BPI SINAG: Helping Social Entrepreneurs Make Filipino Lives Better

Great news for social entrepreneurs! Now in its fourth year, BPI Sinag is looking to help more social enterprises get a head start on their business ideas.

And this year, they are challenging social entrepreneurs to encourage the creation of wealth among the Filipino ultra-poor.

BPI Sinag is the flagship program of BPI Foundation, the social innovation arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands. Its goal is to accelerate businesses that create products and services that aim to make a social impact in a sustainable manner, targeting the triple-bottom-line of people, planet, and profit.

To celebrate BPI Foundation’s 40th anniversary, BPI Sinag is taking on the road to reach new social enterprises, launch new ideas and opportunities, and pave the way in improving the social enterprise ecosystem in the country.

Since its launch in 2015, BPI Sinag has been able to reach out and help 138 social enterprises nationwide. Each year, social entrepreneurs are given a chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts. They are then shortlisted based on their pitches and their performance until ten awardees are selected.

To reach social enterprises all over the nation, BPI Foundation conducted the Sinag Fast Track. Qualified applicants will secure a spot on the #BPISinag2018 Top 40 and will be moving on to the first round of Sinag Bootcamp to be held in Manila. From there, 20 enterprises will be selected based on their presentation until only ten are left.

Five of the awardees will get P100,000 while the top five will get P500,000. Winners will also receive cash grants and continued mentorship that can increase the chances of their project’s success.

Here’s the list of social enterprises that made it last year.

Accents and Petals Crafts and Accessories  a novelty shop selling flowers made from recycled wood and paper

Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, Inc. – develops, manufactures, and installs technologies such as ram pumps for drinking and irrigation water, for the poor in the uplands

Association of Differently-Abled Persons in Iloilo Multi-Purpose Cooperative – a furniture making business giving jobs to persons with disabilities

Buhatan River Eco-Adventure Service Cooperative (BRESC) – an eco-tourism service in Sorsogon promoting the attractions of the Buhatan River

Coffee For Peace – a coffee supplier of world-class Arabica and Robusta beans working to promote peace in Mindanao

CustomMade Crafts Center, Inc. – a weaving novelty shop offering assorted items designed with Hinabol fabric

Happy Helpers a professional home cleaning service that employs and empowers mothers from poor communities

Lamlifew Village Museum and School of Living Tradition – a living museum which showcases the cultural practices of Blaan tribe in the Sarangani Province

Mori Creations – a designer of innovative fashion accessories collaborates with mothers from poor communities in Apolonio Samson, Quezon City

Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association (ZIDOFA) – a community of farmers revolutionizing rice growth with rich organic fertilizer 

As an entrepreneur, I think it’s an awesome venue for fellow entrepreneurs to test their ideas. Pitching your ideas to an expert panel can give you a different perspective and feedback on which aspects need improvement. Pitching on the stage also helps boost your confidence, presentation, and negotiation skills.

Events like these are also a great place to meet people who are as ambitious and as driven as you are. Here you can exchange ideas and get the support that you need to change the world as we know it. Who knows, you might also meet your future mentor in these events!

So if you think your idea has the potential to make a great impact and improve the lives of the Filipino people, send your entries to www.sinag.bpifoundation.org or email info.bpisinag@gmail.com. Deadline of entries is on May 15, 2018.

I Really Need Help Understanding this 8% Income Tax Rate Option of the BIR

I completely understand. We’ve been receiving thousands of inquiries via our chat button in Taxumo’s site this April asking a lot of things about the 8% Income Tax Rate option. So, I thought writing about it would be a good idea (and note that this is based on my understanding). Full disclosure! I am not a tax expert. I am just relaying what I have heard from our BIR contacts. And if you read opinions on this post, this is MY own personal opinions and not the opinion of Taxumo. Got it? 🙂

What is this 8% Income Tax Option and who can avail of this?

Because of the TRAIN Law (aka R.A. 10963), a lot of changes have been happening and a lot of people don’t know what to do. For sole proprietors, like yours truly, I just take in and digest parts of the TRAIN LAW that is applicable to me. One of the things that is an option now is the opportunity to avail of a simpler 8% Income Tax Rate Option.

