Every entrepreneur should be motivated by the inspiring story of one of the richest men in the Philippines, John Gokongwei Jr.
John Gokongwei Jr. is a Chinese-Filipino entrepreneur with various lines of business like telecommunications, aviation, pertrochemicals, financial services, property development, and live stock farming. He was declared as the third richest businessman in the Philippines in 2010.
John Gokongwei is a brave man who faced tumultuous challenges before he earned his success. He was born on August 11, 1926 in Gulangyu, Xiamen, Fujian Province, China. He was just barely a year old when his parents migrated and settled in Cebu to escape the turmoil in China. At first, he lived an affluent life in Cebu, where his father owned a chain of movie houses. However, his family lost their fortune when his father died instantly. The “riches to rags to riches” story then begins.
Tragically, John was forced to look after himself when his grand uncle could no longer support him. He started buying and selling rice, clothing, and scrap metals. He would sell roasted peanuts when they ran out of money. He was able to open a small stall in the market and would wake up at five o’clock every morning, preparing for the long ride to the market with his basket of goods. Notably, he would profit Php20.00 at the end of the day, enough to feed his siblings and enough to save money for his business.
In 1943, he began trading goods between Cebu and Manila, traveling via small boat. Due to his ambition and determination, he saw an opportunity for trading goods after the World War II ended. Together with his brother Henry, they put up Amasia Trading, which imported onions, flour, old magazines, and fruits from the United States. His businesses then expanded.
Remarkably, John Gokongwei became the chairman of one of the largest conglomerates in the Philippines, the JG Summit Holdings. In 1996, Gokongwei acquired Cebu Pacific and claimed the number one spot in the domestic market. Robinsons Saving Bank was put up in 1997 by Gokongwei Group of Companies. In 2003, he opened Sun Cellular to compete against telecommunication giants Smart Communications and Globe Telecom. In 2004, C2, the green tea drink was launched.
John Gokongwei’s biography John L. Gokongwei Jr.: The Path of Entrepreneurship by Marites A. Khanser was launched on August 29, 2007, at the Ateneo de Manila University. It narrated his remarkable riches-to-rags-to-riches story. In this book, the Nine Rules of business success that Gokongwei applied were cited. He stressed that entrepreneurship is a way out of poverty.
John Gokongwei led an exemplary life. Every aspiring businessman, who has visions of becoming successful, should follow Gokongwei’s determination and drive.