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EnterPH, Creative Zone forge strategic partnership to help UAE-based PH Startups, Pinoy MSMEs

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Entrepreneurs intently listening to a guest speaker during the MSME Development Week in 2019

By Alithea De Jesus

As the country traverses in the second year battling the pandemic, there is no denying that the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the lives of everyone we know. It has caused anxiety as health and safety concerns coupled with economic and income uncertainties weighed down every Juan and Juana, setting back a broad spectrum of businesses.

Much as it tries, government is still struggling to enforce policies that strike the perfect balance between lives and livelihood. More than 50 percent of the MSMEs have closed down and some are just restarting to open their business. As the threat of the pandemic continues, the dreadful forecast of escalating unemployment rate remains a serious concern. For many MSMEs, the issue is simple — survive or perish.

While many amongst us have already thrown in the towel, seemingly stuck in the fatalistic outlook. The real challenge, though, is for us to take on an action plan that anticipates the worst and prepares us for it.

Cognizant of the challenges faced by the MSMEs, two companies joined forces to assist Filipino enterprises to expand their operations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), EnterPH, a consultancy firm led by the country’s renowned entrepreneurs RJ Ledesma and Atty. Ricardo Chan, helping foreign companies expand to or outsource their businesses to the Philippines, has partnered with Creative Zone a leading business setup company based in Dubai, UAE. 

The strategic partnership will provide a platform and advice to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and investor-seeking startups to enter the UAE and expand their business in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets.

RJ Ledesma of EnterPH, vows to support Philippine Startups, MSMEs thru EnterPH consultancy firm

Commenting on the partnership, Ledesma, an award-winning host, a serial entrepreneur who  also serves as Consul of Monaco to the Philippines, said, “Dubai has always been close to my heart, and educating my fellow entrepreneurs on the overlying opportunities and business potential that can be leveraged whilst within the country is a novel approach.”

“Companies like Creative Zone make it much easier by providing business owners with flexible and cost-effective solutions about how and where to set up and operate their companies locally in the UAE. I look forward to this fruitful partnership encouraging the spirit of entrepreneurship,” he added.

Lorenzo Jooris, CEO of Creative Zone, commented, “Together with EnterPH’s wealth of knowledge in the Southeast Asian market, this partnership will pave the way in materialising the global entrepreneurship concept more effectively and quickly.”

According to Jooris, aside from enabling Philippine startups to expand in Dubai, Creative Zone also offers entrepreneurs start-to-finish business solutions they need to establish, sustain and grow their businesses, including assisting in investment opportunities. 

Last year, they launched their first Accelerator and Incubator program, She Leads and Startup X, of whose second cohort just concluded, and soon they will be declaring the winners who will get business support services worth AED 100,000 with a solid chance of getting funding. Their mainstream business services include tax and accounting, legal, concierge, insurance, and even co-working options.

Regarding the cost of the services and the requirements, Jooris mentioned that the cost entirely depends on the nature of the business activity, the number of visas, jurisdiction, and several other factors. The same goes for requirements; for instance, opening a restaurant will be entirely different from a consulting business. Their mainland startup booster package starts from $6000, whereas their Free Zone options begin with as low as $1300.

When asked for a reason why the Philippines is on their radar and if what are the market opportunities they saw for Creative zone in the country, Jooris mentioned, “The Philippines’ strategic location and vast business opportunities connecting the sizeable ASEAN market made the country our best bet. There is a considerable spike in entrepreneurs and startups expanding their business to the Philippines, and with the help of EnterPH, we would be able to tap into this community and ease the business setup process by removing the complexity and holdups from the entire course of the journey. The substantial domestic consumer base of 100 million and remittances from eight million Filipinos working abroad.”

“Powered by a young, skilled, and English-speaking workforce, the country is abuzz with opportunities, and we seek to leverage that to attract more people to come and set up their businesses in the Philippines. Not to mention that the Philippines is a center of the world’s largest centres for business process outsourcing and boasts of a strong industrial sector based on the manufacturing of electronics and other technology components for overseas corporations,” Jooris added.

The UAE is home to more than 750,000 Filipinos, who constitute the third-largest expatriate community in their country, with an evolving purchasing power and representation across all sectors. 

The Philippines and the UAE also enjoy strong bilateral ties, and trade between the two countries accounts for 31 percent of the regional trade, valued at $4.81 billion.

The UAE’s latest FDI laws allowing foreigners to own 100% of the mainland company has made the country a top attraction for entrepreneurs and investors to start their ventures.

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