Regina Evangelista – Success of Online Filipino Workers (OFW)
In this episode, Derek is joined by Regina Evangelista. She is a the Co-founder and CEO of Mr. Outsource. Join us as Derek talks about Regina’s journey and deep dives into her involvement in the outsourcing sector and promotion of outsourcing and VA services within the provinces of the Philippines
- Regina is the CEO of Mr. Outsource that provide and manage virtual assistant services. She is also a co-author of the “Outsourcing Mastery” that is basically the 17 secrets in how to outsource in the Philippines.
- According to Regina, Senate has given more budget this year and the President wanted to push this more IT outsourcing to the rural areas.
- She also talks about how she started her business and what other businesses takes place after creating one.
- Clients plays a significant role when it comes to the knowledge transfer and the upskilling the skill that you have because they buy all these courses online and they don’t have time to watch those videos, to go through those courses, so what they do is they hire Virtual Assistant.
- Regina shares that the government step is to make sure that we’re protected but also doing fair share to the country because what they say we’re the new OFWs.
- Mr. Outsource is an outsourcing firm specializing in VAs based down in Davao and has been going now for about 7 years.
- 7 years ago there was no Virtual Assistant term or it was just freelancing term and there was that negative connotation when it comes to freelancing, it’s just gigs, you won’t succeed with it.
- Filipinos have that natural Motherly which is giving value and good service.
- The power of the internet and outsourcing is bringing the world on to one even marketplace and one opportunity.
Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode 142. So today I have Regina Evangelista on the program. She is the Co-founder and CEO of Mr. Outsource. It is an outsourcing operation specializing in VAs based in Davao and it’s a really interesting story from Regina and her involvement more broadly in the outsourcing sector and promotion of outsourcing and VA services within the provinces of the Philippines, so really interesting chat. If you wanna get in touch with her or know any more about this episode then go to our show notes at outsourceaccelerator.com/142. Enjoy.
Derek: Hi and welcome back everybody. Today I’m really excited to be joined by Regina Evangelista. Hi Regina, how are you?
Regina: I’m good, I’m good how are you?
Derek: Fantastic, thank you, and Regina is the CEO of Mr. Outsource. It’s an outsourcing firm specializing in VAs based down in Davao in Mindanao and has been going now for about 7 years so I’m super excited to have you on the show Regina and I suppose initially can you just introduce yourself from we can kind of start with your journey in outsourcing.
Regina: Yeah, sure. I’m the CEO of Mr. Outsource and then we have clients globally, we provide managed virtual assistant services, I’m also a co-author of the Outsourcing Mastery it’s basically the ‘17 secrets in how to outsource in the Philippines’ so and then I basically train and coached a more than thousands digital professionals through Mr. Outsource University in the Philippines. I’m also a co-founder of the National Association of Online Freelancers in the Philippines which is DECAF or the digital career advocate of the Philippines. It’s officially partnered with the government where we kind of take care of the online professionals in a way where they have support, they have benefits and we make sure they have that support system where they can go too. I’m also a passionate public speaker on any topics related to growing digital career or your profession in the Philippines, how to get clients, client acquisition, things like that. I’m also very passionate in helping out in training people the rural areas especially here in Mindanao which the government is actively participating. So yeah I’m excited it’s a long way ahead but at least it’s a start.
Derek: Wow that’s an incredible range of involvements, well done.
Derek: It’s something that I’m also very passionate about and i’m being a proponent of outsourcing as long as you but i’ve actually been outsourcing in the Philippines for about 8 years now and I really do see it as a fantastic opportunity for the Philippines, for the Filipino workforce to really upskill themselves and have access to careers, and income, and opportunities on a world scale, it’s super exciting. It is really encouraging to see the number of activities and initiatives out there and you are heading a number of them. How do you find the government support generally for outsourcing and how do you, how does an average man on the street perceive outsourcing and their opportunities with outsourcing?
