RELEASE DATE: 25 Apr, 2018

EDITORIAL BY Caroline Risacher

According to the 2017 Global Innovation Index, Bolivia ranks 106th (Switzerland ranks 1st), making it the last South American country to appear on the list. This index, elaborated jointly by Cornell University, the INSEAD Business School and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, looks at 130 world economies taking into account a dozen parameters such as government expenditures in education and research-and-development investment. Bolivia ranking low on the list can be viewed as demoralising, but it also means that there is only progress to be made. One need only to look around to see the country’s potential.

I mentioned in last month’s editorial how a mentality of mediocrity can hold back both people and nations. A painful history of colonisation, dictatorship and inequality has impeded growth and, until now, hindered innovation. But this is changing. In this issue of Bolivian Express, we have selected 12 innovators, each with an idea and a vision, each thriving to create a new future for Bolivia. Twelve people, all very different, but who have in common the same underlying, indeniable and unwavering passion – a zeal for their work fueled by a profound love for their country.

Included are some that have adopted and embraced Bolivia. Based in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Guido Mühr brought German brewing techniques to Bolivia and created Prost, a new but already very popular beer. From Slovenia, Ejti Stih watched her home country splinter during the Yugoslav Wars and now paints politically-charged art. Stih’s message is brutal – her last series graphically depicts abortion – but only because she wants to be a voice for social change. She is not alone in this: Film director Denisse Arancibia delivers in her movies light-hearted fun with an added layer of provocative social commentary.

Bolivian products are starting to shine; the country has much to offer in diversity and quality. Sebastian Quiroga, head chef of vegan gourmet restaurant Ali Pacha, showcases this in his dishes and the products he uses. And another underappreciated resource that is just beginning to stand out is the coffee from Los Yungas. Mauricio Diez de Medina, coffee enthusiast, is setting out to transform the Bolivian coffee industry. Paul ‘Pituko’ Jove, another entrepreneur we chose to highlight this month, is by day the owner of the vegetarian restaurant Namaste and by night a DJ working on consolidating the electronic music scene in La Paz.

This month, we look at the innovators, entrepreneurs and influencers who are taking Bolivia and Latin America to the next level. There is fashion designer Ericka Suárez Weise and leather-goods creator Bernardo Bonilla, two upcoming talents in Bolivia’s creative scene. But ultimately, education is the key to encourage innovation and improve social conditions. Daniella García, CEO of the Elemental technological school, understands this and wants to empower Bolivian children to embrace and learn how to use technology.

These changes wouldn’t be possible without the influence and impact of Bolivian legends Ernesto Cavour and Matilde Casazola, artists who keep new generations motivated with melodies and words that still resonate today. Here we present you 12 profiles, 12 passions and 12 ways to be inspired.


Grabbing Bolivian Cinema by the balls

26 Apr, 2018 | Chauncey Crail

Photo: Iván RodriguezDenisse Arancibia Flores, Director and Star of Las Malcogidas‘In Bolivia, there is no film industry,’ says Denisse Arancibia Flores, director of the 2016 Bolivian musical-comedy f...

Daniella García Moreno’s Elemental School

26 Apr, 2018 | Caroline Risacher

Photo: Iván RodriguezThe young entrepreneur is providing science and technology education to Bolivia’s new generationHow can you make a car go from point A to point B using only the power of the wind?...

The Universe of Plants

26 Apr, 2018 | Caroline Risacher

Photo: Iván RodriguezSebastian Quiroga’s gourmet meat-free missionOn the corner of Calles Potosí and Colón in the bustling, chaotic centre of La Paz, tucked between two chicken restaurants, almost out...

The evolution of NamasTé

26 Apr, 2018 | Sophia Vahdati

Photo: Iván RodriguezHealthy living by day, electronic fiesta by nightPaul Jove’s soft, measured voice rises over trance-like music as he explains the origin of the psychedelic artwork adorning the ba...

Matilde Casazola

26 Apr, 2018 | Adriana Murillo

Photo: Adriana MurilloThe voice of Bolivia’s poetic songUpon opening the green gate of a house in the centre of Sucre, I was overcome by a sense of tranquillity when I saw the kind face of Matilde Cas...

La Paz Welcomes the Masters of Wine

26 Apr, 2018 | Carlos Moreira Ascarrunz/Tourism Development Agency ‘La Paz Maravillosa’

Images: Tourism Development Agency ‘La Paz Maravillosa’Wine, food and tradition on high for the best sommeliers in the worldThere are only around 390 sommeliers in the world accredited by the prestigi...

Coffee in the Veins

26 Apr, 2018 | Sophia Vahdati

Photo: Iván RodriguezTalking coffee with Mauricio Diez de Medina, the owner of Roaster coffee shopOver the past decade, the Bolivian coffee industry has transformed thanks to a dedicated group of infl...

Ejti Stih, Painting in Blood

26 Apr, 2018 | Mathew Grace

Photo: Iván RodriguezA tendentious exhibition from the cruceña artist looks at abortionThe red-tinged brick Santa Cruz Cathedral towers above the city’s central square, the Plaza Principal 24 de Septi...

Bolivian Couture

26 Apr, 2018 | Mathew Grace

Photo: Iván RodriguezA young designer is finding success in the country, and on the Hollywood red carpetIn the Equipetrol district of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, nestled amongst apartment towers and chic...

German Beer Lands in Bolivia

26 Apr, 2018 | Mathew Grace

Photo: Courtesy of ProstBrewmaster Guido Mühr’s motto: ‘Cerveza alemana hecha en Bolivia’Formerly dominated by domestic brew behemoths Paceña and Huari, Bolivia is experiencing a beer renaissance as o...


26 Apr, 2018 | Rodrigo Barrenechea

Photo: Iván RodriguezHandcrafted Leather Goods and Travel AccessoriesIt is 25-year-old commercial engineer Bernardo Bonilla’s dream that his enterprise, aptly named Vagabond, translates the experience...

From pharmacy to pharmaceutical manufacturer

26 Apr, 2018 | Rodrigo Barrenechea

Photo: Iván RodriguezLaboratorios Crespal S.A. A family business goes bigBack in the 1950s, La Paz was a small city where practically everyone knew each other. Nearly all the country's decisions...

The Musical World of Ernesto Cavour

26 Apr, 2018 | David Fegan

Photo: Ana DiazInside the fertile mind of the Bolivian musician, inventor, author and investigatorOnce described as ‘the best in the universe’ when it comes to Bolivia’s national-heritage instrument,...