Why Philippines is our first choice

January 4, 2021
  • Significant untapped potential in the Philippines with a large, digitally literate and entrepreneurial society, as well as an MSMB-dominant economy (99.6%)
  • Philippine MSMBs are facing more challenges pivoting to digitalisation compared to larger companies – a digital gap that Lemi for Business can help to fill
  • The Philippines is the starting point for Lemi for Business to expand into other Southeast Asian countries and help other MSMBs in the region

People were surprised when we decided to introduce Lemi for Business to the Philippines first. More metropolitan cities like Hong Kong or Singapore seemed like the obvious choice because of higher consumer spending power and better access to technology. Yes, those are important, but a good market entry point is about more than that.

Tapping the Philippine potential

There is huge untapped potential in the Philippines. Filipinos are digitally literate, mobile-driven and consistently rank as the world’s top social media users. Unsurprisingly, they form our largest organic user base. They also have a highly entrepreneurial and resilient spirit—at least 77 percent of Filipinos have a side gig, which is why 99.6 percent of businesses are MSMBs. This makes Filipinos the ideal target market and audience for Lemi for Business. We can help them as business owners, and we can reach them as consumers.

Businesses need to be where their customers are to survive the COVID-19 economic downturn. In the Philippines, that’s online—especially on social media. Larger companies have the budget and dedicated teams to manage digital systems like virtual loyalty programmes and customer relationship management (CRM). But MSMBs are getting left behind because they can’t afford or don’t know how to navigate digital commerce.

How Lemi helps 

Lemi for Business helps MSMBs cross that digital gap. As a made-for-mobile platform, it’s much easier for them to use and understand because they’re already frequent mobile users. They don’t need to invest in any devices or hire IT experts and web designers. We build it all for them. Digital loyalty programmes, microsites, CRM systems—we provide everything a business needs to survive in the digital age. 

We know cost is a huge barrier to entry for Philippine MSMBs. After daily business expenses, they aren’t left with much capital on hand. So we removed that barrier. They don’t pay any upfront costs for Lemi for Business. We only earn commission on the sales we help them make, or take subscription fees after we’ve already proven our worth because we know they have limited capital. With this model, digitalisation isn’t gated behind a paywall any more. They have the freedom to grow, and we grow alongside them.  

Our large organic local user base on Lemi enables us to support MSMBs as a community. It’s much easier for Lemi users to explore an MSMB’s Lemi for Business profile page, buy digital coupons and connect with them from anywhere around the world. Better access means improved engagement and increased positive purchase intent. MSMBs can capture a completely new demographic that they would normally never reach. People are also more likely to explore recommendations from people they trust. Lemi users have a higher chance of trying out recommendations from curated lists by fellow users in the community because we are united by our love for authentic experiences.

[With Lemi,] MSMBs can capture a completely new demographic that they would normally never reach

Growing together as we expand

Scale-wise, there’s far more opportunity for economies of scale in the Philippines than in smaller cities. The Philippines has a population of over 106 million. That easily eclipses Singapore and Hong Kong, which have 12 million combined. This gives us much more room to grow. More importantly, we also have the chance to create a much bigger positive impact for MSMBs because there are so many more of them that we can help.

There is a lot of stigma around the Philippines—and around the Southeast Asian region as a whole—because of the perception that emerging economies are poorer and plagued by inefficiencies. But there’s opportunity in inefficiency. Our unique approach to helping MSMBs digitalise can capture a significantly underserved market with high potential value. Preserving cultural and economic diversity leads to innovation and growth, and the Philippines is just beginning to take off. There’s never been a better time to jump in.

Preserving cultural and economic diversity leads to innovation and growth, and the Philippines is just beginning to take off.

If we are successful in the Philippines, it’ll be much easier to replicate our strategy across other regional markets such as Thailand and Indonesia. These markets have traditionally been very difficult to penetrate because of the lack of on-ground support for MSMBs, but maybe we can be the answer for them and become a force for positive change. 

We’re using our strengths and insights to create something that people need, not just what they should have. That is the difference we are making in the Philippines, and this is just the beginning.