Dubai: Frando Sarmiento, 44, who grew up in a Philippine town without electricity, always harboured a dream of becoming an entrepreneur one day. And his dream has been realised in the UAE.
Today, Sarmiento runs a number of businesses, including an auto service centre (Luxurion FF Auto Service Centre), a provider of business law and special projects support (Human Endeavours) and a pest control service (Red Scorpion Pest Control).
The successful Filipino expat attributes his success to his parents, having amazing business partners and the UAE’s pro-business climate
Born in Occidental Mindoro (from “Mina de Oro”), the seventh-largest island in the Philippine archipelago — the Spanish transla-tion means “Mine of Gold” – Frando was raised by working parents. “I am grateful to my parents for raising me and giving me good education. Thanks to their efforts, I am what I am today.”
Born in 1979, Frando grew up at Mindoro as a lone child. His mother Leticia worked at GCFI (Golden Country Farms Inc.), which back in the 80s was the largest agricultural company in Asia. His father Idillo worked for the Air Force until 1986, then moved to Saudi Arabia to join an American multinational company.
"I was born and spent my childhood in a very simple fishing village. At night we only had fluorescent lamps that run on car batteries. Television was in black and white. Electricity was available only in the city (about 10 minutes from his village) back then."
He added: “I would not want to change anything from my past. I had the best childhood one could ask for. There was no concept of rich and poor, but life was good for a child like me.”
Access to education
Frando studied in the country’s premier institute of learning - the University of Philippines (Los Baños campus), where he com-pleted a degree in Business Management. “Philippines is largely driven by agriculture so my major was in this subject. Of course, what I studied is not relevant to my current line of businesses. But my degree did lay the foundation for business management,” explained Sarmiento
Sarmiento said after university, he gave himself five years’ time to see where his professional career would take him. “I wanted to explore working outside."
This yearning took him to Dubai, where Sarmiento now co-owns the first two businesses with a partner; he has a profit-sharing agreement with the third. Back home in the Philippines, he's also a partner in two other business entities, an electrical engineering services company, and a trading company.
How he came to Dubai
Frando noted that a married cousin and her foreigner husband whose family lived in Dubai would visit the Philippines often. “They floated the idea of me working in Dubai. In October 2004, I told my cousin I was interested in taking the plunge."
He arrived in Dubai January of 2005, dipped for some work he considered temporary while keeping an eye out for other opportunities. In May 2005, he started his career as territory sales manager for a German-based industrial company.
Sarmiento dabbled in other jobs, too. He was head of commodity products and business development for DGCX – the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Initiative, thereafter Head of Direct Business Development (UAE, Oman, Qatar), at Allianz Trade, previously named Euler Hermes. His last corporate assignment was with CRIF Dun & Bradstreet.
"There has been no looking back since. During the pandemic, I decided to partner with a good friend to start up my first business in the UAE. Being an entrepreneur was always in my mind. I decided to take the step in the UAE.”
Ease of starting business in UAE
He raves about the business-friendly environment in the UAE a big plus.
“Since the time we decided to start the business, the documentation and paper work has been incredibly fast,” he said.
“Today, you can start your own company at the click of a button. It is that fast,” said Sarmiento.
His advice to would-be entrepreneurs: “It is best to start while you're young. Whatever happens, one is bound to learn something profound that will benefit him in many ways. When we are young, we are not afraid of making mistakes. There is a lot of time left to recover and learn. This is something I would have told myself during my younger years. But, as they say, it is never too late to start building what you want.”
Frando is looking at expansion. “I would like to expand my current working zone and add another level to bring all my offices into one place. It is just more practical.”
“Living in the UAE has been the best for me. Besides, having friends from all cultures, learning about new cultures, having the ease of running a business, it is all here. I have business expansion plans and want to give back to my community and the UAE in general.”