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CUR AÇAO

BUSINESS

W W W.CURACAOBUSINESSMAGA ZINE.COM

BUSINESS AND COVID-19

HOPE AND LIGHT IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

EDITION 1 | 2020


Part of Thomson Reuters

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LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT / CHIEF EDITOR

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

LETTER FROM THE CHIEF EDITOR

“This is the year when world leaders must work with ALL sectors of society to repair and reinvigorate our systems of COOPERATION, not just for short-term benefit but for tackling our deep-rooted risks.” When I expressed that message at the Chamber’s Annual Address in January on the Economic Outlook for 2020, no one could have expected what was to come. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted Curaçao and the entire world in ways we could not have imagined. In times like these, words such as cooperation, collaboration, support and unity are now more important than ever. We have a critical unprecedented year ahead of us. In January, the Central Bank already forecasted a negative growth rate of 2.3% for 2020 and the revised numbers now are not encouraging. We will need to work together to build back the economy on the island and renew the focus to value created activities.

W h e n I b e gan my c are e r in the 90’s New York City public accounting world, the landscape was quite different. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, unprecedented in our lifetime. The coronavirus is having an impact on the health of loved ones, the businesses we rely upon, the entire global economy and every aspect of the way we live our daily lives. After decades o f wo rk i n g at i nve s t m e nt firms in the financial world, experience has taught me that communicating, connecting, growing and gaining knowledge while understanding the world and its people is a critical part of life. Relocating to Curaçao a few years ago, a small island with a big heart and never-ending diversity, has been an enormously rewarding life experience. As we face the most significant health and economic crisis most of us have ever lived through, we should take the opportunity to show solidarity and come out stronger. Uniting in our shared experiences and working to support each other will improve resilience. We are all in this together.

The government should continue to play a major role in the economic expansion, while running an efficient operation, and remove any undue obstacle to attract foreign capital, money and talent, to the island. Global innovations and technological developments create great opportunities to build local value and keep money circulating within the economy. We will need to actively promote the entrepreneurial spirit to train and develop our people to become champions in the development of new business models. Technology continues to launch new opportunities as big data is the new oil of tomorrow, and Artificial Intelligence will be the future on how we interpret it. We cannot miss this opportunity. And to get there, private and public sectors need to work together. Therefore, economic policy through a cooperating and facilitating government should be developed together with the private sector representatives who have the general interest of business as their mission. This COVID-19 coronavirus knows no nationality, state borders or ethnic backgrounds. We live in a mix between hope and concern. It is our collective responsibility as a community to do what is right. Let’s inspire hope and commit to optimism for better times ahead.

Billy Jonckheer President Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry

We believe there are moments in life that should be defined by our vision, values, hopes and dreams, not by a virus. As we continue to navigate through these unique and evolving challenges, the team at Curaçao Business Magazine will work hard to adapt in the best interest of the community. We highlight the positive, creative, strategic and informative – plus ways that can help lead, support and cope in a time of crisis. In a constantly changing business environment, the magazine remains a platform for compelling and informative reporting with articles that focus on trends, technology and innovations. Our editions are available in print and now will be in digital format as well. We strive to provide the business community of Curaçao with relevant facts while honoring the island that we share. The sense of optimism in the face of trying times can be seen around the globe. Our lives won’t remain on hold forever, and eventually we will return to the activities and interactions we find fulfilling. The lockdown will end, and life will resume. Things will return to (a new) normal. In closing, we remain very hopeful that these difficult times will bring us closer together as a community and stronger due to this collective experience. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and well, find yourself managing and moving forward to a better and brighter future. Truly and with gratitude Risa Schonbaum CPA Chief Editor Curaçao Business Magazine

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

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INDEX

Curaçao Business Media Group B.V. CHIEF EDITOR Risa Schonbaum CPA ADDRESS ON CURAÇAO Julianaplein 36 Willemstad, Curaçao +599 9 843 7236 SUBSCRIPTIONS sales@curacaobusinessmagazine.com sales@cbm.cw

van munster m e d i a

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g r o e p

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: www.vanmunstermedia.nl 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. PHOTOGRAPHER COVER PHOTO Capture This Films - Brandon Ravelo

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

INDEX

PUBLISHER Rocher Cyrus CPA, CGMA rcyrus@globalintmanagement.com

7

Light the Sky Curaçao: Let’s Inspire Hope Together

8

Curaçao Medical Center Providing the Best Healthcare

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Coronavirus in Curaçao

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Meetings and Decision-Making During the Coronavirus Crisis

16 Businesses Going Forward Towards a New Normal van munster m e d i a 18 Cathedral of Thorns by Herman van Bergen g r o e p

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CHATA and the Government of Curaçao Introduce: ‘Ready For Tourism’

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News Briefs

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Interview with U.S. Consul General Mr. Allen Greenberg

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Global Entrepreneurship Network: Startup Huddle

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Building a Resilient Business with Data

37

Demystifying Blockchain

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The State of Blockchain 2020 & Opportunities for Small Regional Markets

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Curaçao Airport Partners Discusses Positive Developments

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Curaçao Carnival 50th Anniversary

46

Karnaval from the Inside: Dushi Aventura


On November 15th, 2019, after a series of obstacles and delays, doors finally opened to the longawaited new Curacao Medical Center. Just one day before, 1,200 hospital employees and 150 patients packed up and moved from the 163-year-old St. Elisabeth Hospital into the brand-new building.

8 In November 2019, Curaçao Hospitality & Tourism Association (CHATA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development (MEO) and the Ministry of Social Development, Labour and Welfare (SOAW), announced the introduction of the project ‘Ready For Tourism’.

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The Cathedral of Thorns, situated in the garden of Landhuis Bloemhof, is a breathtaking piece of art that captures not only the local hearts, but also gains recognition in international media, already mentioned by the National Geographic as a must see.

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Cryptocurrency and blockchain have quickly become a global phenomenon and hot topic in the business world and investing community. Known by most people, but understood by few. Cryptocurrency, an abbreviation of cryptographic currency, is a type of digital asset that uses blockchain technology.

Through the years, the United States (U.S.) and the islands of the Dutch Caribbean have built strong bonds and consistently partners on topics in government, trade, education and security. The U.S. Consulate General works to strengthen the people-to-people connections.

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The world needs entrepreneurs – the doers and makers of things. This belief is the driver of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), a year-round platform of projects and initiatives in 170 countries around the globe. GEN’s mission is to make it easier for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a business.

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There’s a special energy you feel the moment you land at the Curaçao International Airport. From the architecture to the automated immigration kiosk, the fresh modern atmosphere makes this airport quite different from any other Caribbean airport.

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS NATHASJA JT 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.    ------------------------------------------------

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CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

TIM Q.M. 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. -----------------------------------------------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. -----------------------------------------------K IRK PHILLIPS, CPA , CM A , CFE, CBP is a Certified Bitcoin Professional, Managing Director, Global Crypto Advisors, Inc. “A boutique crypto CPA firm”, Principal in Blockchain Catalytics, LLC, Author of the Ultimate Bitcoin Business Guide™, Author of the AICPA Blockchain Fundamentals course, advisor to numerous projects, crypto fund manager to just about everything blockchain and cryptocurrency. ------------------------------------------------


LIGHT THE SKY

LIGHT THE SKY CURAÇAO LET’S INSPIRE HOPE TOGETHER A signal of hope and light was sent out in these difficult times, that was the main message the organizers of #LightTheSky Curaçao wanted to send out to the world. There is still so much good and positivity happening around, and always light on the horizon.

On Sunday March 22nd, the Queen Juliana Bridge became the center for the event #LightTheSky and offered a spectacular light show, organized by the entertainment industry on Curaçao as a reminder to all that the creative

force that runs through Curaçao will continue to shine brightly long after the coronavirus had faded into history. The event was streamed live on social media through the Facebook page of Light The Sky Curaçao and in cooperation with

the local television channels. For many, the lighting of the bridge became a symbol of hope in Curaçao. What was meant to uplift the spirits of the community became a message to the world that we are all in this together. 7

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020


CURAÇAO MEDICAL CENTER

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CURAÇAO MEDICAL CENTER PROVIDING THE BEST HEALTHCARE On November 15th, 2019, after a series of obstacles and delays, doors finally opened to the longawaited new Curaçao Medical Center. Just one day before, 1,200 hospital employees and 150 patients packed up and moved from the 163-year-old St. Elisabeth Hospital into the brand-new building. It was a massive operation that went off without a hitch, thanks to extensive planning and the help of a team from Erasmus Medical University in Rotterdam. WRITER: ÚNA JANSEN

The new facility is just a stone’s throw away from the old one but that’s where the similarities end. Bright and airy with floor to ceiling windows overlooking landscaped gardens, it doesn’t feel like a hospital. People are smiling and there are sounds of laughter as uniformed volunteers help patients and visitors find their way through the fresh new space. Now that services are in full swing, I sat down with Germaine Gibbs, Head of Communications at the center, to talk about healthcare, change, and the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Germaine

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

explained that the new hospital is more than just a new building. The entire ethos has been altered. “One of the biggest changes is the way we view the people who use the center. We see them as guests, not just patients”, she tells me, and feedback so far has been excellent. There are still areas for improvement, such as signage and routing, however management, staff, and patients are all reporting positive experiences. A vital component has been the technological improvements that advance the care offered and allow healthcare professionals

to deliver more efficient service. One example is the novel way that pathology services are carried out. The center now outsources nearly all its testing to an offsite lab run by Analytisch Diagnostisch Centrum NV (ADC). Samples are delivered in seconds via a pressurized vacuum tube running from the medical center to the lab, speeding up testing and results. The hospital has also adopted the HIX (Healthcare Information Exchange) medical information management system which eliminates the need for medical charts, handwritten doctor referral letters and all the associated delays. HIX


CURAÇAO MEDICAL CENTER

records everything and information is easily accessible to all medical staff. It allows for quicker diagnoses, better treatment and ultimately a shorter recovery time. This is one of the reasons why the medical center has approximately the same number of beds as the old hospital. With better and more effective care, patients should recover faster and spend less time in the hospital.

spread out around the city. Centralizing care to one location reduces delays and makes it easier for patients to access these services. However, for children who do need to be in the hospital, the medical center is making sure that it’s a more cheerful place to be, both for the kids themselves and their families. A Ronald McDonald house will soon open onsite, supporting the parents of sick children and helping them to stay together with their child for the duration of their hospital treatment.

A case in point is the pediatric wing which has a current occupancy rate of just 16%.

