Curacao Business Magazine, Edition 2019

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LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT EXCITING TIMES This edition ignites a vibrant and positive morale of the business community while b eing in relatively c h alle n g in g t im e s . New players in important institutions g ive an addit ion al boost to the exciting times ahead, which leads to innovation plus results in new and encouraging o u tc o m e s . F o r u s to be successful in c h alle n g in g t im e s , we need to try to do things that have not been done before. We need to work together as one to realize the growth expectations in all industries and sectors. New ideas, new developments and innovative entrepreneurs with the right mindset combined with effective facilitation and government support can enhance not only our competitive advantage, but also stimulate the rapid economic development our island and people deserve. To highlight a few topics, we see that Curaçao keeps on advancing vigorously in terms of tourism growth, investments in the energy sector and expansion of the infrastructure. We hear about airlines opening new flights further connecting Curaçao with the region and Americas. Investments in the hotel industry keep impressively progressing while the World Heritage downtown Willemstad continues to attract investment opportunities for rehabilitation. In addition, the full execution of different Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) through the Curaçao Chamber networks opens the door and brings extra opportunities in export/business expansions for Curaçao companies into foreign markets. Be inspired by the articles and examples in this edition. Let us continue to do our part to contribute to our successful growth and renew our confidence in the economy. Billy Jonckheer President Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry

LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER NEW ERA W i th th e a c q u i s i t i o n of Curaçao Business Magazine by Global International Management, we are entering a new era. Some may not see a direct line between an audit, account ing, and consulting firm and our Curaçao Bu siness Maga zine. But a s the saying goes, “Accounting is the language of business.” As accountants, in general we see different types of businesses and know what is essential for them.

While increasing our global footprint, Global International Management envisions Curaçao Business Magazine will become the largest and most respected Curaçao business publication in an exclusive collaboration with the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This platform will assist in continuing to innovate, support, promote and connect Curaçao companies to the global business community. Our core values will assist us to publish correct, concise, consistent and objective information. We will provide our readers a unique comprehensive business platform by delivering relevant and valuable information. Further, Global International Management is recognized as one of the Top 10 Financial Security Consulting Services Companies for 2019 by CFO Tech Outlook Magazine in the United States. This list represent the top 10 companies that are at the forefront of providing Financial Security Consulting Services and transforming businesses. With that said, the theme of this edition is “The end of a decade since 10-10-10”. Within this edition, we reflect back but more importantly provide insight towards Curaçao entering a new era in 2020. Rocher Cyrus CPA, CGMA Managing Director Global International Management Publisher Curaçao Business Magazine




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Curaçao Business Media Group B.V. PUBLISHER Rocher Cyrus CPA, CGMA EDITOR IN CHIEF Risa Schonbaum CPA ADDRESS ON CURAÇAO Julianaplein 36 Willemstad, Curaçao +59 998 437 236


STRATEGIC PARTNER Van Munster Media BV P1: Postbus 6684, NL6503 GD Nijmegen, The Netherlands P2: Kerkenbos 12-24a, NL-6546 BE Nijmegen, The Netherlands T: +31(0) 24 373 8505 F: +31(0) 24 373 0933 I: SUBSCRIPTIONS ART PRODUCTION Jan-Willem Bouwman The publisher and its staff cannot be held liable for the contents of this magazine and statements and/ or its advertisements do not necessarily reflect its editorial views. Although the greatest care was given to the accuracy of the information in this publication and checked where possible, the publisher and the editors explicitly contest any liability for any incorrectness or incompleteness of the information provided.


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Innovating the Accounting Profession through Education, Technology and Connectivity The New Face of Telecommunications in the Dutch Caribbean

Inauguration of the New Airport Terminal and Completion of the Expansion Project Trade Missions: Stronger Links Create Trade Opportunities Holland House

Coral Cliff Resort, now known as Sunset Waters, to be Brought Back to Life News Briefs Aqualectra Stays Ahead of the Game Coworking: The New Office Space

Exploring the E-commerce Opportunities for Our Local Business Community Digital Nomad: The World is your Office

A Look Forward for Blockchain into 2020

OuroX Takes First Steps to Develop an Innovative Securities Exchange for Latin America

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CINEX Smart Investment Summit 2019 5 Minutes with Jeff Hoffman Community Building as a Business

Curaçao and the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act Curaçao Tech Meetups 2019: Overview and Highlights

Interview with Adric Walter, Founder of Curaçao Tech Meetups

United Entrepreneurship Curaçao Summit 2019: “Each One Teach One” Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival 2019

A Successful Entrepreneur Story of the Force Behind Irie Tours: Dennis & Sadira Henriquez


In May of this year, the airport welcomed more than a thousand visitors to the open-day celebration to mark the completion of the Airport Terminal Expansion Project.

With modern-day automation and technology developing at record speed, the global demand for electricity grows at an incredible rate. It appears the world has an insatiable appetite for energy - and Curaçao is no exception.



The development of online services and e-commerce companies is on the rise throughout the world and generating billions annually. Most business owners in Curaçao have already created websites and made full use of social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook.


With the rise of selfemployed contractors, independent professionals and entrepreneurs, the demand for coworking space has exploded.



The term “digital nomad” is probably one of the fastest growing lifestyles of the last decade. Living the digital nomad lifestyle means relying on the internet to financially sustain a modern nomadic life.


The American FinTech startup OuroX, founded by South American entrepreneurs, signed a letter of intent with the Suriname Stock Exchange with the goal of establishing a modern digital National Securities Exchange, headquartered in Suriname.

August saw the World Trade Center host its most successful Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival (CNSJ) to date with an all-star lineup on three stages that included bestselling artists from five decades and a multitude of music genres.





Global International Management, LLC recognized by

magazine as

The annual listing of 10 companies that are at the forefront of providing Financial Security consulting services and transforming businesses

Website: Location: New York, NY | Willemstad Curaรงao | Remote office Paramaribo Suriname | Managing Director: Rocher Cyrus CPA, CGMA Description: The company is innovating the audit and accounting profession through Education, Technology, and Connectivity.



Following a career exceeding thirteen years at PwC and KPMG, Rocher Cyrus CPA, CGMA founded Global International Management, LLC with the purpose to innovate the audit and accounting profession. “We are not your typical Audit, Accounting, and Advisory firm. We strive to innovate the audit and accounting profession via education, technology, and connectivity. The company’s client services are based on innovation, as we strongly believe it is the only way to remain relevant and ahead within a fast-changing world. The technology to innovate is available. We only need to embrace it at a much faster pace,” says Cyrus. Global International Management is completely innovating the way future accountants are trained to help them become successful professionals in the evolving business world. The company calls its approach the “future of learning” where students can prepare and learn with its Artificial Intelligence (AI) learning tool. “Learning in 2019 should be personalized, and students should be able to learn in a way that fits their professional and personal lifestyle. Therefore, our students can study anywhere and anytime, as most of them are focused on advancing their careers and need to make the most out of their time,” says Cyrus. The delivery method of the Artificial Intelligent (AI) Becker Software learning tool also enables the company to reach students in all parts of the world, such as the Caribbean, South America, and Europe. Internationally, Global International Management is most known for its Becker United States Certified Public Accountant (US CPA) program. The company provides international students with access to the AI Becker Software and helps them with their application process for the US CPA Exam—from the initial application up to the day the students obtain their license. Also, Global International Management believes in lifelong learning of audit and accounting professionals. The company helps current accountants improve their existing skills and knowledge on subjects such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Data Analytics, and Cybersecurity. “We organize annual learning seminars in the regions that we are active in,” states Cyrus. He further mentions that for auditors and finance professionals who need to embrace technology to stay relevant and protect the public interest, there is a confusion on “where to

start and what type of technology to choose?” Global International Management is at the forefront of monitoring and evaluating technological developments that are important for clients. This is done by performing extensive testing and due diligence, to evaluate, conclude and select ideal technological partners. “New technological solutions should be scalable and applicable to the markets and clients that we work with. As most regional financial institutions, audit firms and companies are using our selected tools and technology, it validates that we know we made the right decision,” adds Cyrus. Such technology is for example: • Confirmation: One of Global International Management’s selected tools is Confirmation, which is part of Thomson Reuters. Confirming financial data through bank confirmations or lawyer letters should be easy. However, using traditional manual paper-based processes, it’s often difficult. Confirmation is the platform for easy validation of financial and other sensitive data. More than 16,000 audit firms, 4,000 banks and departments, and 5,000 law firms are using Confirmation within 170 countries, processing more than one trillion US dollars in confirmations each year. • F oreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Common Reporting Standards (CRS): International financial institutions struggle to comply with the FATCA and/ or CRS rules and regulations. While most of them report on an annual basis to the local tax authorities or directly to the IRS, they are struggling with the setup and execution of robust due diligence procedures. Global International Management’s automated FATCA and CRS solutions are eliminating the complexity of manual procedures.

these regions and bring them up to speed. With our name and purpose, we wanted to clearly emphasize how important it is that we seek international cooperation in a more globalizing world,” says Cyrus. From offices in Curaçao and New York, Global International Management serves a broad base of clients demonstrating its global footprint. Most of the clients are audit firms, financial institutions, governments, and corporations within the U.S., (Dutch) Caribbean, South America, and Europe. Additionally, the company has a broad base of US CPA students from these companies and regions. GLOBAL INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT’S UNIQUE VALUE They are a boutique firm staffed with professionals of outstanding accomplishments. Also, the company has powerful exclusive partnerships for several selected market regions that they serve with Confirmation (part of Thomson Reuters), RIVIO, Becker Professional Education, the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. AICPA & CIMA 2019: 2-DAY BLOCKCHAIN SEMINAR ON THE DUTCH CARIBBEAN ISLAND OF CURAÇAO “On December 9th and 10th of 2019, we will have a 2-day AICPA & CIMA Blockchain Seminar on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curaçao. Participants will receive 16 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits. This is a perfect retreat for US Companies wanting to combine a high-quality learning experience with leisure time in a beautiful location. There are direct flights from Miami, Charlotte, and New York to Curaçao. More about our event can be found on our website,” mentions Cyrus.

• Cybersecurity: With its cybersecurity simulation, companies are confronted with challenges that they could face if they are under attack. Global International Management has a Cybersecurity Risk Management Program that can help companies’ set-up, test, and improve their cybersecurity posture. “Most clients ask why the firm’s name is Global International Management. We are mainly focused on helping “remote areas” and what we call “underserved regions”. From experience, we can tell how difficult it is to connect






JANICE TJON SIEN KIE is partner at, a social e-commerce platform and real estate agent at RE/MAX. She holds a master’s degree in Finance and Investment from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Prior to this she worked at PwC Consulting and CITCO Fund Services. She is part of Igualdat Kòrsou, an initiative working towards marriage equality on Curaçao and Secretary of the Board of Human Rights Caribbean Foundation. -----------------------------------------------NATHASJA PLAIZIER, After graduating at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen w ith her BSc Behav ioral Neuroscience receiving a Bachelor of Honor, she proceeded with the Master Education & Communication in Mathematics and Life Sciences. In February 2014, Nathasja moved to Curaçao. Out of interest, she followed the propaedeutic year of Law at University of Curaçao. Nathasja currently spends her days in corporate life and as a teacher, writer and entrepreneur. -----------------------------------------------ÚNA JANSEN is a writer and journalist with a background in finance and academia. She holds a Master’s Degree in English Literature and is a guest lecturer at the University of Curaçao. Originally from Ireland, Úna is the founder and owner of Dublin Communications, providing writing and editing services to clients across a range of industries. ------------------------------------------------


TIM MARTINA, If asked, Tim would most likely describe his perfect world as a place where logic prevails above all, form follows function and mankind has reached a sustainable and highly comfortable way of living through effective use of the ever-increasing technological possibilities. In the meantime, he indulges in pro-actively advocating strategic innovation in Curaçao as the Chief AI Strategist at BRABU. -----------------------------------------------JOERI OLTHETEN. My mission is to lead and help organizations and projects that enhance sustainable wellbeing. I specialize in project management, strategic consulting and business development. My unique approach has led to greater customer satisfaction, increased brand awareness and higher revenue for organizations in various industries since 2006. My passion is inventing and executing creative solutions for complex challenges. As a result of my varied work experience, I have the ability to manage multi-disciplinary projects. I am fluent in 4 languages and operate internationally. ------------------------------------------------

SEAN STEIN SMITH is a professor at the City University of New York – Lehman College. He also is the chairperson of the NJCPA’s Emerging Technologies Interest Group (#NJCPATech). He serves on the Advisory Board of the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance, where he co-chairs the Accounting Work Group. Sean is on the Advisory Board of Gilded, a TechStars ’19 company. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the American Institute of Economic Research. -----------------------------------------------DESI DIJKHUIZEN is the owner of Dcommunicates!, a company that focuses on copywriting, translations and vlogging. In 2010, Desi graduated with a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies at the University of Leiden and gained a meaningful career experience at the Embassy of Chile in The Hague. Back in Curaçao, Desi started working for a local newspaper where she developed her journalism skills. At the beginning of 2019, she made the decision to start the exciting entrepreneurial journey. ------------------------------------------------


THE NEW FACE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS IN THE DUTCH CARIBBEAN The end of an era was marked by the purchase announcement of the majority of shares of United Telecommunications Services (UTS) by Cable & Wireless Communications (C&W). With an agreement to purchase, confirmed by the Government of Curaçao in March of this year, C&W will now be in a position to lead the telecommunications industry in the Dutch Caribbean by providing video, broadband, fixed-line telephony and mobile LTE services to both residential and business customers across the island nations of Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Barths, St. Eustatius and Saba.