The BIR released Revenue Regulation or RR 8-2018 which details how the income tax changes as per TRAIN will be applied. Although it explains a lot of things, there are still things that are not explained thoroughly. According to the regulation, the 8% Income Tax Rate on Gross Sales/Receipts can only be availed by any self-employed individual whose gross sales/receipts for the year does not exceed P3,000,000 (aka the VAT Threshold).

Check out this video from Taxumo:

So should I choose the 8% Income Tax Rate Option?

Choosing the 8% tax rate option is simple because it’s a flat rate! No hassle, no computations 🙂

But for me, I actually did not choose this. But I have my own reasons, and these are:

    1. The Regulations said one thing but when I called my RDO, it seems they were not following what was on the RR. Case in point: RR No 08-2018 says: “If the taxpayer is unable to timely update the required registration, s/he shall continue to file the percentage tax return reflecting a zero amount of tax with a notation that s/he is availing of the 8% income tax rate option for the taxable year.” BUT, when I called my RDO, they said that for them (whatever that means), they don’t accept these forms filled out according to what the RR said.

  1. So two (2), I personally called BIR and asked what the process is to opt for 8% and the gave me the process (as seen below) BUT I personally don’t have time to do that (hahaha! again, it’s just me and my laziness!)
  2. And three (3), as an events coordinator, we have a lot of expenses. So, based on this calculator, I think the 3% plus income tax is still a better option for me.

So how do you tell the BIR that you’re opting for the 8% Income Tax Rate Option?

Step one: Go to your BIR RDO and bring your Certificate of Registration (COR) and a Letter of Intent. They will ask you if you haven’t gone beyond the threshold of Php 3 Million (They will also check your records and see if there are open cases, etc.)

Step two: Wait for them to release the new COR. It will not include “percentage tax” anymore. It will only show you that you need to pay for Income Tax and your yearly renewal. When do you get the new COR? Well, it really depends on how fast your Revenue District Office can release it.

It’s not that bad really and it’s very simple. I’m just lazy (haha!). After you receive your new COR, you can use Taxumo for filing taxes all throughout the year at just Php 250 per form. We just don’t have the rate yet for the 8% filing and the annual income tax filing, but we’re really affordable so you don’t have to worry about that part.

Please don’t forget to still file the first quarter Percentage Tax form for this year and just indicate zero filing. This is what the BIR Officers in different RDOs told me.

For opting in for the 8%, you need to update your COR before April 30, 2018. 

What else did I miss?

Oh, for the Quarter 1 Income Tax Return filing due in May, don’t forget to indicate that you’re “opting in” to avail of the 8%. If you miss indicating this in the form, you will have to file your Income Tax Returns using the Graduated Income Tax Table AND also file quarterly percentage tax returns. I’m not sure if you need to change your COR back again to indicate that you’ll pay percentage tax though, but it’s most likely that you will.

So that’s it! These are the things that I know about the 8% Income Tax Rate Option.

If you still want to talk about this, chat with us at https://taxumo.com

 

 

Will you be attending Sparkfest 2018?

I remember, a decade ago, there were not a lot of entrepreneurial events one can attend to learn about entrepreneurship. Please don’t compute for my age! haha! But seriously, I envy this generation as there are a plethora of choices that are available for them. One of the interesting events that I have come across is called Sparkfest and this was created by Patch Dulay, the founder of The Spark Project. I found it to be very beneficial and interesting that we even decided to sponsor the event, both for Manila Workshops and Taxumo!

So to help spread the word about this event, I decided to ask Patch for an interview. I know a lot of you are interested to see what this event is all about. Here is my interview with Patch:

Ginger: Hi Patch! Can you tell us more about yourself?

Patch: I’m Patch, the founder of The Spark Project, a crowdfunding website and startup community. I launched Spark in 2013 and since then I have found it my mission to enable creative entrepreneurs and change makers bring their awesome ideas to reality.

Ginger: What is Sparkfest 2018? When did it start?

Patch: It has always been a dream of ours to bring the community we’ve created online, offline. It was only last year when we found the courage to bring this to life. We crowdfunded the event and raised over P270K to make it happen. We saw how much people wanted it too, so in June 2017 we finally hosted the very first Spark Fest. It was amazing and is now the only conference in the city that intersects startup entrepreneurship, creative capital and social good.

