Success Stories in Business and Entrepreneurship

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The following are stories of Filipino entrepreneurs who have made it from rags to riches. They have come from very humble beginnings, but with hardwork, perseverance, and a little bit of luck, they made it to the top. Through their companies, they left an indelible mark in Philippine economics, but more importantly, though their stories, they continue to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs of the country.

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Success Stories




  • Tony Tan Caktiong is the founder, Chairman, and CEO of Philippine fast food chain icon Jollibee, which now has over 600 stores in the Philippines and 27 international stores in countries such as the United States and Hong Kong. Tan Caktiong started out after graduating from college in 1975. After borrowing money from his parents, he set up two ice cream parlors in Cubao. Noticing his customers were looking for more than ice cream, he decided to start serving sandwiches as well. (more...)


  • Andrew Tan, the country's newest billionaire, is the founder and CEO of one of the country's leading property developers, the Megaworld Corporation. The 16-hectare Eastwood City, a prototype of Tan's live-work-play environment concept, is one of the many projects of his company. Tan started investing in mid-income housing at the worst possible time - the height of the Asian Crisis. He made a very risky move when he rushed into the industry while many of the major players were hesitant largely because a number of leading land developers were torched by the same market earlier. (more...)


  • Josie Natori is the founder and chief executive officer of the Natori Company, a 500 million dollar New York-based corporation dealing with the design and manufacture of women's fashion and accessories. At the early age of 17, she left Manila to pursue an economics degree abroad. Shortly after graduating, she began working with various American corporations. During a stint as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch, she met Ken Natori, a third-generation Japanese-American and managing director for Smith Barney, a big brokerage firm in the US. (more...)


  • Manny Villar was ranked 5th richest Filipino by Forbes Asia in their October 2007 issue. He is the present Senate President of the Philippines - the third highest government official in the country. Villar was born and raised in the tough streets of Tondo a seafood dealer and a government employee. The second of nine children, he started helping his mother sell seafood at the Divisoria market at a young age to support his siblings and himself for school. (more...)


  • Cecilio Kwok Pedro is the owner and CEO of Lamoiyan Corporation, makers of Filipino-made Hapee Toothpaste and Dazz Dishwashing Aids. In 1978, Pedro owned a small factory that supplied aluminum tubes to toothpaste makers like Colgate. But in early 1986, Pedro found himself in a hole when the big toothpaste companies decided to switch to using plastic tubes instead of aluminum ones. There was no other option for Pedro than to close the company and send his workers home. (more...)


  • Yolanda Pajaro is the President and CEO of high-end shoe boutique Via Venetto. Pajaro was started out as a teacher, but after having her third child, she realized that her family could not survive on a teacher’s salary alone. In an effort to earn extra income, Pajaro started selling Avon products. Her success in this small business made her realize that she may have a knack for sales. (more...)


  • Henry Sy is the founding father of SM Investments Corporation, one of the largest corporations in the Philippines. An October 2007 Forbes Asia ranking puts Sy at the number 2 spot of the richest Filipinos. His success story in the Philippines started when his impoverished family left China when he was 12. They opened a small corner grocery in Manila where he and his other siblings would work. While studying at the Far Eastern University in Manila, he took a job as a middleman for shoe stores. (more...)

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