Russel Baquial had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. After twenty years of living abroad, the pandemic finally pushed her to live her dream and create her own business.
When she was younger, Baquial was inspired by businessmen back at home. Her mother, a former Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), advised her that the best place to start a business is abroad. Taking her advice, Baquial quit her job in insurance and moved to Dubai.
Living abroad in the past wasn’t as easy as it is now. There didn’t use to be large Filipino communities in the UAE and video calls didn’t exist, much less affordable phone calls. Baquial battled homesickness and culture shock hand-in-hand.
Once she settled, though, she looked at the bright side. One benefit of being an expatriate was that she could befriend people from different countries and learn about foreign cultures, which is an experience unique to overseas workers.
Before the pandemic, Baquial worked and managed over 20-25 employees in an airport retail shop. When the airport had to let workers go due to budget cuts, Baquial was one of the many employees that had been laid off. Again, she looked at the silver lining.
Ever since 2018, Baquial has learned the ropes of digital business through her various online shops on digital platforms like Etsy, Gumroad, Amazon, Google, Apple etc. Now that she had time on her hands and the experience she learned first-hand, she could finally start her own business from the ground up.
With the collaboration of three colleagues and the guidance of a business mentor, Baquial opened a general trading company in Dubai.
Baquial says that she wouldn’t be where she is now without the great support system she had. She shares,
I am just so glad that I have had such supportive friends who not only cared for me but loved me as well.
Now, she helps other Filipino expats in starting up their own businesses. Alongside her business mentor and her fellow investors, she co-hosts forums
on starting up digital investments and businesses. She stresses the importance of having a business mentor, as mistakes in any investment are costly.
My current mission and advocacy is to help other OFWs build [streams for passive income] through digital business and digital investment. I want to guide and teach [OFWs] how to start up their own businesses, online or traditionally.