For the unit to operate at optimum efficiency, it would ideally have more patients but hospital admissions for children have been steadily dropping for several years, a result of better healthcare, nutrition, and vaccinations. As healthcare improves, more services can be delivered on an outpatient basis and when hospital stays are necessary, they are generally shorter. Another change that facilitates this is the relocation of consultants and specialists into the hospital building from practices that were previously

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

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CURAÇAO MEDICAL CENTER

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Another positive initiative at the center is a volunteer program that was initially meant to last only for the first few months after opening. More than one hundred members of the public signed up to assist patients and visitors in finding their way around the new hospital. The program has been enormously successful with outstanding feedback from staff, patients and the volunteers themselves. As a result, a decision was taken to make it a permanent thing. Volunteers can log on to a system where they submit

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

their availability and are assigned shifts. This approach aligns with a policy of inclusivity and autonomy across the hospital. Each employee has the opportunity to contribute to the operation of the center at quarterly town hall meetings where attendance is mandatory, and suggestions or comments are encouraged. After each meeting, all content is published on the intranet with the hospital currently updating internal systems to allow employees greater input into decision-making processes.

Communication and collaboration are at the heart of the Medical Center’s plans to deal with the coronavirus. An ‘outbreak’ team made up of microbiologists, infectologists and a pulmonologist are meeting regularly along with a specialist ‘calamity’ team made up of 30 healthcare professionals who have been trained in how to treat and contain the virus. The hospital has had plans in place for several months and these are being updated on a daily basis in response to developments locally and around the


CURAÇAO MEDICAL CENTER

world. “We have clear protocols for the moment that a coronavirus patient walks through the door,” she explains, “and we have back up plans and systems in operation for all manner of scenarios that might occur”.

nience store and some cosmetic improvements. Construction work and small repairs are ongoing, but the finish line is in sight. “The devil is in the detail”, Germaine says and as with any new building, there are minor issues that are insignificant on their own but challenging in their aggregate. All of these are expected to be ironed out by the end of the year allowing the center to focus on what’s important, providing the very best healthcare to the people of Curaçao.

Germaine sees the hospital as a resource that belongs to the community and believes, in time, it will provide services for residents of other islands in the region. In the past, some Curaçao residents have chosen to travel abroad to access healthcare services

in other countries, however, this should no longer be necessary. It won’t take long for the reputation of the new center to spread and we may soon see patients traveling here from all over the Dutch Caribbean to access a standard of care superior to that available anywhere else in the region. The management team is already working on attaining international healthcare accreditation which will help to promote the hospital as a center of excellence. There are still other developments planned, such as the addition of an onsite conve-

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

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CORONAVIRUS

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CORONAVIRUS IN CURAÇAO Along with the rest of the world, Curaçao has felt the impact of the global spread of the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19). The first case on the island was detected on March 13th, when a 68-year-old Dutch tourist tested positive for the virus after traveling to the island for vacation. Since then as of the end of March, ten more cases have presented with one of these, unfortunately, resulting in a fatality. WRITER: ÚNA JANSEN

Reacting quickly to reports of the situation in Europe and further afield, the Government of Curaçao took decisive action shutting the airspace to flights originating in Europe and mandatorily closing all educational institutions to limit the spread of the disease and protect the citizens of Curaçao. As the additional cases were diagnosed, the Government took clear and proactive responsibility against a backdrop of uncertainty and fear, enforcing a variety of further measures to address the situation. A policy of social distancing has been implemented across the island along with a curfew and further restrictions on passenger flights. Press conferences have been held daily to keep the public updated on the latest developments. Members of the public have been instructed to avoid unnecessary contact with other peo-

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

ple and to limit their activities to only what is strictly necessary. Children, who can carry and spread the virus without showing symptoms, are not allowed to enter many supermarkets and businesses. Group events and activities have been temporarily forbidden and citizens have been asked to maintain a two-meter distance from other people. Bars and restaurants were only able serve food for takeaway with some offering delivery services to limit the need for people to leave their homes. All shops must be closed by 6 pm except for restaurants, supermarkets, hardware stores, gas stations, boticas and food trucks which may remain open until 7 pm. Customers at the food outlets must leave as soon as they collect their food and prohibited from sitting down or congregating with other customers. Effective March 28th, a curfew was declared prohibiting

anyone to be on the streets between 9 pm to 6 am with the exception of those commuting to work, emergency services and security agencies. Starting March 30th, the curfew was extended to all day. The stricter measures taken by the Government requires everyone to stay in their homes except for those with a vital profession. The community on the island has taken the warnings seriously. Following the lead of the restaurants, pharmacies and supermarkets have begun to provide online order and delivery or pick up services. The University of Curaçao has moved all its classes and lectures online. Streets have become quiet and many businesses have shut their doors, allowing employees to work from home where possible. However, for some workers, this is not an


CORONAVIRUS

option and those employed in tourism have been amongst the first to feel the pinch. To support people who experience a lack of income during this time, a number of local financial institutions have issued a 3-month moratorium on personal and commercial loan interest payments. Under the direction of epidemiologist Izzy Gerstenbluth of Curaçao Biomedical and Health Research Institute, healthcare authorities have put clear measures in place for treating and preventing the spread of the disease. Curaçao Medical Center has appointed a specialized ‘calamity’ team of 30 nurses and healthcare professionals who have been fully trained in how to treat patients presenting with symptoms of the coronavirus. An ‘outbreak’ team, which includes microbiologists, infectologists and a pulmonologist, meet regularly with plans being revised and adapted constantly in response to reports from authorities around the world.

number of people of advanced age or with underlying health conditions, the virus can be more serious. COVID-19 is spread via close person to person contact through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. It is also possible that like the common cold and flu, a person can catch it by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose, eyes or face. Therefore, preventative measures are vital such as handwashing and cough & sneeze etiquette. Try not to touch surfaces particularly in public places and avoid touching your face. Regularly wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer (minimum

60% alcohol) when soap and water are not available. Always cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your closed elbow. Stay at least two meters away from any person who is visibly sick and avoid crowded places at all times. For more current information regarding the COVID-19 topic, please visit the Curaçao Government website at https://gobiernu. cw/medidanan-di-prekoushon/ or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at https://www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus/2019-ncov/

At this stage, it appears that the measures taken have been effective in minimizing the spread of the coronavirus which has infected millions of people worldwide. One of the advantages of being surrounded by sea is that it is far easier to control the movement of people, in comparison to land borders. The government’s swift action in shutting down the airspace has been significant and so far, there has not been evidence of a community spread.

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The most common symptoms of the COVID19 virus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Experts believe that these appear between 2 to 14 days of exposure. If you are on Curaçao and experiencing these symptoms, it is critical to stay at home in order to prevent spreading the virus to other people. Phone your doctor who will ask you some questions to find out how likely it is that you have been infected. If your doctor believes there is a chance that you do have COVID-19, he or she will contact Uitvoeringsorganisatie Geneeskundige en Gezondheidszaken (UO G&Gz) who will send a health professional to your home to test you for the virus. It is very important that you do not visit your doctor or a hospital as you run the risk of passing on the virus to vulnerable people who may become seriously ill. More than 80% of people who become infected with the virus will experience mild symptoms and make a complete recovery within days or weeks. However, for a small

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020


CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

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MEETINGS AND DECISION-MAKING DURING THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS Decision-making should be the “fruit of consultation”, as the Supreme Court determined in 1969. In principle, this rule refers to the decision-making of all legal entities and applies both in the European and Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Such consultation customarily takes place during a meeting in which members of the relevant body participate. But how does this work when government measures relating to the coronavirus crisis restrict the options for people to get together? UPDATED AS PER MARCH 30, 2020

GOVERNMENT MEASURES Travel restrictions in many countries have stopped air and shipping traffic or reduced it to a minimum. We see a global call for social distancing. Aruba has introduced curfew. Nonessential businesses and organizations in St. Maarten are required to close their doors. In the Netherlands, an “intelligent lockdown” (in Prime Minister Rutte’s words) has been proclaimed. The Curacao government has gone a step further and imposed a full lockdown. These measures have major consequences for everyday life as well as the business community on our islands. Also, most managing directors, supervisory directors, and shareholders are expected to stay home for the time being.

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

BOARD MEETINGS In an ideal world, board meetings would be postponed until people can meet again safely in person. However, the current crisis will be a reason for many companies to revise the strategy, policy and/or setup of their own organization, whether or not temporarily. In the year 2020, technology fortunately provides good alternatives for physical meetings. As there is no prescribed form for passing management board resolutions, a multi-member management board can generally use electronic means of communication (e.g. video conference). It is important that technology facilitates participation of all participants in the debate and being able to hear one another properly.

If necessary, from a tax perspective (e.g. substance requirements) or otherwise that at least part of the management board convene, proxies can be used to limit the number of attendees. Alternatively, passing resolutions in writing (i.e. outside a meeting) could be considered, provided all managing directors in office agree. Pay attention to any rules or restrictions in articles of association or regulations relating to meetings and decision-making of the board. What was just previously written about the management board generally applies accordingly to a supervisory board or a one-tier board comprising executive and non-executive directors.


CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

SHAREHOLDERS’ MEETINGS While the strict government measures due to the coronavirus crisis remain in effect, an actual general meeting of shareholders of a company with a large shareholder base may be difficult or even impossible to organize. The health and safety of the shareholders and other persons involved in the decision-making must be the top priority. In Curacao, the law requires that at least once every financial year a general meeting be held or resolutions outside meetings be adopted. As shareholders’ matters such as approval of the financial statements and appointments are in most cases not urgent for non-listed companies, postponement – when necessary and if possible – seems to be an obvious solution. The current difficult situation is the uncertainty around how long the coronavirus crisis and related measures will continue to disrupt everyday life. Adopting resolutions by voting in writing outside a meeting is an alternative method of decision-making which does not require people to get together. Curacao law allows shareholders to cast votes in writing, i.e. by e-mail or any other text-transmitting means of communication, provided that use of these means of communication has not been restricted by the articles of association. For companies with a large shareholder base, it may be difficult to organize decision-making outside a meeting given that all persons with meeting rights need to consent to this manner of decision-making. If bearer shares are in circulation, decision-making outside a meeting is not possible.

ableness and fairness have to be taken into consideration. In case of discussion there is always a risk of contestable decision-making, but we believe that in times like these exceptional measures can be justified. Particularly when these measures are meant to secure the safety of those involved in the management of the company. ELECTRONIC MEETINGS Contrary to the laws of the Netherlands, the laws of the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom do not provide the option to participate in general meetings of shareholders or members by using electronic means of communication. In the Netherlands, interest groups are currently advocating the introduction of an emergency act which would permit listed companies to hold fully virtual general meetings. The fact that the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom do not have similar legislation in place, does not mean that using electronic means of communication to participate in general meetings is not allowed on the islands. If the articles of association do not exclude this option, it may provide a solution to allow people to participate in meetings remotely. Perhaps Dutch Caribbean corporations can be inspired by the parliaments of Curacao and St. Maarten, which are actively exploring the concept of virtual parliament sessions due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Important points for attention are the identification of shareholders/members who participate in the meeting by electronic means of communication and the reliability and safety of the communication (e.g. internet connection and internet portal, if applicable). ADVISORY OPINION Regardless the setup of the deliberations and decision-making of the shareholders, remember to always give the managing directors and supervisory directors the opportunity to express their advisory opinion on matters to be resolved upon. In practice, we often see that this is forgotten, resulting in voidable decision-making. MORE INFORMATION As the information on COVID-19 is being updated frequently, please refer to our website www.ekvandoorne.com for the most recent information. If you want more information on this topic, please contact Tjarda Tazelaar (tazelaar@ekvandoorne.com) or Sixiènne Jansen (sjansen@ekvandoorne.com) or send an e-mail to our corona-helpdesk via coronahelpdesk@ekvandoorne.com.

