’s belt are Subway, Joe and Dough’s, Maki San and Salad Stop.

For you, a merchant, Perx gives a huge client database by putting you on their map. The company uses Amazon Web Services to control all the data it collects. Perx’s data analytics gives information about consumption trends, how much a consumer would spend on lunch, where they are located: in short, everything you would like to know about your customer. Perx offers this wealth of data to all its merchants for a fee. As an added marketing platform, Perx features companies on their email and blog which is sure to boost your presence in the community.

Foursquare: While Foursquare does not collect virtual loyalty cards, it uses its core competency – geolocation data and services – in order to bring businesses to consumers. For businesses that claim their names in the Foursquare directory, all rewards and deals that are offered will be displayed to the user.

Inventory Management

TradeGecko: Singapore’s leading user-friendly inventory management software uses the Cloud. It helps retailers and wholesalers to manage multiple warehouses and the entire supply chain without using conventional methods like excel. TradeGecko allows remote monitoring which helps retail managers to control operations at multiple locations. TradeGecko also has Xero integrated into it to digitize the accounting end of the business as well.

Unleashed: Similar to TradeGecko, Unleashed provides analytics on turnover rates, overstocked items, managing margins across different channels (retail, wholesale, e-commerce) and all this in real time.  Unleashed also integrates other Cloud solutions to its app.

Food Delivery Apps

Slurp: Created by Silent Mode, Slurp is the Malaysian version of Foodpanda. It uses cloud based POS systems that help restaurant owners process delivery orders. While Slurp does not deliver food, it has a data analytics service along with a customer app and a waiter app, all in the effort to make ordering food a smoother and error-free process.

Where does South East Asia rank on Maternity Leave?

baby photoEmployee benefits are a growing concern for human resource (HR) administrators. South East Asia (SEA) lags behind the global average in terms of providing employee benefits. However, when it comes to maternity leave, the situation has been improving.

According to the International Labour Organization’s report: Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world, there has been a shift towards increasing maternity leave periods that go further than the 14 – week standard suggested by ILO. However the coverage is neither sufficient nor long enough for mothers before they have to get back to work.

SEA ranks in the middle to lower half in terms of length of maternity leave. On average, around 12 to 13 weeks are given as leave.

Singapore: the Ministry of Manpower lays down conditions for eligibility of maternity leave. This leave can be paid by the employer or can be reimbursed by the government. The length of the leave depends on certain conditions. A maximum of 16 weeks is allowed if the following criteria are met:

  1. The child will be a Singapore citizen
  2. The mother is legally married to the father of the child
  3. The mother has worked in the same establishment for a minimum of 3 months.

The last condition is mandatory for eligibility. MoM also takes into account the number of children the mother has to judge eligibility and coverage.

Malaysia: The 1955 Employment Act gives mothers 60 days (8 weeks) of maternity leave as long as the employee has worked in the company for 90 days prior to taking leave. The employer needs to pay the employee in full during leave. There are certain concessions for civil servants. Malaysia does not provide maternity leave for the sixth child and following children. Because of the short leave provided, mothers often work up to the due date in order to spend time with their child during leave.

Indonesia: Three months (or 12 weeks) of paid leave are given to mothers. At least 1.5 months of this leave must be taken after the birth of the child.

The Philippines: Article 133(a) of the Labour Code states that an employee who has worked in the establishment for at least 6 months is entitled paid leave 2 weeks before the due date and 4 weeks after delivery. The employer is required to pay for only the first four children.

Under SSS law, a woman member of the SSS is entitles to maternity benefits. While the employer must pay these benefits to the employers, it can be reimbursed by the SSS. In order to abail the Maternity Benefits, the employee must pay at least 3 monthly contributions within the year before the semester of childbirth.

Thailand: An employee is entitled to 90 days (or 12 weeks) of maternity leave. However, the employer must pay a maximum of 45 days. The remaining 45 days are paid from the Social Welfare Fund. In order to avail payment from the Social Welfare Fund, the employer is expected to make contributions to the Fund for at least 7 months before pregnancy.

Here we have a list of countries and the maternity leave that they offer:

Duration Countries
< 12 weeks ·         Hong Kong

·         Malaysia

·         Papua New Guinea

·         Philippines

·         Taiwan

12 – 13 weeks ·         Cambodia

·         China

·         DPRK

·         East Timor

·         Indonesia

·         Laos

·         Myanmar

·         South Korea

·         Thailand

14-17 weeks ·         Brunei

·         Japan

·         Singapore

>  17 weeks ·         Mongolia

·         Vietnam

Source of Cash Benefits: Historically, Asia has seen a higher percentage of the maternity leave being paid by the employer. However, the trend is moving towards cash benefits coming from mixed sources: from the employer and social security services. To put this in perspective, Europe, a region that has led the way for right of the employee, has always provided cash benefits from social security.

