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The richest families in Columbia

Colombian billionaires and their families are a very popular discussion topic in the country. Colombia has a long history of gold mining that includes the robbing of the metal from Indian graves, but nowadays the Colombians economy is more diversified. The South American country is rich with natural resources and uses them heavily as its export material. With the exploitation of hydrocarbon fuels and several metals, agricultural production and manufacturing Colombia has managed to built one of the steadiest economies in the region. Like in most South American countries the Private enterprise dominates the economy and the government involvement is limited to railways, petroleum, and telecommunications, while they also support private enterprises in order to steady up the economy even more. Colombia has dealt with inflation and job losses as well, but it was one f the few countries in the regions that didn’t have a debt crisis in the 1980s. The country has been continuously trying to diversify its economy and not to be so focused on the natural resources. Instead, it has been making moves to focus on hydroelectric power development and flood control in recent years. Colombia’s market economy has grown due to good liquidity and the growth of credit and the positive performance of the Columbian economy. The Colombian stock exchange through the Latin American Integrated Market offers a regional market to trade equities and forex brokers have done a good job of establishing themselves on the regional market. This has also affected the number of billionaires in the country. While it must be said that the majority of the billionaires do come from the same family there are some inspiring stories as well. Colombia has 8 billionaires and we’ll tell you their stories, their work and what they did to earn the billionaire status.

richest people in ColombiaWood Staton

  • Age: 69
  • Industry: Fast Food chains
  • Networth: $1.1 billion

Woods Staton got his wealth as Mcdonald’s executive that has dedicated his work life to spreading the Golden Arches across Latin America.  Arcos Dorados, which stands for Golden Arches in Spanish, paid $700 million to Mcdoland’s in order to opera 1,560 restaurants and to get exclusive rights to operate Mcdonald’s in Latin America and the Caribbean. Colombian billionaire resides in Buenos Aires but holds Colombian citizenship so he gets a spot on the list of the richest people in Colombia. He was born n Medellin, Columbia and has been involved in consumer goods his whole life. Staton’s grandfather was the original founder of Panamco which is the largest supplier of bottles for Coca-Cola so Staton does fit the profile of the billionaire that came from already billionaire family.  Staton was heavily involved with Panamco during his early years until branching out to do his own business. He first started working with McDonald’s as a joint venture partner one of the first things he did within the company was open a branch in Argentina, where he lives now. Colombian billionaire founded Arcos Dorados in 2007 when Mcdonald’s decided to sell its operations in Latin America. Staton is the executive Chairman of the Board and controlling shareholder of Arcos Dorados, which to this day is the biggest McDonald’s franchise. The franchise employs 95,000 people across 20 countries in Latin America and has a yearly revenue of almost $4 billion. Now he also focuses on his other company, Endeavor Argentina which promoted entrepreneurship across Latin America, besides that he is also a founding partner of Ashoka Argentina, which focuses more on social entrepreneurship across the world and innovative solutions to common problems.  Staton is passionate about promoting entrepreneurship across the region and encourages youth employment and skills training through IMD Foundation in Lausanne, Switzerland.

wealthiest families in ColombiaJamie Gilinski Bacal

  • Age: 62
  • Industry: Banking
  • Networth: $3.6 billion

The next billionaire on our list got his start in the banking business. Jamie Gilinski Bacal currently lives in London and conducts his business from there but he was born in Columbia and that is where the majority of his formative years passed. Gilinski got his wealth by building one of the largest banking empires in Latin America by various mergers and acquisitions. But part of his wealth also comes from real estate development. While he doesn’t necessarily owe his wealth to his family, his father Isaac Gilinski Sragowicz was also a banker so Jaime did have some examples to follow from the very beginning. He completed hi educations earning a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1978 but later he went on to complete his MBA at Harvard Business School in 1980, and now he has a fellowship at Harvard, together with his wife.  He clearly learned a lot at Harvard since pretty soon after getting back from the states he started working on acquisitions. In 1990, after Bank of Credit and Commerce International collapsed he acquire the Colombian assets, rename them Banco Andino and turned it into one of the most successful banks in the Colombian Banking system in the span of four years. Gilinski sold the bank after it has established itself on the market for a reported $70 million. This was just the beginning of Gilinski’s bank acquisitions. Gilinski family is responsible for the largest privatization in Colombia’s history thanks to their purchase of Banco de Colombia for $365 Million. The family partnered up with likes of Morgan Stanley Asset Management, billionaire George Soros and Tiger Assesment management on this deal. Besides banking, he is also involved in London & Regional Properties. He has developed the Panama Pacifico business and residential development in Panama City.

