In the field with Coronilla
The Coronilla family

In the field with Coronilla

How can a family business radically reposition itself into a global health food player without losing the family culture and its values in the process?
8 min.
October 2018
At a glance

Coronilla is one of the world’s premier producers of gluten-free pastas and snacks. It was a pioneer in using quinoa, a grain cultivated in the Andes mountains since the time of the Inca Empire, in health foods designed for people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease.

The road to success has been full of twists and turns for this South American family business, however. Coronilla underwent several transformations to survive the economic and political turbulence of its home country of Bolivia. Its most dramatic shift has been reinventing itself as a purpose-driven, Fair Trade producer that puts social and environmental issues at the heart of its endeavors.

The broader issue

There are both advantages and disadvantages to being a family business. On the plus side, family businesses are more likely to embrace a long-term vision of success. They are more financially conservative and therefore better able to weather the booms and busts of economic cycles. On the minus side, they must contend with the intricacies of three overlapping areas: family, business and ownership. They must also balance the harmony-seeking interests of the family with the market’s performance-based demands. For the founder, this is a simple matter since the entrepreneur makes all the decisions. However, as the second and third generations of the family take the reins of the business, a more sophisticated governance must be put in place. Families must engage in frank and open discussions over the fundamental values of the company if they wish to replicate and preserve its DNA for the future. Over time, we see a varied typology of shareholders emerge: some family members remain actively engaged in running the business, some are interested and involved shareholders, and some see it merely as a source of dividends.


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