Cohesiveness vs. Divisiveness:
A Stimulant for Economic Growth Destination Curaçao
Can We Meet the Expectations of Today’s ‘New’ Travelers?
Bringing International Listings to the DCSX
Connecting Investment Opportunities to Foreign Investors:
EDITION 3 | 2017
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear Readers, Building the economic future of Curaçao has always been a challenge as Small Island economies tend to be vulnerable to international developments and have limited resources. Moreover, the act of building the economic future implicitly requires alignment within the nation in
vision and concerted action to allocate resources to areas of priorities. As the economic development in small and open economies always seems to defy logic, the crux of the matter is the ability to identify opportunities with a potential return and the ability to convert those into actual sustainable economic activity. In this edition the newly appointed Minister of Economic Development offers a first impression of his take of the future of our economic development, “There are times in the history of a country when the opportunity for a major initiative could become a significant trigger to economic development,” referring to an upcoming estimated investment of 3 billion US dollars in oil refining activities. Following a recent strategic take-over investment of Damen Shipyards in the Curaçao Drydock, a significant investment in the overall renovation of the Marriott hotel, and a soon-to-be-built second hotel located at
the airport. It is this ability to convert opportunities into competitive economic activities, which has been carrying our diversified economy for the last few decades, one sector enabling the other. In this edition we also showcase exporting activities of local producers, and announce our second international Curaçao Business Point Conference -an initiative of this Chamber on innovation, quality and patent, during which specialists will guide you through in-depth workshops in deepening your knowledge about managing the innovation, quality and patent process. In the meantime, enjoy this edition! Billy Jonckheer President Curaçao Chamber and Commerce and Industry
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR ranging from: the Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange and it’s growing portfolio of listings; to the plans already underway to create a new airport hotel; to realizing Curaçao’s unique potential as a wellness destination, we consistently see that there are a great many facets to our economy that are taking flight. In this issue, we also continue to highlight local companies that are already actively exporting their products and have successfully placed a spotlight on Curaçao, as we feature Curaçao Laboratories in our ongoing export series. As our team of dynamic writers was busy working on the wide variety of articles that are featured in this issue of the Curaçao Business Magazine, the common underlying theme that seemed to emerge was MOMENTUM. With the full gamut of topical issues
Indeed, there is enormous potential for our economy to exponentially grow if we are successful in stimulating both local and foreign investment, and the feature article interviewing Curaçao’s new Minister of Economic Affairs, Steven Martina, confirms just that. As he settles into his new position, he dives
right into some of the major developmental projects in the pipelines that stand on the threshold of an economic turnaround for Curaçao. He delves into the concept of MOMENTUM and the opportunities to harness it, that lay on the horizon. Although still in its budding phase, the rate at which we are seeing economic stimulation is indeed palpable. It’s as if we, as a nation, have a newfound energy to roll up our sleeves and get started. We have reached a pivotal moment in our island’s economic development that opens a new doorway to many exciting and promising opportunities ahead. Helen Griffith Editor-in-Chief
CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS Farah Ayoubi started her writing career
more than 20 years ago when she was still trying to work her way up the corporate ladder. For more than 10 years she owned a content providing company, which put her in charge of the production of many newsletters, websites, annual reports, corporate content and more. She stopped just long enough to fully pursue her dream of becoming a life coach, so as to empower all who need that extra oomph to reach for their dreams, in their own authentic way. Still empowering people thru coaching, she is now empowering herself as a freelance writer, combining the best of both careers.
-------------------------------------------------------------------Luis Santine is the Founder and Managing
Director of InfoCapital and CX Pay, providing diversified advisory and management services related to international business solutions and transaction services. His expertise and solutions are found primarily in the areas of e-Commerce and payments. Luis is also the Chairman of the Board of Curacao Investment & Export Development Foundation, (CINEX), and occupies other board memberships in different sectors including, banking, captive insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Luis holds a MBA degree in Entrepreneurship & Management and a B.S.B.A. degree in International Business in Finance from the American University in Washington, D.C.
Maruja Bogaard is a Strategic Insights and Marketing Consultant with over a decade of experience helping clients navigate the way consumer thinking and behavior has shifted, and champion this ‘consumer voice’ to nurture loyalty, maximize retention, and ultimately drive ROI. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Telecom Arts, with a Minor in Music, and a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication from The University of Georgia. When seeing how Digital Media was changing the marketing landscape, she went back to pursue a Postgraduate Professional Certificate in Digital Media Marketing from New York University. Truly passionate about developing data-driven, integrated marketing strategies, she finds reward in working with the smallest of companies to Global powerhouses, such as HBO and General Mills. Also, a professional singer, Maruja has always enjoyed balancing her artistic and analytic sides. .
-------------------------------------------------------------------Helen Griffith, joined the magazine in
October 2016 as the Editor-in-Chief. She brings to the table a wealth of experience in copywriting and editing and has a Bachelors Degree in Communications and Public Relations from Boston University. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, she has been residing in Curaçao since 2000 and has been involved in many writing publications and websites, and coordinated many conferences and events on the island. Helen also has a dual-career as a certified Pilates Instructor and is passionate about helping others with spinal rehabilitation and sports injury recovery.
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Katy Branum was brought up in the great outdoors of Australia, and graduated from university with a BA in Business, which included a double major in Marketing and Management and a minor in Finance. Today, she enjoys living in Curaçao and is currently the Director of Stella Vanilla Consultancy, and works with many different publications.
-------------------------------------------------------------------Korra Pietersz-Juliana is an entrepre-
neur in the field of wellness development and is on a quest to make Curaçao a wellness destination with her company Oasean Vision. She holds a Bachelor in International Tourism Management from Webber University and a Masters in International Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University. Since 2012 she has been creating new wellness concepts, organizes wellness events, develops corporate teambuilding programs with focus on wellness, and is currently adding a new wellness tourism brand to her scope of services.