For many decades UTS, (formerly SETEL), was the primary telecommunications provider for much of the Dutch Caribbean and was traditionally a publicly-owned and operated company. However, in more recent years, they had been unable to meet the financial demands required to remain competitive within the industry. An investment of Naf. 200 million was needed to bring the company’s technological assets up to standard. Given Curaçao’s current strained economy, the Government (acting as the UTS major shareholder) was not in a financial position to make such a large investment. As a result, UTS sought a strategic partner that would enable them to regain their competitive edge. An agreement was signed with Liberty Latin America Ltd. (LLA), the parent company of C&W to purchase 87.5% of UTS shares, positioning the company as the largest telecom provider in the Dutch Caribbean.

As Minister of Traffic, Transportation and Urban Development, Mrs. Zita Jesus-Leito commented, “Through this agreement with Liberty Latin America, the Government of Curaçao is able to provide a strong cornerstone that will assure the continued development of modern infrastructure that will provide our community with the best telecommunication services and products at affordable prices now and in the future. We are glad to have found in LLA a partner that recognizes the vast expertise and knowledge of our UTS employees, and is willing to invest in infrastructure that will provide our community with an opportunity to tap into the vast world of innovative solutions that will enrich our lives.” C&W, as part of the Liberty Latin America group of companies, is a full-service communications and entertainment provider

to 18 countries in the region. Its parent company LLA is a major telecommunications provider in the Caribbean and Latin American region providing digital video, broadband internet, telephony and mobile services to 20 different countries. With its acquisition of UTS, C&W hopes to make a significant upgrade to the existing telecommunications infrastructure in order to provide faster speeds and stronger LTE coverage to the previously mentioned islands of the Dutch Caribbean. The integration strategy will be formalized and implemented within the upcoming months in order to provide a seamless transition and ensure the continuation of a steady advancement in telecommunication s services.




INAUGURATION OF THE NEW AIRPORT TERMINAL AND COMPLETION OF THE EXPANSION PROJECT In May of this year, the airport welcomed more than a thousand visitors to the open-day celebration to mark the completion of the Airport Terminal Expansion Project. Buzzing with excitement, the public was able to witness the pride and accomplishment felt by the members of Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP) and the entire team involved in seeing this huge project fulfilled.

CAP is a consortium of private international investors namely Aport (Zurich Airport), Janssen De Jong (Netherlands) and CCR (Brazil). CAP has a 30-year concession agreement with the Government of Curaçao, and as the private airport operator, CAP has undertaken the financial, operational and development responsibility of Curaçao International Airport since 2003. CAP’s vision is to further develop and operate Curaçao International

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Airport to become one of the best airports in the Caribbean region. Currently, as a result of the improvements, the airport is generating millions of US$ that goes directly to the Government via Curaçao Airport Holding (CAH). As owner of the airport buildings, the surrounding terrains and infrastructure on behalf of the Government of Curaçao, CAH is the supervisor of all airport operations carried out by CAP.

Realizing the impact airport developments have on Curaçao’s economy, CAP and CAH are jointly committed to offer an enhanced and improved facility and will do its part to make certain that the full potential of the airport is achieved. In 2014, the expansion of the Check-In area and airport boulevard was completed. In 2016, there was the inauguration of the Arrivals Hall and the airport food & beverage services and stores. Additionally,


Expansion Project was approximately US$35 million with US$25 million invested by CAP and an additional US$10 million from CAH. The festive day was marked with a ‘runway run’, local music, entertainment, attractions for kids in the car park of the airport, and secured tours of Gate No. 10, (one of the new additions to the international airport). The celebrations started the night before with a special reception for invited guests and dignitaries during which Ralph Blanchard, CEO of CAP, gave a keynote address thanking everyone for their invaluable contribution to the project which included the collective efforts of CAH,

the road in front of the airport Arrivals was adjusted into a boulevard for pedestrians providing a safer flow for families, airport employees and users to enjoy this area of the airport while having a clear overview of the surroundings. It was at that point in 2016, the Airport Terminal Expansion Project was launched to continue the development of the terminal and double the Departure waiting area. In addition to the enhanced areas for arriving, departing and transit passengers, Curaçao International Airport was to gain an additional bridge to accommodate large wide-body aircrafts. Once complete, this project would succeed in optimizing efficiency and provide a smooth travel experience for all passengers. The investment for the Airport Terminal


Customs and Immigration, Maduro & Curiel’s Bank (MCB) and the employees of CAP. During his speech, Mr. Blanchard noted that there will always be room for further improvement and emphasized the need for a continued drive towards, “Improving the airport until we have tapped into the airport facility’s full potential.” He highlighted the ingredients that are necessary for achieving this goal as ‘promotion, awareness, regulatory flexibility and investment.’ Additionally, he was clear to stress the need for the Government and public to inject a newfound energy into the economic growth of the tourism market. In a nutshell he stated, “There’s no other way around it. We succeed or fail based on the number of passengers … that’s the bottom line!”



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TRADE MISSIONS: STRONGER LINKS CREATE TRADE OPPORTUNITIES The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been involved over the past year with establishing the supportive structures to help local companies be successful in expanding their business beyond the island’s borders. In discussions with representatives of other countries and business leaders who are interested in finding new markets, the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry highlights the importance of Curaçao’s strategic positioning: close to Latin and South America both geographically and culturally, situated outside the hurricane belt, and excellent modern infrastructure. Through the cultivation of relationships and ongoing trade missions, the framework is developed and in place for when local companies are ready to branch out, they can flourish.

PANAMA During November 11-13, 2018, the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry was an active participant in the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ Mission to Panama, which offered an opportunity to explore general business opportunities but also focus on


the water and logistics sectors. Continuing the momentum of the trip, Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath hosted a return visit from February 4-5, 2019, organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands based in Panama. The event involved 45 visiting companies and enabled Curaçao to showcase the unique assets of the island

while exploring options for trade in Panama. The successful seminar entitled, “Doing Business with Panama”, was fully booked illustrating the local interest in the topic. Prime Minister Rhuggenaath also led a Kingdom Mission to Panama and Costa Rica from March 17-21, 2019, taking along 10


Curaçao businesses to discuss the opportunities for import and export between the respective countries plus focus on the maritime, agriculture and logistics sectors. Several productive meetings and company visits took place, resulting with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama, binding the relationship between the two countries. This agreement emphasized the need for reciprocity and both Chambers are committed to supporting those who want to do business beyond the borders of their home country.

Holland House Panama is now open for business! Minister for Commerce & Industry Ramón Martínez, Minister for Private Investments Rojas, Dutch Ambassador Ilse Smits and Executive Director Remco de Bruijn officially opened the Holland House on the 4th of September 2019 in the Cámara de Comercio, Industrias y Agricultura de Panamá in Panama City. Holland House Panama will offer international business support & networking to Dutch & Panamian companies and reinforce trade & investment ties between the two countries. As an expression of this, an MoU between the Port of Rotterdam and the Panama Canal Authority was signed during the event. The opening took place in the presence of the founding members of the Holland House: The HEINEKEN Company Vopak Philips VTTI B.V. Van Oord Boskalis KLM Curaçao Chamber of Commerce & Industry NLinBusiness and the Netherlands Embassy in Panama City.

The trip to Panama also gave members of the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry the opportunity to visit the Panama Holland House, one of the founding members of the innovative support system being set up to help businesses in the Dutch Kingdom expand into new markets. [See box for more information]

The hub function of Panama creates a lot of business opportunities for Dutch companies. Although a significant number of companies are already present in Panama, mainly small and medium enterprises (SME) often do not take this step yet. One of the issues identified in the roadmap of a company potentially expanding to Latin America, is the lack of an institution that can provide a soft landing for newly arriving companies in Panama. This is where Holland House Panama comes into play. In the form of a bilateral chamber of commerce Holland House offers services to companies

COLOMBIA In November 2018, nearly 140 companies from across the Dutch Kingdom participated in a successful four-day trade mission to Colombia. The businesses were mostly from the Netherlands, but around 20 Curaçaobased companies were represented in the mission, which was led by Curaçao’s Prime Minister Rhuggenaath. Water and logistics were again key topics, including visits to important areas for these sectors such as Cartagena and Barranquilla. One important outcome of the trade mission was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Bogota Chamber of Commerce. In the MoU, it was agreed that both parties would work to develop an even closer relationship through the regular exchange of information and training materials allowing companies in Curaçao to explore the market in Bogota and vice versa. Reflecting the significance of online communications, the MoU also provided for reciprocal promotion of social media activity conducted by the Chambers, sharing business opportunities to entrepreneurs in both Colombia and across the Kingdom. It is notable that the mission involved both the new Colombian President, Ivan Duque, and the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte.

interested in expanding their business to Panama, but also provides already existing companies 13

with better networking opportunities and access to trainings and briefing. More info:

PUERTO RICO The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry assisted a trade delegation of 10 companies from Puerto Rico during their visit to Curaçao from February 18-20, 2019. A diverse range of sectors were represented, including food and beverage, car care, consulting and renewable energy. Working with the Puerto Rico Trade Company, the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized a two-hour free seminar on “Doing Business with Puerto Rico”, which was fully booked with local entrepreneurs. Many attendees also took advantage of the individual matchmaking sessions organized by the Chamber allowing the visiting companies to meet with local businesses and explore opportunities for collaboration. NETHERLANDS Not forgetting Curaçao’s oldest trading partner, the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry participated in the “Bon Bini for Business” summit from January 21-22, 2019, welcoming 45 Dutch investors and

entrepreneurs for a series of events, presentations and opportunities to meet potential partners. Prime Minister Rutte and State Secretary of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Raymond Knops, both attended the event which was hosted by Prime Minister Rhuggenaath. Speaker after speaker highlighted the opportunities offered by the infrastructure, financial, and information communication and technology services in Curaçao, in addition to the potential for significant economic collaboration within the Dutch Kingdom. The opportunities for increased business outside the island are significant and local businesses are encouraged to “Think Big”. Follow the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry Facebook page to keep up to date with forthcoming events in Curaçao and overseas trade missions.


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HOLLAND HOUSE The Holland House concept emerged as traditional embassies began to trim back their activities in the commercial sector to focus on their diplomatic and consular work. The idea for a more business-orientated organization turned into something more concrete with the opening of a Holland House in Colombia.

It merged the in-depth knowledge of a locally based body with support focused on companies across the Dutch Kingdom looking for new markets, as well as promoting trade, investment and business development between the host country and the Dutch Kingdom. The exact services offered by each Holland House vary from location to location, but in each case they provide a range of services designed to significantly lower the market entry costs and risks, while increasing the speed at which companies in the Dutch Kingdom can develop their business in the corresponding local market. One Curaçao entrepreneur who saw firsthand how Holland House can help businesses to expand is Renato Ignacio, founder and Managing Director of the Curaçao-based technology company, Minubia, and the newest board member of the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He explained to Curaçao Business Magazine how he used the Holland House in Bogota when he was

exploring options for expanding his business beyond the island. “Minubia was founded in 2013, then we opened in Bogota in 2016, San Francisco in 2017, and we plan to be open in Rotterdam this year,” he said. “Minubia is now the biggest app provider in the Netherlands Antilles, but even back when we started, I saw similar problems in other countries to those that we were trying to solve with our software solutions for businesses, and so I also saw potential.”

“To get the best from them, you need to be specific about what you want to achieve and develop your own strategy for doing it. Holland House can certainly help you execute it, but they won’t do it for you. What they can do is help you to test your ideas; assist in navigating the inevitable red tape involved in operating abroad by signposting expert advisors; and they can make introductions and help with networking. And that can make all the difference to a successful launch overseas.”

Ignacio explains how he approached Holland House in Bogota for assistance, and they were able to help him make a one-week fact-finding trip to Colombia a worthwhile investment. “Holland House introduced me to other software companies in the region,” he says. “This helped me get a feel for the local market, but also gave me invaluable connections.”

Holland House Colombia

He notes, however, that Holland House is not a quick solution to expanding a company.