The group of people attending the meeting could be limited by issue of proxies. Presence of the chairman, the secretary, and a person authorized by the shareholders to cast the votes on their behalf suffices. The question is to what extent a company can unilaterally impose this manner of decision-making. In the notice for a meeting, shareholders can be requested kindly but urgently not to attend the meeting and instead to issue a voting proxy. But if a shareholder insists on exercising its right to attend the meeting and/or right to vote in person, it may be difficult to deny this shareholder access to the meeting. This may be different when a shareholder has symptoms of COVID-19. However, leaving this to the discretion of the chairman or secretary may be questionable. The public interest and the requirements of reason-

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

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COVID -19 OUTBRE AK

BUSINESSES GOING FORWARD TOWARDS A NEW NORMAL The COVID-19 outbreak that started in China last year has now spread around the globe, also affecting the Dutch Caribbean islands. Although the number of infected citizens and associated deaths is still below the European and American levels, our health authorities and government officials are addressing the threat with maximum care. UPDATED AS PER MARCH 31, 2020

16 16 Temporary precautionary measures coupled with the adverse impact of the virus internationally are having a profound negative effect on our economy and local businesses, especially the ones that are directly dependent on tourism. In addition, the closure of all non-vital companies is having a severe and disrupting effect in our small, inter-connected economy. Over the next few months, our business leaders will face the challenge of keeping their companies on track, while first and foremost guaranteeing the health and safety of their workers and communities. IMMEDIATE MEASURES Top priority for the business community is to ensure sufficient liquidity and acceptable levels of working capital. The starting point should be a quick scan of businesses’ cash as well as its inventory, accounts receivable and accounts payable positions (broadly defined as working capital). After this first assessment, businesses should quantify the negative impact that the decline in sales and supply chain inefficiencies may have on their financial position by creating different scenarios with varying associated probability levels.

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

Meanwhile, business leaders may benefit from immediately reducing certain variable expenses while maximizing its account receivables collection. If needed, companies may try to negotiate their payables conditions with their suppliers, however with caution to prevent a transfer of the liquidity problem further in the supply chain which can lead to future late deliveries as well as added strain to the commercial relationship. Even after performing these steps successfully, additional funding may still be required to bring liquidity to acceptable levels. Businesses should engage with their existing financing partners and understand whether the existing financing options – overdrafts, credit lines, guarantee letters – are still available and what terms and conditions would apply to new, bigger facilities. When trying to secure financial support, it is key to put up a credible case by getting the facts right and delivering high-quality, relevant information. This will increase the chance of obtaining the required financing at better terms and conditions. The same applies for the local governments support measures that are currently being announced and which details will follow shortly.

RETURNING TO WORK While there is still no expected date for resumption of normal operations, the business community should urgently start to imagine and plan for what could be referred to as “new normal” times. When resuming operations, businesses should try to grasp the new industry dynamics and evaluate whether their strategic plans and operations are still valid. Companies may consider alternative revenue streams and different ways of doing business. They will also have the opportunity to revisit their variable cost structure and change their investment plans to reflect new strategic objectives and available funds. On a more operational level, the supply chains will most likely need to be optimized by focusing on a more efficient planning of the workforce and by using an agile production scheduling. Unnecessary production processes should be eliminated or re-processed to fit the specific demand of the – new – business. This includes alternative inbound and outbound logistics channels, the latter being particularly relevant for


COVID -19 OUTBRE AK

FIGURE 1. STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK FOR ADDRESSING COVID-19 IMPACT

our island quick recovery and positioning. A clear visibility of materials is key and so inventories should be reviewed by assessing the resulting production frequency and associated optimal stock levels. IT systems need to be aligned to provide clear data and guidelines on which decisions can be made. Following this overall operational assessment, new strategic plans will lead to new ways of doing business going forward. To successfully make this transition, businesses should maintain stakeholder engagement while constantly adapting to new developments by using lean processes and innovative approaches. REFORMING AND SHAPING The next few months will be extremely hard for the majority of businesses and their customers. Yet, times of disruption present opportunities for certain businesses to become leaders and shapers of their industries. Innovation and agility should be key, since businesses that are able to quickly adapt and take data-based decisions will be better positioned to succeed. Efficient cash management processes and strict rules for debt collection and accounts payable management will also be crucial in the future. After navigating through the most difficult times, some businesses may benefit from restructuring their

debts to more acceptable levels, rebalancing financial distress with profitability. Others may need to secure additional funding to resume certain key investments previously put on hold, or even to proceed with acquisitions that may bring the company to new grounds.

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Going forward, strong partnerships may be instrumental for companies to succeed, especially for businesses focusing on local and regional markets. Besides striving to have stronger vertically integrated business partnerships, companies should explore new ways to interact with their customers, financing partners, business partners and regulators. Deloitte Dutch Caribbean and its multi-disciplinary teams can support your organization navigating these tough times. Please visit our website www.deloitte.com/an/ or reach out using the contact below. CONTACT US Julian Lopez Ramirez Managing Partner Curacao | Tax jlopezramirez@deloitte.cw +599 9 433 3333 Saskia Lans Partner | Financial Advisory slans@deloitte.cw +599 9 433 3333

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020


C ATHEDR AL OF THORNS

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TURNING THE MOST DIFFICULT PIECE OF CURAÇAO VEGETATION INTO GOLD

CATHEDRAL OF THORNS BY HERMAN VAN BERGEN

The Cathedral of Thorns, situated in the garden of Landhuis Bloemhof, is a breathtaking piece of art that captures not only the local hearts, but also gains recognition in international media, already mentioned by the National Geographic as a must see. WRITER: DESI DIJKHUIZEN

This stunning immense artwork, created by artist Herman van Bergen, reveals a deeper meaning and tells a story to its visitors to reflect on lessons from the past: “the ecological and humanitarian disaster caused by the exploration of the New World.” Constructed completely from thorns of the local wabi plant as a tribute to the history and people of Curaçao, it appears the thorns change to gold when lit from within.

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

It is a building-sized illuminated labyrinth where visitors walk through its corridors to experience an artistic journey through a difficult history; the 18th century arrival of colonialists and the exploitation of slaves. The labyrinth design becomes a symbol for spirituality and a path to enlightenment. The realization of the Cathedral of Thorns was made possible from impressive community work, passion for art,

love for Curaçao and high dose of creativity. As its growing popularity attracts visitors from all over the world, overtime could the Cathedral of Thorns become a symbol of Curaçao? An interview with Herman van Bergen, the force behind this artwork became quite a deep conversation about Curaçao’s history, an eye-opener about humanity and recognition


C ATHEDR AL OF THORNS

on the importance of collaboration. “It took me 10 years to finish the Cathedral of Thorns, an artwork that consists of more than 25 million thorns. This process is a combination of building a scale model, fundraising and intense physical work. This is how my passion and my determination became my purpose,” he mentions at the beginning of the interview. Herman van Bergen, a versatile visual artist from Nijmegen, the Netherlands, relocated and began a new life on Curaçao back in the 90’s. On a daily basis, he took long walks and was confronted with the island’s nature and wilderness, gaining an interest for the local vegetation like indju, anglo, cacti and wabi. “During this time, I looked up the reason behind the pain caused by the thorns every time I went for a walk. Was this a consequence of European colonialism? The marine research and nature management foundation CARMABI and other scientists confirmed my suspicion. During colonization, a large-scale logging of the wayaca tree took place. The hard wood turned out to be very suitable for shovel masts, pulleys and ball bearings for iron propeller shafts. After cutting the wayaca, the wabi was able to proliferate unimpeded. This artwork symbolizes a fight against today’s biggest threat: the destructive pollution by humanity; how in spite of it all, the thorn shrubs still thrive. My encounter with Curaçao’s barren soil brought me to the idea to start working on an art project made of thorns. I contemplated series of sculptures created from this remarkable material that would tell the many aspects of a turbulent history while honoring the power of nature and creative spirit.”

Van Bergen’s work invites viewers to recognize the beauty in what is usually considered unattractive. His paintings, sculptures and installations are directed at finding the unfamiliar or the mystical in the ordinary. In 2016, van Bergen received the Cola Debrot Award, Curaçao’s most prestigious national award in culture and arts for his contribution to art development, education and awareness on the island. Van Bergen’s first work was a tall thorn tower that resembled the Greek god Atlas which was first exhibited between two strong paintings inspired by Francisco de Zurbarán’s Saint Serapion, depicting religious power. One of his most famous pieces is ‘Nature’s Kiss’, a gift to the Dutch King and Queen on behalf of Curaçao in 2013. In 2015, he sculpted heads, torsos and objects, such as ‘Harvest’ and ‘Useless Islands’. The multidisciplinary artist is known for his watercolors and oil paintings, but

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his thorn art definitely has made a statement. His sculptures and lamps made of thorns create unique atmospheres in houses, offices and

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020


C ATHEDR AL OF THORNS

buildings, and have regularly been selected for prestigious art exhibitions in Curaçao, the Caribbean, South America, the U.S. and Europe. The Cathedral of Thorns became a new milestone in Herman van Bergen’s career. The Cathedral of Thorns includes symbols of today’s world religions and ancient naturebased religions. There are embedded religious symbols to show the hidden meaning that people with different beliefs can live peacefully next to each other. The walls have niches containing objects of contemporary art by fellow artists, focusing on mankind’s ability to change, share and collaborate through creativity. “The Cathedral of Thorns is homage to our first inhabitants, focusing on the misbehavior of humanity and free spirit as the only way to a hopefully better world. The thorns symbolize our bad way of treating planet Earth and the way we treat each other. Visiting this cathedral will definitely make you reflect on lessons of the past, the power of nature and the influence of creativity,” Herman comments.