Regina: Yeah i think it differs from city to city, so for example in Manila the people are kinda aware of the online jobs and those opportunities online but in Mindanao and Visayas there’s still those areas where we need to push that, we need to push our advocacies there and part of it because probably they don’t have good internet, they don’t have access to all this because the Visayas is basically an island, like group of islands so I think their reach is kind of difficult as well. Finding speaker in that area is difficult as well but in Mindanao we just make sure that we go to this places and the government has been very very supportive they make sure that a place before they sent us there to speak or to train they make sure that the place has infrastructure, the local government unit has the capacity or the budget to support so after the training the support, so initially the idea was the government basically partners with DTI. So basically the small to medium enterprises locally hires a virtual assistant, so local to local kind of arrangement and then if they wanna get online clients they can also do that. It’s part of that training but when it comes to support, I mean the Senate has approved to give more budget this year and the President wanted to push this more IT outsourcing to the rural areas. We actually have a PIS Conference so it’s a Philippine Impact Sourcing conference it happened last year in Davao city and this year it’s going to happen in Cebu. It’s gathering all local government units and basically telling them this is the plan, we are planning to get scholars, we are planning to teach people from website design, virtual assistance, social media marketing management, SEO, all those specializations. And then there are contacts with different trainers for each place.
Derek: Wow. Is the initial ambition to get these people working locally within the domestic market but it’s kind of online activities or is it with the initial serving local businesses in Davao for example or is it about getting them out there to the worldwide workforce and maybe sort of dealing with Upwork and getting on those platforms
Regina: Yeah. The goal really is to make sure that the trainees are hirable whether local, SMEs or an online client. There’s just really a price difference when it comes to offering our services to local people, local businesses whereas to those that are online or clients abroad.
Derek: Right, fantastic. Just to rewind a little bit how do you get into outsourcing and it seems suddenly that it’s a strong passion of yours now and one that you’re a strong advocate for, what was the beginning of your journey specifically for you?
Regina: I’ve never really thought of the word outsourcing, I mean started like 7 years ago and there was no virtual assistant term or it was just freelancing term and there was that negative connotation when it comes to freelancing, it’s just gigs, you won’t succeed with it, there’s that mentality so I just, they say that the more I write articles the more i make money and that’s good for me so I just me sure I write, I do product reviews, I do content for website. And then Erlend which is my business partner now which is based in the UK said like, how about you become my personal assistant, you book my hotels, you take care of everything that you can take care from there which frees more of his time. So that kind of arrangement encourages his friends and his coaching clients to do the same. And then she says, Regina do you wanna start a business where you train people there and we outsource tasks to you guys there. I’ve never came from a business background like my major was literature, English, it wasn’t, I didn’t know I was an entrepreneur until it was brought out to me, I didn’t know that I had to these, I had to do numbers, I had to do profits and loss, I had to take care of people, and it’s always a learning experience for me every day. But what’s an advantage is dealing with different clients in different stages of their businesses kind of helps me run my own business so we have clients from launching startups to 5-6 years companies to even like 20 years company so we kinda have that experience and knowledge transfer from our clients.
Derek: Yeah absolutely. That seems to be suddenly on your website and everyone can go to Mr. Outsource and of course we’ll put these links in the show notes but there’s a very strong education piece in your product, you have a University, you have upskilling programs and it really is about holding people’s hands and developing both sides of the spectrum so the client and the supplier.
Regina: Yeah, I mean with hiring virtual assistants because of that we open another business which is the the dreamer co-working space so it’s a shared co-working space in Davao city where virtual assistants we hire can go there when there’s power interruption or there’s slow internet in their houses so they can go there but then after that we attracted more freelancers coming to the space, we attract digital nomads wanting to hire freelancers in that space so that collaboration let online digital culture we bring from online to offline through that space. So there’s like meeting these different people wanting to hire virtual assistants and they’re really impressed with the skillset that we have, the English skills, and just the basic computer skills and there’s that hiring collaboration going on also at least in Davao city.
Derek: Right. As you said you were starting in the earlier days of freelancing like 8 years ago, let’s say you were doing content production and you know there’s a bit of kinda a stigma about that. And you have now built your own VA agency, there’s a strong education piece there. How have you seen the industry generally evolve over the last 7 years, is it you know are more people aware of this, are you still thinking that it’s, what are you’re opinions on the development of the sector.
Regina: Yeah I mean none at all, it has transitioned from becoming just sideline gigs to really online professional career like even I have people who have, who are catering 5-6 clients just working from their houses and they wanna help other people because they cannot do the workload and they wanna hire their own sister or family member in their houses although it’s just in the farm in the mountains it looks like a call center setup because they have their cousins and they have everyone just trying to do data entry, trying to do research task and the government kinda sees that also. When it comes to us, I mean every day people are just asking for more training either from the government or private sectors there’s a lot of active players just trying to provide training for online careers for PWDs and then there are key players who also provide training for single mothers providing them online jobs. It really has evolved into something that’s the next step basically.