Holland House Panama

Holland House Costa Rica Holland House Mexico



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CORAL CLIFF RESORT, NOW KNOWN AS SUNSET WATERS, TO BE BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE The announcement of the Coral Cliff Resort acquisition by the Vogels and Van Alstede families brings promise of new life injected into the Banda Bou area as well as exciting plans for development of the Santa Martha community. Located on the west coast of the island, the Coral Cliff Resort, subsequently renamed Sunset Waters, can be found at Santa Martha Baai between Lagun and Playa Cas Abou.

The Coral Cliff Resort has been derelict and abandoned despite its great location. As such, it was with great enthusiasm and support when Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath announced the agreement between government and local private investors to completely redevelop the resort and its surrounding areas.

This will be the third major hotel project for the Vogels family in Curaçao. They acquired the Lions Dive Hotel in 2004, and then purchased the Avila Beach Hotel in 2015. Both hotels are major contributors to the tourism

economy in Curaçao, and the addition of the Coral Cliff Resort promises to be no less significant. As explained by Robin Vogels, son of Will Vogels and General Manager of the Avila Beach Hotel, the 100 million guilder investment involves a 3-year development plan for the new resort in Banda Bou and includes a 4-star all-inclusive resort with an estimated 200 – 300 guest rooms. The resort property consists of 146,000m2 with a beachfront area of approximately 1,300m2. In addition to the all-inclusive resort with its facilities and amenities, the development plans include the construction of a marina and water sports facility for the adjacent

inlet at Santa Martha. The resort also plans to involve the local community by offering a complete farm-to-table program for which the local farmers and fishermen in the surrounding areas can provide fish and produce for the restaurants of the resort. Will Vogels expressed his appreciation to the government for their expedited approval of the leasehold agreement and the necessary permits allowing the project to proceed in the shortest possible timeframe. The local government is in full support of this project as it is expected to provide approximately 250 jobs to the community.



NEWS BRIEFS Monumental Foundation Oversees More Than 120 Monuments

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It has been 65 years since the Curaçao Monument Foundation (Stichting Monumentenzorg Curaçao) was founded as part of a local initiative to save the fate of several monumental buildings on the island. Many of these historical buildings, some centuries old, had fallen into a state of decay and rapid erosion due to the salt water used to mix the mortar and plaster during the construction. In 1954, Royal Dutch Shell transferred ownership of the monumental Brievengat Plantation House to the newly formed foundation, and thus began the first of many restoration projects. The list of monuments is currently comprised of more than 120 country houses, mansions and notable historical buildings, for which the foundation has successfully preserved the unique Dutch-Caribbean style architecture specific to Curaçao. The monuments have been transformed into state-of-the-art modern buildings for purchase by companies, organizations and private residents. Throughout the years, the foundation, working closely with entrepreneurs and residents, has purchased, restored and made available for sale a significant number of historical buildings predominantly located in the Punda, Otrobanda, Scharloo and Pietermaai districts. Since 1997, Willemstad has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List and maintaining these historical buildings will help preserve that status.

United Airlines Announces New Seasonal Service Between New York/Newark and Curaçao United Airlines recently announced an expanded international schedule which included brand-new service to Curaçao from New York/Newark. United’s International Network Vice President Patrick Quayle said, “United’s global network is a tremendous source of pride for our employees and loyal customers we’re always looking for ways to grow and expand our network to connect our customers to more destinations around the world. These new additions help position United as the airline of choice for customers planning their business or leisure travel.” United is adding Curaçao to its Caribbean route network and enabling customers access to all of the ABC islands, including Aruba and Bonaire. Curaçao, United’s 21st island destination in the Caribbean, will operate on Saturdays beginning Dec. 7, 2019, with Boeing 737-700 aircraft, subject to government approval.

Ocean Lens A Unique View at the Coral Reefs The Curaçao Sea Aquarium launched ‘Ocean Lens Curaçao’ an innovative underwater observatory located at the SubStation Curaçao. Visitors to the SubStation can walk down stairs for approximately 17 feet or 5.2 meters to arrive at the depth of the island’s reef drop-off where they can enter a chamber with a large observation window referred to as the Ocean Lens. Visitors have the opportunity to observe changes in marine life between the two drastically different depths while remaining in the spacious airconditioned comfort of the Ocean Lens. Surrounded by this unique deep-water ecosystem, visitors can lay down in front of the lens to experience an abundance of colorful fish, coral reefs, coral conservation trees and possibly even see the Sea Aquarium’s research submarine, the CuraSub, descending into the deep ocean.


Wingo Airline Expands to Offer Flights from Bogotá to Curaçao With the steady increase of visitors from Colombia, as of April 2019, Wingo Airline added new flights from Bogotá, Colombia to Curaçao. Wingo is a Colombia based low-cost airline, whose parent company is the Panamanian Copa Airlines. Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB), Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP), Curaçao Airport Holding (CAH) and Curaçao Hospitality and Tourism Association (CHATA) gladly announced the service of 2 additional weekly flights to supplement the existing flights from Avianca Airline for a new total of 13 weekly flights from Colombia. Curaçao has proven itself to be a favorite destination from Colombia and welcomed more than 23,000 Colombian visitors in 2018, an increase of 38% compared to the previous year.

NEWS BRIEFS The Old Quarry Golf Course located at Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort Voted #1 ‘Best Caribbean Golf Course’ The Old Quarry Golf Course has gradually built a reputation within top golf circles as one of the most renowned golf courses in the Caribbean. It was appointed the #1 Best Caribbean Golf Course by USA Today 2018 and 2019 Readers’ Choice. This beautifully designed 18-hole golf course by the famous Pete Dye reflects the impeccable standards of the luxurious Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort. With the stunning backdrop of the breathtakingly azure Caribbean Sea and exclusive Spanish Water Bay, the course was designed to meander through the old plantation’s grounds and unique Tafelberg Mountain. This mountain has been the historic site of a century old phosphate and limestone quarry with the course featuring many artifacts used during the mining era.

Checks Remain Valid at Local Banks Curaçao’s commercial banks have abandoned their recent efforts to eliminate payment checks from the local banking industry. In a recent push towards embracing fully-automated banking and guiding Curaçao forward into a world of e-commerce, many of the local banks attempted to phase-out the use of all checks. However, this move was met with great resistance. The Fair Trade Authority Curaçao (FTAC) has ultimately decided to cut short the initiative, because the agreements of the banks conflict with the prevailing competition rules. The FTAC considered the step as a limitation of production, resulting in joint delivery refusals. Such agreements can often lead to reduced consumer choice and higher banking fees. The FTAC’s task is to ensure fair competition, cartel prohibition and prevent the abuse of dominant positions. Initially the interest group of the Curaçao Bankers Association (CBA) had attempted to phase-out payment checks in keeping with the general trend towards e-banking which already had taken place in many other countries. However, after lengthy consultations with FTAC, the CBA members finally decided to reverse their decision and withdraw their efforts.

Craig Martin Appointed New General Manager of Marriott Beach Resort The Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort entered its final phase of renovations, and with that comes the announcement of the appointment of their new General Manager. Seasoned hospitality executive, Craig Martin will assume the new position of General Manager under the new franchise agreement to lead the hotel to its grand re-opening scheduled for December 2019. Prior to joining Curaçao Marriott, Mr. Martin began his successful hotel career in 2009 at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego, and as of September 2018 was the General Manager of Hotel Le Méridien in San Francisco. As the Curaçao Marriott renovations involved modernization and expansion, Mr. Martin effectively recruited a dynamic team of hospitality professionals in time for the re-opening. The hotel was purchased last year by the company Piscamar Beach Resort. Piscamar is owned by Bastiaan Guis known from the Orco Bank in Curaçao, Bonaire, St. Maarten and the Aruba Bank in Aruba. The private equity company was established specifically for the acquisition of the Marriott complex with an investment of $21.5 million, and an additional investment of $34.5 million in external financing from a syndicate of banks led by Maduro & Curiel’s Bank.




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AQUALECTRA STAYS AHEAD OF THE GAME With modern-day automation and technology developing at record speed, the global demand for electricity grows at an incredible rate. It appears the world has an insatiable appetite for energy - and Curaçao is no exception.

Aqualectra recognizes the need to continuously stay ahead of the game in order to meet the current energy demands of Curaçao’s population while anticipating future growth requirements. With its forward-thinking strategy, Aqualectra has successfully completed a multi-phase project for the installation of a new power plant that significantly increases the power supply available to the population. Setting an ambitious goal of increasing the island’s energy supply by 75 megawatts (MW) from the existing 42MW capacity at the Dokweg site, the first phase of the plan was to install a 35MW diesel power plant. It was completed in 2015 with a total investment of Naf 80 million.


In 2019 during the second phase of the project, an extension of the diesel power plant was accomplished which increased capacity further by 40MW and required an additional Naf 71.5 million investment. With both phases of the new power plant finalized and combined with the original power plant production, the new total generation capacity at the Dokweg site increased to 117MW. In addition to the generation capacity at the Dokweg site, Aqualectra has a diesel power plant on the Isla refinery site with a capacity of 30MW, bringing the overall total capacity to 147MW in diesel engines. These diesel engines serve as the main source of electricity to the island, with a further 59MW capac-

ity provided by solar and wind power. Although the average energy demand is approximately 115MW, there are also significant fluctuations due to various factors such as weather, temperature, major festivals and holidays. The newly increased capacity positions Aqualectra to be highly prepared to handle changes in consumption. In the third quarter of 2017, an agreement was signed with Wärtsila for the installation of the second phase of the expansion project which amounted to a Naf 71.5 million investment. Wärtsila, a company based in Finland, is one of the leading producers of diesel engines and


power plants in the world. The project entailed extensive testing both in-factory and on-site, requiring 13 months for completion. During the project’s peak months, there were 110 local workers and engineers employed under the supervision and management of Wärtsila’s team of expert engineers. The size and scope of the project was massive, with an initial investment of over Naf 2 million just to prepare the site for the diesel power plant. After successfully completing the Factory Acceptance Test phase in Finland, the engines were shipped to Curaçao and then assembled on-site with great efficiency and professionalism. The first test of the newly-installed diesel power plant, called the ‘first smoke’, was conducted within a year of the project’s inception in April 2019 with Wärtsila almost breaking their own record for installation. They continued to manage the plant for an additional month to ensure all further tests and operations went smoothly, and then successfully delivered the project to Aqualectra on May 6, 2019, transferring all management of the site to the control of the local power company. The new engines are classified as Dual Fuel engines which have the capacity to use both liquid fuel (light and heavy) and natural gas (LNG). Currently the plant is using liquid fuel only as Aqualectra pursues new options for the import of LNG to the island. Rudolf Garmes, Manager of Power Supply Chain at Aqualectra, is actively exploring opportunities to import LNG as he states, “I hope that within the next 2 – 3 years we will have natural gas on the island.” He points out, “This would mean much cleaner emissions and less intense maintenance of the engines.”

Aqualectra has not missed a beat with efforts to provide electricity through renewable sources and production methods that are less harmful to the environment. Currently they source 15MW of solar energy, with 13MW derived from distributed generation throughout the island and a further 2MW from the implementation of a creative program that utilizes the rooftops of several schools. The project was an initiative of the government whereby the solar panels would be government-owned and Aqualectra would essentially purchase the electricity from the government, the proceeds of which would go directly to all schools throughout the island. Currently the project features solar panels on five schools and hopes to double the number of schools in the future. In addition, Aqualectra

is pursuing the opportunity with a request for proposal to companies to install solar panels on building sites managed by CURINDE (at Freezone New Haven, Industrial Park Brievengat and Freezone Hato) as well as on the rooftops of all major Aqualectra buildings, thereby further increasing the capacity of solar energy by an additional 15MW. Garmes explains the benefits of installing solar parks on rooftops as he points out, “There’s actually a lot of roof space that is not being used for anything. So, you save land, save energy (by keeping those buildings cool), and in general you increase the value of the location.” He adds, “We haven’t seen it on this scale anywhere else in the world as yet, and we just think it’s an all-round great project.” Simultaneously, Aqualectra has been a pioneering force in the Caribbean region in utilization of wind power, with 27% of the island’s annual demand supplied through its three wind farms located on the rugged north coast of the island for a capacity of 46.5MW. The company is currently looking into the possibility of a fourth wind farm as this environmentally clean and renewable resource would further reduce our island’s carbon footprint and fossil fuel dependency. Aqualectra hopes to continue the ambitious momentum towards further development and advancement on the energy needs for the island. Never resting on its laurels, Aqualectra will strive to implement its visionary strategy to stay ahead of the game.




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THE NEW OFFICE SPACE With the rise of self-employed contractors, independent professionals and entrepreneurs, the demand for coworking space has exploded. Coworking is defined as the sharing of office space by individuals who wish to work together in a communal, collaborative setting. It has become a social gathering of a group of like-minded people, though still working independently, who share values and are interested in the synergy that can happen from working together in the same space.

