Trio of KSU sisters to speak at U.N. youth leadership forum
KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct 4, 2017) — Sisters Karen, Daniela and Stephanie Carvajalino have been entrepreneurs ever since they started their first business as elementary schoolchildren. Among all their business ventures, the one they consider most important is teaching others how to succeed.
The Carvajalino sisters – one current Kennesaw State student and two KSU alums – will share their passion for social entrepreneurship this week when they speak in Bogota, Colombia at One Young World, a global conference sponsored by the United Nations to encourage young leaders to create positive change. Speaking to an audience of 18- to 30-year-olds, the Carvajalinos will outline their vision for economic and social development through education based on practical skills, entrepreneurship and technology.
“This opportunity is a dream come true. It’s amazing,” said Stephanie, a Kennesaw State junior majoring in professional sales. “We saw all the huge personalities who have spoken there before, and I thought, ‘I’m going to be there.’ I can’t believe it.”
Stephanie, Daniela and Karen were just 6, 7 and 8 years old when they went into business making chocolates and selling them around their neighborhood. A few years later, they wrote a book, Parents & Coaches, a guide for parents to help develop their children’s talents and maximize their potential.
Along the way, the Carvajalinos became speakers and promoters of entrepreneurship as a life-changing option for young people. It began with their first speaking engagement, to a university audience just a year after the sisters started their chocolates business.
“I was 7 years old and the people in front of me were three times my age, but they felt motivated by what I was saying,” Stephanie said. “That day I realized that, if I could impact somebody else’s life and give hope to them, then I could create a huge impact in the world.”
The eldest sister, Karen, earned a scholarship to Kennesaw State and graduated in 2014 with a degree in psychology and statistics. Her two sisters followed her to KSU and became Coles Scholars – the top students in the Michael J. Coles College of Business – and Daniela received a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance last year.
“The Carvajalino sisters epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit and mindset that is a strength of Kennesaw State,” said Stacy Campbell, a management professor and executive director of the Coles Scholars Program. “I can't wait to see where their paths take them next.”
The Carvajalinos’ latest endeavor is Biz Nation, an online learning platform that teaches marketable skills, entrepreneurship and financial education. The key to Biz Nation, according to Stephanie, is its methodology to help people identify traits such as their learning styles, their strengths and the best types of business for them to establish.
“We believe that if we provide people a productive education and transform their mindsets, they will be able to add an economic and social impact in their communities,” Stephanie said. “For that reason, we use 15 percent of our revenue to fund Biz Nation programs in low-income communities in Latin America.”
In their typical entrepreneurial style, the Carvajalino sisters each secured a sponsorship to attend the One Young World forum: from the Coles College of Business for Stephanie, from Kennesaw State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences for Karen, and from the Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce for Daniela.
“The Carvajalino sisters are so full of life, energy and hope,” Coles College Dean Kathy Schwaig said. “They use their experiences and education to inspire others and to impact their community for good. I could not be more proud of them.”
Along with being Coles Scholars, Daniela and Stephanie have participated in the annual KSU Top 100 entrepreneurship competition – with Daniela named a finalist last year for her proposal of Cookies and Cookies, a laboratory-themed cookie shop where customers create their own experiments by mixing different delicacies. Daniela and Stephanie have made an indelible mark in the Coles College, just as Karen did in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
“Karen was a once-in-a-career student, a fearless scholar and energetic organizer,” said Tim Martin, an associate professor of psychology. “I am not surprised at all to learn that she and her sisters are on the forefront of what could be a transformative wave of education.”
– Paul Floeckher
Photos by Lauren Kress