Born on January 5, 1953 in Fujian, Province of China, Jollibee founder, Tony Tan Caktiong belonged to one of those Chinese immigrant families who went to the Philippines in hope for a better future. His father originally worked as a chef in a Chinese temple in Binondo, however, with his talent in the kitchen, was offered an opportunity to manage a restaurant in Davao. It was a family ordeal for the Caktiongs to make the restaurant progressive, and because of this collective work, they were able to send Tony to school in one of the most prestigious schools in Manila, the University of Santo Tomas where he finished his degree.
Tony holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), and has also attended various management programs such as Harvard University’s Owner/ President Management Program and the Top Management Program of Asian Institute of Management.
He was the recipient of the prestigious Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2004 and is also a two-time Star of Asia Awardee of BusinessWeek International, a Lifetime Achievement Awardee of the Hong Kong based Asian Chain Restaurant Operators and Suppliers Series, a Triple-A Alumni Awardee of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), a TOYM Awardee for Entrepreneurship, and an awardee for Management Man of the Year by the Management Association of the Philippines.
Tony kicked off his business career through a small ice cream parlor. This small enterprise, however, would grow to be one of the biggest fast food chains not only in the Philippines, but also in the world.
It was 1978 when Tony’s family inaugurated Jollibee in the Philippines. With a genuine commitment to serving Filipino comfort food to the public, it was able to rise to the top of the fast food industry, toppling over even foreign brands that started to put up branches in the Philippines.
Three years after establishing an ice cream parlor, he acquired the Greenwich Pizza Corp, entering the pizza and pasta food market. Jollibee Foods Corp bought the remaining shares of Greenwich Pizza Corporation in the year 2006 and became a 20% stake-holder. He bought out the shares of his partner, Greenwich for a cash amount of P384 million. Under the leadership of Tan, Jollibee has become the most popular chain of fast food restaurants in the country. Today, it is one of the leading fast food chains and dominates 50% of the food market. Tan acquired the Yonghe Dawang in 2004 and the Chowking Oriental in 2000.
Tony Tan Caktiong is the Chairman and Founder of Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), one of Asia’s largest food service companies. Under his leadership, the publicly listed company has grown brands that bring delightful dining experiences to its customers worldwide, in line with its mission of serving great tasting food and bringing the joy of eating to everyone. Tony is Co-Chairman of Double Dragon Properties Corporation. He is involved in non-profit work as Chairman of Jollibee Group Foundation and a member of the Board of Trustees of Temasek Foundation of Singapore. He is also a member of the Chief Executives’ Organization, USA and is on the International Advisory Board of The Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York.
Before becoming one of the leading fast food chains in the world, Tony’s journey was no stranger to struggles. His entire family took a big risk in staking their entire savings to open up a fast food chain. As neophytes in the field, many mistakes came along the way, especially in the presence of people not believing in the beauty of Tony’s dream.
When international brand McDonald’s came into the picture, a lot of their family friends advised them to sell out Jollibee as they thought that it would be no match to the globally renowned brand. But his dreams and vision were bigger than the fear imposed by the competition. Pushing through with a positive mindset coupled with his hard work, we now get to enjoy the comforting Filipino taste of our favorite dishes served by our favorite happy bee.
In several of his inspirational talks, Tony never fails to mention the value of having dreams and persevering until it materializes. For him, dreams are free, but its realization comes with the hefty price of time, hard work, adaptation, and seeing things beyond failure.
An inspiration to all, he is a living example of how failures can lead you to the sweetest product that is success. The journey to becoming one of the world’s fast food giants came with several missteps, but instead of treating them as loss, Tony Tan Caktiong acted like a leader and entrepreneur, and considered these mistakes as building blocks toward the top of the food chain (pun intended).
Being in the food industry, Tony makes sure his company not only serves food to the public, but also provides opportunities for social progress, thus the establishment of a foundation. Jollibee Foundation is the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of Jollibee Foods Corporation. Jollibee Foundation believes in harnessing the strengths of its parent company, Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), and those of its partners, for community development. The Foundation builds into the design of its programs the relevant strengths of JFC as a foodservice company so that program sustainability would have a fairly good chance.
Jollibee Foundation envisions that every Filipino is able to access basic community services and live a life defined by dignity, purpose and active participation in nation-building. This altruistic vision is made a reality with the help of their partners through providing improved access to education for the youth, leadership development for local organizations, livelihood programs for small farmers, environment-friendly initiatives, and decent housing and disaster relief for calamity-stricken regions.