PHL’s biggest massage parlor is former OFW’s handiwork

 

MAKATI CITY—THE red and black polo shirt ain’t a foreign-branded one, and Kenneth Carredo’s slippers weren’t even Havaianas.

What I and my wife Annabelle are wearing —the latter in a checkered sleeves— are all products of Divisoria, said the native of Cebu City.

So who would think that these simple-wearing entrepreneurs are not only diligent payers of multi-million peso entrepreneurial loans, but are owners of the country’s largest chain of massage and spa parlors?

Kenneth, a former overseas worker in Thailand, and Annabelle are the meek owners of Nuat Thai Massage and Spa, whose formula of franchising nearly a hundred outlets found in all three islands of the country (especially in Cebu City and major cities in Metro Manila).

Nuat Thai began in 2005 when, while waiting for a masseuse at a spa in Cebu City, Kenneth observed that the queue was long and customers, around 15 of them waiting in line, were already complaining.

“If I open up a spa in front of him, I will be able to get those customers, That spa cannot serve 15 customers in a day,” said the engineer by academic training who once worked as a logistics manager for Peggy’s Food in Thailand.

With capital coming from an earlier business, a computer training center (which was set up out of his savings from overseas work), from Kenneth’s Bangkok-based sister and an initial loan from the Philippine Cooperative Central Fund, Nuat Thai opened even with the lack of an initial number of trained masseuse.

So this engineer went back to Thailand and underwent training on doing Thai massage (or dry massage, i.e. without using any oil). After getting a certification from Thai authorities, Kenneth went back home and trained his initial set of masseuses. He also got ideas of what specific masseuse equipment and fixtures to use.

Slowly, the Carredos expanded their own outlets to Tagbilaran City, Bohol and General Santos City to add up the one they own in Talamban district, Cebu City. These outlets were all co-financed by loans acquired from PCF, which served as a retailer of the Livelihood Development Program for Overseas Filipino Workers (LDPO) of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the National livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC).

Then Nuat Thai expanded through franchising. Some customers who went to Nuat Thai branches in Cebu City and in Metro Manila (the initial franchised outlets bought from them) were impressed with the type of massage done unto them.

Annabelle’s cell phone then kept on ringing with scheduled appointments from interested franchisees.

Now with nearly 90 outlets, the Carredos are targeting to reach 100 Nuat Thai outlets (including the three that they own) by the middle of this year. Like any other franchising agreement, franchisors earn from monthly royalties from franchisees.

If one’s a current or former overseas worker engaging into an earning business here in the Philippines, “why would you need to go out again?” Kenneth asks.

A franchisee will be taught the Thai massage techniques Kenneth learned, as well as use the equipment that the Carredos will recommend for use so as to have a uniform look at all Nuat Thai outlets.

Nuat Thai’s ongoing expansion also comes with frequent loans to OWWA’s loan program, the most recent of which is a P1 million loan from the OWWA’s P2 billion OFW Reintegration Fund that the agency handles with the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

But the Carredo’s ongoing success is not just brought about by the usual tricks that can make entrepreneurs thrive and grow. “Wise use of credit,” Kenneth says, “also works. We don’t need as much dazzling clothing anyway.”

 

 

 

This story is a collaboration between the OFW Journalism Consortium, the Private Sector Promotion Program (SMEDP) of the German International Development Cooperation (GIZ) in the Philippines, and the nonprofit Institute for Migration and Development Issues (IMDI). This story is part of the case studies featured in the GIZ study ‘Business Bliss from Hardwork Abroad’ (for details of this study, contact Dr. Lorenzo Templonuevo  at lorenzo.templonuevo@giz.de).

 

 

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