Ginger: What encouraged you to create Sparkfest?

Patch: Crowdfunding Spark Fest last year really gave us a huge boost. Our community wanted it to happen, so did we. You see, Spark Fest can be a very transformative event for aspiring entrepreneurs. Seeing our attendees leave the conference with the much needed inspiration, courage and knowledge to bring their businesses to the next level, makes it easy for us to make it an Spark Fest annual event and do it again this March.

Ginger: What can people expect from joining Sparkfest?

Patch: Attendees can expect a whole day’s learning from a powerhouse lineup of speakers. We have 3 plenary sessions, 9 breakout sessions, 25+ exhibitors, and 30+ creative founders as speakers this year. Expect your notebook to be filled with fresh ideas and contacts. And you’ll be in the company of with like-minded aspiring entrepreneurs. Who knows, your next big business opportunity might be sitting right next to you.

Ginger: How much are the tickets and where can I buy tickets?

Patch: The learning investment for Spark Fest is only P3,500. But if you buy it before March 3! You can buy it at P2,500 and save a whole lot. So it’s good to buy your tickets early to get it at the best price. Tickets are available at www.sparkfestbytsp.com or through Manila Workshops. Please click here: http://manilaworkshops.com/events/sparkfest-2018

You can find the full program and speaker list at www.sparkfestbytsp.com.

Is It Too Late to Start a Business? Where can I Start?

I was filling out a survey for Fintech companies in the Philippines, and one of the questions there was how old each founder was. In the tech industry, there are a lot of young founders, so I find questions like these to be awkward. Obviously, there was nothing wrong by them asking that question, since it was a survey and they need data. It was my own mind that was making uncontrollable judgements. haha! It was my own self telling ME that it’s too late to start a business. I’m in my late 30s and I just seem old to be starting these very millennial-ish business.

Because of the voice inside me that was telling me to feel ashamed about my predicament, I decided to write about the PROs why it’s never too late to start a business. It can seem scary to start a business at an old age. But, it does offer a lot of advantages. Take for example Harland Sanders, who started Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) at 65 years old and became successful. At an old age, you have a bigger network and gained more experiences and knowledge. You also have more tenacity to make your business venture a success.

A bigger network

At 40s and up, you have already met many people during your professional career. You have already built stronger connections with peers and colleagues. You know who among them are reliable and trustworthy. Tap into their expertise and call them up in case if you need legal, financial, and marketing advice.

A wealth of knowledge and experience

When you’re older, you have gained more experiences and knowledge. You have been through many jobs and experienced failures. These guide you to make better decisions. By this time, you have gained more business acumen and expertise in your craft. Those learnings build you to become more prepared in your business venture.

More tenacity

You are more responsible to handle problems as they arise. You can make a firmer stand on important business decisions. You don’t easily lose heart in the face of problems. You understand that it takes patience and determination to make your business venture a success.

What are the business opportunities for you?

There are a lot of business opportunities for you. All of the things mentioned above make you more likely to succeed even. What really stops you are all of those personal judgements that you make on yourself. No one thinks that! So every day, wake up feeling capable. Each day, tell yourself that you can make things happen.

Believe that it’s not too late to start a business.

Learning Snippets: What is a Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin?

This year, I thought of sharing snippets of information that I get to learn about. The first one that I’d like to share and talk to you about is  CRYPTOCURRENCY and BITCOIN. There is much talk about bitcoins and cryptocurrency. Of course, I also wanted to know and study what these were!

Ayoko ngang magpahuli! Plus I wanted to know why my husband was constantly borrowing my laptop to “mine”.

What I did was I watched Banking on Bitcoin on Netflix. Here’s a trailer:

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a virtual or digital currency protected with cryptography. This feature secures transactions that are made online. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency developed by Satoshi Nakamoto back in 2009. It functions like a real money but does not come in printed form. It can be used to buy anything online like book a hotel, buy gadgets, equipment and a lot more. The transfer of funds is much easier and cheaper due to absence of extra fees for wire transfers (more to be said about that, but that was the original intention).

