Negosyong Pinoy: Starting a Street Food Business

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Filipinos are known to be very generous eaters. To add to that, a lot of our countrymen actually patronize and support street food. To cite an example, people would often stop by a corner where there’s a fish ball vendor. Fish balls are among one of the many street food that most Filipinos know and as a matter of fact, it’s one of the most lucrative businesses to start as well. We will be detailing everything you need to know about starting a street food business as complete as possible.

Would a street food business really be profitable?

It might not seem enough but if you take a look at the complete cost of starting one, and how much you’re going to be selling depending on your market, you might be surprised.

Read: Negosyong Pinoy: Starting a PisoNet Business here in the Philippines

Take it from Elvie Caligacion, a businesswoman who started her fortune through the fish ball business. Back in 1983, Elvie was retrenched from her job and said that she made a study of possible business options she can get into.

According to her story told in the Philippine Star, Elvie has an initial startup capital of P3, 000 which she used to operate two (2) fish ball carts. Furthermore, that’s the amount she used to buy six (6) kilos of fish balls from Divisoria. Surprisingly, by her fifth (5th) month, Elvie already had five (5) fish ball carts. Imagine the growth in a short amount of time?

What you need in starting a street food business

Fish balls aren’t the only street food you can sell. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of foods you can offer; you just have to find the one that fits and suits you right. Of course, what you will be selling should be something that you love eating. How can you improve the taste of something you do not eat, eh?

Let us go over the things you need to prepare if you’re planing on starting a street food business:

  • Street food cart
  • Utensils
  • Stove (gas type)
  • Ingredients for cooking

Typically, the ingredients would include what you will be selling and the raw base and ingredients of the sauce you’re going to offer. By a rough estimate, you should be able to start a fish ball food cart business with only around P5, 000.00. NOTE: That amount would already include the materials and ingredients you need to start selling. To give you some sort of a breakdown:

  • Food cart – P1, 800 – P3, 000
  • Stove – P500 – P800
  • Utensils – P1, 000 *already includes frying pan, barbecue skewer sticks, strainer, etc.
  • Kerosene Gas – P800
  • Fish ball and other street food raw materials – P200
  • (Optional) Motorcycle or Bicycle – down payment for a motorcycle or a full payment of a bicycle – P5, 000

The income of this street food business

Now, the income would solely depend on the following things:

  • Location
  • The type of market that you have
  • The price of your street food
  • Other things that you’re offering

Location is key in the street food business. Whether you like it or not, your success would have higher chances if you place your food cart at a place where there are a lot of people like near a schoolnear an establishmentnear transport terminals, etc. However, that’s not the only factor.

Read: Negosyong Pinoy: The Peanut Butter Business

Let’s also factor in the type of market you have. Most of the time, if you place your food cart in places where people want to eat heavy meals, your food cart will not be noticed. You need to put it in places where people are always on-the-go or in places where people will be waiting.

Often times, the price would substantially be standard, unless, of course, you have your own supplier and get your raw ingredients at a cheaper rate. The price won’t have a huge impact to your success but it could play a big and a more important role to how your business will be.

Where can I purchase a fish ball food cart

There are online websites and marketplaces you can check who offer food carts. Moreover, if you have the tools, you can make it yourself. If you’re not confident enough, you can ask a carpenter or a woodscraftsman to help you construct a food cart.

NOTE: Building a food cart would be drastically cheaper than buying one. You’d only need wood, nails, wheels, a few metal steels, and other materials for you to be able to build one.

But wait, how do you cook fish balls?

Fish balls, squid balls, chicken balls, hotdogs, kikiams, all other street foods you can think of can easily be cooked through hot cooking oil. Although there are street foods that would require coal and grilling, these types of street foods usually would just require hot cooking oil.

Read: Tips in Successfully Starting and Running Your Food Business

The sauces

What the usual sauces or sawsawan are would be sweet, sweet and spicy, and plain spicy. Some vendors offer vinegar with spicy vinegar but that would really just depend on you.

However, some people come back for the sauce so if you think that you shouldn’t be paying attention to the sauce, then think again. Sometimes, it’s the sauce that people come back for.

Read: Negosyong Pinoy: Starting a Piggery Business in the Philippines


Starting a street food business is not as simple as it seems. As a matter of fact, this type of business is the one that is the more lucrative if you handle and take care of it properly. So to give you a few points of knowledge before you start, try to remember these things:

  • If you want to start this type of business, it’s going to be better if your business is locomotive. You want to move from and to places where there are a lot of people.
  • A bicycle or a motorcycle would be required if that’s the case. That would gain additions on your cost but it’ll be a lot more profitable depending on the situation.
  • Remember that the first few days to a week could give you nothing. Just try to persevere and try to understand your target market.
  • You have hundreds to thousands of competitors. Make sure to give your customers something to come back for – make your products and what you offer special!
  • If you’re not going to be the one to sell, make sure that the vendor you’ll hire is trustworthy and reliable. There are people who would be blinded by a few thousand pesos so beware.

You can have your profits through “boundary”

Street Food business
Image was taken from Filipiknow |

If you haven’t heard of the term, boundary is when someone will rent whatever you use for your business. In other words, other people would be the ones using your tool to earn and they have to earn a specific amount of money per day and you’d be the one to call that.

Read: Negosyong Pinoy: The Karinderya Business

It’s somewhat like a bond. A technique you can do for a person interested in getting into the business is that you can assign a boundary to that person, say P800 – P1, 000 for the stretch of the whole day. That is what the amount he needs to pay you and whatever profit he gets after that will be his.

What the inclusions are would depend on your agreement but that’s the idea.

Are you interested in starting a business but you lack the funds to do so? Well, why not start a street food business? It has a cheap initial cost, it requires less effort, and it’s a lot lucrative. You just have to map out where you are going to put your business.

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