Filipina travel agency owner in Abu Dhabi shares how she started with just Dh100

Estimated read time 3 min read

Marifel Manimtim is the owner of STOP International Travel. JONATHAN YBERA/EXPAT MEDIA

She arrived in the UAE with just Dh100 to start, but with hard work, Marifel Manimtim has multiplied that by over a hundredfold. She is now the proud owner and general manager of Abu Dhabi-based travel agency STOP International Travel.

“Eight years ago, I had no idea what waited for me in the UAE. I just knew that I needed to work to support my family,” Marifel recalls. She only had Dh100 that her aunt gave her, which she used to pay for bus fares to her job interviews. While waiting to land a job, the business administration graduate worked as a part time house cleaner for several local households.

“Once, I worked in a three-storey villa with a huge bathroom. I didn’t know where to start. It took me four hours just to clean the bathroom alone!” she says with a guffaw, “But I always knew no one and nothing can stop your success.”

She remained optimistic that the right opportunity would come along. And it did, when she got a call back from a company that asked her to work as a temporary HR assistant. The stint was only for 45 days, but Marifel worked like a star employee. She later worked for a travel agency, which helped her expand her connections and save enough to bring her husband to the UAE as well as explore business opportunities.

It was also when the neophyte entrepreneur experienced her share of disappointments when two of her business partners ended up siphoning her cash. “I have since learned to be careful who I trust,” Marifel says. The pandemic dealt another blow, and Marifel and her husband found themselves selling homemade sausages and cured meat to friends just to make ends meet.

With a “never-say-die” attitude, Marifel plodded on, and decided to take one more chance at launching a travel agency in Abu Dhabi in 2021. “I spent my last Dh3,000 as down payment for an office,” she recalls. She also approached friends to invest in her business.

Thankfully, the business took off. “My first client took a freelance visa. I literally had just signed the lease to the office and I already had a client waiting,” she recalls. More customers have come since then. “Much of our business are from repeat customers and referrals,” she says, “We thrive because of our clients’ trust.”

Marifel Manimtim is the owner of STOP International Travel.

STOP International Travel provides airline ticket assistance and visa assistance in the UAE, India, Bahrain, Europe and other countries. It also arranges local and international tours, as well as PRO services for UAE residence visas.

Marifel says the business “must be God’s design for us”. “I had a hard start in the UAE, and I am thankful that I am now in a position where I can help people have a stress-free stay or travel here,” she says. MM/Expat Media

A condensed version of story also appears in the Expat Media Special Edition magazine. Reach out to STOP International Travel on

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