rich ColombiansCarlos Ardila Lülle

  • Age: 89
  • Industry: Soft Drinks
  • Networth: $2.5 billion

This Colombian entrepreneur is the founder of the Organizacion Ardille Lülle, which is an important conglomerate that controls companies like RCN TV, the Postobon soft drink and the Atletico Nacional football team. He studies civil engineering at the school of Mines at the National University of Colombia and soon after started to get into the soft drinks business as a plant manager for Gaseosas LUX. This is where he met his wife, a daughter of one of the companies owners, Antonio Gaviria. Lülle worked on developing new flavors and promoting them and his big break came in the mid-1950s with the development of new soft drink, flavored with apples-Postbox. This type of soft drink was pretty rare back then and it proved to be a major success for the company and the future Colombian billionaires. The success of this drink and the company, in general, allowed the family to starts slowly branching out and acquired firms like Postobon S.A, the company behind a popular Latin American drink Kola Campaña. The two companies were soon united by the initiative of Lülle and Ardila became the president of Postobon S.A in 1968. The acquisitions became a frequent thing in the company but later on, they branched outside of the soft drinks business. In 1978 he acquired textile company Coltejer, which has remained a leader in the textile sector in Antioquia. later the businessman sold his share in order to found Leona Brewery and in 1996, which was a success. At this point, the Colombian billionaire felt safe enough to acquire Atletico Nacional. Colombian soccer team and he made his brewery, Leona Beer the main sponsor of the team before selling the breweries to Bavaria, a world-famous brewery. Now he is still involved in the soft drinks business and is one of the richest people in Colombia.

richest men in ColombiaAlejandro Santo Domingo

  • Age:  42
  • Industry: Beer
  • Networth: $3.9 billion

Alejandro Santo Domingo is one of the younger billions of the country and acquired much of his wealth thanks to his rich family.  He is a Colombian-American financier and philanthropist. He is the son of Julio Mario Santo Domingo and his second wife, Colombian socialite Beatrice Dávila. Because of his privileged upbringing, he got to go to Harvard University and get a bachelor’s degree in history and overall has stayed withing the business of his family. Alejandro’s career centers around the family’s conglomerate, the Santa Domingo Group. Santa Domingo group has majority stakes in Bavaria Brewery we mentioned earlier, as well as Valores Bavaria, which is a holding company for his non-beer interests. Alejandro Santo Domingo is the chairman of Grupo Empresarial Bavaria S.A a privately owned subsidiary of SABMiller, and Alejandro is the vice-chairman for Latin-America. Besides being so heavily involved in the family business Alejandro tries his best to give back to his community and he is involved in multiple charity organizations. He is the director of Colombia’s, Endeavor which we also mentioned earlier. Enedeavor is an international non-profit development organization that aims to find and support high-impact entrepreneurs. He is a director DKMS Americas, a non-profit organization and the largest bone marrow donor center in the world. DMKS has 3.6 million registered donors and is leading the fight against blood cancer. Even though it’s easy to discard him as one of the many trust fund babies, but he has done a great job at making the most of what he was given. He gives back to his community and maintains a family business with a clean image. He is one of the better examples of people who were born into rich families and made the effort to work hard for what they have.

wealthiest men in ColombiaLuis Carlos Sarmiento

  • Age: 86
  • Industry: Banking
  • Networth: $12.2 billion

Luis Carlos Sarmiento is a Colombian billionaire who got his wealth by investing the gains from his construction industry and investing it in banks. He is not the first billionaire to get on the list by working in the banking industry and the whole sphere seems to be one of the most profitable in Colombia. His rise to prominence began in the 1950s when Sarmiento got involved with residential and commercial developments. Sarmiento managed to build a name for himself in this industry and made a substantial amount of money as well. After Sarmiento felt more secure in his career he started an acquisition campaign that would soon elevate him into billionaire status. The acquisition process went on for decades, with the Sarmiento focusing on mostly banks and financial service companies. This venture turned out to be extremely successful for the Colombian businessman and by 2000 he was already acknowledged as Colombia’s top mogul that was holding an estimated 22% of the local banking assets. the percentage that was close to the maximum amount allowed by law.  After the acquisition campaign paid off, the Colombian billionaire founded Grupo Aval, a holding company that would gather his banking, telecommunications, and real estate interests. He is one of the first successful entrepreneurs of the country and is well known in Colombia for his conservative management style. His approach is what got him to the billionaire status and unlike many people on this list he did not start out from the family of a billionaire. Sarminetos approach is what got his holdings to survive the worst recession in Columbia’s history and the Grupo Aval managed to bounce back soon enough.

