Have you ever been to the Philippines? If you haven’t, do you wonder what it’s like? In June, 2016, I visited the Philippines for the very first time and it was an unforgettable experience for me. During this trip, I was able to live with my VAs for the entire week, witness their daily lives, and see how life is like in the shoes of offshore staff in the Philippines.
“When I was starting out as an online business owner, I was more like a solopreneur who had my own ups and downs dealing with a lot of VAs that failed to deliver the job that I needed to be done."
At first, I struggled starting out and keeping my online business afloat as I found it difficult to find a VA staff who will stick with me and my business for ongoing work. Now, I can’t tell you enough how happy I am to have found these people who enabled me to build a solid team – a team who have practically become the backbone of my business.
For so long, I planned to go to the Philippines to meet the people, the VAs, I have been working with for years now. Finally, I was given the opportunity to meet my entire team face-to-face. I wasn’t prepared for all the gratitude and warmth that they embraced me with, and for all the crying that came after I got to personally know each one of them. My first visit to the Philippines was also my very first opportunity to also say “thank you" to my staff who helped me carve my own successes not only in my business but also in the friendship that we built working long hours and even during holidays, making sure that we keep our clients happy.
Everyone welcomed me with such an overwhelming embrace of gratitude for giving them the opportunity to have a well-paying job that allows them to stay home with their family. I have a web developer from Mindanao, Southern Philippines who shared with me that before he became part of my team, he was contemplating finding work overseas so he could have a job that could earn enough to support his family. He was going to sacrifice and leave his family just to earn a decent living.
“He was so happy to have found our company as he is able to earn a good living and able to watch his children grow."
I also have another web developer who came all the way from Nepal, who was amused to have found work with my team where he earns more than what a typical medical doctor earns in his country. And because of that, he will finally be able to afford a wedding that his beloved fiancée deserves. I also have a staff member who has worked with me for over 6 years, who is so grateful for the opportunity he was given to earn enough to support the needs of his family, relatives, and even allow him to save enough to finally buy his first property.
Also, during my one-week visit to the Philippines, I was given the chance to take a trip to the beautiful island of Dumaguete to meet the very first VAs who helped me start my business Red & Black Solutions when I was just starting out with outsourcing. They were the people responsible for all the wisdom I learned on how to manage VAs well and how to mentor them to allow them to grow and improve the skills they have.
I was thrilled to see how their lives changed so much from the time I came to know them. They toured me around a big piece of land they now own thanks to the money they make online and plan on building their dream home for their growing family.
“I was happy that they managed to find their own successes in improving the quality of life not only for themselves but also for their own family."
One of the biggest challenges I realised that these VAs face is actually transportation. The city of Manilla has horrible infrastructure. If they did find an office job, it would take them 2-3 hours to get there which is just not feasible for them. So I’m incredibly happy to be able to allow them to work from home and spend those extra hours working and being with their family rather than commuting.
“It only made me reflect on my own humble beginnings growing up as a young girl in Vietnam, with dreams of living a good life and having all the riches I could imagine."
I was lucky to be given the chance to migrate to Australia and somehow escape from poverty. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to live in a country that gave me so many opportunities to improve myself, build a business and have a beautiful family. In the Philippines I stayed with one of my staff in a province called Bulacan. I got to experience again what life is like living in a house as small as a bedroom in Australia, shower in cold water and using a toilet that has no seat or flush function. This is the experience that I needed to have again to remind myself how lucky I am to be living in Australia.
“Now that I have met my team and have visited the Philippines, I am more determined to build a successful business to support them so that they can continue to support themselves and their family."
Next time, I want to share a little about the charity work we did while we were in the Philippines for the Virlanie Foundation. You can see below the photos we took with these kids and I’ll explain how we plan on changing their lives.