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Additionally, the Cathedral of Thorns stands for community work and has been a community awareness project that gave disadvantaged young people a second chance to be part of society. “We work for the future generation. With a contribution from Fundashon di Artista and Reda Sosial, less fortunate youngsters received the opportunity to work and express their creativity. Fundashon di Artista supports local artists by creating awareness for the crucial role of art in every society. Reda Sosial is committed to fighting poverty in Curaçao by financing projects that brings relief to the living situation of the less fortunate, promote their self-reliance and aim to enhance social and economic development. It’s important to teach these youngsters not to be dependent on the government. It is possible to create something out of nothing. We showed this with the Cathedral of Thorns. Curaçao’s most complex vegetation was turned into gold,” he continues. Besides the great acceptance from local inhabitants, Herman receives visits of international

tourists on a daily basis. One of his future goals is to create a collaboration with the Curaçao Tourism Board (CTB) and Curaçao Hospitality & Tourism Association (CHATA) to start promoting the Cathedral of Thorns as a must visit. “It’s becoming a routine for me to tour visitors around” he says with a smile. “Most visitors are from Europe, North and South America. Curaçao has so much more to offer. Next to the beaches, we have culture, history and now a unique piece of art that is already gaining international attention. It’s one of the most original art pieces in the world, that not only focuses on thorns, but brings an educational and inspiring message to the visitors. The Eiffel Tower is a symbol of France. The Tower of Pisa is a symbol of Italy. Will the Cathedral of Thorns one day become a symbolic monument of Curaçao?” Support this unique project. Cathedral of Thorns CROWDFUNDING: https://cathedralofthorns.com/home/ crowdfunding/

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020


CHATA

CREATING ADEQUATE TRAINING AND JOB SECURITY IN THE TOURISM INDUSTRY

CHATA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF CURAÇAO INTRODUCE: ‘READY FOR TOURISM’ In November 2019, Curaçao Hospitality & Tourism Association (CHATA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development (MEO) and the Ministry of Social Development, Labour and Welfare (SOAW), announced the introduction of the project ‘Ready For Tourism’. This educational and continuous project is part of the Growth Strategy Project for Curaçao and provides the opportunity to 300 citizens to obtain adequate training and job security in the local tourism industry. WRITER: DESI DIJKHUIZEN

The companies involved in the program where the participants work and gain experience for 6 months are: Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Corendon Mangrove Beach Resort, Papagayo Curaçao, Hemingway Restaurant, Nemo Restaurant, P ia z z a Restaurant, Chill Beach Bar & Grill, Kura Hulanda Lodge & Beach Club, Morena Resort Curaçao, AM Resort, Baoase Luxury Resort, Avila Beach Hotel, Curacao Marriott Beach Resort, and Livingstone Jan Thiel Resort. At this moment, due to the recent developments and impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), ‘Ready For Tourism’ has been postponed until further notice. Although these are uncertain times, it is still important to highlight the potential positive impact of this project and the recent developments of CHATA.

Despite the financial and social challenges Curaçao has been experiencing over the last couple of years, the island has made great improvements in the tourism sector compared to other economic sectors on the island. The tourism sector demonstrated resilience against outside shocks and has been able to steadily increase its prominence in our local economy. Curaçao’s tourism product has changed significantly over time with regard to the product portfolio, market segment mix, and the industry’s overall contribution to the economy. Consequently, this growing sector became a substantial source of employment on the island. “The tourism and hospitality industries have been experiencing rapid growth. For this matter, capable employees with willingness to work are very

much needed. This necessity and the social aspect of people in need of work, were essential factors for CHATA to start with the execution of the project ‘Ready For Tourism’, as part of a Public-Private Partnership between MEO, SOAW and the business industry” says Miles Mercera, CEO of CHATA. ‘Ready For Tourism’ focuses on enthusiastic adults that are motivated to work in tourism and the hospitality sector. The content of the program is on a basic level and the setup links with the education system ‘On the Job Learning’. This means that after admission, the participants start theory training, focusing on the practical part for a couple of weeks. In addition to having subjects with technical content, there will also be more general

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

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CHATA

creating the opportunity to continue to offer this exceptional teaching method in a more sustainable way. Tourism and hospitality education play a major role in preparing students to gain professional and practical skills required by the tourism industry. Tourism and hospitality practical training is necessary for students to develop personal skills and abilities which will help them in the future with career growth opportunities. At the end of the day, these youngsters will become Curaçao’s ambassadors”, he continues.

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subjects, such as languages and customer service. All participants are trained to work as a team emphasizing on exceptional customer service and its benefits. “The admission of the participants depends on their motivation, personality and sense of responsibility. Professionals from the labor market of the government and private sector will have an introduction conversation with every participant and subsequently will determine those capable for the application process into a teaching company in this industry. After a positive application, the company will confirm the acceptance of the participant. During the first 4 weeks of the program, the participant will not receive a salary, however,

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

after that he/she will earn minimum wage as well as all the rights of a regular employee” Miles Mercera explains. The programs being presented by the local educators of ‘Ready For Tourism’ are for: kitchen assistant, service assistant, hospitality security assistant and housekeeping. “This project does not only focus on employment. It’s an educational program that focuses on community formation, the importance of tourism in our society and the emphasis on personal growth. CHATA is not an educational institution. Therefore, after successfully training 300 adults within the project, CHATA will officially hand over the concept of the project to the regular educational institutions,

Recently ‘Ready For Tourism’ partnered with Stichting Vakbekwaamheid Horeca (SVH) in the Netherlands, an organization whose main objective is to increase professional competence in the hospitality industry. SVH develops the learning resources and teaching methods plus ensures information comprehension by conducting exams while providing guidance on training in hospitality. SVH is part of the International Organization for Standardization, an international standard-setting body. As an independent, non-governmental organization, it is the world’s largest developer of international standards and facilitates world trade by providing common standards among nations. “Recently we signed this important agreement which gives extra credentials to all participants” Miles adds. Besides young adults and unemployed people who want to start working in tourism, ‘Ready For Tourism’ will soon focus on people who benefit from government assistance programs. “We know there’s a great part of our


CHATA

community that counts on these programs, because of unemployment. By giving them a chance to start working in tourism through the ‘Ready For Tourism’ project, it will not only help cost reduction in the public sector, but will give a positive focus on personal development and local tourism industry. We are proud for the role we have as CHATA in the development of our economy. The first year of ‘Ready For Tourism’ is just the beginning of an even more interesting venue. Tourism boosts our economy, employs thousands of people, enriches our businesses and pays for important public services. Tourism works for each of us, every day”, he concludes. Unfortunately, due to the development of the coronavirus crisis, this project has been postponed until further notice. As a temporary solution, CHATA recently introduced a Stay Home Hospitality Academy Curaçao in collaboration with partner SVH. Stay Home Hospitality Academy Curaçao gives all hospitality employees the opportunity to follow different packages of e-learning courses online, completely free, for two months. After participation, the participant will receive a participation certificate from CHATA and SVH. “CHATA is continuously monitoring the tourism industry and its developments in order to communicate efficiently and effectively to the members and the public. It is only a matter of time until our tourism industry will deteriorate completely. The decline in business is inevitable, which will lead to a shutdown of

all tourism related operations” Miles explains. CHATA forecasts that travel in general will remain on hold for a minimum of 3-4 months. The recovery period for the tourism industry will be between 6 and 18 months. CHATA expects that our accommodation sector will re-establish operations by Summer 2020 or high season 2020/2021. However, this may differ per property and type of business as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic develops. “It is important to mention that we are all in this together, the industry always recovers, but not without each other’s help; one must be understanding and patient” he continues. CHATA hopes to be able to count

on the entire community’s support during this difficult time and that everyone abides to the rules issued by the government; practice social distancing, wash hands frequently, use hand sanitizer and cover coughs or sneezes. The tourism industry has shown its resilience in the past and expectation is the same in the future. To learn more about ‘Ready For Tourism’, visit www.klapaturismo.com and for more information about Stay Home Hospitality Academy Curaçao, visit www.chata.org./ academy.

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

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NEWS BRIEFS German Energy Group Klesch Scheduled to Take Over the Lease of Refineria di Korsou After several years of uncertainty and concerns surrounding the future of the Refineria di Korsou (RdK), in December 2019, it was finally announced that an agreement had been signed with Klesch Group (Klesch) which owns and operates the Heide Refinery in Germany. The agreement will see Klesch take over the operation of the Bullenbaai Oil Terminal which has a storage and blending capacity of 17.75 million barrels. RdK aims to sign two additional agreements with Klesch over the coming months.

Oil Production Begins in the Guyanese Stabroek Block

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Guyana, a country with no history of oil production or refining has begun exploiting the first of eight oil discoveries made in recent years. The deepwater Liza Oil field was discovered in 2015, in the Stabroek Block, approximately 190 km offshore. Appraisals indicate that the Liza discovery contains more than one billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent. The oil field will be developed in phases by an ExxonMobil operated consortium which includes Esso Exploration and Production Guyana (45% interest), CNOOC Next Petroleum Guyana (25% interest) and Hess Guyana Exploration Corp (20% interest). The first phase consists of four drill centers with seventeen wells and a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel. At peak production, the FPSO can produce up to 120,000 barrels per day and has a storage capacity of 1.6 million barrels. A second FPSO is under construction. The Stabroek Block is spread over an area of 26,800 km2 in Guyana’s waters and contains an estimated five billion barrels of oil equivalent. Oil and gas exploration activities began in the area in 2008 and the Liza oilfield is the largest of the discoveries. The consortium plans to have at least five FPSOs in service on the block by 2025, producing over 750,000 barrels per day. The country’s GDP is expected to double as a result of this activity. In December 2019, the Guyanese Department of Energy announced that it had reached an agreement with Royal Dutch Shell for the marketing of crude oil. Shell Western Supply and Trading was selected from a group of nine international oil companies for its competitive pricing and willingness to share critical refinery information. Writer: Úna Jansen

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

This news ended several months of exclusive negotiations with the German industrial commodities conglomerate and followed a previous failed attempt to close an agreement with the Guangdong Zhenrong Energy Group after concerns about the Chinese state-owned company’s ability to finance the deal. The refinery has been operated by Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) since 1985, and when fully operational it can process and store up to 335,000 barrels per day. However, due to ongoing instability in Venezuela and a dispute between PDVSA and US oil producer Conoco Phillips, the plant has been idle for some time. The PDVSA contract was due to expire in December 2019, but an extension was granted until Klesch can take the reins. Known on the island as ‘Isla’, the refinery has played a key economic and social role on Curaçao since the arrival of Shell in 1915. At the peak of its operation in the mid-twentieth century, the refinery employed 10,000 people. However, in more recent years, employee numbers have been closer to 1,000. The new deal will generate $15 million annually for the Government of Curaçao who will also collect 15 cents per barrel of oil stored and shipped. Writer: Úna Jansen


