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Success Story: Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee Group

Known to be the man behind the country’s famous bee, Tony Tan Caktiong is another rags-to-riches story – from owning a small ice cream franchise, to heading some of the Philippines’ most famous food chains.

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Born third of seven siblings, Tony Tan Caktiong was from a poor family in China who immigrated to the Philippines in hope that they may have a better life. His family helped each other out, establishing a restaurant business in Davao which enabled young Tony to study Civil Engineering in the University of Santo Tomas.

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When he was 22, Caktiong decided to shell out P350,000 in an ice cream parlor franchise. He opened Cubao Ice Cream House and Quiapo Ice Cream House. As their business becomes more and more successful, they started to hire more people to help them manage it. Two years later, he decided to serve hamburgers, fried chicken, and spaghetti as people began to tell him that they don’t want to eat ice cream all the time. It was then that they decided to rebrand and change their name to “Jollibee” as it represents them as a company, and the people that they cater to – hardworking and happy.

McDonald’s came into the picture not many years later, but they failed to take over Jollibee’s popularity as, according to Caktiong, they don’t know the local food culture. Filipinos have a sweet taste on food, so Jollibee decided to serve spaghetti with a sweeter flavour. Filipinos like to smell everything they eat, which is the reason behind the “Langhap Sarap” tagline they have been using for a while now.

As years go by, the Jollibee group grew bigger. Caktiong partnered up and established a couple other food chains including Chowking, Red Ribbon, Greenwich, and Delifrance. Aside from bringing Jollibee, Chowking, and Red Ribbon to other countries, they’ve also established new food chains in China and Taiwan which suit the tastes of the people there.

As of 2016, Tony Tan Caktiong ranked 6th in Forbes’ Philippines’ 50 Richest. He was also awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year and the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004.

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