Venezuelan businessman Gustavo Cisneros ’68, H’19 and his family received the Babson-Camus Global Family Entrepreneurship Award this week at a Miami event that was as much about celebrating Cisneros’ commitment to the future as it was about the family’s successful history.
Born out of a Venezuelan company delivering big-name items such as Pepsi across the country, CISNEROS is now a global powerhouse that continues to expand its economic and social value.
“Thank you to Babson and Camus for recognizing my family’s commitment to our values and driving impact, both in our businesses and through our founding programs,” Cisneros said.
Those programs, established by him and his wife, Patricia Phelps, are part of Fundación Cisneros, a private nonprofit institution committed to improving education in Latin America while increasing international awareness of the region’s contributions in the global cultural arena.
The Cisneros family’s commitment to improving the world for future generations is a perfect example of why Cyril Camus ’91 and the Bertarelli Institute for Family Entrepreneurship at Babson College created the Babson-Camus Global Family Entrepreneurship Award.
“Gustavo and his family have embodied the spirit of family entrepreneurship, passing down the legacy of business philanthropy from generation to generation,” said Camus, a fifth-generation leader of CAMUS Cognac.
Improving the World
Cisneros and his family are the second recipients of the Babson-Camus Family Entrepreneurship Award, after Ernesto Bertarelli ’89 and his family were honored last year. Presenter Camus, who also is a Babson trustee and chair of Babson’s Global Advisory Board, was joined by President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD and Lauri Union, the Nulsen Family Executive Director of Babson’s Bertarelli Institute for Family Entrepreneurship, for the award presentation Monday at the Miami Ritz Carlton South Beach Bal Harbor. Cisneros was accompanied by his wife; his daughter Adriana, executive director of the business group since 2013; and other members of his family.
“This year’s award is being presented to an entrepreneurial family that has developed a highly distinguished and impactful business that will create social and economic value for generations to come,” Spinelli said.
That’s where the Fundación Cisneros comes in. The private nonprofit can use resources from the Cisneros family’s company to fortify communities, promote freedom of speech, encourage economic development, and foster cross-cultural understanding. For example, the foundation helped finalize Patricia Phelps’ donation of 148 works of modern art from Latin America to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2016.
“Through this award, we hope to inspire entrepreneurial families throughout the world,” Spinelli said.
Generations to Come
Cisneros’ company started with his father, Diego, in 1933, and it has since changed leadership twice as new generations have expanded and strengthened the family business.
The privately held company was delivering all of Venezuela’s Pepsi and providing entertainment platforms of all types across Latin America when Cisneros took over in 1970 at the age of 26. Under his guidance, the company has gone global and expanded into three divisions.
Cisneros Interactive is the leading digital advertising company in Latin America, representing brands such as Facebook and LinkedIn, while Cisneros Media delivers entertainment across the world, with 50 million subscribers across the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain. Cisneros Real Estate is responsible for the Tropicalia, a sustainable luxury resort on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic and for the strategic positioning of the rest of the company’s real estate.
Cisneros’ daughter, Adriana Cisneros, began leading the company in 2013, and while the family takes pride in the company’s economic success, they take just as much pride in the fact that they successfully transitioned through three generations of family leaders.
“This award and its recipient align with Babson College’s mission and focus,” Union said. “The mission is amplifying the capacity of entrepreneurial families to create value together through stronger family relationships.”
Considering that entrepreneurial families contribute approximately 70 percent of the global GDP, added Union, “means these families are perhaps the greatest force for the creation of economic and social value on the planet.”
Union added that the thought leadership and values of the Cisneros family exemplify the Bertarelli Institute’s mission to “amplify the capacity of entrepreneurial families to create value together through stronger family relationships.”
Recent data from the U.S. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report released this month by Babson shows that more than 40% of entrepreneurs are motivated by their desire to continue a family tradition.
Tradition is certainly a big factor for Camus, who is the fifth-generation leader of CAMUS Cognac, an independent cognac company founded in 1863. It’s a part of the criteria for the annual Babson-Camus Global Family Entrepreneurship Award, along with demonstrating values-based entrepreneurship and driving both economic and social impact.
Economic and social impact is something the Cisneros family has demonstrated in many ways.
“Their entrepreneurial spirit knows no bounds,” Camus said, “as their ventures and impact cross borders, bridging continents.”
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