Here is a short video about BITCOINS:

Others trade it. Trading of bitcoin in different currencies occur in marketplaces called “bitcoin exchanges”. Some examples of these marketplaces are Bitfinex, Bitstamp and Coinbase, which is taking the lead.

Bitcoins are stored in the user’s computer or cloud storage. This serves as the “wallet” or “virtual bank account”. It is where bitcoins are being received or transferred, withdrawn or deposited. To transfer bitcoins, just use a mobile application or the computer.

It is not regulated by any institution like the government or bank. It is checked-and-balanced by different people on different computers. Everyone validates everyone else. This is where mining comes into the picture. Mining is basically checking if the ledgers are correct. As for regulation, governments of China, Japan and Australia are now considering to regulate the system and the currency. Others are seeing the possibility of adding tax to it.

Anonymity of the owner of bitcoin is another feature. All transactions that were ever made online using a bitcoin are stored in a ledger called the blockchain. Although transactions are recorded, the personal information of the users is anonymous. Names and addresses are not revealed. It only shows the wallet IDs of the users.

That’s my learning snippet for today! I hope I helped you, even in a little way, to learn more about Crypotocurrency and bitcoins.

 

 

Understanding TRAIN or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion

A lot of people have been discussing the TRAIN law and how will it affect us. I’ve been reading about it and I’ll be sharing some of the things that I read about with you. Also, I’ll be sharing a Philippines BIR Tax Software that I have been using.

What is TRAIN?

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) into law last December 19, 2017. It’s the first package among the other tax reform measures to be issued by his administration. It expected to make a considerable impact on the prices of goods and services, take-home pay of Filipinos and their purchasing power.

About 70% of collected revenues will go to infrastructure projects that the Duterte’s administration plan to build. His administration has planned to allocate P8.44 trillion for its “Build, Build, Build” program for 2017-2022. They plan to build more road networks and better mass transportation rides for the public.  These will enhance the economy and create more investment opportunities, thereby creating more jobs or income sources for the Filipinos.

The other projects under the 70% collected revenues are the following: infrastructure for the military, drinking water facilities in all public places and sports facilities for public schools. The remaining 30% will be spent on social mitigating measures and investments for health, nutrition, hunger and education.

What is it to Employees?

Under this law, there is a zero percent tax for low-income earners with an annual income of P250,000 and below. Those with an annual income of P8 million and above are taxed with 35 percent. The 13th month pay and other bonuses at P90,000 and below will remain not to be taxed. This new law lightens the financial burden among low-income earners. With the previous income tax law, about 5 percent is deducted from earners with P10,000 and below income. Those with an annual income of P500,000 and above get to have 32 percent of off their income.

What is it to us Business Owners, Freelancers and Professionals?

For business owners, sole proprietorships and licensed and non-licensed individuals, those earning below Php 250,000 per year will be tax exempt. Those who earn Php 3 Million and below per year now have the option to file and pay for a 3% percentage tax + income tax (paid quarterly) or an 8% percentage tax of gross receipts (paid annually).

Although the 8% percentage tax paid annually may seem attractive, you may want to check what is better for your business. There is still a level where 3% percentage tax + income tax (paid quarterly) is a better option.

Here’s how to check:

One – Download this calculator by a my friend Mark Ong, who is a CPA.

Train bill – compare: Train bill – compare

Second Option – This is a blog from Taxumo, Philippines’ BIR tax software.

TRAIN’s New 8% Tax – Does it really save you money?

What else did change?

The BIR placed a higher tax rate on coal, mining, tobacco, sweetened beverage petroleum, and automobiles. Some may not find it as good news. They fear that companies will increase the prices of their goods for consumers to shoulder the higher tax rates.

What’s next? 

Everyone’s awaiting the other packages and the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the BIR. If you want to know more about the Philippines Tax Reform law, join the workshop of Manila Workshops on January 27. Check it out in this link: http://manilaworkshops.com/events/understanding-tax-reform-for-msmes-self-employed-professionals-freelancers

Personally, our team in Taxumo studied the law and thought about how to easily cascade it to our users. If you haven’t checked out this Philippines BIR Tax Software, you should. It really makes your life as an entrepreneur, freelancer and professional easier. How? Taxumo is the first in the industry to have automated calculations of your tax dues. And guess what? The Taxumo Income Tax calculations now uses the formula from the TRAIN law (RA No. 10963).