NEWS BRIEFS

Richard Doornbosch Appointed President of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten Monetary economist Richard Doornbosch will take on the role of President of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) in mid-July, subject to the completion of security screening. On March 11th, the CBCS Sup er v i sor y Board recommended the appointment and the Council of Ministers of Curaçao along with the Council of Ministers of St. Maarten adopted this recommendation. With more than 20 years of experience in the financial sector, international organizations and public administration, Doornbosch has been the Alternate Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC since 2016. Doornbosch studied economics at the University of Groningen and began his career at Rabobank International before moving to the Dutch Ministry of Finance where he held a number of senior manage-

ment and advisory roles. From 2005 to 2008, Doornbosch worked at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) where he negotiated on behalf of the Netherlands in shaping the Green Climate Fund (GCF). As Principal Advisor on Sustainable Development, he was a member of the first GCF board. Doornbosch was Division Head of the Financial Markets Directorate during the financial crisis of 2008/2009, supporting the operation of financial institutions and subsequently led a revision of the financial-markets legislation for the Dutch Caribbean in 2010. Before moving to the IMF, he was Division Head of the International Economy and Financial Institutions Department at the Dutch Ministry of Finance. While as the IMF Alternate Executive Director, Doornbosch co-leads the Dutch-Belgian constituency within

@courtesy: LinkedIn

the IMF board which, in addition to the Netherlands Kingdom and Belgium, includes Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Israel, Luxembourg, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, and Ukraine. His role has involved him in a number of financial-sector reform packages. In a press release, the CBCS Supervisory Board expressed its satisfaction with Doornbosch’s appointment, adding that his international experience and contacts will be an asset to the board. Writer: Úna Jansen 29

No Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival in 2020 The organizers of the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival (CNSJ), Fundashon Bon Intenshon and Mojo Concerts, have announced that the long-running music festival will not take place in 2020. The reason given for the cancellation is the insufficient availability of headliners for the period as well as the high costs associated with flying in high-profile artists, including their bands, crew and equipment, for just one night. In 2017, the festival was canceled for the same reasons. CNSJ has been running since 2010 and has seen headline performances from artists such as Prince, Chaka Khan, Lenny Kravitz, Christina Aguilera, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and Carlos Santana. The 2019 event featured Mariah Carey, Pitbull, Maroon 5 and the Black Eyed Peas, and broke all previous records with approximately 28,000 attendees over three nights. News of the cancellation has been met with disappointment by businesses and the public as the internationally renowned music festival is one of the biggest events on the social calendar and a significant draw for tourists. Last year CHATA reported a 5% increase in August visitor arrivals, as music lovers from Trinidad and Tobago took advantage of new direct flight routes to attend the festival. This year’s cancellation casts doubt on the future of the festival after 2020. Writer: Úna Jansen

Congratulations to all professionals who obtained their United States Certified Public Accountant (US CPA) License! Curacao Business Magazine congratulates Sulis Barbera CPA (Manager EY), Marc Lopes CPA (Manager Finance – Banco Di Caribe Curaçao), and Brian Tjong-Ayong CPA (Manager Finance – Ennia) for obtaining their US CPA license. If you also have the ambition to become a US CPA please email info@globalintmanagement.com for more information.

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020


INTERVIEW MR. ALLEN GREENBERG

LEVERAGING DIVERSITY TO COMPETE IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY

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INTERVIEW WITH U.S. CONSUL GENERAL MR. ALLEN GREENBERG Through the years, the United States (U.S.) and the islands of the Dutch Caribbean have built strong bonds and consistently partners on topics in government, trade, education and security. The U.S. Consulate General works to strengthen the people-to-people connections. WRITER: NATHASJA JT PLAIZIER

In June 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao announced the appointment of Mr. Allen Greenberg, a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, as the U.S. Consul General to Curacao and U.S. Chief of Mission to Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten. Prior to his assignment in the Dutch Caribbean, Mr. Greenberg was the Director of Haitian Affairs in Washington, DC since 2017. Previously, he served as the Consul General in Osaka, Japan. Prior to that, he was Director of the Office of Foreign Missions in Houston, Texas from 2012-2014, and Consul General in Krakow, Poland from 2009-2012. In addition, he has had other overseas assignments in Russia, Cuba and Morocco. Impressively, Mr. Greenberg speaks French, Spanish, Russian, Polish and Japanese. Maybe in a few months, he will even add Papiamentu to this list. I had the honor to interview Mr. Greenberg regarding his vision on Curacao and possible improvements or opportunities for the island.

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

When you were assigned the position of Consul General to Curacao, were you already familiar with the island? I first visited Curacao as a tourist with my family in 1994. We were then posted in Havana, Cuba. The USSR, Cuba’s long-time benefactor, had recently collapsed, and Cuba was in the throes of the so-called “Special Period in Peacetime” when all goods and services were in extremely short supply. Censorship was strict and individual rights suppressed. Curacao, with its prosperity and its freedoms, seemed like a gem of the Caribbean. We had a wonderful time visiting then, and so were thrilled to be able to come back to work and live here now. What are your thoughts of the island now that you have been living here for a few months? We have confirmed that Curacao is a gem indeed, and for more reasons than we imagined during our short vacation visit. What makes Curacao so special? I would say above all its success with

diversity. The island is a genuine crossroads for people from Europe, Africa and the Americas, with other valuable contributions from China, India, and the Middle East. Curacao seems to bubble over with diversity everywhere you go. That’s a strong starting point. The economy of the 21st century will draw on that diversity, on an educated, multilingual and flexible workforce. Global communication and trade will need that fundamental diversity that comes naturally to Curacao. In your opinion, where should Curacao put its focus first? What is an item that needs improvement here? Curacao needs to embrace more people who are interested in contributing. Newcomers with skills who want to participate should be welcomed. And it’s very important that the many talented young people from Curacao who have left the island for study or work feel the door is open for them to return. Curacao needs to be sure there are no needless regulatory barriers or resistance in society to having these sorts of people invest


INTERVIEW MR. ALLEN GREENBERG

here, whether it’s capital or technical know-how, business expertise or simply the willingness to pitch in and work hard. Do you think it would benefit Curacao and local businesses if there were more information sessions about trading with the U.S. similar to the one held last September 2019? Could the U.S. Consulate contribute to these information sessions and help set up more? Absolutely. Last September Magaly Garcia, Caribbean Regional Director in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, provided Curacao government and business leaders an overview of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), a U.S. trade preference program. She described the program’s benefits, which include the possibility of duty-free shipments to the U.S. Curacao is one of the partner nations of the program, and therefore, may potentially benefit from CBTPA through duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods. In addition to Director Garcia’s visit, our consulate hosted two speaker programs in 2019. One of these was with travel industry entrepreneur, Terry Jones, the founder of Travelocity and Kayak. He spoke to entrepreneurs and students in Sint Maarten and Curacao about the future of tourism, and how countries need to embrace technology and change to be competitive in the coming years. We will sponsor him again to participate in the e-Aruba entrepreneurship program in June. We will also sponsor an artist/filmmaker for the Curacao International Film Festival later this year who will train aspiring filmmakers in using smartphones for commercial films. Curacao has a highly creative population, as well as a great potential for film production locations, and promoting film can be a powerful catalyst for economic growth. We strongly support the American businesses now on the island, as well as the American Certified Public Accountants Association, and we urge others to explore opportunities here. Last fall, we hosted a group of more than twenty investors from the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce who were interested in possible projects in Curacao. Earlier in the year, we partnered with Curacao and the Netherlands on the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), including a week-long event here in Curacao called the Road to the GES. During this event, hundreds of businesses and startups attended practical workshops to help them succeed and many were exposed to potential financial backers. We are always looking for new ways to do more.

Looking at the current situation on Curacao, do you have recommendations to help the island thrive again? Sustaining a strong emphasis on transparency and rule of law is critical for a healthy economy. Curacao’s strong judicial system is a key asset in attracting business. And then promoting entrepreneurship will be key. Curacao, Aruba, and Sint Maarten all participate in the exciting Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), a competitive program we manage from the consulate which sends promising young people to the U.S. and sets up a mentoring network across the hemisphere. So far, a total of 12 young entrepreneurs from Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten participated in YLAI, and four more will travel to the U.S. this year. The YLAI impact on the islands is actually much larger, because many of the candidates who did not travel continue to participate as voluntary members of this active and growing Western Hemisphere YLAI network. We also support innovative private initiatives like the Sambil mall’s entrepreneurship competition Sambil pa Kòrsou going on now. Should Curacao start thinking bigger or focus on getting the details right first? Both. I know that is easier said than done, but really both are vital to success. As for long-term vision, I feel a powerful sense of commitment and dedication with Curacao’s Governor and political leadership under Prime Minister Rhuggenaath to solving the island’s economic challenges and moving forward on a

path of sustainable growth. We have been very pleased to partner with the Ministry of Economic Development on a number of efforts, and Minister McWilliam has been a very dynamic and positive advocate for Curacao’s potential. Among the promising sectors I have noted in my few short months here are the growing tourism market and the possibilities for renewable energy. Vision alone will not suffice of course. Details – or we could call them real world facts – do make a huge difference. Curacao, like all economic entities, needs to constantly re-evaluate and update the rules and policies that underlie the island’s economy to be sure they fit the realities of today, and can prepare Curacao for the demands of tomorrow. The educational system needs to keep pace with, and where possible foresee, what young people will need for the next decades of the 21st century. At the same time, government, the private sector and NGOs must work together to ensure that economic goals are consistent with the long-term health of the natural environment. Curacao’s natural beauty and healthy outdoor opportunities are obviously key to success in the tourism sector. Getting these “details” right is vitally important, while keeping the long-term vision in our sights. In summary, the U.S. has a clear stake in the prosperity of the Caribbean; promoting economic growth in the hemisphere is a high priority of the U.S. Government. The gem island of Curacao can be a key to that prosperity. Let’s work together to make it happen.

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S TARTUP HUD DLE CUR AÇ AO

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GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP NETWORK The world needs entrepreneurs – the doers and makers of things. This belief is the driver of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), a year-round platform of projects and initiatives in 170 countries around the globe. GEN’s mission is to make it easier for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a business.

Aimed at creating one global entrepreneurial ecosystem, GEN, through Global Entrepreneurship Week, celebrates the successes and impact of entrepreneurs in an effort to help break down cultural barriers and reach new audiences, expanding the number of people who, at some point in their life, consider fulfilling their dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Through efforts such as Startup Huddle, amongst other programs, GEN offers resources intended to help smooth the path to market for founder teams and pro-

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

vide entrepreneurs at all stages with the support necessary to reach the next level. WHAT IS STARTUP HUDDLE? Startup Huddle is an international platform where startups get help by connecting with communities of fellow entrepreneurs and business professionals. The idea is to help build and empower local startup communities. The Startup Huddle format is consistent in each location worldwide; at a consistent meeting place, one or two early-stage startup founders give a 6-minute presentation about their com-

pany to a diverse audience from their local community. Each presentation is followed by a 20-minute question and answer session where the community provides ideas, connections and feedback for the entrepreneur. Here in Curaçao, there are a plethora of innovative entrepreneurs with opportunities right at their fingertips. Ask anyone living on the island – there are an unlimited number of opportunities just waiting for someone to take on the challenge of making it happen. However, it is inevitable that, once


S TARTUP HUD DLE CUR AÇ AO

Startup Huddle Curaçao is a free, monthly program designed to engage, educate and connect entrepreneurs. From innovators, educators, and investors to local founders or entrepreneurial leaders, Startup Huddle Curaçao provides a platform to enrich and strengthen startup communities around the island. Both new and established startups up to 5 years old can apply to present their business for the opportunity to receive vital feedback from the community, and the community can share resources, connections and network with each other. Every third Wednesday of the month, Startup Huddle Curaçao takes place at Curaçao Coworking Pietermaai, Abraham de Veerstraat #9, from 9:00 to 10:00am sharp, with some time for networking and socializing before and after the presentation. Coffee is on the house, provided by Café Barista, just bring your own mug (BYOM) as a way to minimize waste. Attendees can also utilize the space and work free onsite for the day after the event! For more information, visit www.curacaocoworking. 33

com/startuphuddle or contact info@curaçaocoworking.com.

the vision becomes a reality, challenges will be encountered along the way. Startup Huddle Curaçao provides entrepreneurs the opportunity to present these challenges to a broad array of peers from the local community, in an open forum environment where stimulating feedback is constructive and encouraging. Businesses up to 5 years old are eligible to pitch.