Derek:` Because it is such an incredible opportunity for the Philippines isn’t it because as you say PWDS, people with disabilities can do it, anyone can do it, regardless of where you are it’s a clean and safe job so it’s not like labor intensive job where there’s danger and the sun, it’s hard work. And also theirs the continual opportunity to upskill and improve yourself and eventually maybe teach yourself coding and really kind of rise up the skill as long as people are just aware given these opportunities.
Regina: Yeah and clients plays a significant role too when it comes to the knowledge transfer and the skill, upskilling the skill that you have because they buy all these courses online and they don’t have the time to watch those videos, to go through those courses, so what they do is they hire virtual assistant like myself or virtual assistant agency to watch those business courses, to watch those personal development courses and we kinda summarize what are the action steps of those courses and also we get to learn things for free you know so it’s win win situation for the both, clients and us. So this is really a perfect setup where we provide value and at the same time Filipinos have that natural Motherly like I’m gonna give value, I’m gonna give you a good service, things like that.
Derek: Absolutely yeah it really is there’s sort bit of stigma as well to just being someone’s assistant but actually there is a huge opportunity when you are sitting side by side virtually with the CEO or someone senior you can actually have incredible skill share and upskilling just through that ongoing relationship.
Regina: Yeah absolutely. When we have our own podcast and part of our task is to email these best selling authors and millionaires and every time we were surprised that Grant Cordone said yes sure have me on your interview and we basically spoke with Grant Cordone and Erland interviewed him and it’s just that and all those names and listening to the interviews and having interaction with them it’s kinda you know where can you get this opportunity besides the online profession that we have.
Derek: Yeah and that is the power of the internet and outsourcing as well isn’t it because it’s really finally bringing the world on to one even marketplace and one opportunity where’s twenty years ago, thirty years ago the Philippines, people didn’t really have a chance because they were bound in by the geographical borders, by migrationary controls, by the education, but now the online world lets you work kind of virtually anywhere in the world and you can educate yourself via online courses, via code academys, so that it’s now kinda unbound opportunity for the first time in the world I think.
Regina: Yeah definitely there’s so much, there’s no regulation or regulatory body yet or there’s no having yourself registered as a self-employed, there’s still no streamlined process for that yet but that government is planning to do a seamless on what to do but that’s just again part of the government step to making sure that we’re protected but also doing our fair share to the country because what they say were the new OFWs right, so were the Online Filipino workers no more Overseas Filipino Workers.
Derek: It’s cool. I’ve heard that for the first time the other day actually and yeah again part of our messages that this workforce, the outsourcing whatever it is whether it’s kinda freelance or within the structured BPOs they are that kind of economic leaders of the strong new Philippines and they need to be celebrated, they need to be supported and on that note what is the, because rumor has it there’s about sort 1 to 1.2 million people property employed in the BPO sector but then there’s this whole gray market and this whole sort of gray workforce of people that work online, they work as VAs, they might work fulltime on upwork or freelancer and kinda rumor has it that there’s maybe about another 1million people that do that in the Philippines. Do you have any visibility on the size of this workforce?
Regina: Yeah there’s the biggest online group of Filipino freelancers is hundred thousand, a hundred thousand online active Filipinos that’s just one group.
Derek: And that’s a facebook group?
Regina: Yeah that’s a facebook group. And they do meetups, and they do training, they do drop shipping courses. There’s another key player that’s large as also like they have probably 80 thousand members and it’s really just different facebook groups cause they’re online they’re just there but of course working from home you need that support system as well so creating those group, the DICT predicted there’s more than 5million of us working online, some are registered, some are not. They say in a way were disrupting the workforce in a way cause from BPO they wanted to do work from home online work so that’s why the BPO also adjusted and they also offer work from home setup especially for single parents or things like that so they also basically adapted to that change.
Derek: Right and is the Government pretty sympathetic like they’re trying to enable this they’re not wanting kind of over to bureaucratize it kind of thing?
Regina: No not really, I mean the end goal, we’re at the baby stage yet so basically just taking one step at a time just orienting people what it is, training people the basic skill set that they need to have and then for DECAP the national association of the online freelancers is rolling responsibilities to make sure we have health benefits or health insurance, we have license number or making sure that if you are accredited by this you’re not a scammer or you are a verified online freelancer from the Philippines.
Derek: But it is important that doesn’t get too difficult to execute because I assumed you’re aware of the difficulties in incorporating their corporations here and generally it’s quite involved versus other countries where you can incorporate a company in one day it might take 6 weeks to 6 months here and I hope. And the government actually is very progressive in realizing in these things.I just hope that they don’t impose too much friction so that it people just stay in the gray market and kinda underground instead of doing everything legitimately.
