Categories: InspiringStories

From Rags to Riches: The Success Story of John Gokongwei

If his success story doesn't inspire you, then nothing else will.

When we started our own foray outside the Philippines 30 years ago, it wasn’t a walk in the park. We set up a small factory in Hong Kong to manufacture Jack and Jill potato chips there. Today, we are all over Asia. We have the number-one-potato-chips brand in Malaysia and Singapore. We are the leading biscuit manufacturer in Thailand, and a significant player in the candy market in Indonesia. Our Aces cereal brand is a market leader in many parts of China. C2 is now doing very well in Vietnam, selling over 3 million bottles a month there, after only 6 months in the market. Soon, we will launch C2 in other South East Asian markets.

I am 81 today. But I do not forget the little boy that I was in the palengke in Cebu. I still believe in family. I still want to make good. I still don’t mind going up against those older and better than me. I still believe hard work will not fail me. And I still believe in people willing to think the same way. Through the years, the market place has expanded: between cities, between countries, between continents. I want to urge you all here to think bigger.

Why serve 86 million when you can sell to four billion Asians? And that’s just to start you off. Because there is still the world beyond Asia. When you go back to your offices, think of ways to sell and market your products and services to the world. Create world-class brands. You can if you really tried. I did.

“As a boy, I sold peanuts from my backyard. Today, I sell snacks to the world. I want to see other Filipinos do the same.”

This is the true-to-life story of a business tycoon, John Gokongwei, who never had a clue that he will end up as the owner of the prominent Cebu Pacific Airlines, Robinsons Mall, Robinsons Bank, and Universal Robina Corporation.

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