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IBR Success Sunday – Tony Tan Caktiong


Welcome to Success Sunday!

The place where investors, entrepreneurs and business professionals come to get inspiration. We’re bringing you unbelievable stories from millionaires and billionaires to inspire you and motivate you to start your week the right way.


Today’s story is about Tony Tan Caktiong.

Who is this you might ask? Well, our team at IBR will in this issue uncover the highlights of his impressive track record. 


Tony Tan Caktiong is the founder of Jollibee Foods Corporation and the co-chairman of Double-Dragon Properties. He is today 67 years old and worth close to two billion dollars – but his journey stared many decades ago.

If you are not familiar with Jollibee Foods – think about it as the Philippine equivalent to McDonalds. 

It is the only fast food franchise that has successfully fended off the powers of McDonalds. The Philippines is the only conuntry in the world where forces have been turned upside down and McDonalds is not the #1 go-to fast food chain nor holding the largest market share.

Tony originally started an ice-cream parlor in 1975, called ‘Jolliebee’, but in 1978 decided to change directions adding salty fast food temptations such as French fries, sandwiches and hot meals as fast food was becoming more popular than ice cream. By officially incorporating the company, that same year, Tony converted his parlours into fast food outlets and ventured to reshape the restaurant business. 

Today, Jollibee operates more than 3,300 stores in the Philippines and more than 2,600 branches overseas.

In contrast McDonands is operating 38,695 outlets worldwide; Subway 41,600; KFC 24,104; and Burger King 18,838.

Owning 1500 of the Jollibee fast food outlets himself, alongside a stake in the real estate empire, Forbes estimates his net worth to be around $1.9 billion

Tony has also won numerous awards such as Entreprenuer of the year Philippines 2004 and the 2004 Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year. 

All of this may seem impressive – yet what is truly remarkable is his humble beginnings. Tony comes from a poor Chinese immigrant family from Fujan. 

Being the third of seven siblings, funds were stretched very thin for his family in rural China, so his family left China in the pursuit for a better life for their children. 

His parents’ sacrifices paid off. Their newly started family restaurant business in Davao, Philippines, where the family eventually settled down, turned out well and very profitable. Tony was therefore able to attend The University of Santo Tamos and get a degree in civil engineering

Upon his graduation, at the age of 22 he and a few friends took a risky leap and ventured into the ice cream business. It was a bold move – but it made him who he is today. 

Although his journey from his humble upbringing to massive success is impressive – what really stands out is who Tony is as a person. Tony stand out from anyone else is his appreciation for people and his overwhelming optimism of the future and goals. Those values are something that is all prevailing throughout the Jollibee Food Corporation.

“If you have to ask the secret of Jollibee’s success is sharing. We share our successes with people, we give good compensation. We share any donor that comes our way. Actually, this idea of sharing did not come from me. It came form a friend, he said, ‘you know why you’re successful? You know how to share.’ A lot of people do not share, but in Jollibee, you share a lot with your people.” – Tony Tan Caktiong.


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  1. Made his first million with: Jollibee Food (fast food chain)
  2. Business is… “about sharing.”
  3. Life motto: Be quick to recognize mistakes and learn from them as fast as you can.
  4. Secret to his success: “The competition may have had all the resources in its arsenal but there is one thing they didn’t have – it’s the JFC team.”
  5. Difficulty in food service is:You’re relying on people, everyday, every minute, every second. Unlike when you’re in a factory where you can just calibrate the equipment and produce consistently everyday. In food service, you can’t do that – you rely on people.
  6. Business passion: “Tony goes out around the world to eat… Once he spots a restaurant chain with superior tasting products, the next criteria is if the concept is scalable.”
  7. About Caltiong’s parents: “Caktiong’s mother thought Tony was the most difficult to bring up among his brothers because he was the pickiest in terms of taste.”
  8. Thought on education: “The only school I can learn from is the school-of-hard knocks. And I’m still learning today.” 


Luka Marjanovic


Luka holds a Bachelor’s in International Business and a Master’s in International Management. During his undergraduate studies he worked as a research assistant in the field of Big Data; founded his own consulting firm providing services to local SME's in various sectors and invested in the capital markets; as well as working pro-bono providing education and career counselling. Prior to his business education, he studied Biology-and-Biotechnology, and served in the Danish Royal Army as Second Sergeant, leading and managing a group under extreme conditions and pressure. Luka has spent significant time abroad, living and working in seven different countries. When he's not in the office, he's chasing the next gusts windsurfing, carving the mountain snowboarding or out in the forest for a jog.

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