In February, our presenter was Rayni Rijke with the online Carnival platform called Karnavalista. This online solution is the onestop shop for everything Carnival-related, including collecting group payments and other group management tasks. Karnavalista

had its first Curaçao Carnival group use it in 2020. The attendees gave Rayni some excellent feedback on how he can bring the business to the larger global level he envisions. For more info about Karnavalista, check out the website at http://www.karnavalista.com.

So far, there have been over 20 attendees at each event with tons of ideas and suggestions. Here is a recap of the presenters at Startup Huddle Curaçao in January and February of this year: In January, Jonathan Rossman of Snapklik explained how we can order items online and receive the package right to our door. This startup is something new to the island, offering local residents the chance to pay one price for items online and avoid surprise fees down the road. Our attendees helped brainstorm marketing ideas to explain this new concept here on the island. To learn more, visit www.snapklik.com.

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RESILIENT BUSINESS

CHOOSE TO INNOVATE OR RISK BECOMING OBSOLETE

BUILDING A RESILIENT BUSINESS WITH DATA WRITER: TIM Q. M. MARTINA

34 34 WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? Human error is inevitable, but is it avoidable? In today’s ever-changing analogue world, full of conceptually complex problems, fuelled by massive information streams and clouded by intangible personal interests, the only constant factor here is the infinite number of variables. Unfortunately, structures with four independently interacting variables is at the limit of human processing capacity. This means that

whether we want to or not, we are biologically incapable of fully comprehending the world as we experience it. Okay, if we dial down the existential dread and focus on business, where does that leave us? How can we reach a state of continuous innovation? To what extent should we leave the current realm of descriptive analytics behind and focus on building an invincible resilient busi-

ness for the future? It is time to dive into Digital Transformation. WHY DATA? Businesses on Curaçao aspire to innovate. But many are still solving problems by making decisions intuitively and few are relying on Business Intelligence, which generally only provide business’ decision makers with statistical information of the past. Yet, what every business owner wants is a tailored infrastructure that predicts trends and behavioural patterns, while prescriptively provides actionable strategic advice. These are not just buzz words. It is the revolution we are in right now. With the huge demand for talent, the most eager to learn among us are enrolling en masse into online courses on Data Science and Machine Learning. More than 107,000 people enrolled into one course on the online learning platform Coursera on Data-Driven Decision Making in the first 4 weeks online. The essence of this Digital Transformation revolution is not about digitising mouldy paper contracts, nor is it solely about digitalising current business processes onto apps and online platforms. Digital Transformation is about exploring and exploiting new business models by making

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020


RESILIENT BUSINESS

effective use of the digital ecosystem. However, it is common knowledge that transformation is risky, costly and requires great leadership. So how can businesses bring this vision to life? SIMPLY STATED, WITH DATA. Data is a business’ greatest asset. Data tests our intuition, challenges us to become better and shines a light to the future. Collected and managed wisely, data can protect us from blind spots. To use it correctly though, business’ need to improve their data maturity and the analytics. Data maturity refers to the extent to which data is collected, produced, stored, utilised and capitalised on correctly. Different data maturity models leverage different methodologies but all are somewhat in line with facilitating improvements within these four core categories: the purpose of the data activities; the method in which the model is organised and implemented; the skills, behaviour and leadership of the people working with the data; and the tools needed for a proper information architecture. Therefore, for

businesses to improve their data maturity scale requires a holistic and systematic approach. In due course, businesses manage their data in a manner that is compliant with proper data governance and are more capable to capitalising on their data-insights. The analytics scale however, requiring more of an experienced neuro-surgeon than an ER-doctor, might be more challenging to conquer on the short term. Leveraging Machine Learning, Neural Networks and Deep Learning efficiently is key in order to move from descriptively analysing the past to predicting future trends with high probability, with the vision to eventually acquiring the infrastructure that prescriptively provides actionable strategies. HOW TO START It is a good argument that an effective path to a resilient enterprise is through a data-driven transformation, with the vision and discipline to eventually reach a state of data-enabled continuous innovation.

A sensible way to start your data journey would be to read everything you can find within this context from reputable sources. Join local initiatives and meetups, such as Curaçao Data Driven, and talk to inspiring local talent like Heinrich Angela, one of the co-founders of the Curaçao Data Driven community. “We need to work together towards a data sharing culture. But it would be easier if there is more sense of urgency.” says Heinrich. The community sees the awareness and momentum increasing, but it is necessary for more people to get involved. Keep the following pointers as part of your mindset when starting your data-driven transformation: • Start small, focus on learning. • Fail fast and iterate with discipline to reach an effective flow. • Be mindful to not have a clear vision of the end state. • Have adequate funding available and do not cheap out on talent.

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DEMYSTIFYING BLOCKCHAIN

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DEMYSTIFYING BLOCKCHAIN Cryptocurrency and blockchain have quickly become a global phenomenon and hot topic in the business world and investing community. Known by most people, but understood by few. Cryptocurrency, an abbreviation of cryptographic currency, is a type of digital asset that uses blockchain technology. WRITER: NATHASJA JT PLAIZIER

Benefits of blockchain include improves efficiency; reduces the cost of maintaining and reconciling ledgers; and provides certainty on ownership and history of assets. Understanding this new technology is the first step to understanding the importance of blockchain for companies and their clients. CRYPTOCURRENCY, BLOCKCHAIN AND BITCOIN The first implementation of a blockchain was invented in conjunction with Bitcoin in 2009. Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency, a type of digital currency that is secured against fraud and theft by means of mathematical encryption algorithms. The creator of Bitcoin and its specific form of blockchain technology was an unknown person going by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. In his white paper, he described the

value of blockchain as follows: “Using digital signatures, hashing, and proof of work to avoid double spending and fraud, the Bitcoin blockchain enables its participants to confidently transfer value using math for validation and verification instead of a trusted third party.” The Bitcoin blockchain solved the third party problem other cryptographers could not fix: the Bitcoin blockchain cryptographically links blocks of transactions together and creates an incentive mechanism that rewards participants who supplied the computing power to link the blocks, thus making it unfeasible to change the ledger. A common error is to equate all blockchain technologies to the Bitcoin blockchain. Newer, next generation blockchains, not associated with Bitcoin, do not necessarily share all the attributes of the Bitcoin blockchain. However,

without Bitcoin, there would be no blockchain technology of any sort. Therefore, the better you understand Bitcoin, the better you will be able to understand how other cryptocurrencies and blockchains work. CORE COMPONENTS OF BLOCKCHAINS A blockchain consists of four core components: the ledger; the peer-to-peer network; the consensus mechanism; and the incentive mechanism. A blockchain is a ledger of transactions, each of which records a change in ownership of the native currency of a particular blockchain. For example, Bitcoin is the native currency of the Bitcoin blockchain. All transactions are grouped into a block, added to the blockchain and linked to all the previous blocks with cryptography.

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DEMYSTIFYING BLOCKCHAIN

Cryptography is the math used to prove no data has been changed, which is the basis for an immutable blockchain. The peer-to-peer network consists of a large number of nodes (computers) that update and store the complete synchronized version of the blockchain. Every node in the network agrees on one state of the blockchain at any point in time. Therefore, it is possible for anyone to independently verify a transaction. The network distributes security among thousands of computers making it unfeasible for malicious actors to compromise the network. As there is a large number of nodes, a node can go offline without affecting the network. This is the value proposition of decentralization.

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The combination of a blockchain and a peerto-peer network is not inherently immutable, secure or reliable. The consensus mechanism makes those attributes possible due to the combination of a consensus protocol and consensus algorithms. Consensus is a process in which nodes agree on one version/ state of a blockchain without knowing or trusting the other nodes. The Bitcoin blockchain does not require permission; anyone can participate as a node, a developer or an end-user. Bitcoin, including other blockchains, is a self-organizing army of participants and volunteers. There has to be a mechanism to incentivize the participants who invest capital to secure the network. Bitcoin is the incentive. The two most common consensus algorithms and their respective incentive mechanisms are proof of work and proof of stake. Proof of work is the Bitcoin consensus algorithm. The proof of work algorithm mints new Bitcoin into existence for every winning number and the Bitcoin becomes part of the fixed monetary supply. This is the incentive that motivates an army of people to voluntarily participate in the Bitcoin blockchain and other public blockchains.