Paternity Leave: Rights offered to fathers are fairly limited. Countries offer just a couple of days of paternity leave as a shared provision between parents. Usually this leave is taken by the mother. Sometimes this leave is not paid. Approximately 28% of countries in Asia provide paternity leave.

Restaurant Executive: Andrew Masigan, The Advent Manila Hospitality Group

As part of a new series on this blog [Retail / Restaurant Executive] we will be interviewing restaurant and retail executives from all over the world to gain insight and perspective into how they make their decisions, grow their businesses and deal with challenges.

Today is Andrew Masigan, owner of The Advent Manila Hospitality Group in the Philippines.

andrew MasiganQ. When and why did you start Advent?
I guess you can say that Advent is a reincarnated company. Advent was the name of my first company, just after finishing my Masters program. Back then, it was a sole proprietorship that served as the company behind my first fast food chain, Dimsum ‘n Dumplings. Soon enough, the company grew to a point where it didn’t make sense to pay personal income tax rates for my business profits. I then decided to retire it. In its place, Prime Pacific Corp. was put together as the corporate entity of Dimsum ‘n Dumplings. Fast forward to 2010 and Prime Pacific Corp. was acquired by another firm. I was done with the food business…or so I thought.

The thing with the food business is that, difficult as it is, it is so damn gratifying. It is a business that feeds your mind, soul (through creativity) and stomach, all in one go. Its true what they say — once a foodie, always a foodie.

In 2011, we decided to venture into the restaurant business all over again, this time, making a strong push for Filipino cuisine. The idea was to come up with a Filipino restaurant that was high-end in very sense, debunking the notion that Filipino food was “pedestrian” or suited only for the home.

XO46 LogoWe launched XO46 Heritage Bistro later that year. It is an advocacy-driven brand whose purpose is to bring forward the best of Filipino cuisine  while being an instrument to preserve our vanishing food heritage (no thanks to the influx of fusion cuisine).

XO46 was incorporated under the Advent Manila Hospitality Group. This is our company today. So in a sense, Advent has come full circle.

Q. What is your background? (restaurants? or you figured it out as you went?)
Advent Manila Letterhead logoI am somewhat of a strange mutt. I am an economist by training…politics is my interest…the hospitality industry is where my expertise lie.

This strange mix is the reason why I am a restaurateur, a business and political columnist for the Manila Bulletin, a tv host (The Business Examiner) and a consultant to the Department of Science & Technology.

At the heart of it all  is my passion to be an instrument to nation building, whether through business, politics or media. I guess you can say that this is what unifies everything that I’m into.

Q. How many locations do you have in the Philippines?
Dimsum ‘N Dumplings peaked at 88 stores, although most were kiosk outlets.

Our restaurant group today consist of 14 stores, with two more under construction and due to open before year-end.

Q. How do you choose a location?
Pretty much the same way most restaurateurs do.

We consider foot traffic, the profile of customers, the merchant mix and the competitive environment.

Q. Will you ever take a sub-par location, if it is in an area you want to be in? or will you wait for the right spot?
I would rather wait for the right spot. If there is anything I’ve learned being in this business  for 2 decades —  its that, “the bottom line” is the bottom line! In other words, if a site is not going to make money…lets not waste our time.

Q. How big is a standard location? What have you learned about location size?
XO46 works with spaces ranging from 120 sqm to 240 sqm.

Q. Does a corner location matter?
It’s a plus but not a deal breaker.

Q. Are malls better? or street level locations?
Good question. It really depends.

The value that the malls give is that it is a destination on its own; it has inherent foot traffic (assuming the mall is not a dud); security is more or less assured; and your brand gets to ride on the image of the mall and the surrounding merchants.

On the downside, mall spaces are relatively expensive to rent, they limit your operating hours and give you restrictions on your product offerings and store design.

The advantages of street locations are the disadvantage of malls, and vice versa.

Q. At what point did the number of locations change how the business is run? I have been told, 1 or 2 locations is ok, but 3+ requires a different management approach, systems, procedures, etc. What was the tipping point for you?

Fortunately, I know the business well enough that I can still manage our stores with relative personal involvement.

The trick is to put the important systems in place – I’m referring to systems relating to operations, HR and accounting & control.