Coworking offers a solution to the problem of isolation and distractions that many freelancers experience working from home. The advantages of being self-employed are well known, from being your own boss to complete flexibility and work-life balance. Statistics indicate that self-employment and entrepreneurship has been rapidly growing, and with it, the number of coworking spaces worldwide. It is important to understand the benefits of coworking and the variety of advantages these spaces provide for any business desiring a professional environment. They are very cost effective, as space is typically rented by the month, with some providers offering weekly, daily or even pay-as-you-go options. From a cash flow perspective, these spaces eliminate the high upfront costs and longterm commitment of leasing an office space. Plus, the facilities are all-inclusive and manage all the operating expenses related to the space, which means that internet, furniture, utilities, kitchen facilities and security is taken care of. Most shared office spaces are structured to feel like a home away from home

and offer a peaceful, comfortable environment that supports productivity. Working in a coworking space allows individuals to meet and interact with new people as opposed to working at home where one can start feeling isolated. In this community-based work environment, it is possible to build relationships through positive social interaction with individuals who can inspire and motivate. The space fosters communication and collaboration, where one can gain insight on emerging trends and share knowledge or ideas. Mingling with other business people daily is an effective way to network, make valuable contacts and gain new business. Coworking spaces have changed the way we work for the better and are excellent options for any size business, not just start-ups, freelance or entrepreneurial small businesses. People recognize the benefits of a collaborative coworking environment to stimulate creativity and enhance productivity. Depending on your own personal situation, it may be advantageous to investigate whether the coworking alternative is right for you.

LOCAL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT ~ CURAÇAO COWORKING PIETERMAAI Connection – Creativity – Growth In June 2019, Curaçao Coworking Pietermaai (CCW) opened its doors to provide flexible office space for entrepreneurs building their own business, as well as intrapreneurs, who would like a separate location from their home office from which to work. The vision of CCW is “connection, creativity, growth”, and the coworking space welcomes community members who would like to work in an environment where they can collaborate and stimulate creativity amongst fellow, like-minded people. Situated in a newly renovated historic building, the office space strives for a creative vibe that will provide members with the comforts of home, offer inspiration and allow more productivity. The coworking space includes: flexible working space, meeting rooms, open areas for collaboration, 24/7 personal entry, training room space, reserved parking, high-speed internet, kitchen, regular cleaning, and fun events. CCW plans to be part of the historic Pietermaai Business District, actively supporting the community and fellow businesses in the neighborhood. +599 9 843-0478 Abraham de Veerstraat #9



TRANSITION TABLE TALKS: SDG 2030 GAME On Wednesday, September 11, 2019, PID Caribbean and Curaçao Coworking collaboratively launched the first SDG 2030 game in the region as part of PID’s Transition Table Talks series, teaming up with MDF Training and Consultancy. The overall theme of this year’s Table Talk was “TRANSITION!,” with the intention to go beyond dialogue by building a “Coalition of the Willing,” a network of people who not only talk about what should be done, but are also willing to take concrete action. The SDG 2030 game, which was designed in Japan and has been played by over 100,000 participants worldwide, was the core event of the evening. During this launch in Curaçao, the game has proven to be a valuable tool, not only to build awareness about the SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals), but also in bringing different players from government, business and civil society together with a mindset of, “what are WE going to do?” The Game stimulated a lot of thought and contemplation about how the world can come together to tackle issues as a whole, working together under common values. Each team concluded the evening by setting achievable goals, based on their skill sets, to initiate change on Curaçao, all to be accomplished before the end of 2019. For more information, please go to and

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( V I P - TA B LE FO R 1 0 P E O P LE )

• 10 VIP-tickets for Friday and/or Saturday • Company name and logo placement at your VIP-table • Logo placement at the entrance

• Reserved places at the centre court • All-inclusive catering: free drinks with luxurious hors d’oeuvres • Afterparty with DJ and the legends

• Reserved places at centre court • All-inclusive catering: free drinks with luxurious hors d’oeuvres • Afterparty with DJ and the legends • Participation in tennis clinic specifically for VIPs • Golf tournament with the legends


$ 245.



$ 245.



$ 450.




$ 2,195.



$ 2,195.



$ 3,995.






Participation in tennis clinic and golf tournament with the legends for one person per VIP-package. With a VIP-package for two days, participation for two people is included.

minimum order quantity of two tickets per person.




Enjoy the legends, support the future

Curaçao Tennis Legends 2019 Curaçao Tennis Legends will return! On Friday December 13 and Saturday December 14 Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Nieuwpoort is the place to be for the third edition of one of the best B2B events of Curaçao.

Enjoyment is guaranteed at the centre court. With top tennis by our tennis legends and also with great music and delicious food. Additionally, the event is the perfect opportunity to invite business partners or and network with customers. Furthermore, your visit also supports the objective of the Curaçao Tennis Legends

to promote tennis on Curaçao and show children how to enjoy an active lifestyle. Our legends will give various clinics to school children and young tennis players from Curaçao. The day before the event, there will be a special clinic for sponsors and VIPs, thus providing the ultimate chance to get on court together with our legends. And on Saturday, there is the

opportunity to take part in the Golf Pro-Am at the Old Quarry Golf Course located at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. Of course the legends are also your hosts during the afterparties. One thing is certain, with our legends it will never get boring! • Based on the AFAS Tennis Classics, named ‘best B2B event’ in the Netherlands • Unique mix of sports, business and entertainment • All-inclusive catering: free drinks and luxurious hors d’oeuvres • Golf pro-am and tennis clinic for VIPs and sponsors • Afterparty with the legends • Support tennis on Curaçao


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EXPLORING THE E-COMMERCE OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR LOCAL BUSINESS COMMUNITY The development of online services and e-commerce companies is on the rise throughout the world and generating billions annually. Most business owners in Curaçao have already created websites and made full use of social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook, but only a handful of these merchants use e-commerce websites to sell and complete their sales online. With the expanding popularity of online retail sales, many forward-thinking entrepreneurs are exploring global e-commerce business opportunities. Curaçao merchants should be no exception, as they can benefit by expanding beyond our borders and looking past our small-scale economy to tap into these global markets.

WHAT IS E-COMMERCE? E-commerce (electronic commerce) is simply a means of conducting commercial transactions electronically on the internet, including credit card processing. E-commerce websites enable businesses


or freelancers to sell their products and services to customers all over the world. From a local perspective, business owners can sell their own products and fulfill their own orders for export. The local carrier, C-post offers express worldwide delivery at

reasonable rates for packages under 1 kg. Additionally, local entrepreneurs can work with a logistics company abroad who will handle all warehousing and fulfillment, (i.e. a fulfillment center). An alternative option is to sell a product via a dropshipper who


will fulfill all orders for you. Dropshipping is an order fulfillment method that does not require a business to keep products in stock. Instead, the e-commerce store sells the product, and passes on the sales order to a third-party supplier, who then ships the order to the customer. HOW TO GET PAID? All e-commerce websites need payment-processing providers to handle multiple transactions from various channels for the merchant’s ‘acquiring’ banks. Typically, a merchant’s payment-processing options are dependent upon the country in which their company is legally domiciled. In Curaçao, the banks provide merchant services, but not all banks provide online processing. CX Pay is the only local payment processor available in Curaçao, but only works with MCB, Vidanova and FCIB. They provide the technology to be integrated into the merchant’s website(s), but only if the website is built with a WooCommerce (Wordpress) or Magento platform. Another downside is the fixed monthly fees the partnering banks and CX Pay charge, compared to global payment processors, such as Stripe, Baintree and 2Checkout, that only charge transaction fees. One of the world’s most recognized and versatile payment providers is PayPal.

Curaçao companies or citizens can use PayPal to pay for services or goods online, however the option of receiving payments is not yet available for this region. This is unfortunate because almost all online e-commerce platforms use PayPal as their primary payment solution. There are a few options for Curaçao companies or freelancers. Payment provider 2Checkout is a good alternative for Curaçao companies and has no monthly or setup fees. However, the compliance process can take time and your e-commerce website should be finalized, as this is part of their screening process.

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT E-COMMERCE OPTIONS IN CURAÇAO? • Build your e-commerce store using the Magento or WooCommerce (Wordpress) platform and use the services of CX Pay or 2Checkout. • B uild your e-commerce store w ith S h op i f y an d u s e th e s e r v ic e s o f 2Checkout. Setting up a US-domiciled company and bank account can be a suitable option for local merchants if you want to use PayPal, Stripe or any other payment provider. Having a US-domiciled company offers the flexibility to use a wide range of payment providers, and the option to use other e-commerce platforms to sell your products such as Amazon, Ebay or Etsy. Stripe Atlas is a service that can help merchants from anywhere in the world setup US-based companies and bank accounts, (visit stripe. com/atlas). Freelancers that want to offer services such as consulting and web design on the online global marketplace, can make use of sites like Upwork and Fiverrr. These platforms conduct payouts to local bank accounts in Curaçao. Without a doubt, e-commerce can be of great economic importance to Curaçao as it can contribute to local business development and growth, create sustainable sources of income, expand business opportunities and facilitate access to emerging markets.



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DIGITAL NOMAD: THE WORLD IS YOUR OFFICE The term “digital nomad” is probably one of the fastest growing lifestyles of the last decade. Living the digital nomad lifestyle means relying on the internet to financially sustain a modern nomadic life. This trend allows you to become location independent and able to constantly move between cities in different countries while working remotely.

For this article, we interviewed Olga Job, a digital nomad native from Curaçao, who works as a Business Consultant and Transformational Coach, about her positive and challenging experiences while traveling the world as an entrepreneur. We also spoke to Richards Martina, representative of JCI IOBA Curaçao, who focuses on this style of doing business by organizing different seminars instructing upcoming digital nomads on the island. We also discussed Curaçao as a digital nomad destination. The world can definitely be transformed into your office! There is no longer a reason to only work in one place. The digital nomad lifestyle is made possible through a number of innovations, including low-cost internet access, smartphones and

voice over messages to keep in contact with clients and employers. “With the dawn of the internet, technological advancement and innovation, the popularity of self and remote employment has been increasing. The digital nomad tribe is growing fast and industries around the globe are beginning to adapt”, says Olga Job at the beginning of the interview. Olga, who had been working for a long, intense period in the corporate world in the United States, was longing for a perfect work-life balance through a nomadic lifestyle by having the freedom to travel while maintaining a steady stream of income. “In 2016, I moved from Miami to Curaçao and started planning my online strategy as a Holistic Health & Lifestyle Coach, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach

and Corporate Wellness Consultant. It was definitely a challenging process. Mistakes and failed attempts were part of the exploration of fine-tuning my business. Without them, I wouldn’t know the limits and possibilities of what I could achieve. Nobody wins playing on the sidelines, right?” she continues. During her digital nomad journey, she mentions that she traveled for six months in Europe and backpacked for five months in Asia. In between these travels, she visited Curaçao to connect with family and friends, while preparing mentally for the next adventure. When discussing the challenges she faced during her entrepreneurial and digital nomad journey, she replied that the digital nomad lifestyle certainly has a lot to offer. “There are a




few common things that can become stumbling blocks down the road if you’re not careful. First of all, consistency. As a digital nomad you want to travel, to learn and to get in touch with other cultures, but reality hits when you have to juggle between your business assignments and travel spirit. You have to be disciplined enough to create, achieve and maintain a healthy work/life balance. When your clients are located in a different time zone, you quickly learn how to make adjustments to your life in order to make the relationship work. Additionally, constant travel can often be a lonely endeavor. Loneliness is one of the top, most-cited downsides to being a digital nomad. On the other hand, it’s also possible to experience moments of euphoria and wholeness while traveling alone as a digital nomad. It’s all about creating a balance”, she adds. “An important point I need to tackle is a misconception about digital nomads. No matter how their Instagram looks (and it looks fantastic!), digital nomads are not on vacation while abroad. They still have work to uphold and clients to manage. It’s important to instruct and educate entrepreneurs on the island about different ways of doing business, how to offer their services around the world and the positive and challenging sides of becoming a digital nomad” says Richards Martina, of JCI IOBA. JCI is a nonprofit organization of young active citizens ages 18 to 40 who are engaged and committed to create positive change in their communities. “As a highly active organization, we organized several seminars about the rise

of digital nomad inviting prominent figures of the industry. This August, we invited Spencer Jentzsch, CEO of Hacker Paradise to join local remote-work industry leaders at the ‘Remote Work Works’ event: ‘Running your business on the GO’. It was a great opportunity to show him Curaçao and all the positive elements our island has to offer as a great digital nomad destination. Hacker Paradise is a company that designs community around trips, with an ambitious program of location-based events, professional learning and personal development, combined with amazing work, travel and living experiences. And yes, Curaçao fits perfectly on the list of a great digital nomad destination. It’s a touristic island with an ideal climate, receptive inhabitants, good internet connection and the rise of openminded companies renting co-working spaces and entrepreneur friendly cafes” he stated.

