Long before he became the owner of a chain of salons all over Bicol, entrepreneur Yco Tan sold vegetables in the local market.
But his life took a different course one fateful night when he was 17 years old. Frustrated with his life, he decided that he deserved a better life and looked for new opportunities.
“Is this really all my life can be? “There must be a better plan for me,” Tan recounted telling himself.
That opportunity knocked when Tan was 19 years and got invited to apply at an agency looking for OFWs who are willing to work in Saudi Arabia. Although he didn’t meet the minimum age requirements for applicants, he got accepted and was made to appear as if he was 21. Along with 35 other Filipinos, Tan flew to Saudi Arabia in 1984.
Because of hard work, dedication and determination, Tan got promoted and was given the opportunity to earn a college degree at University of Cape Town in South Africa. He eventually became the store manager of the department store he was working for and led a staff of 175 people from 16 different countries.
Tan, who stayed with the company for 18 years, was able to send his siblings to college of which one became an accountant, another an engineer, and the youngest, a physical therapist.
In 2002, after being diagnosed with chronic sinusitis, Tan decided to leave Saudi Arabia to start from stratch again and develop a new career in his home country.
He and his wife Elizabeth, a former private nurse in Jeddah, initially tried their luck with a sewing business. However, the venture didn’t work out because of late payments.
After getting a P300,000-livelihood loan from Land Bank, he then launched his first salon, EveGate, in Tabaco City, Albay. Because the salon was a hit among Albay’s middle class, they were able to pay their loan immediately and opened several other branches in the region.
To date, the Tans have a total of 16 salons all over Bicol and are set to launch their 17th branch this year. They are also supplying salon supplies, formula, as well as equipment in Albay through Adams Housing Salon Supply and training aspiring beauty and hair technicians through Evegate Technical Development Training Academy.
Here are some of his tips to OFWs who are planning to launch a business.
1. Plan while you’re still abroad.
Rather than doing your business plan after you return home to the Philippines, do a project study and a business plan while you’re still abroad.
“Habang nasa abroad ka palang, pagaralan mo na ng mabuti. Kailangan you come home prepared. You do a project study. You do a business plan. Lumapit ka sa gobyerno kasi government has so many things na ibinibigay like free training. May mga loan pa sila,”
2. Get help from the government.
According to Tan, aspiring entrepreneurs need to learn to trust the government more and take advantage of their programs that aim to help business owners.
“Before, galit ako sa gobyerno. Feeling ko kinukuhanan lang nila ako. But I realized that we can actually help each other, like when I got my livelihood loan from LandBank.”
3. Families play a big role in the success of business.
Family members of OFWs aspiring to be full-time entrepreneurs in the near future should also take action in making their dreams come true. Tan encourages spouses of OFWs to start the business while their partners are still abroad.
“Habang si mister ay nasa abroad, si misis sa Pilipinas ay maaaring magnegosyo na.”