wealthiest families of ColombiaAndres Santo Domingo

  • Age: 41
  • Industry: Beer
  • Networth: $3.9 billion

It seems like Colombian billionaires either get their money form banking or from the beer industry. The next person on our list is no exception. Andres Santo Domino just like most billionaires got to his privileged position because of his family and their business. He has lived a pretty similar life to his brother, Alejandro Domingo, whom we talked about already. He graduated from the Hotchkiss School and got his bachelor’s degree in and studies at the elite University in the united states, getting his degree from Brown University. Andres Domingo inherited a part of his father’s Julio Mario’s multi-billionaire dollar stake in the beer company SABMiller. He got his shares in the company the years his father passed away, in 2011 and a lot of what he inherited went in Anheuser-Busch InBev, because of the $100 acquisition of 2016 when the Anheuser acquired SABMiller.  Even though he sits on the board meetings at Anheuser, Andres has a variety of other interests that he attends to in his time away from the management. Despite living the life of luxury, Andres always loved music so he ended up cofounding the vinyl-loving, rock-oriented record label Kemado Record in 2002, which is now called the Kemado Media Group. Despite that, Santa Domingo also sits on the boards of Conservation International and the New York Public Library, which is his way of being more involved in his American community. Even though he is of Colombian heritage he has grown up and lived in the US for a long time and lives in New York to this day. His nephew and niece, Julio Mario III and Tatian Casiraghi are also Colombian billionaires. Santo Domingos are dominating this list and we will discuss the other members of the family in more detail below.

wealthiest man in ColombiaJulio Carlos Santo Domingo

  • Age: 34
  • Industry: Beer
  • Networth: $1.9 billion

One of the youngest billionaires and probably the most eccentric one on the list is the bachelor of the Santo Domingo family. Like his other family members comes from the Colombian family but is an U.S citizen. He is part of the beer industry that his family runs but he turned out to be the least interested in thsi business, also probably because of his young age. Julio Mario Santo Domingo is a famous DJ in New York City for the group Sheik ‘N’ Beik and is probably least conservative one of the family.  He got his degree in architecture from Boston University but clearly he has chosen a different path for himself since now DJ music festivals is his primary job. Considering he and his family are considered royalty in Colombia and basically everywhere else too he didn’t have much to worry about. Currently, he DJs live events like the Electric Zoo and Electronic Beach Festival in Belgium and has made a name for himself outside of his family business. Julio is definitely the odd one in the family but it seems to be working out for him so far.

Tatiana Santo Domingo-CasiraghiTatiana Santo Domingo-Casiraghi

  • Age:36
  • Industry: Beer
  • Networth: $1.8 billion

The last person from the Domingo family that we will discuss today has lived quite a life. Despite being the part of one of the most influential families in the world she has also managed to become a part of another wildly influential family. She married Andrea Casiraghi, who is the fourth in line of succession to the Monegasque throne. The granddaughter of Julio Santo Dimongo was born in New York and raised in Geneva Switzerland and Paris France. Even though she is technically not a Columbian Citizen we still felt that she needed to be on the list as the prominent and the only female member billionaire in the Santo Domingo Family. Tatiana takes up after her mother, who was a Brazilian socialite from São Paulo, who has a boutique in Paris. Tatiana was once very involved in the fashion industry and has interned for Vanity Fair magazine in New York City and has worked with the fashion label, Alberta Ferretti. She mostly deals with the family business by maintaining different charity organizations that were set up by her family members and of course attends to her status as a royal.  Tatiana married  Casiraghi in a civil ceremony in the Princely Palace of Monaco on August 31, 2013. They have two kids together. She speaks Spanish, French, English, Portuguese and Italian and which makes her status as a royal socialite even more appropriate. She is known for her unique sense of style and friend with other famous socialites. She definitely took a different route and used her wealth differently than the rest of her family but she seems to be fitting right in with the Monaco Royalty and has managed to establish herself as a fashionable, philanthropic and cultural socialite, which is still more than most people can say for themselves.




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