The Sterling Group has ventured into e-commerce with its acquisition of online shopping site Galleon.ph and apps development firm Openovate Labs.
Galleon.ph, a local version of Amazon, boasts of selling more than 500 million products which can come from anywhere outside of the Philippines, but efficiently serves Philippines’ 100 million population through convenient payment system and delivery.
“Galleon.ph already receives 300,000 visitors pers month,” said Sterling Vice President Michelle Lim Gankee.
On the other hand, the buyout of Openovate brings into Sterling a hand into Jobayan.ph which has a tagline “Job Hunting Without a Hassle.” It is a Jobstreet.com-like jobs exchange site. It has 10,000 resumes in its database which are available for a minimal fee on a per download basis.
It also goes with Salaaap, an online product search system.
“It crawls the web for products ready to purchase and be delivered to where you live. What’s good with it is unlike other online shopping services, you may pay the product that you order COD (cash on delivery) right on your doorstep. You may choose not to pick it up at the store,” said Lim-Gankee.
More than just offering convenient systems of buying imported goods or finding a job, the new investments indicates the Sterling Group’s commitment to opening up more jobs generation opportunities for the Philippine economy. Its importance comes from the reality that it involves the Filipino population that commands a high pay for high skills.
“We are importing here a Filipino tech person who has lived out his career in the Silicon Valley environment, but who really wishes to stay here in the Philippines,” said Lim-Gankee.
As brain drain has been a decades-long concern for government authorities with the departure particularly of highly paid technology professionals, Sterling hopes to be part of the advocacy of reversing the exodus phenomenon into “brain gain.”
Sterling Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong sees the technology sector as pivotal growth area.
“We’re looking at e-commerce as one of driving force in growing the Philippine economy,” he said.
The technology business is not new to Sterling.
“Since 1998, we have already invested into e-commerce. But there wasn’t Smartphones yet at the time. It was premature for us when we first entered it,” said Sterling Group Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong.
The acquisition further diversifies the company’s industry base from its primary investments in paper product manufacturing, notebooks, rice, and industrial/residential real estate development sectors.
Lim said Sterling aims to be part of the bigger goal of boosting entrepreneurship. Lim has been a mentor-investor in the reality business pitch program “Final Pitch” shown on History Channel.
“The economy is growing, so we would like more entrepreneur to join the system. It will solve the employment problem of the nation. If there are more entrepreneurs, then there will be more corporations,” he said.
Not everybody can be an entrepreneur, but more people can be trained.
“If we can be an investor in a company, I will invest. But if I don’t think a proposal is viable, then we can be mentors. We can give aspirants some points on how to be successful in the future, whatever constructive criticism we can give to a prospective company so that they can rectify their wrong. Who knows we’ll be interested to invest in the future?” Lim said.
The Sterling Chairman said that the batting average for entrepreneurship success is just at 12%.
“If there are 100 people, 88 will fail. That’s why we have mentors so we can try to increase survival rate of entrepreneurs to at least 25 percent,” Lim said.
Sterling also sees economic growth as an opportunity for the Sterling Group to expand.
“As an entrepreneur in Philippines identifying businesses, I have never seen the economy, the GDP growing this much in the last 2-3 years at 5 to 6% growth. We are looking forward to the remaining administration years of President Duterte, and we’re seeing higher growth in the next few years to come,” Lim said. (Growth Publishing for Sterling Group)
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