Airport employee-turned-entrepreneur Russel Baquial shared how she seized the opportunity presented by the coronavirus pandemic to carve out her own space in digital entrepreneurship while helping other businesses thrive.
At the onset of what would become the greatest period of disruption, Russel was let go from her job in retail.
But instead of going back to the Philippines, she and three of her friends stayed in Dubai to start their own business.
“The pandemic has posed tremendous challenges for many overseas workers. But I always believed that through passion and dedication, we could prevail from this crisis,” shares Russel.
Russel, an overseas Filipino worker, has scaled up efforts to help other budding entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.
Through Fincres.com, they sell a variety of goods sourced from manufacturers based in the UAE.
This online store is an extension of their general trading enterprise: ever since 2018, she’s been selling on sites like Etsy, Amazon, iTunes, Audible, Google, Apple, and many more.
When asked about her advice to those looking to start their entrepreneurial journey, she says: “Try to get other sources of income while you still can. The thing is, passive income can be an excellent way to help you generate extra cash flow.”
This nugget of wisdom is only a tiny part of what Russel can offer.
In the morning, she spends her time managing her business. In the evening, Russel and her fellow investors and their mentor Mike, a Filipino successful business owner, host daily forums in Dubai.
These forums are free and open to all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and expatriates.
The team holds True Wealth Forums for other OFWs and expatriates interested in creating their own startups and financial investments.
Russel and her friend founded OFW Digital Investor with a goal to guide and empower OFWs on wealth creation and financial literacy about the beauty of digital investments, digital assets, e-commerce and traditional business.
The team seeks to help them find ways to create passive income so that they can maximize their opportunities as they live and work abroad.
“With COVID-19 throwing the job situation of many Filipinos and expatriates in disarray, passive income gives extra security. They can have money coming in even as they pursue your primary job,” says Russel.
Russel said her mother, a former OFW, encouraged her to work in Dubai to pursue greener pastures.
“As a former overseas worker, my mom believed that opportunities are better outside of our home country. I trusted her and followed her advice,” shares Russel.
In a bid to share her learnings with fellow Filipinos, she has ramped up efforts to offer opportunities to her countrymen as her way of giving back to the country.
“Many of my countrymen have suffered job losses in the face of the pandemic, and I want them to know that help is always here for those who need it,” says Russel.
Since her enterprises are mostly online, Russel says she can remotely hire or commission workers from the Philippines.
Currently, she’s commissioning a teacher and two working students and actively working with two call centers based in the Philippines.
“Through my business, I help raise my fellow Filipinos. While I’m miles away, I feel like I’ve never left home,” shares Russel.
Russel’s act of kindness serves as an inspiration for many Filipinos abroad, striving to make ends meet for their families back home.
Not only did she accomplish success herself, but she has led the charge in helping her “kababayans” succeed as well.
In her words, being an entrepreneur is a big risk because nothing is certain in that line of work.
“Despite that, I believe that as long as you have mentors who will guide and encourage you in your projects, it’s worth it,” she adds.