Beyond 20 stores, the emphasis shifts from personal management & creativity to professionalization. In other words, the efficiency your company’s chain-of-command largely determines how well your stores operate. In addition, logistical issues migrate to the forefront of your business concerns.

Q. Anything you would like to add?
The integration of ASEAN come Jan 1, 2016 will change the industry.

Given the impending borderless trading conditions within the region, we will see the best restaurants groups from each of the 10 economies “invade” other territories, jockeying for a piece of their market.

I would like XO46 to be on the offensive, not on the defensive, in this new environment.   After all, the time is right for Filipino cuisine to be exported, don’t you think?


eileen picture company
Want to read more from our executive contributors, check out Eileen Grey, owner of The Picture Company in the Philippines.


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Retail Executive: Eileen Grey, The Picture Company

As part of a new series on this blog [Retail / Restaurant Executive] we will be interviewing restaurant and retail executives from all over the world to gain insight and perspective into how they make their decisions, grow their businesses and deal with challenges.

First up is Eileen Grey, owner of The Picture Company in the Philippines.

Eileen Grey The Picture CompanyQ. When and why did you start The Picture Company?
A. In 2002, I was a new mom to 2 little boys and I wanted every moment frozen in time through photos. My search led me to dark photo studios. The photographers did not enjoy interacting with my babies to capture precious moments for me and my family. Within 6 months of that search, we opened our first “home” in The Podium Mall in the Philippines. We made a studio where kids and moms can feel at home, not just with the surroundings but with their personal photographers as well. Bright studios were put up, colored backgrounds, lots of play and fun. Our aim was to create magic in our studios everyday. Today, we continue to love what we do. We love babies and we love creating keepsakes for your family. The Picture Company has grown but we still keep it personal – just like the first day we opened our doors more than a decade ago.

The Picture Company Philippines Logo | PayrollHeroQ. What is your background? (retail? or you figured it out as you went?)
A. My background is hotel management. I figured it out with the help of EO members that served as my mentors.

Q. How many locations do you have in the Philippines?
A. We have 9 locations across the Philippines. (The Podium Mall, Greenbelt 5, Power Plant Mall, Alabang Town Center, Glorietta 4, C1 Bonifacio High Street Central, Shangri-la Plaza and Ayala Center Cebu)

The Picture Company Locations in Philippines | PayrollHeroQ. How do you choose a location for The Picture Company? 
A. We look for malls that appreciate our product. Locations that have a lot of foot traffic for families and strollers.

Q. Will you ever take a sub-par location, if it is in an area you want to be in? or will you wait for the right spot?
A. We will always wait for the right spot. Our business is a weekend business (when the parents can go to the malls) and we have limited number of hours to do business (we can take maximum of 8 sessions a day for only 2 days a week), it is too risky to take a sub par location.

Q. How big is a Picture Company location? What have you learned about store size?
A. Our stores range from 36m2 to 120m2. In the beginning, we kept getting a bigger space to accommodate strollers and nannies and extended family, but we realised that when the store is big, it also lacks coziness. More attention is given to the customer when the space is just right. Another thing we need to consider is the malls have doubled and tripled their rental rates.

The Picture Company Philippines | PayrollHeroQ. Does a corner location matter for The Picture Company?
A. No. Of course good foot traffic is important but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a corner store.

Q. Are malls better? or street level locations?
A. We were successful in locations like Podium and Rockwell where clients expressed they feel safe. So when we first went street level like Bonifacio High Street, we were taking a chance. It turned out okay. A little warm and exposed to the weather changes like rain. More dirt comes in which isn’t friendly for a baby environment but it worked.

Q. At what point did the number of stores change how the business is run? I have been told, 1 or 2 stores is ok, but 3+ requires a different management approach, systems, procedures, etc. What was the tipping point for The Picture Company?
A. You are very correct! It was very personal and mom and pop until 3 stores. And then I had to consider personnel, training, back office space, production, logistics, etc.

Q. Anything you would like to add?
A. I wish we could locate The Picture Company in more spaces but new malls sprouting up (or the ones renovating) are creating bigger spaces and bringing up rent because of the international brands coming in. I wish they would always make spaces for the Filipino retailers so we have character in our malls and not look like every other mall with the same big brands. We also need to help the Filipino retailers thrive in their own country. I think the fight for all these brands to enter the malls is making every mall look alike and not offer anything new for its customers.

– Thanks to Eileen for participating! 


Would you like to be profiles in our Retail Executive series. Reach out by commenting on this blog post or emailing support at payrollhero .com.

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