Company Name: Jollibee Food Corporation
Industry: Restaurant
Date Founded: January 28, 1978
Location: Jollibee Plaza, Ortigas Center, Pasig, Philippines
Mission Statement: 
“To serve great tasting food, bringing the joy of eating to everyone.”

The Jollibee Story

Jollibee has been in business for almost 38 years with over 3,000 stores worldwide. With the brand’s success, it’s hard to imagine that this business, like most of the big restaurants or fast food chains, started from humble beginnings. Yes, that’s a true story! Very few Filipino brands are as globally renowned as Jollibee. In order for us to understand it’s rich history, let’s take a look at Tony Tan Caktiong’s story.


“From modest beginnings to the top of the world” are the words that succinctly sum up Tony Tan Caktiong’s story.

He was born in a poor family that migrated from south eastern China to the Philippines hoping for a better life. His family was already in the restaurant business during that time which also proved as a valuable experience he was able to apply later on as he ventured in the same industry. Through their family’s business, Tony was able to pursue a degree in chemical engineering.

In 1975, Tony, through a poster learned that Magnolia Ice Cream was offering franchise and grabbed that opportunity. With his family savings, he opened 2 Magnolia ice cream parlors in Cubao and Quiapo. The family was working in the business hands-on until they realized that they needed manpower to supply the demand of the business’ growth.

1st Ever Jollibee Store

Jollibee started out as a Magnolia Ice Cream Parlor

Jollibee in China

A Jollibee chain in China.

2 years later, the ice cream business grew from 2 franchises to six. By then, they started offering hamburger sandwiches and chicken.  Through this variation of products and realizing that customers order more hamburgers than ice cream, they decided to shift focus and started planning for a hamburger house. Thus, the birth of Jollibee!

They chose a bee because of its association with hard work, and because honey represents the sweet things in life. The “jolly” prefix was intended to connote happiness and enjoyment. Jollibee experienced rapid growth. In fact, it was able to establish it’s brand in the Philippines since 1978 that when McDonald’s (another growing fast food chain at the time) came to the country in ’81, the company didn’t feel threatened at all. Tony and Jollibee banked on their knowledge of the Filipino taste buds. That distinct sweetness in their flavor set the brand apart from it’s competition. As McDonald’s made its mark in the country, so was Jollibee.


In 2015, Jollibee opened its 3000th store. Through the franchising model, Jollibee has been on track to open 200 stores every year in the Philippines and 100 stores overseas. Similarly, the company was also able to somewhat monopolize the fast food industry in the country by acquiring top competition.

It started with Greenwich, a local over the counter pizza chain that started business in 1971. It was a joint venture at first (1994) but in 2006, they bought out the remaining shares of its partners, equivalent to 20% stake, for Php384 million. In 1996, Jollibee became the Sole franchisee of Delifrance. In 2000, Jollibee acquire Chowking,a Chinese fast food restaurant, thus making Jollibee a part of the Asian quick service restaurant segment. Overall, the JFC (Jollibee Food Corporation) has 8 proprietary brands including popular brands in the Philippines: Chowking, Mang Inasal, Red Ribbon, Burger King. 

Again, who would’ve thought that this business, represented by a bee, that no bank would ever loan to back in ’78 would be the largest fast food chain in the Philippines? I bet no one believed so as much as Mr. Tony Tan Caktiong.

So what’s the secret? For Tony, it’s all about being able to share. That’s what a franchise business model does. You share success with people, you share honor that comes your way. More importantly, Tony believes in taking care of his employees.

A wise man once said,

“In business, you don’t go for the money. You give value to people first. When you do, money will come anyhow.”. Jollibee gave us something of value. Food that is truly Filipino. No wonder what was see in the menu are “value meals” 😉

Resources: Wikipedia, Jollibee website, World Intellectual Property Organization, Millionaire Reacts

Be An Inspiration

Do you have your own inspiring business story? Tell everyone about it!