Medellin – blessed with a beautiful natural landscape, friendly people and expansive parks – has seen incredible growth over the past two years. This city in Colombia is today one of the most innovative cities in the world. With abundant human talent and conducive business climate, Medellin is fast becoming a perfect destination for enterprises seeking to establish high-tech operations. The city has, over the years, transformed from the center of Latin American drug trade to a growing high-tech hub.
My firm, Yuxi Pacific Group, set up a satellite office in Medellin in early 2011. Over the past two years, we have recruited more than 80 employees and more than doubled our revenue.
Despite recent success, Medellin does have some problems. The country’s growing economy has benefitted the educated middle-class community, but people residing in hillside neighborhoods (called comunas) have remained poor. Many residents in impoverished neighborhoods are caught in the crossfire of crime syndicates –– Urabeños and Oficina de Envigado –– trying to take control of the city.
In San Javier (also known as Comuna 13), a densely populated neighborhood, armed groups have made life miserable for thousands of residents.
Some of these neighborhoods are known as “invasion barrios” and are volatile. Many hillside neighborhoods are not officially recognized by the Municipality of Medellin and therefore receive little or no official government assistance. Though the city has grown in stature on the international stage, many residents here are still struggling to avoid street violence and provide a quality education to their children.
There is little doubt that only education can defeat this cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Enterprises thrive in countries where children are given good education. That is what motivating the creation of Yuxi Pacific Charitable Trust.
Recent initiatives of the Trust have become popular among local residents. Yuxi Pacific Charitable Trust operates independently and intervenes directly to help poor communities with projects focused on youth education.
Arming Schools with Computers
Each year, we visit impoverished neighborhoods and identify a school that is deprived of basic needs to provide good education. This year our work will focus on Institución Educativa Cedepro, located in an invasion barrio in the City’s 13 de Noviembre neighborhood.
Philanthropy is not about writing a check or buying equipment but a constant, ongoing and multi-faceted commitment to uplift a community. We equip schools with computers and our employees volunteer to work for the welfare of student community.
Our efforts start well before classes resume. Our staff walks into the school and helps to select the best space for computer lab. We help schools get internet connectivity and provide training to teachers who later supervise computer labs.
People express their gratitude with a smile. For me, this effort is personal. I was raised in a working-class family and, when I was 11-years-old, my parents pooled together their savings to get me a computer (a Commodore 64). That computer changed my life. If the computers and education that we provide can make difference I think it is worth the effort.
The author is the Chief Executive Officer of Yuxi Pacific Group.