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The Master in Entrepreneurship

Anywhere you go in the Philippines, you're bound to find one—an inviting, bright-green kiosk, with a smiling spud next to the now-familiar name: Potato Corner. What started as a food cart business has, well, remained very much a food cart business. For over twenty-six years, this particular food cart has become the top-of-mind entry point for budding entrepreneurs and has seen its business expand in the Philippines and abroad.

At the helm of this ship is Jose P. Magsaysay, or JoMag to close friends and colleagues. Magsaysay’s humble dream came out of necessity–he wanted to start a food cart business that would provide for his growing family. It's a dream shared by many, and through his singular vision, leadership, and generosity, Magsaysay has empowered thousands of Filipinos to fulfill the same dream for themselves.

Today, Potato Corner has over 1,100 stores in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Australia, Panama, and the United States.

Why ME

When Magsaysay became General Manager of Mister Donut in 1999 and expanded its stores from 250 to 800 in the span of two years, the company had him enroll in a Masters course at the Asian Institute of Management, of which his boss, Jess Montemayor (MBM 1978), was a graduate. They had initially wanted him to take up Business Administration, but Magsaysay opted for a Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship instead.

"Kaya ME, hindi kailangang graduate ka at the time. Basta may experience ka lang," Magsaysay says. [I chose ME because, at the time, you need not be a college graduate. As long as you have experience.] Before enrolling at AIM, Magsaysay describes himself as a diamond in the rough. "The ME program polished me."

Around the time Magsaysay was at AIM, business was flagging at Potato Corner. The 1997 Asian financial crisis hit the company hard and kiosks started closing down. By the tail end of the crisis, from 120 stores, only 40 remained. More difficult still, the company's then-managing partner, Danny Bermejo, passed away.

Because of this, Magsaysay shifted the focus of his AIM lab subject from Mister Donut to a five-year multi-business plan for Potato Corner. “I wanted to go back and grow the company again," Magsaysay explains. "Otherwise, sayang naman, e. [Otherwise, what a waste.] So what I did was I showed my business plan to my partners in Potato Corner. I asked if I could run [the company] again. They said, ‘Go ahead.’"

Upon Magsaysay's return to Potato Corner, they consulted with franchising leader Francorp. He also recruited AIM mentors to sit on Potato Corner's board, namely Danny Antonio (MBM 1978) and Andy Ferreria (MBM 1972).

These changes marked the start of another period of growth for the company. By 2002, franchisees began to return to Potato Corner. In 2006, the company established its first store abroad, in Indonesia. In 2007, they surpassed the 120-store record they had set in 1997. Potato Corner continued to expand abroad, opening stores in the US, Australia, and Thailand. In 2017, Potato Corner International officially launched to cater to continued growth overseas.

Despite the company's success both here and abroad, Magsaysay does not depend solely on international benchmarks, which he sees is becoming more common with competitors.

"At Potato Corner, we create our own benchmarks. We created a blank canvas and we're just designing our own franchise systems, our own way of running the business," says Magsaysay.

“I wouldn't have been able to be bold enough to do that without the ME program. The program gave me a lot of confidence to do what I had to do. ME teaches you to be the conductor of the orchestra."

A Legacy of Generosity

Magsaysay has an innate generosity that he applies in all his business dealings. It gives him the vision to see potential anywhere and in anyone. This is apparent in the expansion of his business and the diverse community of people to whom he's offered opportunities. It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from, if you have grit, you will find an ally in him. He will assure you that you could chase your goals and he will support you to achieve it.

That support manifests in the form of valuable mentorship. For Magsaysay, mentorship and passing on the lessons he’s learned are every bit as important as the financial aspects of his partnership. Employees and business partners speak highly of Magsaysay's mentorship and magnanimity, recounting offers to support their entrepreneurial ventures, provide formal education to budding business owners, invest in new enterprises, and give valuable and practical advice.

Of all his achievements as an entrepreneur, it is this legacy of generosity that makes him stand head and shoulders above the rest.


Jose Magsaysay, Jr., ME 2001 was conferred the AIM Alumni Achievement Award or Triple A in 2019. The Triple A Award is the highest recognition given by the Asian Institute of Management to its outstanding alumni. Magsaysay was the first ME graduate to receive the Triple A.

By Jennifer Jalandoni, BMP
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