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Colombia’s Carvajal wins 2022 IMD Global Family Business Award

The broad-based and dynamic family enterprise, which began life as a commercial printing firm, impressed the independent award jury with its strong focus on good governance, next generation development, sustainability, and social impact.
September 2022
Colombia’s Carvajal wins 2022 IMD Global Family Business Award - IMD Business School

Carvajal, a leading diversified, family-owned Colombia-based company, has been selected as the winner of the 2022 IMD Global Family Business Award.

Established in 1904 by Manuel Carvajal Valencia and his sons Alberto and Hernando in Cali, Colombia, Carvajal has grown from a printing business into a complex and successful Latin American holding company with a broad footprint covering the paper and packaging, technology, and real estate industries.

The prestigious IMD award, which has been recognizing and showcasing the work of best-in-class family businesses since 1996, provides a neutral platform for the analysis of the evolving and vital role of family-owned enterprises in the global economy as well as the exchange of best practices to drive enhancements in the field.

Swiss watch and jewelry maker Chopard has crafted the award trophy since 1999, while the Family Business Network hosts the annual award ceremony at its annual Global Summit. This year’s 31st edition of the summit is taking place for the first time in Central Europe, in Budapest, co-hosted by FBN Hungarian chapter.

The independent award jury of family business experts and previous award winners praised Carvajal for its dynamism and agility over several generations, its high standards of governance, its efforts to develop future generations of family members, and its purpose-driven focus on finding sustainable solutions as well as its social and corporate responsibility.

“IMD is committed to supporting, promoting, and enabling responsible leadership in business, and Carvajal is a great example of a well-governed family enterprise that actually lives its purpose to ‘do things right’,” said IMD President and Nestlé Professor Jean-François Manzoni. “As such, Carvajal is a very fitting winner of the IMD Global Family Business Award, and we hope that many other family-owned firms will now take the opportunity to analyze its best practices and be inspired to further enhance their own approaches to doing business.”

The award jury was particularly impressed with Carvajal’s robust and rigorous governance structures, which included a family council meeting every two weeks, a thoughtful separation of powers between the business and family, and its detailed, responsive family governance protocols. For example, an external recruiter is employed to select board member candidates from within the family – and when the CEO role recently reverted to the family, the role of chair was outsourced to a non-family professional.

At the same time, Carvajal has a proven track record in successfully managing the tricky phase of succession through the age-appropriate development and onboarding of next generation family members into its enterprise system. As the family welcomes its sixth generation, Carvajal continues to broaden its next generation development with programs focused on entrepreneurship, governance, and children’s activities.

“We are humbled by this award,” said Carvajal CEO Pedro Carvajal. “Being recognized by IMD encourages us to keep building a lasting family-owned company in the direction that we have been following since its foundation. It also makes us very proud of our progress and conscious about the challenges we must face and overcome as a family in the upcoming years. As a family, we feel united by this award.”

While perhaps traditionally best known as the producer of Yellow Pages telephone directories, Carvajal has reinvented itself over the years to blossom into innovative areas such as sustainable food packaging through its Bioform brand and producing the only Colombian-made packaging materials sourced from sugar cane bagasse, alongside information exchange solutions and workspace furnishings. It employs around 17,000 people across 10 countries across Latin America.

Beyond the inner workings of, and family involvement in, its business, the jury said Carvajal had a well-established record of making a positive impact in its community, where it enjoys an excellent reputation. This includes the embedding of sustainable practices and ESG standards across its value chain, as well as well-structured philanthropic activities through its foundation and the Propal Foundation. In 1960, the Carvajal Family donated 23% of its shares in the company to fund the Carvajal Foundation. The Carvajal Foundation has since been a reference in the philanthropic world, leading impactful initiatives in education and income generation.

“We would like to congratulate the Carvajal family and all of the group’s employees on deservedly winning this year’s award,” said Professor Peter Vogel, Director of the IMD Global Family Business Center and the IMD Global Family Business Award. “Successful family enterprises require a careful balance of good governance, next generation onboarding, innovation, and responsible business practices with a strong purpose. Carvajal continues to tick all of these boxes and many more, and has managed to navigate through turbulent times through resilience and courageous renewal. We look forward to following its journey as it continues to build on an impressive legacy of more than 100 years in business.”

About the IMD Global Family Business Award

The IMD Global Family Business Award was created in 1996. The aim of the award, which provides a unique platform for sharing best practices and analyzing the economic backdrop, is to promote family businesses by highlighting the exceptionally high standards they are capable of and the many forms they may take.

About the award partners

In 1999, the Scheufele Family from Chopard joined forces with IMD and has since contributed the beautifully crafted trophy. The Family Business Network (FBN) continues to provide the perfect platform to celebrate the worthy winners.