5 Successful Filipino Entrepreneurs And Their Story

Today, we know a number of entrepreneurs who are not only doing well commercially but also making a difference with their creative ideas. Philippines’ entrepreneurs and businesses range between different fields, and there are a number of successful Filipino entrepreneurs who’ve made it big. 

Any society learns a lot from stories that are motivating and positive. These Filipino entrepreneurs and their businesses have done the same for a number of people. You can know a lot about their work, business models and the role that they’ve played in advancing their specific fields through these stories. 

Some of the successful Filipino entrepreneurs and their stories are interesting and have a lot of intrigue to them, to say the least. It’s not easy to run a successful business or business, for that matter. Having the mindset and characteristics necessary to achieve success, on the other hand, is a different matter entirely. 

And hence, these five successful Filipino entrepreneurs, among others, have created quite a stir among people. So, you  gotta know their back-story!

5 Successful Filipino Entrepreneurs And Their Story

  • Tony Tan Caktiong
  • Cecilio K. Pedro 
  • Joe Magsaysay
  • Henry Sy
  • Edgar Sia

Top 5 Filipino Entrepreneurs

1. Tony Tan Caktiong

About The Business

Tony Tan Caktiong established the Jollibee Group in 1975. They began everything with a small family business selling ice cream on the streets of Manila, assisted by his wife Grace, family, and in-laws. 

The family saw an opportunity for hot meals three years after it began. The ice cream parlours were transformed into the Jollibee we know today. And hence, this is one of the most celebrated success stories of Filipino entrepreneurs. 

The Story

Tony always dreamt big and saw a lot of potential for his business. He put his faith and perseverance to transform his then-small business into one of the largest businesses in the Philippines, Asia, and now the entire world.

Tony Tan Caktiong came from a poor family in China and immigrated to the Philippines in the hope of having a better life. He was the third child of seven siblings. Tony was able to attend the University of Santo Tomas and study civil engineering thanks to his family’s cooperation in starting a restaurant in Davao.

Caktiong made the decision to invest in an ice cream parlor franchise when he was 22 years old. Both Cubao Ice Cream House and Quiapo Ice Cream House were opened by him. They started to hire more people to help them run their business as it got bigger and better. 

After two years, he decided to serve spaghetti, hamburgers, and fried chicken because people started telling him they didn’t want to eat ice cream all the time. At that point, they made the decision to rebrand and change their name to “Jollibee” because it better represents both their business and the customers they serve, who are hardworking and happy.

A few years later, McDonald’s appeared, but they were unable to surpass Jollibee’s popularity because, according to Caktiong, they were unfamiliar with the local food culture. Jollibee decided to serve spaghetti with a sweeter flavor because Filipinos like their food sweet. They like to smell everything they eat, which is why they’ve been using the slogan “Langhap Sarap” for a while.

The Jollibee group grew in size over time. Chowking, Red Ribbon, Greenwich, and Delifrance were among the other food chains that Caktiong co-founded with a partner. In addition to bringing Red Ribbon, Jollibee, and Chowking to other nations, they have also established new food chains in China and Taiwan that cater to the preferences of the local populace.

2. Cecilio K. Pedro 

About The Business

Cecilio K. Pedro, president of Lamoiyan Corporation, the company behind the Hapee and Kutitap toothpaste brands, is another one of the successful Filipino entrepreneurs. Lamoiyan Corporation has expanded its product line to include Gumtech, a special gum-formula toothpaste, Tenderly fabric enhancer, Dazz dishwashing paste and liquids, and Fash detergent.

In order to improve the effectiveness and competitiveness of its products, the company keeps making investments in research and development. It is currently looking into the possibility of using only Philippines-sourced ingredients in its toothpaste line.

The Story

Aluminum Container, Inc., which was the primary supplier of the collapsible aluminum toothpaste tubes used by local manufacturers of Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, and the Philippine Refining Company (now Unilever), was headed by him in the past. 

However, multinational corporations used plastic-laminated toothpaste tubes as an alternative due to technological advancements and environmental concerns regarding aluminum materials. As a result, Cecilio’s aluminum factory closed in 1985, but he didn’t stop thinking about other ways to use his factory equipment.

Cecilio K. Pedro made the decision to go head-to-head with the global giants by producing toothpaste made locally. He established the Lamoiyan Corporation, which went on to produce the first toothpaste made in the country, Hapee and Kutitap. To learn how to make toothpaste, he went to Japan. He learned that the basic composition of all toothpaste is the same. He developed his own formula at home, which led to the creation of Hapee toothpaste – and it was this perseverance that led him to become one of the most famous Filipino entrepreneurs.

Before the multinationals followed suit, Hapee was the first company to introduce single toothpaste sachets priced at seven pesos. They were sold for 50 percent less than the well-known foreign brands on the Philippine market.

Free housing is part of Lamoiyan’s employment program for over 30 deaf-mute employees. Additionally, managers must learn sign language to communicate with hearing-impaired employees. Around 180 deaf-mute students have received a free college education through the Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation (D.E.A.F.), which was established by Cecilio K. Pedro.