HOW CAN ONE BECOME A DIGITAL NOMAD? • F ind a job that is location independent. Popular roles that allow you to work remotely are: copywriting and writing, social media managing, affiliate marketing, translation, illustrating and graphic design, programming, virtual assistant, blogging, tour guide, transcribing, coaching and the list goes on. • Strong, reliable Wifi is critical to succeed as a digital nomad. It is a necessity to get work done. • L ocate a co-working space that provides a place to work. Are you a digital nomad visiting Curaçao? Visit different co-working spaces available on the island, for example ~Curaçao Coworking Pietermaai ( ~Workspot Curaçao (www.workspotcuracao.

Being a digital nomad is about more than just travel; it’s about freedom and creation of your own platform. Remote work isn’t as simple as sitting by the pool with a computer on your lap while you work on your tan. It requires hard work to get the right income stream going, and even more dedication and discipline to keep it going . If you can develop the ability to understand the market while combining your skills to meet a particular niche in a digital way, your options for online work are truly limitless. Do you have what it takes to become a digital nomad?

com) ~coWorld Coworking Community Curaçao ( • W hile PayPal is internationally known and used by many companies and services, it may not always be the best payment option, especially when multiple currencies are involved. Check out alternatives for online payment methods such as TransferWise, Skrill, Payoneer, Revolut and Bitcoin. • How to avoid a tax trap? It is recommended to seek the professional guidance of an accountant or tax preparer with expertise in the tax regulations for your country of residence. • Use available applications to help maintain and organize your business such as the tool FreshBooks to track invoices, or scan/email receipts to Evernote. At the end of the year, information will be properly recorded to fill in your tax return or available to send to your accountant. • Research methods to earn a decent income and possibly a full-time salary such as Fiverr, Upwork, and Toptal. • Avoid loneliness and join a remote working program. These programs bring digital nomads together and spend every month in a different city/country, working and exploring together. Most importantly, they provide a community for example Hacker Paradise. Facebook groups are a good place to start. Just type the city name and “expat” or “nomad” into the search bar. • Appreciate each place you visit and enjoy your flexibility!




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A LOOK FORWARD FOR BLOCKCHAIN INTO 2020 Blockchain has been a topic of conversation in virtually every business and policy circle since bitcoin first entered the marketplace in 2009, but that is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. As implementation continues to accelerate at commercial levels, including billions of dollars and thousands of people hours continuing to be invested, it is worth analyzing just what the next several years might hold for the blockchain sector.

Cryptocurrencies may have been the way in which blockchain was introduced, but as the sector continues to mature, it is important for professionals and policymakers alike to remain aware of what trends will dominate the marketplace in the future. Not meant to be an all inclusive or exhaustive list, the following developments and themes should form the focus of a more comprehensive debate and conversation going forward. SMART CONTRACTS WILL BECOME MAINSTREAM This is an important point for any individual or institution seeking to develop blockchain solutions to understand; blockchains in and of themselves are not capable of interacting or engaging with other technology systems. At the core of the idea, a blockchain platform is a distributed ledger, or record,


of transactions that have already occurred. Without a smart contract or some other form of application programming interface (API) to connect the blockchain records to other technology systems and databases, the information stored therein will not be able to be effectively leveraged. Importantly from a control, consumer privacy, or policy perspective, these virtual on-ramps and offramps are where hacks, breaches, and leaks have occurred. Especially since many cryptoassets or blockchain systems are not covered by insurance or other products, losses and damages incurred are not reimbursable. As blockchain implementation continues, with large organizations such as Walmart, JP Morgan, and some governmental entities leading the way, control considerations and policies will move off the back burner to the front burner.

CENTRALIZED BLOCKCHAIN PRODUCTS ARE LEADING THE WAY The bitcoin blockchain launched the crypto and blockchain landscape, but as the sector develops and becomes more mainstream, there does appear to be a rather substantial shift under way. Commercial enterprises that are seeking to implement and operationalize blockchain technology have increasingly found that developing private or permissioned options simply make more sense from a control and custody perspective. Developing a permissioned blockchain allows the member organizations to monitor and manage which entities become members of the network, what rights are granted to said members, and how members are removed if need be. This flexibility and scalability inherent to more centralized or permissioned models highlights another underlying theme


underway in the sector. As organizations modify and tweak public blockchain source code to assist with implementation, this also creates another potential headwind for continued adoption. By customizing source code for the sake of simplicity and commercial usability, management decision makers must ensure that some of the very core functionality of blockchain is not inadvertently weakened. There will inevitably be tradeoffs, as with any emerging technology, but professionals must be able to quantify and properly manage the potential downsides. REGULATIONS ARE EVOLVING A consistent gripe among individuals and institutions seeking to make better use of blockchain technology has been the continued uncertainty and ambiguity with regards to regulatory treatment. The ongoing conversations, pushback, and dialogue around how to correctly classify and treat cryptoassets is an important conversation, but that is just one aspect of the broader regulatory debate. Blockchain is purported to have the potential to change virtually every aspect of the business and policy landscape. Logistics, transportation, healthcare, food safety, and – of course – accounting and financial services all represent industry sectors that might be permanently altered as a result of blockchain implementation. The treatment of information, whether or not smart contracts are universally enforceable, how to establish liability among counterparties, and how financial assets linked to blockchains (like tokenized assets) will be reported are just a few of the issues that need to be finalized. As if these considerations were not enough, the lack of

coordination and certainty between global regulatory bodies simply adds confusion to the conversation. Keeping an eye on these debates, and understanding the opportunities and challenges associated with further blockchain development, is a fiduciary responsibility of all business professionals. LOOKING AHEAD Without a doubt, the blockchain ecosystem and environment will continue to evolve, change, and develop as various internal and external forces continue to exert influence over the space. Cryptoassets, smart contracts, and how to further integrate blockchain applications with existing technology systems will continue to represent substantive debates and areas of policy focus for years to come. In addition to these higher-level conversations and debates, finalizing and drilling down into

some of the operational specifics linked to controls, custody, liability, and reporting of blockchain information are rapidly emerging as areas of top priority for commercial enterprises. Understanding these implications and realizing that alongside the opportunities possible with blockchain there will also be challenges, the future does seem to be bright for motivated and proactive professionals. Progress will, of course, be uneven, but taking a measured and proactive approach seems to make sense and will generate benefits for the private and public sectors alike. AICPA & CIMA “DEMYSTIFYING BLOCKCHAIN” 2-DAY SEMINAR ON THE DUTCH CARIBBEAN - CURAÇAO T h e A m e r i c a n I n s t i t u t e o f C PA s (AICPA) and Wall Street Blockchain Alliance (WSBA) work together to define the impact of Blockchain technology for the accounting profession and advance the interests of both the public and profession in this area. With this purpose, Global International Management LLC is organizing a 2-day AICPA & CIMA “Demystifying Blockchain” seminar on Curaçao at the newly renovated Marriott Beach Resort on December 9th and 10th 2019 from 8 AM to 6 PM. This event will be opened by the U.S. Consul General to Curaçao Mr. Allen Greenberg. Participants will be able to receive 16 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits. All organizations and professionals who want to get a foundational understanding of Blockchain and Cryptoassets should join! For more information please email or visit




OUROX TAKES FIRST STEPS TO DEVELOP AN INNOVATIVE SECURITIES EXCHANGE FOR LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN The American FinTech start-up OuroX, founded by South American entrepreneurs, signed a letter of intent with the Suriname Stock Exchange with the goal of establishing a modern digital National Securities Exchange, headquartered in Suriname. This first step paves the way for OuroX to develop and operate the new digital National Securities Exchange.

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OuroX uses blockchain technology to digitize assets, which increases transparency, efficiency, trust, and allows for better supervision in capital markets. With companies in large parts of the Caribbean and Latin American region still mainly dependent on lending to facilitate growth, this technology will allow exchanges in the region to upgrade their technical infrastructure and connect to the larger capital markets in the world. This results in direct regulated foreign capital investment flows into the region. VALUE OuroX provides access to capital market financing options and instruments, not only


for small, medium and large companies, but also for banks, investment funds, pension funds and governments. Pension funds will be able to invest in new financial products and can create a better return within their current jurisdiction. A bank can increase their liquidity by listing loans with good ratings on the exchange. In addition, OuroX provides opportunities for the startup and small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) market to build and expand their businesses. According to the World Bank, the market capitalization of securities on a national exchange reaches an average of 55% of the country’s GDP. SMEs are an integral

part of the economy and generate the largest amount of jobs. With incubators and accelerators developing around the exchange, this will lead to a boost of the region’s economies. “The opportunity is of course much larger than just company shares and bonds. We will grow steadily by creating products for real estate, commodities trading (including oil and gold), and in the near future also FOREX” explains Serge Tjin Wong Joe, President of Business Development of OuroX. TECHNOLOGY The National Securities Exchange of Suriname is built using state-of-the-art exchange soft-


ment and implementation of the new digital exchange, with the full cooperation and support of regulators, will be possible in just a few months. The investment in the technology has been made by OuroX, regulatory frameworks are drafted, and the exchange is available to financial institutions, companies and governments.’’ More information on OuroX can be found on OuroX is currently offering an investment opportunity through ownership in the company:

ware from OuroX’s American FinTech parent company. The software is developed together with AlphaPoint, a market leader in innovative exchange software. Working with AlphaPoint, who also built the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, was a strategic decision. The partnership allows OuroX to easily connect to international capital markets and also allows the exchange to be compliant with the latest financial regulations internationally.


BEYOND THE EXCHANGE In addition to prov iding cutting edge exchange platforms, OuroX’s payment app OuroPay, was released in the third quarter (Q3) of 2019, and complements the exchange by offering fast, safe, low-cost payments and cross-border remittances. Moreover, an e-commerce platform similar to that of Alibaba for the Latin America and Caribbean region is also in the works. ‘’Our vision is to advance financial inclusion and boost economies in the region by improving the way people interact financially using modern technology that has already proven successful in other regions of the world’’ says Nadira Ramautarsing, Chief Marketing Officer of OuroX. TIMING Maya Parbhoe, Chief Executive Officer of OuroX is ready. “The future is now. It is important to understand that the develop-



CINEX SMART INVESTMENT SUMMIT 2019 The Orange economy is sometimes also referred to as the Creative economy. It includes industries such as digital media, software development, visual arts and advertising. Curaรงao Investment and Export Promotion Agency (CINEX) hosted its two-day Smart Investment Summit on August 28th and 29th featuring an inspiring range of presentations on this subject. Topics included Smart Cities, Sustainable Development Goals, the need for automating services and the potential for technology to improve the quality of life.

This was the fourth edition of the summit and it was attended by local and international entrepreneurs and businesspeople, educators, representatives from the government and tech industry professionals. The event took place in the run up to the Curaรงao North Sea Jazz festival and attendees had the option to avail of a package that

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included tickets to the music event as well as the summit. Indeed, music played a key role throughout the event with karaoke and musical interludes between speakers. Some of the highlights of the summit were presentations by multi-talented, serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman, Gianluca Galletto,

co-founder of Smart City NYC and Boris Koprivnikar former Deputy Prime Minister of Slovenia. JEFF HOFFMAN Jeff Hoffman spoke about his perception of entrepreneurship as an exercise in solving problems. He suggested replacing the word


entrepreneur with “self-determinator” and emphasised the need for people to step up and fix things instead of complaining about what is wrong. In the final words of his presentation he told the CINEX audience, “Next time you see something that you don’t like, don’t say, ‘They should do something about that’. There is no they. It’s you.” With a long list of successes under his belt, Jeff knows a thing or two about innovation. As well as founding multiple startups, he has produced a $100 million grossing horror movie and a Grammy-winning jazz album, written a bestselling book on entrepreneurship and currently serves on the boards of several companies across the globe. GIANLUCA GALLETTO Gianluca Galletto is Principal and Managing Director of Global Futures Group which

advises governments and businesses on how to improve the urban and business ecosystem and environment. He talked about the fragility of communities and the importance of investing in people. Echoing several other presentations from the summit, Gianluca observed that economic and social success cannot be accomplished without participation from everybody in the economy and advocated a holistic and integrated approach to planning based on reliable data. Gianluca began advising New York City after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the result was OneNYC 2050, a blueprint for the future of New York with the objective of making it the most resilient, equitable and sustainable city in the world by 2050. Launched in 2015, the plan is well on its way and has already celebrated at least one considerable achievement. 6 years ago, New York had a tech

industry just 10% of the size of its counterpart in Silicon Valley. Now it’s more like 50%. BORIS KOPRIVNIKAR Bor i s Kopr iv nikar i s CEO of Sincular Consulting which advises governments and businesses on sustainable, inclusive solutions for circular growth. As Deputy Prime Minister in Slovenia, he played a key role in helping to implement technology that reduces the time spent by citizens on bureaucracy. Boris’s experience in Slovenia showed that the most important starting block is to talk to people and find out what they need. Never exclude anybody. We can only move forward if everybody is included. “The world today is one big organism” he says, “We are part of it whether we want to be or not. The decision is whether we want to be close to the brain of this organism or somewhere else. Being close to the brain means being connected and it all comes down to data. Data is the oil of the future.” Boris spoke about the importance of creating a technology ecosystem as a means to grow and attract startups. Technology knows no borders, he says, and a smart community is a connected community. A successful tech environment will also need to work together with ecosystems of co-operation such as industry, science, academia, education, civil society and government. As such, virtually every part of society is involved in growing and nurturing tech.