Regina: Yeah we did a training on paying your taxes as an online freelancer and no one shows up. It’s just that topic or just that elephant in the room where no one wants to talk about it. At the end of the day, we are citizens of this country, we have to give back. Yeah, the government also wants to make sure that, cause there are two types of online key players or online professionals, those that are selling products online and those that are selling services online and the government just wants to make sure that which is which, what is the process through all of this.
Derek: Right, yeah. a comment that I heard and because Upwork and freelancer becoming more and more popularized you getting a lot of people flooding on to these platforms. I’ve heard now that it’s been so normalized in the west the people expect good Filipino workers, good Filipino output. But now they want everything done for like a dollar an hour or a dollar. Have you seen kind of a crash in the price payment and also are people that I know that work on Upwork are saying it’s harder and harder to be awarded, attracts some work because there’s so much competition and most people just wanna pay a dollar are you seeing a new shift where people expecting, it’s kinda been normalized now and then they just expecting more and more for less and less?
Regina: Yeah, unfortunately, you see clients looking for a superstar virtual assistant and do everything but just have 1 dollar budget for it. It doesn’t work in the west so how would they expect it to work here you know like they say if you pay peanuts you’ve expect monkeys. So you tell them if you wanna pay one dollar then you expect a service that’s one dollar. I mean if you wanna hire people that’s in your team really really good people who provide value to your business, who grows your business actually you know you have to also invest in those people, I mean Erland when he told that you wanna work for me and I says well I don’t have a computer he says ok go tomorrow and buy a macbook, I’m like are you serious, is this too good to be true but he says I wanna invest in you, like I want you to know that I care for you, and I wanted to know that you had everything that you need and this isn’t just Erland there’s countless of clients out there buying computer for their virtual assistants making sure that they have health insurance, making sure that their families are taken care of. But then, of course, there’s also this side where clients don’t care you just have to make sure that you find that client where you align with.
Derek: Yeah absolutely i’d have number of people reach out to us and that they want a VA they only wanna pay 150 – 200 a month and they also want them to able to digital marketing and content production and also the guy is too busy so he wants an expert because he doesn’t want to spend time training them and it’s I don’t know what they expect over here in the Philippines because it’s just not available anywhere in world.
Regina: Yeah I mean China, and Indonesia, and Vietnam. Vietnam for example or Thailand coders and app developers but for virtual assistant, real estate virtual assistant, legal virtual assistant in the Philippines it’s just, there are VAs that I know are charging at 15- 20 dollars for a client that they’ve been working for like 10 years already and they’re just contented and they just say I like my client, he makes sure I get paid, I just make sure that all the work is done, I work from home it’s a good relationship.
Derek: What do they charge? 15-20 dollar what, a day or week?
Regina: No, an hour actually cause they do everything for that client too, they do project management, they do communicate, communicate with other team members.
Derek: That is the best win-win then isn’t it has a great salary for someone working with low or no, it’s a great price for the client and also it’s cutting down on the middle ground isn’t it because there are less people involved in the chain.
Regina: Yeah and the advantage with that is that your virtual assistant will no longer look for another client and just focus on your business which is you know as a business owner I would want that, I would want someone whose dedicated their whole life to make sure that a Facebook post is uploaded or my podcast is on time.
Derek: That’s a relief, In your experience, this concerns me slightly sometimes this VAs that do work from home and they’re on Upwork is there a lot of moonlighting are they kinda charging for 20 or 14-hour job but they’re juggling 2,3,4,5 clients doing that?
Regina: Yeah, unfortunately, we have seen some of those but then when you look their Upwork their reviews, their ratings are great, they were referred by clients too so they kinda have that and they have a team where they pay salaries too so that’s why they have, they are at that price. Cause some of them instead of creating an agency profile they also do a personal profile in Upwork just to get those clients.
Derek: Right, yeah I hope the market kind of balances out at the end of the day. Fantastic so thank you so much for your time Regina I want to get you back for the next episode and so we can really deep dive into Mr. Outsource but until then if they wanna get in touch with you how can they do that?
Regina: Yeah just go to www.mroutsource.com and there’s an email there just email us we’ll email right back.
Derek: Fantastic, thank you so much, Regina.
Regina: Thank you.
That was Regina Evangelista of Mr. Outsource if you want to get in touch with her or know any more about her then go to our show notes at outsourceaccelerator.com/142. If you want to ask us anything the please do just email us at [email protected] See you next time.