CRYPTOCURRENCY AND BLOCKCHAIN SECURITY To secure cryptocurrency and blockchain transactions, cryptography and encryption are used. As was previously mentioned, cryptography is the math used to prove no data has been changed which is the basis for an immutable blockchain. Cryptography is also seen as the science of secret communication. Encryption is the process of creating a secret and the code to make the secret information accessible to those that should have access. An encrypted message

is called a cipher-text. To be able to read the secret message, the receiver should have a “key” to decrypt the cipher-text. Blockchains are secure, however the byproduct of a secure ledger means security is pushed out to the end-users. Therefore, cryptocurrency users have complete custody, responsibility and control of their assets, unlike traditional assets that rely on management by third party financial institutions. The plus-side is that users will have 100% custody of their assets, however the downside is that they are also a 100% responsible for their own security. There are three main enemies of cryptocurrency security: external hackers; “the enemy within”; and carelessness. External hackers are a known threat with their malware, keylogging, phishing and social engineering. But a lesser known danger is “the enemy within”. This danger consists of trusted employees that exploit week security practices. Examples of careless-

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DEMYSTIFYING BLOCKCHAIN

to define the impact of blockchain technology for the accounting profession and advance the interests of both the public and profession in this area. On December 9th and 10th 2019, Global International Management LLC organized the AICPA and CIMA event “Demystifying Blockchain – Blockchain Fundamentals for Accounting and Finance Professionals Certificate” at the Curacao Marriot Beach Resort. The event was officially opened by U.S. Consul General to Curacao Mr. Allen Greenberg.

ness are not backing up a private key, overall poor security practices and not making use of two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA, is the easiest and cheapest security measure with the highest return. 2FA is typically generated by an app that sends a six-digit code which expires in 20 seconds to your mobile device or desktop. The code is needed to access an account after entering usernames and passwords. If someone hacked your username and password, the hacker still couldn’t access your account without the 2FA code. This is an additional layer of security for logging into websites and sending cryptocurrency transactions.

tied to RFID (radio frequency identification) and other tracking software provides a secure and transparent way that allows all involved parties from origin to shipping to destination be aware of specific details on the shipment. Due to the use of blockchain, the entire process is sped up, has fewer errors and is more cost-effective, an advantage for suppliers, distributers, and customers. BLOCKCHAIN AND BEYOND SEMINAR – LEARNING PROGRAMS THAT TAKE YOUR BUSINESS FORWARD The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and Wall Street Blockchain Alliance work together

The event consisted of two full days of learning the blockchain fundamentals led by blockchain expert Kirk Phillips CPA, CMA, CFE, CPB, moderated by Rocher Cyrus CPA, CGMA, Managing Director of Global International Management LLC with additional interviews from recognized professionals in the field Andries Verschelden CPA and Dr. Sean Stein Smith DBA, CPA. The following topics were highlighted during the event: • L earn about blockchain and crypto asset technology • Identify the benefits and opportunities of blockchain • Recognize the potential risks and challenges of technology adoption • Regulatory concerns • Blockchain trends For more information about this or upcoming events, please visit the website of Global International Management LLC https://globalintmanagement.com/.

BLOCKCHAIN USE IN SOCIETY The application of blockchain has already impacted and improved real-world scenarios. Every day around the world, farmers harvest food products for global shipments. Sensors, which transmit data that is securely written to a blockchain, allow all participants in the supply chain to know the status of these shipments. As all data is recorded on a blockchain, the bankers, insurers, logistics companies and any others involved in the supply chain process will save time and money by knowing the latest information about the shipment. Since the blockchain ensures the accuracy of the data, these participants can budget and prepare for their part in the supply chain process more quickly and avoid costly errors along the way. Automated records on the blockchain

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BLOCKCHAIN 2020

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THE STATE OF BLOCKCHAIN 2020 & OPPORTUNITIES FOR SMALL REGIONAL MARKETS Blockchain 2020 has finally arrived. It’s time to take a closer look at the current global landscape and for the rest of 2020. WRITER: KIRK PHILLIPS, CPA, CMA, CFE, CBP, MANAGING DIRECTOR GLOBAL CRYPTO ADVISORS, INC.

THE BIG STORY Libra, the Swiss based foundation led by Facebook, announced their white paper and plans to release a stablecoin in June 2019. This was one of the biggest news stories of 2019 in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space, and even global financial markets in general. A stablecoin is simply a digital currency pegged to a respective fiat currency like USD or the Guilder, a commodity or some combination (e.g. 1 stablecoin = 1 USD). The big announcement turned into an “incendiary event” waking up central banks and especially the US Congress focusing on some disruptive tech about to shift the balance of power in world reserve currencies. Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was grilled by Congress in October 2019 when Congresswomen Maxine

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

Waters called on Libra to bring their stablecoin project to a grinding halt. INCENDIARY The event is incendiary because Bitcoin has been plugging away and sufficiently decentralizing itself over the last 10 years gaining superpowers along the way that Libra will never have. It’s not like Bitcoin has gone completely unnoticed, however many incumbents have largely dismissed its capabilities allowing the grassroots tech to secure itself as the backbone of the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem. Bitcoin is an alternative universal store of value with a fixed supply governed by math recorded in an unstoppable ledger. It deserves far more attention than Libra from a potential disruption perspective. For example,

Maxine Waters would have failed if she “called on Bitcoin” to testify to Congress because it’s not a company, has no CEO and no corporate offices. There are no stakeholders in the traditional sense. BLOWING OFF THE DUST Meanwhile, after the Libra announcement, the People’s Bank of China dusted off their central bank digital currency (CBDC) project from prior years going full steam ahead in a secret bunker full of developers. A Forbes article, “Central Banks Are Not Issuing Digital Currency Soon”, released in January 2019 reported on a Bank of International Settlements (BIS) survey. The BIS stated, “although a majority of central banks are researching CBDCs …. over 85% of central banks see themselves as either


BLOCKCHAIN 2020

somewhat unlikely or very unlikely to issue any type of CBDC”. One year later a Coindesk article, “10% of Central Banks Surveyed Close to Issuing Digital Currencies”, released in January 2020 reported on a revised BIS survey stating, “Central banks representing a fifth of the world’s population say they are likely to issue the first CBDCs in the next few years”. And further, “... 30 percent of respondents said they had active plans to issue some form of digital currency”. THE SWING The sentiment among central banks made a wild swing in 12 short months. The Libra announcement which “started the fire” happened smack in the middle of one year between the two articles. Governments aren’t known to be nimble and quick, so you know something major happened when central banks move that fast. Also, in January 2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released the “Central Bank Digital Currency Policy‐Maker Toolkit” whitepaper as a guide for central banks. The WEF states, “This document serves as a possible framework to ensure that any CBDC deployment fully considers the costs as well as the potential benefits…”. Think there might be something to this blockchain and cryptocurrency thing?

INCLUSIVITY AND BENEFITS The result of all these innovations is far greater than more inclusive and better financial services. Blockchains create a shared ledger of information rather than each party keeping their own version. Billions of dollars are wasted annually reconciling everyone’s version of accounting to everyone else’s version of accounting among every industry in the entire world. The benefits are endless considering Walmart claims they can track and identify a food borne illness in 2 minutes rather than 7 days. Medical records can be shared faster while security and privacy of the information is far superior than the old model. Let’s hope the savings and quality of life filters down to everyone. REGIONAL MARKETS Just like a super tanker needs miles to change course on the ocean, large countries and mega corporations can’t change as quick as smaller organizations. Mauritius, Malta, Bermuda, Isle of Man and other small countries have created regulatory sandboxes as a destination for blockchain startups having to navigate huge regulatory uncertainty in countries such as the US. These countries realize blockchain is a once in lifetime opportunity to create and export tech as a natural resource.

Technology is intangible so it can scale creating tremendous value regardless of the geographical size or population of a country. Therefore, smaller regional markets can benefit from being blockchain friendly. PERFECT TIMING Tourism can also attract crypto enthusiasts and “crypto whales”. Banks and gaming casinos can benefit from a blockchain based KYC AML solution which reduces the cost of compliance and comes with built in audibility. Merchants and consumers may benefit from user-friendly blockchain apps with killer interfaces rather than the otherwise chunkiness of using cryptocurrency addresses. For example, Celo’s app allows users to send its USD pegged stablecoin by texting a message. Users will pay for things with mobiles just like speed pay services Apple Pay and Google Pay using blockchain without even knowing it. Paper cash will essentially get turned into digital cash fully in the users control which is more hygiene friendly in the age of coronavirus. Bills and coins are also very expensive for central banks to maintain. It’s a perfect time for Curacao to take advantage of the opportunity and realize the dream of the money sovereignty initiative. Embrace the tech and welcome the benefits.

THE QUIET COMPETITOR Whether Libra launches or not, there’ll be many other stablecoin projects potentially outpacing Libra. Celo, an open source platform, has been plugging quietly away since 2017 with over $30 million of venture capital. It launched a 50-member foundation, Alliance for Prosperity, with some of the same Libra members. CO-EXISTENCE AND CHOICE Even though Libra isn’t a corporation, central banks don’t want “tech companies” issuing their own token because it’s viewed as a direct threat to monetary control. Eventually “corporate coins” will emerge and live alongside CBDCs, Bitcoin and other public blockchains. For example, we could have a digital wallet in the future with Google coin, Alibaba coin, Curacao Coin, USD coin and Bitcoin. Those tokens couldn’t be more different from one another and there likely won’t be a winner take all. Instead, we get the benefit of choice which is something we never had before.

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CUR AÇAO AIRPORT PARTNERS

@Courtesy CAP

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CURAÇAO AIRPORT PARTNERS DISCUSSES POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS There’s a special energy you feel the moment you land at the Curaçao International Airport. From the architecture to the automated immigration kiosk, the fresh modern atmosphere makes this airport quite different from any other Caribbean airport. In the last couple of years, Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP) has been managing a major airport transformation project, one that has turned the Dutch Caribbean airport, also know as Hato International Airport, into a new exemplar for the region. WRITER: DESI DIJKHUIZEN

The major accomplishment was the completion of the airport expansion project, which initiated in 2014 and was completed in December 2018. This successful renovation improved and increased traffic to accommodate up to 2.5 million passenger movements on an annual basis. The Curaçao Business Magazine received the opportunity to interview Ralph Blanchard, CEO of CAP, about the airport expansion process, growing airlift possibilities and his view on the Curaçao tourism industry.

Jong (the Netherlands) and CCR (Brazil). A 30-year concession agreement was signed with the Government of Curaçao, which provides that the private airport operator has undertaken responsibility for the financial, operational, and developmental risks of Curaçao International Airport from 2003 until 2033. This allows optimal managerial and financial efficiency, while achieving and exceeding international standards in airport operations and management.

Several valued airline partners serve the modern Curaçao International Airport. Any part of the world is accessible through Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam airline alliances. CAP is a partnership between private international investors Aport (Zurich Airport), Janssen De

“In 2014, we started upgrading the airport infrastructure and improving the operating and business platform that CAP uses to support its services and to ensure the competitive success of our airport. The logistics of the airport were not up to par considering today’s standards

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

and everyone agreed that something had to be done. We were in need of change. The new terminal needed to have a modern façade to project the future of Curaçao. Our major focus was to expand capacity, structural changes, operational efficiencies, and overall gain a more functional entity. CAP, which consists of 230 employees, sees a very promising future for Curaçao and will do its part to make certain that the full potential of the airport is achieved”, Ralph Blanchard mentions at the beginning of the interview. Tourism, which has been a thriving industry, provides a solid foundation for growth. It remains one of Curaçao’s most important industries in terms of real value added, foreign exchange earnings, and employment.


