The 5 famous Filipino entrepreneurs are businessmen whose families emigrated from mainland China to the Philippines before the 2ndWorld War when the there was a strong economy. Some sought out regular employment and others set up small businesses. Although each took a different approach, there is one common denominator among them before they became famous Filipino entrepreneurs: they all had an unparalleled work ethic. While there are other factors that contributed to their achievements (being frugal, a good financial sense and a strong network of fellow Chinese businessmen for support) the collective image of the famous Filipino entrepreneurs working hard and diligently has stuck in the minds of almost all budding entrepreneurs in the Philippines. This list showcases famous Filipino entrepreneurs who are icons in the local business scene.
- Henry Sy. As a child, Henry Sy used to work twelve hours a day to help his father run their small family-owned convenience store. During the Second World War, their store was looted and burned so the young Sy switched to buying whatever he could to sell for a profit. Hard times and a humble background in retail shaped and molded the young Sy. Today, he is touted by the business community as the richest man in the Philippines. With over fifty malls and stores of various sizes, the most recognized of all famous Filipino businessmen has foothold in virtually all the major cities in the Philippines. They recently even expanded to Guam and China. To date, three of the ten largest malls in the world are owned and operated by his company.
- Lucio Tan. Lucio Tan worked as a janitor in a cigarette factory. After a few promotions, he eventually resigned and started his own tobacco company. His tobacco company grew to capture a 60% share of the Philippine market. With its strong revenues, Tan was able to diversify. This famous Filipino businessman now owns several prominent Philippine companies, many of which are blue-chippers. Among the top businessmen, Tan is arguably the most enigmatic. Among his contemporaries, he is probably accessible and prefers to stay out of the limelight.
- John Gokongwei. Another self-made man is John Gokongwei who lost his father at the age of thirteen. He had to work hard to help support his family by selling simple products like candles, soap and thread in a small local market and was able to expand to sell more lucrative products. He did this for many years until he ventured into the profitable instant coffee business. Nescafe of Nestle was the only instant coffee readily brand readily available so he focused on developing his own brand of instant coffee – Blend 45. His company did incredibly well and generated enough profits to develop other brands. Almost all of the famous Filipino food and beverage brands Gokongwei created are now market leaders in their respective categories. He eventually made his way in the local retail industry by building and running his own chain of successful shopping malls.
- Tony Tan Caktiong. At a time when McDonalds has virtually dominated the fast food industry in the region, Caktiong’s famous Filipino owned Jolibee has topped the local fast food scene year after year. In 1978 when he first started, this famous entrepreneur initially envisioned and set up an ice cream parlor. However, he saw the demand for inexpensive and quick meals on the go, so he overhauled Jolibee’s menu with burgers and fries as its main offering. Sales skyrocketed and profits flowed in. By the mid-90’s, Jollibee had an outlet in virtually every nook and cranny in the Philippines. His company also purchased several competitors and even opened restaurants in Asia, the Middle East and the United States.
- George Ty. Yet another in a distinguished line of famous Filipino entrepreneurs is George Ty. Among the famous Filipino businessmen, he had perhaps the most comfortable childhood, since his family owned a large flour mill. At the age of 29, he founded Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company with several partners. Today, this famous Filipino owned bank is one of the biggest financial institutions in the Philippines.