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Company nameManuelita
Company typePrivate company
Founder(s)Santiago Eder
Area servedColombia, Peru, Brazil, Chile
Key peopleHenry Eder
Owner(s)Eder Family
ParentGrupo Manuelita

     Home | Company | Manuelita

Inversiones Manuelita S.A. (IMSA) is a Colombian agribusiness corporation, headquartered in Palmira, Valle del Cauca, whose main products are refined sugar, ethanol, palm oil, mussels and shrimp. IMSA is more commonly known as Grupo Manuelita or simply Manuelita.

Manuelita was founded in 1864 when James Martin Eder, better known in Colombia as don Santiago Eder, an American citizen born in Mitau, Courland, bought the hacienda "La Manuelita", located near Palmira, from the father of famed Colombian novelist Jorge Isaacs at a public auction. The farm's namesake was Manuela Ferrer Scarpetta, Isaacs' mother.

Eder planted various crops, including coffee in the farm, but eventually centered on sugar, and "on the first day of the first year of the twentieth century" he inaugurated Colombia's a new sugar mill which had Colombia's first steam engine, and replaced the former ox powered mill.

After don Santiago's retirement in 1903, Manuelita continued to grow under the leadership of his sons Charles "Carlos" Eder, and Henry "Enrique" Eder, his grandson Harold Henry Eder Caicedo, and his great-grandson Henry James Eder Caicedo, who is still Chairman of the Board. As of April 1, 2008, don Santaigo's great-great-grandson Harold Enrique Eder Garcés is President of IMSA. In 1980, the size of the company was cut in half, after barely surviving a hostile takeover attempt by the Carlos Ardila Lülle's business group. This unfortunate incident resulted in the split of the Ingenio Manuelita and Ingenio del Cauca sugar mills. This latter mill had been founded by Harold Henry Eder while he was at the head of the Eder Family enterprise and was hence a great loss to the family both economically and sentimentally.

Under Henry J. Eder's stewardship (1965 - 2008), Manuelita's standing in Colombia's sugar sector in terms of production was fully recovered and even surpassed when compared to Manuelita and Ingenio del Cauca's combined production levels in 1980. During this period of time, Manuelita also expanded its sugar production to ventures in Peru and Brasil, including a project named Arena Dulce, or Sweet Sand, in which nearly 2000 hectares of Peruvian desert were planted in sugarcane using vanguard drip irrigation technology adapted by Manuelita technicians to the specificities of cane cultivation and harvesting and which are producing record levels of tons of cane per hectare and percentage of sucrose in cane. Additionally, Henry Eder diversified Manuelita into other products and countries in order to diversify risk, namely shrimp (Colombia), mussels (Chile), palm oil (Colombia), ethanol (Colombia, Brazil, Peru), asparagus (Peru), and table grapes (Peru).

Many details of Manuelita's business affairs from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are preserved at the Phanor James Eder Collection at the University of Miami, which includes a great deal of don Santiago's business correspondence.

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