Dubai-based Filipino entrepreneur Malou Prado believes that self-belief and hard work will always earn one’s success.
Growing up in the town of Cavite in the Philippines, her parents would always tell her that education is the only ticket to stay away from poverty. In an effort to surpass financial constraints, she assisted her mother in selling ‘tinapa’ in the local market.
With her determination and gusto to end the cycle of poverty, Malou was able to finish a Baccalaureate course in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at the prestigious Lyceum University Manila.
To pursue a career, she opted to work in Taiwan where she met her lifetime partner, Robert Prado, and got married afterward when they went back home to the Philippines.
Just like any typical Filipino dreamer, she also aspired to seek a country where greener pasture is. The UAE was her first choice. Without hesitation, she landed in Dubai using a visit visa only. During the first three months of her stay, Malou found it hard to look for a permanent job. She flew to Kish many times for visa extension purposes and continuously worked odd jobs, such as a cleaner, helper, and food server, among others.
Despite asking for referrals and meeting new people, she was unlucky to obtain a stable job. Her goal to be hired by a company that would offer her an employment visa was subsiding.
She recalled getting tired of eating ramen noodles because she could not afford to buy a decent meal. She also experienced worries about having no money for the next rent payment on her rented single bed.
Her problems thickened while trying to survive and thinking about how she could send money back home to support her family financially.
A blessing in disguise
Malou always trusts the timing of everything. She believes that just because it was not happening right then didn’t mean it never will.
After praying for guidance, her phone rang. One of the agency’s clients where she had a part-time job looked for her number. She was offered to sell UAE visas and tickets with a freelance agreement. As a person with enthusiasm and optimism, she took up the challenge.
At first, earning a commission felt difficult, but little did she know she was already building scores of big customers. That was the time when Dubai started the lurking tourism industry.
She never gets satisfied. She always aims for more. Malou realized that the financial situation was so dire, until such time an Arab friend offered her to run a ready company but without giving her cash for any means of salary. She was so reluctant to say yes but she thought of herself as unreasonable if she backed off from what was presented on the table.
So, she looked back from the road of her journey in the UAE filled with odds and people trying to drag her down, and she realized that that was her chance to prove to them that she was truly a challenger and a fighter. Knowing that she had no single amount of money in her hand to finance any business, abruptly, she accepted the offer and poured herself into work.
She also voiced her concern to help many of her fellow kababayans on how they would earn a living without having capital on hand.
“It wasn’t as much a decision to become an entrepreneur as it was just a realization that is what was meant to do. Starting to sell tickets, visas, and group tour packages were just the next steps as I explored and uncovered new possibilities. I found purpose in growing a business that produces useful things and creates meaningful jobs for many fellowmen,” she said.
Along the way, Malou dealt with the ups and downs of start-ups for the entire five years.
“These years were torturous, that I am wide awake 24/7 in attending incoming phone calls from Kish where the base of exit is placed,” she added.
By the year 2013, the Filipina entrepreneur negotiated with a buzzed investor to recapitalize the company, touting a new ‘direct response’ business that could give help with more chances to expand her services. To further strengthen the empire she was building, she attended a series of seminars, paid phone calls to interested bigger parties, explained the products, offered discounts and coupons, and negotiated profits, alas! she then ultimately convinced them to build a network of hundreds of ticket agents.
In the same year, she decided to quit managing that company and launched her own business. As expected, her business, MPQ Travel & Tours, significantly raised and become a top-notch agency inside and outside the UAE markets, which offers affordable, honest, and reliable tourism services.
“Failure is always a part of life, if fear or failure is always holding us back; we cannot walk to move forward. In any kind of business, building products isn’t easy, sometimes things happen that are out of control. Let’s just throw bad things on the wall, pick good things and keep working on them by heart for the benefit of all. Anyway, reputation is all on what I am selling for,” she said.
Today, Malou is now reaping what she sowed. The MPQ Travel & Tourism has been receiving accolades from various prestigious award-giving bodies in the UAE and in the Philippines. Malou, on the other hand, is also recognized by these award-giving bodies as an and trailblazer influential female entrepreneur.
Her latest legacy is the latest branch of her company in the Philippines that is set to promote the Philippines’ tourism and assist Filipinos who want to travel outside the Philippines.