5 MINUTES WITH JEFF HOFFMAN Jeff Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur, author, TV and movie director, music producer and motivational speaker. Jeff has received numerous awards for his work in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. He is passionate about innovation and teaches workshops on the subject to corporations across the globe. We managed to grab Jeff for five minutes after his presentation at the CINEX Smart Investment Summit and asked him some questions about business, innovation and Curaçao.

If you could give one piece of practical advice to a budding entrepreneur with an idea, what would it be?

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The most important piece of advice I would give is to make sure that you are actually solving a problem. Here’s the test: Is the thing you are working on something that you keep trying to convince people of? When the product is finished do you hear yourself saying, “Seriously, you really need one of these!” Are you building something where your clients keep calling you and saying, “When can I send you money? Is it finished yet?” I always tell people, if you are solving a real problem, people keep looking over your shoulder and saying, “Are you done yet? I need this thing. When can I get it?”, and they have their credit card in their hand. Most entrepreneurs are working on something that they hope to convince people to use, so solve a real problem that people really want fixed and are willing to pay for. You spoke today about income equality and how “blessings” or opportunities are not distributed equally. What can the business community in Curaçao do to address this issue on our island? On a local level you can’t save everybody, and you can’t always make it better for them, but what you can do is teach people how to do it for themselves. Teach them how to go and get their own blessings. It’s not about sharing the blessings, what I’d really rather do is to show you how to go get your own. People talk about problems here and things they want to improve. If we can equip them with the entrepreneurial toolset so that they can go fix it themselves - I think that’s a lot more sustainable than giving somebody a blessing.


As a small island nation, we have a lot of advantages, but we also face challenges. You have traveled to 95 countries. Have you been anywhere where you think they are really doing things right? Yes, one of them was mentioned here today and that was Estonia. The reason why is because they are starting top down and bottom up. The people spoke and the Government listened and said, “We want to help you to create.” One of the things written on my whiteboard is “Ideas are welcome here but execution is worshipped.” Everybody has ideas all the time but not everybody picks up a shovel and starts digging. But it’s not so easy: If you’ve never built anything before, you don’t know where to start. So Estonia said, “Let’s meet in the middle.” People in their country who had never built a company said, I want to start a company, but I don’t even know where to start so the government created eRegistration. They were one of the first countries to say, “We are going to make it painfully simple for you to start a company”. Online, it takes you like five minutes. That’s an example of a country where they met in the middle. The government said, “How do we make it easier to encourage business?” and the people said, “Here’s a list of the things we need you to fix”. You’ve been here twice now. What would you say is the greatest unique thing that Curaçao has to offer? It has flavour. The people here have opinions. There are lots of different people here who like different things. There are different kinds of music. There’s art and culture. For a small island, there’s a lot of flavour. At the start of today’s session, there were all these people who came up and talked about the different things they were

working on; from the food festival to the music festival to cultural things. Flavour I would define as so many things mixed together. It’s not just one thing going on. There’s art, there’s business, there’s culture. I like that. It’s a culturally rich place. Finally, you ran out of time on your presentation and joked about coming back next year to finish it. If you could fast forward to this time next year, what development or achievement would you most like to see on the island of Curaçao? There’s a couple. I would like to see more Public Private Partnerships happening. We talked about the orange economy today and we have big goals in that area. But for these objectives to be met, we can’t have the government working on one thing over here on their own and some corporations here and some individuals over there. The countries around the world that have done it right did PPP Public Private Partnerships and so what I’d like to see when I come back is.… Let me make one problem up just as an example: Let’s say there was traffic congestion, I would love to see the government say, Hey! We are putting out a challenge - the specific challenge of public and private working together to solve the same problem that everybody cares about. But that’s not how it is today. Today we heard about different programs, but we didn’t hear from entrepreneurs. We heard from governments and we heard from corporations. We heard from institutions who are working on their own thing. We haven’t taken a needle and thread and sewn that together. That’s what makes things really exceptional - public and private working together.


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COMMUNITY BUILDING AS A BUSINESS Curaçao’s historical city center is on the rise again after years of deterioration and neglect. Social entrepreneur Kurt Schoop is one of the key players in the development of the Otrobanda neighborhood. He has created innovative ways to successfully combine his passion for community work with sustainable business models.

“I’ve always had entrepreneurial skills, I just didn’t use them for business purposes”, Kurt says looking back at his career. “Throughout the years, I have always looked for opportunities to create new things, to turn nothing into something. That’s how my passion for Otrobanda started.” Kurt is not originally an Otrobandista but he became one. He really got to know the neighborhood while doing social work for Plataforma Otrobanda in the late 1990s, walking in and out of decayed monumental buildings and speaking to the residents. “It was love at first sight”, he recalls with a smile. Kurt saw the enormous potential of the area and its people and told himself he would one day settle in Otrobanda.


In 2004 he did and purchased a beautiful yet deteriorated house in the Ser’i Otrobanda area. After renovating the house, Kurt started renting out rooms through AirBnB and attracted visitors from around the world. The timing was perfect as growing numbers of tourists were looking for authentic accommodations in the city center. He decided to buy a second house in the same area and rent it out as well. At the time Kurt was working as a trainer and had become chairman of the Fundashon Ser’i Otrobanda. He followed numerous courses on community development and was trained in Landmark Forums and the OASIS game, a participative method to simulate and facilitate urban development and social cohesion. “All

these courses had similar frameworks and made me ask myself three crucial questions: What is my dream? What am I doing? What is my question for the future?” Kurt realized that while he had invested lots of time and energy in Otrobanda, he had never thought of a way to generate a return on his investments and make his work sustainable. In other words: he couldn’t live off his social work. He felt he had to come up with a viable business model for his community efforts and soon. More and more people were becoming interested to invest in the area and Kurt feared that if he didn’t act others would surely make good use of the social infrastructure he had created.


While looking for answers, Kurt went for drinks with good friends. They talked about how much they loved street parties with good food, music, art and before they knew it the Kaya Kaya Party idea was born. “We were discussing things we enjoy and we didn’t have on the island. So we thought: let’s do it ourselves!” More than just a street party, Kaya Kaya is actually a tool for community development on multiple levels. First, Kurt and his team of professionals and volunteers clean and beautify the party area with the active involvement of residents and property owners. Then the residents are involved as organizers, vendors or helpers. The publicity of the party pulls potential home buyers and investors into the neighborhood. From the first edition of Kaya Kaya it became clear that others also liked the idea. The Kaya Kaya crew expected 500 visitors and more than 5000 people showed up. Kurt knew he now had to separate Kaya Kaya from his social work. He stepped down as chairman of Fundashon Ser’i Otrobanda and started Kaya Kaya B.V., a limited company with business partners Raygen Zuiverloon and Clayton Lasten. “We chose to start our own business and become social entrepreneurs. In the new setup, Kaya Kaya consists of four pillars: social, economic, infrastructure and cultural. We have partners for every pillar. For the social part, we team up with Fundashon Ser’i Otrobanda. For economic aspects, we have sponsors such as MCB and ENNIA, and

partners such as Korpodeko, who are helping the residents become self-employed. Our infrastructural partners are companies like Mijnmaatschappij and MNO Vervat who deliver grit and fix the streets. We hope the government will also get involved as they are ultimately responsible for this aspect. Our cultural partners are organizations such as Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.” As Kurt started getting more recognition for his work, he was approached by various people who wanted him to manage their house in Otrobanda. Reluctant at first, his business partner Clayton Lasten convinced him to start offering property management services. When presenting their plans to potential buyers, some house owners asked Kurt and Clayton if they didn’t want to just rent the houses themselves and do something great with them. Kurt liked the idea and turned these houses together with his own properties into Bario Hotel. It didn’t stop there. At this moment Bario Hotel consists of 28 apartments and rooms, each with its own unique and authentic style. The hotel has its own bar and a restaurant is in the making. Kurt sees a lot of opportunities for the near future. “The potential of the area hasn’t been fully used yet. I am facilitating real estate purchase and sales in the neighborhood, that’s just one example. There are plenty of niches. I see myself as a concept developer. All my projects have the same basis of leadership, management

and vision. I had no experience in organizing events, owning a hotel or running a bar but I found out that if you do what you’re passionate about and combine that with a clear vision you can and will be successful.” Kurt’s advice for those who want to get involved in city center entrepreneurship is to not be blind to your surroundings. “Look around you. Don’t scare the residents or drive them out to create something artificial but try to involve them in what you are doing. Make your ideas inclusive. Look for talented people in the area to help you. If you succeed in getting the residents on board you can grow together and be successful in the long run. Every area has its own authenticity that you should respect and value in order for your idea or project to blend in.” He hopes that the way Kaya Kaya is set up will serve as a blueprint for other initiatives in the city center. “Let’s create a route connecting Pietermaai, Scharloo, Punda and Otrobanda in which we develop meeting points, artistic displays, bars and pop-up restaurants. I know it’s possible. I have taken care of my own house first and people liked it. Then I worked on my street, now we’re developing Ser’i Otrobanda. The next step will be the whole of Otrobanda and beyond!” The next Kaya Kaya Street Party will take place on Saturday, December 21.

Source @kayakayaparty




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CURAÇAO AND THE CARIBBEAN BASIN TRADE PARTNERSHIP ACT In cooperation with the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Economical Development, the U.S. Consulate General in Curaçao organized an information session on September 12th, 2019 regarding the U.S. Trade Preference Program. The presentation was given by Magaly Garcia, Regional Director of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. She visited Curaçao on September 12th and 13th to provide an overview of the trade preference program, the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) and to describe the program benefits.

ROLE OF THE OFFICE OF THE U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE (USTR) The USTR is the cabinet-level agency, which coordinates the U.S. Trade Policy. It acts as a lead negotiator, administrator of preference programs and it represents the U.S. at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Currently, the USTR is led by Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. The Office of the Western Hemisphere administers the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) and CBTPA. CARIBBEAN BASIN INITIATIVE For the U.S., the trade programs known collectively as the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) remain important elements of the economic relations with neighbors in the Caribbean. CBI aims to facilitate the development of stable Caribbean Basin economies by providing beneficiary countries


with duty-free access for most goods into the U.S. market. The CBI was launched in 1983 through CBERA and expanded in 2000 when the Trade and Development Act of 2000 was signed, which also included Title II, referred to as the CBTPA. The CBI expanded again in 2002 by the Trade Act of 2002. Additional benefits were created for Haiti by amending the CBERA to include the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2006 (HOPE), the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2008 (HOPE II) and the Haiti Economic Lift Program of 2010 (HELP). HOPE established new rules of origin that made Haiti eligible for new trade benefits on apparel imports and

enhanced sourcing flexibility for apparel producers in Haiti. HOPE II modified the existing trade preference programs under HOPE and HELP provided duty-free treatment for additional textile and apparel products from Haiti. These preference programs are scheduled to expire on September 30th, 2025. On a bi-annual basis, the USTR is required to submit a report to Congress regarding the results of the general CBI eligibility criteria. This report provides an important opportunity to evaluate the effects of these expansions on CBI trade preferences. The latest CBI report is available on the USTR website. On an annual basis, the USTR is required to submit a report to Congress regarding the implementation of HOPE II. The latest HOPE II report is also available on the USTR website.


eficiary countries are also exempted from paying the merchandise processing fee collected by the U.S. Customs Border Protection for all imports. Exporters should fill in the needed paperwork when sending their goods and mark CBTPAbeneficiary on it.

CBERA & CBTPA COUNTRIES There are currently 17 CBERA beneficiary countries of which 8 are also beneficiaries under CBTPA. CBERA beneficiary countries:

CBTPA also provides a NAFTA-equivalent tariff treatment for certain items previously excluded from duty-free treatment under the CBI program. Examples of these items are, among other things, footwear, canned tuna, petroleum products, watches and certain leather-related goods.

