Carlos Wizard Martins:Mormon Businessman
Carlos Wizard Martins is an English professor who made his fortune by teaching Brazilians a second language. His company, Grupo Multi (Multi Group), is the market leader in Brazil’s booming language teaching industry. In December 2013 he sold his company for $719.6 million in cash. In 2013, Forbes magazine added him to its list of the richest Brazilians. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Martins was born in Curitiba, Brazil, in 1956, and was raised in poverty. The family joined the Church when he was 13. He started taking English lessons with Latter-day Saint missionaries. Encouraged by the missionaries, he traveled to the United States when he turned 17 (paying for his fare in 10 payments) and took a job in New Jersey as a waiter. At age 19, he then served as a full-time Latter-day Saint missionary to Portugal and returned to Brazil after completing his mission.
Back in Brazil, he married Vânia Pimentel and they returned to the US, where Martins received a degree in computer science and statistics from Brigham Young University. Obtaining his degree wasn't easy. His grades were bad, and he concluded he and his wife should return to Brazil. But she would not let him quit what he had started.
While at BYU, he taught at the Missionary Training Center of the Church of Jesus Christ and saw how quickly a person could learn a language. After he graduated, they moved back to Brazil and Martins supplemented his income as a paper company executive by teaching English to a coworker. Soon other students joined him to learn English. His wife started teaching to help keep up with the demand, and eventually he was making more money teaching English than he was working at the paper company.
At age 30, he quit his job at the paper company and used his savings to start a language teaching school that he named Wizard after the movie “The Wizard of Oz” because he loved the movie’s message that everyone possesses a unique talent waiting to be found. His two main competitors both named their schools after themselves. To compete, he needed to do it.
With the motto, “Speak English in 24 hours,” he grew his business through franchises, and accomplished his goal of opening a school in each of Brazil’s state capitals. His school became the fastest-growing English learning school in Brazil. As a tribute to his original school chain, he legally gave himself the middle name of “Wizard.” He has helped dozens of Brazilians become millionaires through franchising his business. By the time he sold his business in 2013 to the large British publishing group Pearson, the company included more than 2,600 franchise locations across 10 countries.
The family’s investments have expanded into real estate, financial services, sports, education and, most recently, fast food — they are one of the largest fast-food franchisers in Brazil for American brands like Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC.
While serving as a mission president, his twin sons created Multi Group. His company has expanded beyond Brazil and has schools in the United States, China, and several other countries worldwide.
Martins also owns a gift card company in Brazil and a company similar to Paypal. He is also the author of two books, Vencendo a Propria Crise (Overcoming Personal Crisis) and Desperete o Milionário que há em Você (Awaken the Millionaire Inside of You). His biography, Carlos Martins: Dreams Have No Limits, was written by Ignácio Loyola de Brandão. He is one of Brazil's thirty-plus billionaires.
Martins and his wife have six children and twelve grandchildren.
- To read about the work of Carlos and Vânia Martins with Venezuelan refugees, click here.