How the Carvajalino sisters conquered Cartagena

By January 25, 2018

The hustle on the Colombian coast is front and center wherever you go from an arepa de huevo on the beach to chocolates on the bus and the Carvajalino sisters are no exception. Raised amongst the ochre coloured houses of Barranquilla and Cartagena.

In their book, “Parents and Coaches: Unleash your Children’s Inner Entrepreneur” the sisters explain how to not only be parents but your children’s life coaches as well.

“Our parents supported and guided us to achieve the most that we could, we’re three different sisters with different strengths and they were a fundamental aspect that not everyone has,” says Daniela, the middle sister.

The book hones in on how to use Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) to achieve this life coach role. Armed with Master Practitioner and Trainer certifications from one of the creators of the method, Richard Bandler, along with 10 years of research and experience they break it all down for readers. The sisters also know the positive effects of these methods first and as their father, a master NLP trainer-practitioner used the method while raising them, and well, look at them now.

If you don’t already know about the Carvajalino sisters, after a quick google search and a peek at their website you’ll feel like you should, given that they were selected by Barack Obama to present their educational program, the Biz Nation, at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley. They have played a huge role in establishing Cartagena’s startup scene.

They started their first business at the ages of 6,7, and 8 selling chocolates, naming their brand Chococar,  “For us it was a game that with the guidance and support from our parents turned into our life mission,” shares Daniela

The Chococar venture eventually evolved into what would  become one of CNBC’s 2016 hottest startups, the Cookies & Cookies laboratory, where people can perfect their own secret recipe and of course order delicious cookies.

Now, the sisters’ latest venture Biz Nation, part of the project along with 28 other startups, is in swing. The platform aims to educate and empower people from all corners of Latin America to start their own ventures with applicable knowledge in technology skills, entrepreneurship, and finance. Courses are in Spanish and include Java, Six Sigma Applications, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation. They started in their home-base of Cartagena but have participants from countries including Mexico, Uruguay, and Argentina.

“In September 2018 we are super excited to offer classes in English, one of the main goals for our office in Atlanta,” Daniela shares.

Karen, the oldest sister, has served as president of Gen E, the group Cartagena entrepreneurs that started as a small WhatsApp group in 2016 and has now grown into a supportive network that puts together and participates in events such as pitch nights with other entrepreneurial ventures such as VamosA.

Their next event will be in Atlanta on March 18th as well as events in Hong Kong (April 24) and Guayaquil, Ecuador on July 14th.

Daniela reflects on how they hope to continue to inspire in their home region, “To me, Cartagena has many opportunities in Colombia. We are working everyday to help more people in the city develop that special lens to detect them, and the unique mindset to make the most out of them.”

Given the amount of talent the sisters have injected into the entrepreneurial environment, it’s clear that Cartagena will continue to grow not just as a tourist stop, but a location for entrepreneurship and innovation as well.


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