A Colombian Family is Reunited through Enterprise
Despite a rough run-in with paramilitary groups in Colombia, one man’s ambition reunites his family of 13.
Francesca Leonardi was born in Rome where she is currently based. Most of her work has focused on long-term projects on immigration, urbanization and social issues in Italy and abroad. In 2009, she gained a special mention at the Fotoleggendo Italy for her project on the living conditions of immigrants in Italy.
In 2010 and 2011, she was a finalist for the Amilcare Ponchielli award. In 2011, she started a year-long photo investigation about Egypt and its post-revolution development. She is represented worldwide by Contrasto.
Nevardo De Jesus, 44, and Vilma Gloria, 43, along with their eleven sons and daughters, run a small garment-making business inside their home in Aranjuez, a district of Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city.
Originally from a rural area near Dabeiba, a city in the state of Antioquia, the family’s move to Medellin began in 2004 when guerrillas from one of Colombia’s many armed groups threatened them with death if they failed to leave their home within a few hours.
Nevardo, along with the family’s six oldest children, moved to Medellin in search of work. But as even their combined income was not enough to rent a home big enough to house the whole family, Vilma was forced to remain in the countryside with their other children, moving from one temporary home to another.
After buying some sewing machines, Nevardo started his garment-making business in 2009, gradually increasing its output – mostly of children’s clothing – to the point where he was able to reunite his entire family under the same roof in early 2014.
Text and photographs by Francesca Leonardi
Octavio, 21, one of Nevardo and Vilma’s eleven children, at work in their family garment-making business.
The Other Hundred is a unique photo-book project aimed telling the stories of people around the world who are not rich but who deserve to be celebrated.
The Other Hundred Entrepreneurs: 100 Faces, Places, Stories — the second volume in The Other Hundred series — focuses on the world’s everyday entrepreneurs. It captures the reality that small and medium-sized businesses, rather than tech billionaires or elite MBAs, contribute the majority of the world’s jobs, including half of all jobs in Africa and two-thirds in Asia.
The book offers an alternative to the view that most successful entrepreneurs were trained at elite business schools. Here are people who have never written a formal business plan, hired an investment bank, planned an exit strategy or dreamt of a stock market floatation. Some work for themselves, others employ a few people, still others a few hundred.