Back to Her Roots

Back to Her Roots


CEO and OFW advocate Krizzia Ann Loyang Tanabe goes full circle as she helps pave the way towards the new normal 

The road to empowerment and success goes back to one’s own roots. Despite all her success and achievements, Krizzia Ann Loyang Tanabe never loses sight of her humble beginnings. In fact, she uses the experience and the precious learnings she picked up, to help steer, not only her future, but that of her nation’s. 

Born in Barangay Geratag in San Jose, Northern Samar, Krizzia was left in the care of her grandparents while her mother worked overseas. Life was difficult in their province, with Krizzia’s grandfather eking out a living by farming copra, earning around twenty pesos a day—far from what the little family needed. This taught Krizzia the importance of shared responsibilities and family at a young age. Clad in slippers, the young girl would help her grandmother augment their father’s meager earnings by selling snacks and cigarettes out in the fields, all while studying in her barangay’s public school. Despite their best efforts, their daily meals often consisted of dried fish and instant noodles. 

But Krizzia didn’t let her circumstances deter her from dreaming big and working hard. “Those difficulties inspired me to change my circumstances. I studied very hard in school; every recognition day, my grandmother, whom I called Inay, would dress up and proudly go up the stage to pin my medals,” Krizzia recalls. “I loved seeing that gleam of pride in her eyes,” she adds lovingly.

Unfortunately, Krizzia soon encountered an obstacle after high school. “My grandparents told me that they could not afford to send me to college. I did not want to stop because I had such big dreams, one of which was to help my family out of poverty.” 

In pursuit of a higher academic achievement, she was able to get a scholarship at the University of Makati, while helping out with the household chores of a relative in exchange for room and board. She also took on a part time job at fast-food chain Jollibee, and eventually, Nuvo, an upscale restaurant in Makati City and at Resorts World Manila. She spread her wings further as soon as she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication, working as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Singapore for an F&B company that specialized in fine wines. “I left with the thinking that those in our barrio who had nice homes were families of OFWs. I wanted to have the same,” she smiles. 

Two years later, she decided to come home. “I wanted to be with my grandparents because I felt that they were growing older and needed me here,” she explained. With that mindset, she made use of her experience and took out a bank loan to franchise a food cart business.

Entrepreneurial mindset

In the course of running her franchised business, Krizzia felt that she could do more, especially with her F&B background. This prompted her to put up her own food business, Commissary Kitchen, which later transformed into a food caravan concept, eventually growing into the iFranchise Business Services Corporation. From food outlets such as Juice Station, Coffee Spot, BBQ Break, Pinoy Stations, and Shawarma Stop, the business branched out into other industries like iPharma Mart for convenience stores and pharmacies, iFarm Hotels and Resort in the hospitality industry, and iFuel for gasoline stations—which was borne out of compassion and love for her country men and women. “iFuel was born of my desire to help with the rebuilding efforts in Marawi City after its siege in 2017. We wanted to make fuel easily accessible to the residents as they tried to recover from the tragic event,” she shares. 

With her innovative franchising option for iFuel, it quickly caught on with investors who started franchising the business and bringing it to different provinces. For the first quarter of 2022, she has already opened 15 iFuel branches nationwide. 

The woman leader, who was recently recognized as one of the World’s Most Influential Women to Look Out For in 2022 by the United Arab Emirate-based Prodigy Global Network (PGN), says she took the challenge to be in a male-dominated industry head-on. “People saw how dedicated and passionate I was with what I am trying to achieve despite my age and gender. As a true Waraynon, I never back down from a challenge, kilala kaming matapang,” she proudly says of her cultural heritage.

Pandemic-proof Businesses

Her latest business blueprints are designed with the pandemic situation in mind and with a core mission of helping others. Such endeavors include Wendeli, a line of processed meat products, was conceptualized with iFuel ambassador and friend Wendell Ramos. They were looking at ways to help those who lost their livelihood because of the lockdowns, and one of their options was to offer distributorship of their affordable breakfast staples such as tapa and tocino. “We have even piloted a program under our iGive Foundation, where the families of our tricycle and jeepney drivers can become Wendeli distributors without any investment. This means that while the drivers can save with our lower fuel prices, their families can also add to the income through selling our frozen goods.” Her iFuel branches have also started harnessing the power of solar to ensure that calamities, such as the floods that hit Cebu, will not hinder their services.  

With iPharma Mart, she seeks to address the problem that arose during the height of the pandemic where people did not have access to medicine. “We are offering our iPharma Mart franchise to serve those areas that are not reached by the big drugstore chains. Through this, more communities will have access to safe and quality medication.” 

Her newest brainchild, the iFarm concept, is very close to her heart as it brings her back to her roots as a farmer’s granddaughter. “When we were all locked down, I felt so restricted by city living. I wanted to have a place to bring my daughter where she can experience fresh air and wide-open spaces. Then, I thought about the other families that wanted the same thing. Luckily, we were able to find this property in Alfonso, Cavite. We are in the early stages of development, and we are so excited to offer its accommodations and amenities for our kababayans.” 

Extravagant Balinese-style villas, a flower and butterfly garden, swimming pools, an honest-to-goodness cascading waterfall, and an organic farm are built for luxuriant relaxation among the wonders of nature. “I want to teach the young generation to appreciate agriculture. At iFarm, they can see how hard our farmers work, as my grandparents did, to put food on our tables,” Krizzia says. “This is my homage to farmers and my tribute to my grandmother who passed away last year.” 

A Heart for Helping  

Her iGive Foundation was launched at around the same time she started her business, since she has always been active in helping others through outreach programs. This drive was intensified during calamities such as the Taal Volcano eruption, typhoons like the recent Typhoon Odette devastation, and the pandemic situation. “I felt that we really have a role in extending help to our fellow Filipinos. This is our way of giving back to the communities and supporting their immediate needs.” 

Another aspect in which Krizzia has gone full circle is her advocacy of OFWs. She experienced first-hand the sacrifices that these modern heroes have to make in order to support their families’ dreams. Her efforts have led her to be part of the OFW Family Party-List. “Among other things, my programs will fall under employment and entrepreneurship. At the start of the pandemic, many OFWs had to return home; many without adequate savings from their years of working abroad,” she says. “I want to help them have a business of their own so that their investments are working for them and they can come home sooner to be with their loved ones. I am also supporting skills training, so more Filipinos can work abroad with higher pay.”

Because of her own story, she is determined to help and empower others in the same circumstances. “Being someone who came from a very challenging life, I want to help more Filipinos have better lives. My background has taught me that hard work and faith in God can help you through your difficulties. I want to continue breaking barriers so that more Filipinos can break away from poverty.”

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