1. Antigua and Barbuda 2. Aruba 3. The Bahamas 4. Barbados 5. Belize 6. British Virgin Islands 7. Curaçao

CBERA AND CBTPA PROGRAM OVERVIEW CBERA was implemented on January 1st, 1984 and has no set expiration date. The CBTPA was implemented on October 5th, 2000 in order to reach parity with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) benefits. Both in 2008 and 2010, the CBTPA was renewed with bipartisan support. CBTPA is currently authorized until September 30th, 2020. U.S. Representatives introduced legislation to reauthorize CBTPA until 2030, but an act of Congress and a waiver approved by the WTO are needed to extend the program. The USTR is currently preparing a report due to Congress at the end of this year on the operation of CBI. The CBI, in which CBTPA countries are a subset of the CBERA countries, provides enhanced access to the U.S. market by providing dutyfree treatment to originating goods of partner countries and territories. Currently, there are approximately 5,800 products that are covered under CBERA and CBTPA. In 2018, U.S. total goods trade with CBTPA beneficiary countries was estimated at $16.7 billion, with a U.S. surplus of $3.3 billion. Curaçao is one of the partner nations of the program and therefore may potentially benefit from CBTPA through dutyfree access for most goods into the U.S. market. THE CBTPA PROGRAM BENEFITS For apparel made in the Caribbean, CBTPA has significantly expanded their preferential treatment. An example of this preferential treatment is duty- and quota-free import for apparel and fabrics made in the CBI. However, the rules of origin should be taken into account. CBTPA ben-

RULES OF ORIGIN CBPTA provides preferential tariff treatment to eligible products if those products meet the rules of origin. These rules specify how goods must be processed in order to qualify as originating. Most rules of origin are expressed in two ways: change of tariff classification or regional value content. Rules of origin for mineral fuels are different, as they require certain kinds of processes to take place in a CBTPA country. DEFINITION OF ORIGINATING GOODS • T he good is wholly obtained or produced entirely in the territory of one or more of the CBTPA countries from exclusively originating materials. • N on-originating materials used as parts of the production of the good undergo an applicable change in tariff classification as a result of production occurring entirely in the territory of one or more of the CBTPA countries. • T he good is produced entirely in the territory of one or more of the CBTPA countries but where one or more of the non-originating materials provided for as parts used in the production of the good does not undergo a change in tariff classification, the regional value content of the good is not less than 60% of the transaction value. • For mineral fuel products, chemical reaction and processing rules apply. For instance, diluents from a non-CBTPA country may be used for heavy oil dilution in order to facilitate the transportation between CBTPA countries, provided that the diluents constitute no more than 40% by volume of the good. INCREASING DUTY-FREE EXPORTS TO THE U.S. Over half of U.S. imports of chemical and related products, energy-related products, textiles and apparel and just under half of agriculture products eligible for duty-free treatment under CBERA and CBTPA are paying duties. Agriculture

8. Dominica 9. Grenada 10. Guyana 11. Haiti 12. Jamaica 13. Montserrat 14. St. Kitts and Nevis 15. St. Lucia 16. St. Vincent and the Grenadines 17. Trinidad and Tobago CBTPA beneficiary countries: 1. Barbados 2. Belize 43

3. Curaçao 4. Guyana 5. Haiti 6. Jamaica 7. St. Lucia 8. Trinidad and Tobago

exports are increasing under CBERA and could represent further increases under both preference programs. In 2018, most of Curaçao’s exports entered the U.S. under no program. Curaçao’s exports under CBERA were mostly rum and organic skin cleanser products. Curaçao’s energy-related product exports eligible under CBERA and CBTPA are being exported to other markets at Most Favored Nation (MFN) rates; these rates are higher than the CBTPA rates. Currently, Curaçao may not be taking full advantage of the program, but with further informational seminars for all businesses that export their products to the U.S., the rate taking advantage of the CBPTA program should improve. More information about exporting products duty-free under CBERA and CBTPA can be found on the website of the USTR and on the website of the U.S. Customs.



CURAÇAO TECH MEETUPS 2019: OVERVIEW AND HIGHLIGHTS The 2nd Curaçao Tech Meetups took place on Curaçao from September 2nd to 8th over five locations on the island and included presentations, workshops, a hackathon and kids’ activities. Presentations were held at Central Bank Curaçao from Monday through Thursday taking in all aspects of technology and featuring representatives from a wide variety of industries. This year’s Meetups focused on three hashtags; #WomeninTech, #KidsinTech and #TechagainstPoverty. Each day had a particular theme and comprised a series of inspiring and informative talks by tech professionals and evangelisers.

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Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath opened the series with a keynote speech in which he acknowledged the importance of holding such an event on the island while emphasising the necessity for leaders in Tech to take


hold of the reins and move forward with or without government support. Many of the key messages from presenters and participants centered around the need to be prepared for the changes being brought about by

advances in technology and the importance of making sure that no-one is left behind. Event organiser Adric Walter said, “We have to take it out of the boardroom and


Visitor numbers to Curaçao increased by 16% in the past year but our tourism sector is still dwarfed by neighbouring Aruba. We have approximately 3,000 hotel rooms; about the same number as one wing of a Las Vegas hotel. By contrast, Aruba will have almost 15,000 hotel rooms by the end of 2019. So, how can technology boost visitor numbers to our island? Miles suggests improving Wifi access. Island-wide free Wifi is a big draw for tourists as well as businesspeople and digital nomads. We also need to encourage more tourist attractions and services online. For visitors, less hassle = more spent and that applies to all aspects of their trip.

into the bario” and this idea underpinned the Meetups as a whole. Registration and attendance were free of charge for all events with the exception of the one-day digital leadership workshop at a luxury villa in Jan Thiel. The Meetups also included a number of networking events at UNO in Pietermaai and concluded on Sunday, September 8th with a vegan food event at the Bario Hotel in Otrobanda.

HIGHLIGHTS Yithza Davelaar, Motivational speaker Yithza Davelaar is an educational consultant and motivational speaker. She is the founder of the Islandessa Foundation, an organisation dedicated to promoting Personal Development on the island of Curaçao. Yithza took a long and winding road to her current role which involved a 20-year detour through a career she did not enjoy. This experience gave her a number of valuable insights. One of these was a desire to help other people identify their strengths and talents, and to use this awareness to choose careers that bring them joy as well as a paycheck. Yithza says that every person has 10 - 15 talents; activities that make time fly by without us even realising. However, many people don’t recognise these as talents and end up in jobs where their greatest abilities are not being put to use. After attending a seminar some years ago, Yithza learnt about Positive Education,

a term coined by psychologist Martin Seligman whose ideas have taken legs and seen educators in the Netherlands getting certified as ‘talent fluisterers’ (talent whisperers). These fluisterers are trained to have conversations with young people to help them see and acknowledge their talents and to promote life skills such as integrity, resilience and grit. Next year, 100 teachers on Bonaire will be certified as talent fluisterers, focused on using positive reinforcement to help young people make career choices that will bring them mental enrichment and happiness as well as material success. Miles B.M. Mercera, President & CEO - CHATA One of the biggest challenges that Curaçao faces as a tourist destination is the fact that many people have never heard of us. Miles highlighted the importance of destination events such as Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival, Flavors of Curaçao and the Meetups in putting the island on the map and boosting Curaçao’s international reputation. On average, 44 visitor arrivals to Curaçao translates to one new job in the tourism sector. With approximately 11,000 people on the island working in tourism, promoting ourselves as a destination is a priority. Another is attracting guests who will contribute to the economy. Curiously, Brazilian tourists are the most lavish visitors to our island spending an average of $250.24 per day, almost twice the average $132.78 per day of a Dutch tourist.

Aces Suares, Founder - Nos Ta Konekta Ace Suares is passionate about bringing technology to everybody on Curaçao. In his presentation on children and technology, he pointed out the inequality of internet access on the island. In some barios, 90% of kids grow up with regular internet access whilst in others, only 1 in 10 children can get online. 45

Getting kids involved in a digital project where they can see the results of their participation is a great way to demonstrate firsthand the benefits of technology and that’s exactly what Ace did in a Geolocation project in Otrobanda with 12 HAVO students. Several parts of our island have yet to be adequately and accurately added to Google Maps and other online location software. The students identified a number of locations which were not represented online and set about remedying this situation. By uploading street and alley names, the kids learned about satellites, GPS and most importantly how their personal contribution can benefit the community. In another project, Nos Ta Konekta organised 3 weeks of activities to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for elementary school students. The kids learned about coding and engineering. In the final week of the project, they used LEGO WEDO to build and program a variety of tools. These activities teach kids to love technology and demonstrate how they can participate and benefit from tech now and in the future.



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INTERVIEW WITH ADRIC WALTER, FOUNDER OF CURAÇAO TECH MEETUPS Adric Walter has been living in Rotterdam for nineteen years and people are always asking him when he is coming back to Curaçao. “I’m not coming back, but I’m not staying away either,” he tells me. These co-existing realities are an essential part of who he is and how he contributes to the island. Geographical borders don’t have to limit us and there’s a wealth of knowledge, ideas and inspiration that we can share with one another from across the ocean.

Adric sees himself as somebody who, by virtue of his upbringing and education, has an unfair technical advantage. He believes that with this advantage comes the responsibility of using his skills and knowledge to help as many people as he can in reaching their full potential. The plans for the 2019 Tech Meetup series began before the last year’s event had even finished, and he has pulled out all the stops this time around. With four times the number of registered attendees and events taking place at five locations over eight days, the Meetups will bring together more than one thousand people from business, technology, education and government. Adric handpicked the presenters and contributors with three key themes in mind; #WomeninTech, #KidsinTech and #TechagainstPoverty; subjects which he believes are essential for our survival in the digital economy. He describes this year’s event as “Human-centric and technology-driven.” “We need women in tech, for what they can contribute to the field and as role models for the younger generation.” This is something that Adric experienced firsthand growing up. His mother worked at IBM and her influence was vital in paving the path that he followed. While his childhood friends obsessed over car makes and models, Adric memorised the serial numbers on the computer parts that his mother brought home. He began programming at age eleven and what began as a hobby became a passion that saw him going to university in the Netherlands to study computer science. Adric’s mother instilled in him a fascination for technology,

but his father’s career as a social worker was just as significant and brought him an awareness of inequality and injustice at a young age. He speaks passionately about his desire to make technology accessible to everyone, regardless of gender, age, occupation or income level. Technology levels the playing field, offering a path out of poverty, he tells me. We’ve seen this all over the world. There is nervous chatter from a small number of people about jobs being lost in the digital revolution, but the reality is going to prove very different. Technology of the future will eliminate some jobs, but it will also create many new opportunities. Preparation is key so that we are ready for the changes that are coming. Adric is concerned that education is not keeping up with developments in technology and that our young people will suffer as a result of this. “We are motivating kids to do things that will be irrelevant in the future,” he says, using his own occupation as an example of a job that didn’t exist when he was in school. While he agrees that formal education has a role to play in preparing kids for the future, he points out that we don’t have to wait for the government to change the syllabus. Parents and teachers can make a huge positive impact by organising initiatives such as after school tech sessions and weekend activities. That’s exactly why the Tech Meetups included several fun events for children at Sambil Mall. Kids took part in a drone workshop, a 3D printing event and a Snapology demo, all of which were designed to inspire, empower and bring technology to life in an interactive and engaging way. Like the rest of the Meetups, these activities were free of charge and open to everyone. Adric explains to me that keeping admission

free is one of the core principles of the Meetups. Providing open access is fundamental to the event and he is committed to maintaining this in future years. As we discuss the future, Adric is positive about how tech can elevate the island. “The people of Curaçao have an incredible inventiveness,” he tells me. “Look at how well organised Carnival is! We just need to channel that energy and ingenuity in the right direction.” Although he is optimistic, he is also mindful of the dangers of inactivity and apathy. If we do the right things, we can take control of the economy and become leaders in the region. Curaçao with its climate, location and multi-lingual population has a lot to offer, but if we don’t adopt technology, make no mistake, we will fall behind. Adric says that it’s not just the residents of Curaçao who are responsible for change. He believes that the local community overseas has a significant role to play in using knowledge gained abroad to help the people at home. People from here move around a lot and they always come home with new ideas. “We are duty-bound to help our country,” he says. “It’s not optional.” The first Curaçao Tech Meetups in 2018 resulted in two startups being launched on the island after the founders met at the events. Adric has even higher hopes for this year. “I work for my grandchildren,” he explains. “I want them to be able to look back at what I did with my career and see how it has positively impacted them.” Adric Walter is a Microsoft Azure Cloud Architect at Rubicon Cloud Advisor in Rotterdam.


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PARTICIPANTS UNITED ENTREPRENEURSHIP CURAÇAO SUMMIT 2019 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Prime Minister of Curaçao Eugene Rhuggenaath Minister of Traffic, Transportation and Urban Planning Zita Jesus – Leito Minister for Health, Environment and Nature Suzanne Camelia-Römer Source @hethuisvanasporaat Minister of Economic Development

52 52


Giselle McWilliam


Entrepreneur, event coordinator, initiator United Entrepreneurship Curaçao Summit Jandino Asporaat ENTREPRENEURSHIP ORGANIZATIONS: Manager Investment & Trade Promotion Chamber of Commerce Curaçao Steven Damiana Manager Investment Department

On September 20, 2019, local entrepreneurs received the gratuitous opportunity to assist at the United Entrepreneurship Curaçao Summit organized by Het Huis van Asporaat at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. Jandino Asporaat, co-founder of Het Huis van Asporaat, is no stranger to the local and Dutch entertainment industry. The 38-year-old stand-up comedian, actor, producer, writer, and entrepreneur was born in Curaçao and started his professional career in The Netherlands in 2002.