Once the Implementing Rules & Regulations are released by the BIR, Taxumo will be updating the forms & formula speedily and accurately to make sure that you’re using the latest forms when you’re filing your taxes.

If you want to try out Taxumo, sign up now for a FREE trial.

Mad Hatter: Freelancing Demands Many Hats!

Few and far in between are the freelancers who do just one thing. Because we are essentially one-man (or one-woman!) companies, it means that whatever our specialty, we often are required to do other things, perhaps as additional services for customers, but also marketing our services to potential clients, making bids and proposals, doing our own bookkeeping and accounting, accepting payment for services rendered, and so on.

Previously, I talked about the importance of (and how to find) your niche market and the skill set to succeed in it, which forms the core of your business as a freelancer. But there are also other, auxiliary, aspects of your business that you can’t afford to ignore or neglect if you want to become a successful self-employed professional. And there are skill sets you need to develop to supplement that core business and make it more profitable.

Let’s take my life as a blogger for an example. Apart from MommyGinger.com, I also blog for ManilaReviews.com, so one way or another, I’ve been blogging for several years now. It’s all too easy to think that setting up a blog only requires that you be a good writer, but you’d be wrong about that. Here are a few basic skill sets every blogger should have:

  • Writing: You don’t have to have perfect grammar, but having the skill to effectively communicate what you want to say is vital to attracting and keeping readers. You also need to develop a particular voice and style for your blog, one that helps you connect not just with your readers’ minds but with their hearts as well.
  • Photography: In this day and age, not many people will read a solid block of text on a blog without any pictures to speak of, so you’ll have to know what attracts the eye so you can take or select good photos. This becomes even more important for food, travel, fashion, and other lifestyle blogs.
  • Technical: Yes, you can hire a designer or buy a template for your blog, but while you don’t need to learn to code, you still need to know enough to make small tweaks and adjustments to make your blog your own and troubleshoot when need be. It can be time consuming and expensive to go to a designer for every little change you want to make.
  • Marketing: If you want your blog to pay for itself, you’re probably going to be looking at advertisements and sponsorships; for personal blogs, endorsements are great too. If you want to maximize earnings and preserve the integrity of your blog, you need to have the marketing savvy to understand how the content you publish as well as the products and services you endorse fits your brand.

So just from this one example, you can see how I need to wear many hats as a blogger—and my blog is not my only business, so you can only imagine the madness that results if I don’t manage my time and my clients’ expectations properly!

Still, this multi-hatted nature of freelancing presents a two-layered challenge if you’re just starting out. First, you need to determine which skills to hone so they do you the most good and you earn the most money, and second, you’ll need to actually learn and sharpen those skills.

For the first, think of drawing a flower the way we learn it in kindergarten. The center is your core competency or specialization — your niche in the market place. Inside that “center” are the skills you absolutely need to keep your business robust. Then draw the petals around the center. Each can contain a skill set that attaches to that specialization and makes it more appealing to your clients. Now, you may need to focus on certain “petals” over others, but it’s still good to know what those other aspects are—and where to source people with those skill sets should you need them. One way to do that is to expand your network, to talk to people who are experts in those fields, join meet-ups (the Freelance Blend monthly meet-ups are great for these) or online groups.

To get a crash course in necessary skills, you can do your own research or look into workshops. In fact, you may want to check out the PayPal Freelancer Community Workshop series—more on this later. Apart from workshops like these, you can also join online courses such as those offered by Udemy, Coursera, and more. You can also find lots of video tutorials on YouTube as well as informative and inspiring information from TEDTalks and the many, many podcasts produced around different industries and interests. In this day and age, you don’t need to go back to school to go back to school, if you know what I mean!

I will always encourage exploration as a freelancer: Learn a little about a lot of things so that you can make an informed decision about the few things you want to learn a lot about. And you never know when those little bits of knowledge will come in handy when dealing with a new client or business opportunity.

And yes, you may find yourself feeling like the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland from time to time, especially if you’re a mom! We are constantly putting on and taking off different “hats” or roles, sometimes even wearing more than one at the same time.

