Thursday, September 3, 2009

Situations Facing An I-Café Owner in the Philippines - Part II

By: Gener Morada

After describing to you the roles, duties and responsibilities of an Internet café owner in a single-proprietorship set-up, I will now discuss the current status or obstacles that a current stakeholder in the industry faces. The information herein are what I am experiencing as a single-owner of an Internet café in a not so rural area. Below are what an internet café owner has to contend with in his pursuit for the return of his investment and reasonable profit. I likewise advise those who are planning to invest their hard-earned money on Internet café business to seriously consider the following before deciding to join the industry:

  • Undue Regulations – the internet café industry is still not recognized as a formal industry by government. There is no formal national system or programs in place for the regulation of the industry on a national level. It is the local government unit that is putting in place regulations that sometime is not consistent to the needs of the industry.
  • Incomprehensive levels of competition – it’s the common trait of the Filipinos to be copy cats. When they see a particular concept is successful then they would engage in that particular line of business even if he does not posses sufficient knowledge and skills in running the business properly. We call this as the lechon manok phenomenon wherein during the height of its popularity it seems everybody wanted to cash in the business. it seems the same situation exist on the part of the internet café industry. The number of internet cafes in a particular place or municipality keeps on increasing with no end in sight.
  • Lack of national programs – unlike other industries the internet cafes does not have any recognized national programs that would aid in its development. Other industries are given incentives like tax breaks or access to cheap sources of capital but the internet café owner does not enjoy such support. Given the size of the industry right now and the primary role that it plays in providing affordable access to the internet to the community, government should really consider providing a nationalized program in order to further develop this industry.
  • Bad image on the community – in the local government level the internet café is classified as an entertainment business along with girlie bars and billiard centers. Billiard has come a long way in the Philippines since the country has produced a number of world champions but yet it is still considered to be a vice. Much more the internet cafes since the most common conception of people is that it is related to gaming which was the original business model. What they do not know is that through the years it has transformed itself from an entertainment center to a center that offers affordable access to the digital world. This is a business that brings people together not only in the Philippines but the rest of the world as well. It connects people and goes through boundaries I really don’t know of any other dynamic business than the internet café.

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