Algemeen Pensioenfonds Curaçao Solange Fingal ENTREPRENEURS: Founder Greenhouse Saneleo Petronella Founder DutchTreat Dino de Castro

As a Curaçao patriot, he invested in the realization and implementation of the summit, with the goal to motivate, inspire and connect local entrepreneurs. Hundreds of ambitious CEOs and entrepreneurs, from young and old generations, were present at the summit, gaining expert knowledge while renewing motivation and confidence. Before the summit, we received the opportunity to interview Jandino about the project goals, his entrepreneurial journey and his eagerness to strengthen the relationship between entrepreneurs and local authorities. Throughout the years, Jandino Asporaat gained immense popularity as an actor, TV host and comedian. “Not everybody is aware that behind this successful image, there’s a successful business strategy involved. Without my entrepreneurial skills, the successful personality would not have existed. The truth behind my success is to practice the values I hold, every day in


small ways, and sometimes make big moves as well. What you leave behind is not what is engraved on stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. In my case, I sell emotions. Part of being human is seeking, experiencing and communicating emotions. We all have this particular weak spot: We will pay almost any amount to enjoy a little more pleasure in our lives. Buying decisions are always the result of a change in the customer’s emotional state. While information may help change that emotional state, it’s the emotion that’s important, not the information” he explains. As an acknowledged native from Curaçao (Yu di Kòrsou), he receives questions by his countrymen regarding his successful strategy on a daily basis. As an entrepreneur, it can be even more challenging, and one needs to work even harder to make their business a reality. “What if I told you that you could make these tasks infinitely

Founders Poké Food Station Cristy-Ann Rojer & Kevin Boom Founders FruitsiFruits Mishédro Clemencia & Johnnylo Sebastiana Co-founder Profound Projects Gino Jacobs SUCCESS STORIES: President New Winds Realty Randy Neuman Managing Director Divi Divi Air Germaine Richie Head of Research Department Central Bank Curaçao Candice Henriquez


owners should invest in supporting and training up-and-coming entrepreneurs to ensure the most vibrant workforce possible for all entrepreneurial endeavors. It benefits the entire community to encourage and train students interested in starting businesses.

Source @Asporaat Jandino

easier by partnering with fellow business owners? Although you probably have a myriad of responsibilities, taking time to network with other founders can provide numerous benefits. Forming partnerships with relevant businesses can help you gain new opportunities, you could make valuable connections and sometimes, receiving an outside perspective can help you refine your business’s practices. On the other hand, entrepreneurs acquire capital from their equity sources or loans from banks to build their business that adds value to the creation of wealth, influencing the economy and industrial structure of a country directly. The growth of industries and companies in various fields leads to the development of services such as road, public transportations, health, education, and entertainment. The implementation of those industrial activities results in the development of a more vibrant economy. Unfortunately, Curaçao is still not trained to show its maximum potential. We not only need to build ecosystems, where industry and government come together to help local manufacturers develop new ideas, but we need to give each other the chance to create a business opportunity. For this reason, I invested in my island, organizing the United Entrepreneurship Curaçao Summit. I want to give the local entrepreneurs the opportunity to receive a “solution-oriented” approach to resolve business problems. During my last trip

to South Africa, I learned about our history and there was one expression explained I will never forget. “Each one teach one” is an African proverb that originated in America during slavery times. Slaves were seen as chattel and therefore denied an education so when one slave learned to read or write, it became his duty to teach someone else. This is also the expression I will use during this summit, a summit that will be organized on a yearly basis on the island. Education is the key!” he stated.

This was the first summit organized by Het Huis van Asporaat; the beginning of a perfect platform to create new insights about the potential of Curaçao. The organization’s goal is to present a yearly platform which highlights the powerful bond between entrepreneurship and Curaçao’s national income. For entrepreneurs to bring new ideas to life, they need access to education and a competitive level-playing field. The role of government leaders and public policy is to create conditions that allow more entrepreneurs to start businesses. Under the right conditions, entrepreneurs have an incredible power: they help regional areas prosper economically and can also serve society as they help engineer innovative solutions to problems and challenges. United Entrepreneurship Curaçao Summit: see you next year!

53 BUSINESS IN INNOVATIVE SECTOR: Director CINEX Ramon Koffijberg Co-founder & Manager Director Curaçao Financial Group Bharat Bhojwani Previous Minister of Economic Development

The planners of United Entrepreneurship Curaçao Summit 2019 developed an interesting program focusing on essential themes that drive entrepreneurial success on Curaçao. Besides successful pioneering stories, there were different panel discussions with successful entrepreneurs, Ministers of Curaçao and representatives of local authorities. One of the successful and inspiring entrepreneurial stories was about FruitsiFruits, a company founded by two brothers Mishédro Clemencia and Johnnylo Sebastiana. These young adults had entrepreneurship as their first career choice. They created a healthy business profile after finishing high school, selling fruit cocktails to companies and families on the island. The way they presented themselves on stage, with their uniforms and jugs, showed their dedication and discipline, regardless their young age. Current entrepreneurs and small business

Steven Martina Founder & CEO Minubia Renato Ignacio BUSINESS IN TOURISM SECTOR: President & CEO CHATA Miles Mercera Co-initiator Kaya Kaya Party Kurt Schoop Corendon Curaçao Holding BV Caroline Debrot Hartel Senior Advisor Strategy/Development & Planning CTB Faisol Ayoubi



CURAÇAO NORTH SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL 2019 August saw the World Trade Center host its most successful Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival (CNSJ) to date with an all-star lineup on three stages that included bestselling artists from five decades and a multitude of music genres. This year’s edition of the biggest music festival in the Caribbean broke all previous attendance records with approximately 8,000 attendees on the first two nights of the event and a phenomenal 12,000 people for the final evening.

The party kicked off on Thursday, August 29 th w ith a p er for m ance f rom the Dominican singer Juan Luis Guerra on the Sam Cooke stage. Friday’s lineup featured performances from Pitbull, Inner Circle, Earth, Wind & Fire, Maxwell and the Black Eyed Peas. On Saturday, the crowd was treated to an unforgettable show from Third World on the Sir Duke stage, followed by the Diva of all Divas, Mariah Carey and LA chart topper Maroon 5 on the Sam Cooke stage. Gladys Knight rocked the Celia stage showing us that age is no obstacle for the Empress of Soul before Nicky Jam closed the festival on the Sir Duke stage. The event has been running since 2010 and each year thousands of festival goers from across the globe travel to Curaçao for this internationally renowned event. This year CNSJ had higher numbers of attendees from within the Caribbean region, helped in no

small part by new direct flight links from Trinidad and Tobago with Caribbean Airlines. CHATA reported a 5% increase in August visitor arrivals this year which translated to 1,834 more visitors than in August 2018. Undoubtedly many of these extra guests were CNSJ festival-goers and the event continues to be the single biggest event on the island each year. Every hotel, Airbnb rental and guest house on the island was fully booked and bars and restaurants squeezed in extra chairs and tables to cater for everybody. Next year CNSJ festival will celebrate its 10th year and the scheduled opening of 3 new hotels on the island between now and then will provide a welcome 800 to 900 extra guest rooms. The weeks before and after the festival were also busy for business with conference organisers taking advantage of the increased traffic to the island and hosting events in the

same time period. The Remote Work Works event, Curaçao Tech Meetups and the CINEX Smart Investment Summit all benefitted from strategic timing in close proximity to the festival. Over the years, CNSJ has seen headline performances from artists including Prince, Chaka Khan, Lenny Kravitz, Christina Aguilera, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and Carlos Santana. The event is managed by Mojo events in the Netherlands and is an offshoot of the original North Sea Jazz festival which takes place in Rotterdam each year. CNSJ is the brainchild of Gregory Elias, financial adviser and founder of Fundashon Bon Intenshon which aims to put Curaçao in the spotlight internationally by supporting culture, sports, tourism and the arts. The festival is sponsored by Heineken, Curaçao Tourist Board and United Foundation.





DENNIS & SADIRA HENRIQUEZ Entrepreneurship is a thrilling roller coaster ride. There are highs, but also lows. What isn’t talked about enough is the struggle that so many entrepreneurs face pursuing success. How do they come up with their startup ideas? How many attempts does it take before they make it big? Clearly there is no straight path to success. It takes hard work, long hours, and reinventing yourself every day.

An ideal discussion of one such non-linear path is the story about Dennis and Sadira Henriquez, the force behind Irie Tours, one of Curaçao’s most well-known tour organizations. This powerful and hardworking couple is an example that commitment, determination, passion for tourism and love for your island can definitely be the main ingredients for a successful entrepreneurial journey. While driving around Curaçao, it’s hard not to notice the colorful open-air tour buses hitting the streets, informing tourists about Curaçao’s nicest beaches, the most unique spots and its rich history. “When I look back on our entrepreneurial start, it’s still impossible to believe how far we have come! Sadira worked at a sports betting company and the company I owned went bankrupt. On a regular basis, I used to sit at Baya Beach

to relax and unwind. Little did I know that these relaxing moments would lead us to an interesting journey. At Baya Beach, I met different tourists driving around on scooters and that is how I came up with the idea to start renting scooters to tourists. We bought six scooters and a van, painted with reggae colors, to transport the scooters to the cruise ship terminal” says Dennis. Sadira, his wife and business partner, continues saying that they started from scratch, without even knowing about rules and permits. “It’s also interesting to mention that the van we used to transport the scooters, became the main idea of our business. We kept up with the reggae colors and also the name ‘Irie’, which means the friendly greeting by Rastafarians” she explains. “It was another working day at the terminal. I rented all scooters and was waiting for the tourists to come back. A nice family who wanted to

know more about Curaçao approached me and this is how I started, with an impromptu tour. They had such a great time and enjoyed my favorite spots on Curaçao. When we got back to the terminal, I felt that I needed to work on a business plan” he continues. Sadira and Dennis opted to start the transition in their business, against all odds. “It has been a roller coaster ride, definitely! For example, we didn’t know we needed a special TW-permit for the license plate. There are certain permits and licenses needed to operate a tour guide business and a TW-permit is one of them. We applied years ago without any positive result. The procedure was long and stressful. After facing so many challenges, we decided to buy two companies; one of them owned the TW-permit, so this helped us with the starting process of our company. To be very honest, there were times we were about to give up. We tried to sell dif-


ferent services, for example kayaking and rides on Harley Davidsons. We tried, failed, tried, failed, and tried again eventually succeeded. Entrepreneurship is an all-consuming involvement. Though it’s a highly challenging route to take, financially and personally, the sense of fulfillment we experience makes it all worth it. We believe in Curaçao, we believe in our tourism, we believe in our people. Giving up is not an option! ” Sadira adds. While interviewing this couple, it was refreshing to feel their passion for their work and our island. “We started our business just the two of us. Nowadays, we count on a team of 50 employees. I still look back to the very first bookings, when I had the responsibility of owner, administrator and driver at the same time” Dennis stated.

our personal service. Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle. Tourism is growing and there are many investors and entrepreneurs who want to invest in our economy, and we desperately need them! I can tell you, when the cruise ship ‘Freedom of the Seas’ visits Curaçao, we do have a shortage of tours at the terminal. The procedure for permit applications has to be eased to create more jobs in the tourism sector. Curaçao is a paradise and we believe in a brighter future.” Tourism is a fast-growing industry, which is a key factor to our country’s economy. Curaçao’s tourism continues to surge. Curaçao’s Hospitality & Tourism Association (CHATA) calculated that tourism generated USD132.7 million for Curaçao’s local economy during the first two months of 2019, which was a 10% increase from prior year. Many developments occurred in 2019: Curaçao and Airbnb renewed an agreement to promote the country as a leading tourism destination; we welcomed new services to Bogotá from the Colombian LCC Wingo Airline; and the

US United Airlines added flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to Curaçao starting December 2019. Additionally within the Caribbean, Curaçao added two weekly flights to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. From Europe, Condor Airline is operating seasonal flights between Curaçao and Frankfurt, while Air Canada is also increasing its seasonal flights from three to four weekly rotations from Toronto to Curaçao in late 2019. There are also strong developments in the hotel sector, starting with the reopening of the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort on Piscadera Bay; Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino is in the midst of a renovation; the all-inclusive, family-friendly Dreams Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino and all-inclusive Corendon Beach Resort Curaçao both opening soon. Tourism on Curaçao is not only a strong contributor towards economic recovery but also generates much needed employment opportunities while further developing and enhancing the island.

Recently Irie Tours took another interesting chapter as a touring company. Next to the entertaining bus tours, Dennis and Sadira made the decision to expand their entrepreneurial venue by buying Does Travel & Cadushi Tours, Bounty Adventures and Pirates Nest restaurant. Starting with six scooters, the company now consists of nine buses and two catamarans, with still more to come. “This is the moment to expand and take the market share by forging our own path. Next to our tours by bus, we also offer beautiful and entertaining tours by sea. Travel and tourism is a competitive sector. It highlights the importance of giving excellent customer service and as a dynamic team, we will continue focusing on



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