3. Joe Magsaysay

About The Business

In 1992, the Potato Corner franchise came into existence with Php150,000 in the capital. At the time, Joe Magsaysay’s objective was to immediately dominate the market. He wanted his stalls selling flavoured French fries to be found in malls, schools, theme parks, and other places. 

There are currently tens of thousands of franchisees operating Potato Corner across the Philippines and abroad – making him one of the well-known Filipino entrepreneurs in the Philippines. A product’s unique selling proposition is what makes it stand out. Potato Corner’s USP is based on its low costs and high efficiency.

The Story

Joe began his career as a dishwasher at Wendy’s and eventually rose through the ranks to become a district manager before opening his first Potato Corner location.

Due to a lack of funds, he had to scrounge for P37,500, which represented his 25% stake in the company. The other group members, like him, had to borrow money to pay for their share of the total starting capital.

It was in 1992, and in October of that same year, they opened their first store. They couldn’t afford anything, so it was just a cart in Mandaluyong. 

Joe Magsaysay, along with the rest of the group, was able to repay the P37,500 loan in just 30 days. The group recognized the potential opportunities presented by their novel product’s phenomenal success. 

That was the time to expand, and they seriously considered franchising as the most promising option because, with very limited funds, it appeared to be their only means of raising additional capital. And thus he became one of the most well-known Filipino entrepreneurs, with multiple franchises of his business across the world. 

4. Henry Sy

About The Business

Henry Sy is a retail magnate who also owns the majority stake in China Bank and the 33 established SM Malls (Shoe Mart). With that, he also owns Banco De Oro-Equitable-PCI Bank. Shoe Mart, or SM for short, is more than just a shopping mall. 

It is one of the biggest retailers in the country. It offers shopping, theatres, locations for date nights, parties, and other special occasions, ice skating, and food courts among other services.

The Story

Henry Sy came to the Philippines when he was just 12 years old, where he helped his father by working more than 12 hours per day in his small sari-sari store. Then he came up with ways to make more money by making small products like the sachets you find in supermarkets today.

Because he spent so much time in the store, he had no time to go outside and play with friends in the neighbourhood, but he was able to make multiple sales to supplement his income. He quickly came to the realization, however, that in a sari-sari store, he can only do so much.

He enrolled himself in school and graduated from Far Eastern University with a degree in commerce. Sy also had to change his legal name, sell shoes that were rejected and overstocked, and deal with a lot of other early setbacks. In a way, he persevered because he was relentless about wanting something bigger in life. This makes his work and journey one of the most inspiring success stories of Filipino entrepreneurs.

In 1958, he opened a small shoe store in Quiapo, Manila, under the name “Shoe Mart,” which would later become SM Prime Holdings. At present, there are three of the Philippines’ most valuable businesses: SM Prime Holdings Inc. and SM Investments Corp. His story of turning his life around makes him among the most known 5 successful Filipino entrepreneurs. 

5. Edgar Sia

About The Business

Mang Inasal is the most popular place in the country to buy Pinoy merchandise. Mang Inasal is famous for its authentic fusion of native-style chicken inasal and other traditional Filipino dishes.

The chain’s goal is to provide endless opportunities to people who helped build the empire and reduce the unemployment rate. They have been able to do that by using banana leaves from Guimaras Island communities and bamboo sticks from several cooperatives in Iloilo.

The Story

In December 2003, Edgar Sia, then 26 years old, took advantage of the opportunity to lease a 250 square meter space at Robinson’s Mall Carpark-Iloilo. Mang Inasal, the Hiligaynon name for Mr. Barbeque, was born there.

He learned early on how important it is to trust your instincts, take risks, plan, negotiate, and motivate yourself and your team. Additionally, he was aware of the category of Filipino barbeque quick-service restaurants’ potential for expansion. He started a business that could grow all over the country. His apparent ‘characteristics of Filipino entrepreneurs’ worked well and made him a successful Filipino entrepreneur.

At 19, Sia II dropped out of college to start his own laundry and photo-developing business. In 2003, a 26-year-old Sia made the bold decision to open his own business instead of pursuing a degree in architecture.

Mang Inasal, which he founded in Iloilo City, caused a stir in the local fast-food industry in the middle to late 2000s. The restaurant gained popularity for its tender and flavorful barbecued chicken served with “unlimited” servings of rice, which is priced affordably. Mang Inasal branches began to appear in Mindanao and the Visayas a few years later. The chicken-and-unli-rice trend quickly spread to Luzon. There were already more than one hundred Mang Inasal locations all over the country by the end of the decade. 

Later, Tony Caktiong made the decision to acquire Mang Inasal for a total of P5 billion after learning about Sia’s expanding business. In the end, Sia invested the proceeds from Mang Inasal’s sales in other investments, such as banking and healthcare. Now, he is popular as the youngest billionaire in the nation, and among the most successful Filipino entrepreneurs at 42.


As one of the most well-known Filipino entrepreneurs, these names are familiar in a lot of households, and among too many people. But that doesn’t mean that it was always like that. Most success stories come with a history, which isn’t always easy. These 5 successful Filipino entrepreneurs have also had to deal with setbacks, take risks and step out of their comfort zones to reach where they’re today. These stories are an inspiration and leave us with a lot to learn!

Apps For Startup