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Is there a middle ground between employment and entrepreneurship?

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By Mary Ritz Pay Seng

HINDI ka yayaman sa pagiging empleyado,” the saying goes (You won’t become rich as an employee).

The implication in this statement is that more Filipinos should pursue entrepreneurship. Owning your own business is the path to financial success — rather than earning a fixed salary, you can potentially keep all the revenues from your company.

While encouraging Filipinos to pursue business is beneficial, this thinking is flawed. Not every person is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Some may not be ready now, needing a few years more experience, while others may never be ready. Every person has different personalities and propensities for risk, after all.

Rather than only encouraging Filipinos to become business owners over employees — which is a false and unhelpful dichotomy — we should instead encourage them to make investments in the way that they are most comfortable with. The easiest path to do so has traditionally been investing in the local stock market, but even this is prohibitive for many.

Fewer than 1% of Filipinos invest in the local stock market. If you ask Filipinos who are interested in investing in stocks why they don’t, their reasons will mostly relate to ignorance, either of companies and industries or even on how to sign up to trade in the first place. The barrier to investing in stocks is too high for the vast majority of Filipinos.

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Fortunately, the new digital economy is making it easier to invest. Local crowdfunding platform Cropital gives Filipinos the opportunity to back local farmers and then earn a return from their investment, once the farmer has produced his yield and sold his goods at market.

InvestEd offers a similar opportunity, this time with college students: By backing those in need of tuition and financial assistance, you can grow your money by as much as 11% per annum. These solutions are especially welcome in the Philippines because they are two-sided innovations: They help beneficiaries who need money on one hand and investors who want to put their money to work on the other.

There are also international platforms helping Filipinos more easily invest. One of the most notable to recently arrive is social trading platform eToro, which enables Filipinos to invest in a wide variety of financial instruments, including everything from stocks and currencies to commodities and cryptocurrencies.

One of the more unique investment vehicles are eToro’s thirty CopyPortfolios. These do not exist on any other product or platform because they are a part of eToro’s Copytrader feature, which allows new investors to copy the investments of other investors, which they can vet through their publicly available data. Users can see their risk score, portfolio composition, and most importantly, track record, all of which are meant to make it easier to invest.

In the wake of local platforms like Cropital and InvestEd, and international platforms like eToro, I think we should reconsider the idea that entrepreneurship is the only path to financial success. While so-called “hustle porn” is popular — content that glorifies and romanticizes the journey of entrepreneurship — it promotes ideals that are simply not true. You don’t have to choose between employment or entrepreneurship. There are many financial solutions at your disposal. Choosing those that you are most comfortable with is the best kind of financial freedom that I know.

 

Mary Ritz Pay Seng currently works as a digital marketing manager for a tech company start-up as well as a digital specialist for SearchGuru.

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