‘Corny’ story behind entrepreneur’s success

Sweet Corner Inc. founders Voltaire and Cholly Magpayo, along with their children

By Roderick T. Dela Cruz
Published online by the Manila Standard, September 14, 2019

A decade ago, Voltaire “Bong” Magpayo did not even have money to go to a dental clinic in Quezon City. When his mother-in-law lent him P500, he met not only the dentist who treated him but also someone who gave him an opportunity to launch his food cart business.

Today, Magpayo, 49, and his wife Cholly own successful food cart chains that employ more than 200 people in different cities. Sweet Corner Inc., the couple’s first food concept, is acknowledged as a model for the inclusive business franchise while Magpayo is a most distinguished alumnus in the field of Entrepreneurship at San Beda University where he obtained his Accounting degree.

The couple, who used to live in his parents’ home, now have their own in a Quezon City subdivision while their three children go to good private schools.

Sweet Corner, which sources all-natural corn from South Cotabato, has 75 food carts in shopping malls and other commercial establishments while Sumo Takoyaki, the couple’s second food concept, has another 75 outlets. They have recently ventured into the bakery business under the brand 12C4 Bread Station which currently has three stores.

His businesses have a profit margin of 30 percent to 40 percent, making them attractive franchise opportunities for others. Magpayo says he does not collect royalties from franchisees as a way to help them quickly recoup their investments.

Magpayo, who also holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Business Economics from the University of Asia and the Pacific, is now a certified franchise executive bestowed by the Philippine Franchise Association and an active mentor of Go-Negosyo Philippine Center of Entrepreneurship.

Magpayo recalls growing up in a middle-income family. His parents are both public school teachers who sent him to San Beda College where he had classmates from wealthy families.

“I did not envy my rich classmates, but it served as an inspiration for me to work harder in life. If you want good things in life, you have to work for it,” Magpayo says in an interview.

“I am resourceful. I always find a way and I always try. Even when I met several failures and cried, I always persevered. I grew up in an ‘old school’ way and was trained to be strong because I am the eldest in the family,” he says.

After graduating from college, he worked for various companies and government agencies. He joined a bank for four years before migrating to General Santos City where he served as a manager of an agribusiness company. “That is where I was exposed to corn farmers because my job involved purchasing corn as a feedstock for the cattle,” he says. “I learned a lot of things in Mindanao.”

His wife Cholly is from South Cotabato which is considered the corn capital of the Philippines. She graduated from the University of San Carlos in Cebu with a degree in BS Administration and worked for a bakeshop chain.


Magpayo moved back to Manila in 2001 and became a business development officer at a government agency. “It was a job order which meant I did not enjoy employment benefits and regular status. When my boss left the government because he was co-terminus with the president, I also lost my job,” Magpayo says.

When he left the government, Magpayo had only P30,000 in savings which he did not want to touch because he was thinking of going to the US for work. Although SM approved his food cart concept, he lacked the money to pay for the security deposit to launch the business.

“I am not religious but I went to Our Lady of Antipolo and asked for a sign if I should go to America or proceed with my food cart concept,” he says.

Magpayo needed P60,000 as security deposit which was more than his total savings. “I also had young children whose studies I needed to support,” he says.


This article is originally published and written by the Manila Standard which can be accessed online at http://www.manilastandard.net/mobile/article/304942

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