Instead of earning his degree in Architecture, Edgar “Injap” Sia II decided to take a big risk back in 2003. Almost a decade after making the life-changing decision, Sia makes it to Forbes List of 40 Richest Filipinos.
On December 12, 2003, the 30-something billionaire who founded the popular Filipino barbecue chain Mang Inasal established his first branch in the most unlikely place- in a 3-year-old unoccupied space in Robinson’s Mall Carpark in Iloilo.
According to business consultant Butz Bartolome, Sia capitalized on finding the best talents in his community.
“He was oozing with passion and full of confidence. He had a dream in his mind. He put his studies at stake and accepted that fact. He compensated [for his lack of education] by tapping the best in the community,” Bartolome told RAPPLER.
Helping His Local Community
Because of his lack of track record, a number of suppliers turned Sia down while he was still starting up his business. This prompted Sia to scout for suppliers in wet markets as well as cooperatives in his community in Iloilo.
Today, the most famous barbecue chain in the country helps in alleviating the unemployment rate in the Philippines. Utilizing banana leaves sourced from communities in Guimaras Island and bamboo sticks supplied by several cooperatives in Iloilo, Mang Inasal gave endless opportunities to people who helped build the empire.
“He could have sold 100%. He could have lived a lifestyle. But he has learned to give back and share to the community which had returned to him the favor [when he was starting],” Bartolome explained.
“Unli Rice” Captures “Make-or Break” City
After establishing 26 branches in Visayas and Mindanao, Sia finally decided to open his first outlet in the country’s “make-or-break” city Manila in 2006.
So how exactly did Mang Inasal capture the hearts of Metro Manila consumers amidst numerous competitors?
Rice, the staple food for Pinoys, was the answer for Sia.
During a rice shortage in the country in 2006, Sia decided to do the unthinkable and offered the “Unli Rice” promo to Mang Inasal customers. The big move, which was supposed to run for two months, attracted more customers. Today, Mang Inasal is best-known for this promo.
Mang Inasal Soars High
With over 460 stores as of March 2014, Mang Inasal is deemed as one of the largest and fastest-growing food companies in the country.
The restaurant specializing in grilled chicken became so successful that the Philippines’ biggest food company Jollibee Food Corporation decided to buy 70% of the company for a whopping P3 billion in October 2010.