But one of those skills you’ll have to learn is organization and time management—to find a method to the madness. In the same way you try on many different hats, then settle down with a collection of headgear that complements your looks and personal style, you should also explore the different skill sets that relate to your career, then develop the ones that you are comfortable with (or which you actually enjoy), as well as the ones that help you grow your business.

Do you have any tips or resources you’d like to share with me and other Mad Hatters reading this? If you’re keen to learn more about things that you’ll need to flourish as a freelancer, i’ll be having another session on November 18, 2017 for the PayPal Freelancer Community Workshop series. The details are on this link: http://bit.ly/PayPal5thFreelancerWorkshop

Continue to follow also the other freelance experts Fitz Villafuerte, Abe Olandres, and Liz Lanuzo. Check out the full schedule below, and join the PayPal Philippines Freelancer Community group on Facebook for updates on the venues. Hope to see you there!

3 Things that You can do to Find Your Freelancing Niche Market

I’ve worked a lot of different jobs in my life. I originally worked as a banker, but I’ve also been a dog breeder, makeup artist, product/fashion stylist, and social entrepreneur. I’m the founder of Manila Workshops and Taxumo. And of course, I’m a blogger too! Apart from this blog, I am a lifestyle blogger at ManilaReviews.com and a health and fitness blogger at ManilaFitness.com.

I’ve done styling and make-up…

So no one knows better than I do how life and a wide variety of interests can pull you in so many different directions. But while diversification can keep your life fun and exciting, it can also make it easier for you to get frazzled and spread yourself too thin. When that happens, especially when you’re freelancing, it can push you that much closer to burnout.

This makes it all the more important to find your niche as a freelancer. It’s not just to improve your own life, either—it will help you find and serve quality clients who are willing to pay more for your unique set of skills.

Still, finding the market and skill set to specialize in can be tough. In my case, it took me years of doing different things before I settled into the roles I have now, but I don’t regret any of them—in fact, I highly recommend doing the same. It’s good to explore the many avenues that are open to you because it helps you find the best fit. Think about how it works when you go to college, where you take mostly general subjects in your freshman and sophomore years, which gives you the option to change your course before you go into the subjects related to your major, which you take more and more of in your junior years, so that you have the right knowledge and skills for your chosen career path by the time you graduate.

Most freelancers find that finding their niche markets require quite a bit of trial and error. Still, there are ways to make sure there are fewer “errors” than there are trials. Here are a few things I’d suggest:

Do some exploratory research. Talk to other people. Join meetups not just for freelancers doing the same thing you’re doing, but other kinds of freelancers and professionals as well (if this is something you’d like to do, I can recommend joining the Freelance Blend group by Marvin de Leon and also the PayPal Philippines Freelancer Community. Immerse yourself in an industry you find interesting. Read books, watch videos, subscribe to podcasts—there are so many things you can do!

Do a SWOT analysis. You might have learned about these in school or at work. Outline your strengths and your weaknesses, and identify opportunities and threats for your freelancing business. You’ll want to play to your strengths and maximize your opportunities, but also find ways to improve on your weaknesses and protect your business from threats.

Do a little soul searching. Not to sound cheesy, but the better you know yourself and what you want to do, the easier it will be to find a place in the freelancer market that fits you. Ask yourself a few probing questions. What do you want to achieve as a career goal? What do you love doing most—and love learning? Or conversely, what do you hate doing? Where is your network? Who are the people who support you? And on a more social note, where can you do the most good?

At the end of the day, and even when you have found your niche and made a name for yourself, you’ll likely still find that you’ll still need to know a little about a lot of things, as your clients’ needs may vary. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to spend lots of time and money getting professional-level competencies at skill sets that aren’t your primary business focus, but you need to know enough to be conversant and to make sure what needs to get done is done—more on this in my next post! And at the basic level, you’ll need to develop good communication and productivity skills, as well as the know-how to use tools like Taxumo and PayPal to make sure all your earnings are properly reported and received.

But don’t forget that you should have one or two things you should know a lot about, in order to be an expert in your field or career track. Once you know where your priorities lie, you can focus on working smarter instead of harder. And that just means more time for travel and, more importantly, for friends and family!