CUR AÇAO AIRPORT PARTNERS

The industry also has indirect spin-off effects across all sectors of the economy, particularly the hotels, restaurants, wholesale, retail trade and transportation sectors. Furthermore, the tourism sector contributes to the economy in terms of investments and government income. “Regarding the development of our tourism industry, we want to competitively position Curaçao to achieve the traffic success that we believe is within our reach. Our traffic concentration in the European market has booked positive airlift developments over the last couple of years, and we are very actively looking to greatly expand consumer awareness of Curaçao in the U.S. market as well. Our airport expansion definitely represents an opportunity for making this happen. At this moment, we have a functional and efficient airport business and operational platform. Curaçao definitely is a uniquely appealing and attractive destination but is still a hidden gem to the world. To receive more airlifts from the U.S., we need to stimulate this market with implementation of creative and out of the box programs. An increase of airlift from the U.S. will come if we create awareness about all possibilities that Curaçao has to offer. The greater the demand from the States, the easier it will be for the airlines to establish on the island. We can’t be afraid, we need to step up and make things happen!”, he comments. CAP’s vision is to further develop and operate Curaçao International Airport to become one of the best airports in the Caribbean region. The airport is being placed in the forefront of innovation in airport management and passenger experience. It is important to mention that the airport has been selected as the 7th best regional airport in the Central America & Caribbean region by the ‘Skytrax World Airport Awards 2019’. Skytrax introduced an Airport Customer Satisfaction survey for passengers to make their own personal choices regarding

@Courtesy CAP

the airport with the best customer service and facilities. The airport has also been selected as a shortlisted nominee for the Routes of Americas 2020 awards, which recognizes excellence in airport and destination marketing. It provides the region’s airports and tourism authorities with the opportunity to showcase how their organization has excelled in air service development marketing over the last year. All of those elements bode well for Hato International as the airport continues the work to grow its network footprint and expand its connection to the world.

commitment to the airport, government and overall development of Curaçao. “We see the airport as an incentive for growth; for helping the island plan and execute a master strategy for tourism that will assist the island to achieve its full potential. I believe in a bright future for our island. We are moving positively into the right direction. I stand for a call for action to unite in a ‘coalition of the willing’ supporting innovative programs and pro-active public-private initiatives to promote the Curaçao brand and attract more tourists. If Curaçao succeeds, CAP succeeds!”, he concludes.

The private consortium sees the airport expansion as a tangible expression of its long-term

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID19), CAP has been carefully monitoring the situation and stepping up its sanitation efforts in response to the spread of the virus. CAP is working closely with the government and Public Health Authorities of Curaçao to ensure that the very latest guidance is communicated and implemented as the situation continues to develop. First and foremost, the maintenance of a safe port of entry is top priority by encouraging practices of basic hygiene to protect the health of employees of the airport, passengers, customers, visitors, and others.

@Courtesy CAP

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

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CURAÇAO CARNIVAL

A FASCINATING EVOLUTION ON A MEANINGFUL ISLAND TRADITION

CURAÇAO CARNIVAL 50TH ANNIVERSARY Curaçao Carnival, also known as “Karnaval di Kòrsou”, is the most anticipated event on the island. During the Carnival season, the entire island transforms into one big colorful party that overwhelms the whole community through group preparations, competitions, public parties, ‘jump ins’ and street parades. This year was quite a special celebration as Carnival fanatics celebrated the 50th anniversary of Carnival from January through March. WRITER: DESI DIJKHUIZEN

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It was definitely a memorable season, with beautiful highlights and abundance of entertainment. To better understand this celebration, the National Archives Curaçao provides a look into the past and explains the interesting evolution of Carnival season. Over a century of changes, obstacles and combining of foreign traditions, the dedication and determination of the community formed the structure for the season in place today.

In 1901, “De Curaçaosche Courant” mentions that Carnival was celebrated on the island as a result of Spanish American traditions. The celebration started as an initiative of several Venezuelan citizens who lived on Curaçao on a temporary basis. The festivities took place in a private elite club. Also, verbal history resources indicate that ‘The Jolly Fellows Society’ was considered the driving force behind the development

of celebrating Carnival on the streets for the first time in 1947. It was in 1949 that a more formal framework developed. A foundation called ‘Stichtingscommissie Carnavalsfeesten’ was created to celebrate Carnival with an elected ‘Prince Carnival’. The intention was to involve the entire population, however Carnival remained elitist and interest slowed down during the 1950’s.

@Courtesy Ninelifestyle

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020


CURAÇAO CARNIVAL

Benjamin Wefer and Elias Bronswinkel took the lead and tried to generate interest again by establishing the Central Carnival Committee Curaçao in 1961. By the 1970’s, Carnival gained more popularity and the ‘Komité Karnaval Kòrsou’ was founded in 1971 under the guidance of Omalio Merien. This is when the Carnival festivities acknowledged an interesting twist. With the slogan ‘Karnaval pa un i tur’ (Carnival for everyone), this committee focused on the participation of every nationality on the island. During that time, simple parades were organized in the Curaçao streets, starting in Otrobanda continuing over the Emmabridge to finish in Mari Pampoen. The organizing committee was presided by well-known names like Omalio Merien, Felio Colinet, Frank Rosina and Boy Winklaar. In addition, it was then that Tumba was introduced as road march. Even to this day, Tumba keeps its popularity and the Tumba Festival has grown into one of the biggest festivals of the island. Nowadays, the Tumba Festival is highly anticipated because the ‘Tumba King or Queen’ is chosen in a fierce, four-day musical competition that marks the rhythm of the Carnival season. The awarded tune of the Carnival’s Tumba will be played in all upcoming parties and parades throughout the weeks of the event.

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In the early 1980’s, the Carnival celebration gained a special youthful addition. The kids also received the opportunity to dance and jump in the colorful streets of Willemstad showing off their creations. Similar to their older counterparts, they wear full, elaborate costumes with a high dose of cuteness. In the 1990’s, Fundashon Karnaval Kòrsou (FKK) (Curaçao Carnival Foundation) was founded and started to make changes to the structure. As the Emmabridge was considered too fragile for the groups to jump on, the foundation adjusted the route of the parade by making Santa Maria the starting point and ending in Otrobanda. Also in 1995, teens joined the celebration with an unique Teen Parade that has grown into an indispensable part of the Carnival celebration. Currently Curaçao Carnival is comprised of several parades. The Horse Carnival Parade kicks off the carnival season, with beautifully decorated horses and riders that prance through the streets. The Children Carnival

@Courtesy Ninelifestyle

Parade, Children’s Farewell Parade and Teen’s Parade have grown into a must see spectacle for locals and tourists. The modest Banda Bou Carnival Parade has also become a popular festivity. The 50th anniversary of Carnival was celebrated this year and was organized by Foundation JAG. The Carnival energy was felt throughout the island and of course, highlighted all over social media. All groups displayed their unique creativity and brought a spectacular performance to the audience. The Tumba King Raey Lauffer conquered

many hearts with his Tumba ‘Kòrsou Te’i Bula’ (Curaçao will jump). This charismatic young talent was crowned Tumba King for the very first time and demonstrated that the younger generation has the potential to continue with the Tumba tradition. Carnival in Curaçao has become without doubt the largest manifestation of culture on the island. It remains an event that attracts thousands of people from around the world continuing to grow in dimension and popularity every year.

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020


DUSHI AVENTURA

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KARNAVAL FROM THE INSIDE

DUSHI AVENTURA With the 50th Anniversary of Curacao Karnaval, it is a special time to understand this unique tradition in many ways, and one such way is to take a look from the inside perspective of a Karnaval group. Dushi Aventura, 1st runner up of Group of the Year 2019 and Best Float 2019, is heading into their 10th year of celebrating Karnaval and has a group size of approximately 250 members every year. Lucien Elisa, a founding member, gave us the opportunity for a personal interview. WRITER: NATHASJA JT PLAIZIER

HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN? We started in 2011 with a group of friends and what I vividly remember is us sitting at my grandmother’s house talking about Karnaval. Back then we were all in the same group and kept talking about forming our own group until eventually planning every-

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

thing. That’s how it started: with family and good friends, it became reality. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHANGES YOU HAVE NOTICED THROUGH THE YEARS? For us, the biggest changes have been in our costumes, because when we started

we were not very good in making those. We were no experts and didn’t have the experience to design or make costumes. By the second year, we started with a designer who is now a leader. He has designed everything since then, has grown with the group and became a full-blown expert. In 2013, we won


DUSHI AVENTURA

2nd Runner Up for Group of the Year. So quite early in our existence, we were rewarded for working so hard and improving our designs. From that moment on, we had more confidence and dared to expand the group size with different costumes. For the event, we noticed that the route has been secured and now has fencing barriers in order to guarantee more safety. WHAT ARE THE MAIN ASPECTS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT EVERY YEAR? Every year, the group size and number of participants is important in order to design, plan and buy the materials needed to make the costumes. You must buy the materials before the process of making the costumes. At the very beginning of the year, it is necessary to make the initial big purchase for the costumes. As it is only possible to get some items on Curacao, the unique specialty parts must be imported and delivered here. WHAT MAKES KARNAVAL ON CURACAO DIFFERENT FROM KARNAVAL IN THE REGION? I believe what we do in Dushi Aventura truly represents the Karnaval of Curacao; the big costumes with a lot of glitter and fabric. In the region, small costumes are popular. For example in Aruba and Trinidad, you will see an amazingly beautiful headpiece and then a tiny costume with barely any fabric on the body. But in Curacao, in Dushi Aventura, we go for big costumes that are fashionable and trendy.

HAVE YOU NOTICED AN IMPACT OF THE ECONOMIC CRISIS DURING KARNAVAL? Yes of course. It has been very difficult to get more sponsors. It’s very important to have a sponsor, but it’s not easy to get one. Fortunately, we have a sponsor from the first year we started until now, who has stayed with us all these years and that’s Industrias Tip Top Leáñez & Cia. S.A., from Presidente Beer. COULD YOU EXPLAIN THE 2020 THEME? The theme of this year is Tropicana. It’s a musical, or a show, that started in Cuba and from there it became very popular. So even now in Las Vegas, you have these shows. Once we have the idea, we put our own taste and detailing into the theme so it looks more like Curacao Karnaval and Dushi Aventura costumes. It’s a very beautiful theme with a lot of ruffles, fabrics, glitter and glamour. There are even flowers, birds and instruments. We have a variety of things we put in the theme so we can expand it and express ourselves better. DO YOU CONSIDER KARNAVAL AS A FORM OF BUSINESS? I believe to make it a business you have to have a lot of participants in your group. Dushi Aventura is not a very big group and we do not treat it as a business. The income we

generate, we contribute back into the group. We buy things we need and can use for future years. For example, the float and bar were purchased two years ago and are still used. So it’s not a business, we invest everything in the group itself. HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK CELEBRATING KARNAVAL IS TO THE PEOPLE ON CURACAO? As you can see along the route, it is very busy. You will see many people flying in from all over the world to come to Curacao to just see the parade. I believe for our tourism, the island and the people of Curacao, it is very important. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR NEXT YEAR? Next year, we are celebrating our 10th Anniversary. We are going to do something extra special and things we haven’t done before. Right now, we are still celebrating 50 years of Karnaval on Curacao. After this year’s celebration ends, we have a lot of projects planned to celebrate for the whole year, so expect to hear the name Dushi Aventura often.

CURAÇAO BUSINESS | EDITION 1 | 2020

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