-------------------------------------------------------------------Rejauna I.S. Rojer graduated with a
Master’s degree in Tax law and Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam. During her studies she worked at a Big Four tax firm in the Netherlands in combination with tax teaching jobs. In 2014 she started working at Meijburg & Co Caribbean. She specializes in Insurance, Periodic Annuities and Pensions as well as the Event Industry. Furthermore she provides advice to clients regarding amongst others wage tax, personal income tax, indirect tax, profit tax and tax structuring. In her free time she regularly writes about tax and economic trends and opportunities for Curaçao. Furthermore, she is a board member of the Association of the Dutch Caribbean Economists.
Bringing new life to banking! SFT Bank is now Vidanova Bank. New name, same personalized service, same pleasantly short queues and tailor-made products. A bank where clients feel appreciated. Havenâ€™t discovered us yet? Contact us for a personal appointment. More than just a bank!
Curaçao Business PUBLISHER Curaçao Business Media Group b.v. POSTADRES ON CURAÇAO: Sta. Rosaweg 19 Willemstad, Curaçao EXPLOITATION Van Munster Media BV P1: Postbus 6684, NL-6503 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 PUBLISHER Michael van Munster T: +31(0) 24 373 8505 E: email@example.com EDITOR IN CHIEF Helen Griffith firstname.lastname@example.org SALES REPRESENTATIVES Monica Koffieberg-Woodford email@example.com Jonathan Jonckheer firstname.lastname@example.org
8 Cohesiveness vs. Divisiveness: A Stimulant for Economic Growth
SALES INQUIRIES Heather de Paulo email@example.com
11 Connecting Investment Opportunities to Foreign Investors
SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscriptions: NAF 35 per year (4 issues) firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
13 Coming Soon: Business Hospitality @ the Airport
14 CSEC Conference 2017: Once Again Confirming Curaçao as a Top Event Destination
MARKETING AND SUBSCRIPTIONS Stephan Aalbers E: firstname.lastname@example.org
16 Curaçao Laboratories: Taking Export from Hobby to Passion
ART PRODUCTION Jan-Willem Bouwman
18 DESTINATION CURAÇAO: Can We Meet the Expectations of Today’s ‘New’ Travelers?
PHOTOGRAPHY Jonathan Jonckheer, email@example.com Alberto Sanchez, firstname.lastname@example.org
20 Curaçao Chamber of Commerce Upcoming Events 22 The Art of Selling Your Idea to an Investor
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.
24 Internal Transfer Pricing Documentation Requirement on Curaçao
26 E-Commerce and Payment Solutions for Merchants in the Caribbean
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.
28 The Synergy of Vidanova and SFT Bank
31 Business Article Review: “The ‘Right Tech, Wrong Time’ Syndrome.”
van munster m e d i a
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32 Why Requesting the Help of an Embassy or Consulate General Makes Sense van munster m e d i a
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34 The Shift Towards Social and Digital Media
Since his inauguration as the Minister of Economic Affairs, Steven Martina has already immersed himself in a myriad of ongoing projects and initiatives to stimulate the economy.
Conveniently located just down the road from the Curaçao International Airport, the new Airport Hotel and Conference Center will feature a modern contemporary architectural style.
Infinite investment opportunities lay on the horizon for local and foreign companies alike. With many of the key ingredients already in place, the momentum of the Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange, (DCSX), is starting to take ground and realize its potential.
11 With raving reviews and congratulations still rolling in several weeks after the conference, the 16th annual Caribbean Shipping and Executives Conference, (CSEC), hosted by the Curaçao Ports Authority, (CPA), was such a huge success.
Fast forward to 2017, and now both Glacial and Curaçao Liqueur are growing their exporting activities with fervor.
For many years Curaçao has struggled to find the true essence of our island that sets us apart from other destinations in the Caribbean. We have focused on a variety of different features that our island has to offer.
When thinking of expanding your business beyond our shores, the big question is, where do you start? As islands in the Caribbean we are dependent upon regional cooperation.
The recently announced acquisition of SFT Bank by Vidanova has actually been in the works for over a year. On January 1, 2016, Vidanova became a 67% shareholder in SFT Bank in an effort to align the two companies.
Cohesiveness vs. Divisiveness:
A Stimulant for Economic Growth 8
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Since his inauguration as the Minister of Economic Affairs, Steven Martina has already immersed himself in a myriad of ongoing projects and initiatives to stimulate the economy. Indeed it seems that the baton has been passed to very capable hands, and the Minister has hit the ground running. TEXT BY HELEN GRIFFITH
Mind you, Steven Martina is already a veteran in the local business community and a well-respected leader in his own right. So it comes as no surprise that he would assume his position as Minister of Economic Affairs already having a pulse on the status of the economy and what the criteria would be for economic growth. Mr. Martina admits that the economy has been stagnant in recent years and that the unemployment rate, after rising between 2015 and 2016, stayed more or less at the same level at the end of the first Quarter (Q1) of 2017, (however youth unemployment (15-24 years of age) did rise between 2016 and 2017). He also attributes the downturn in the economy due to the recent global financial
crisis, which has not only affected our tourism industry, but also limited the amount of capital available for investments on the island. Indeed foreign and local investors are
“There are times in the history of a country when the opportunity for a major initiative could become a significant trigger to economic development.”
more hesitant to take risks with economic uncertainty at every turn. Mr. Martina also highlights the fact that due to the current political situation in Venezuela, the island can no longer enjoy the significant benefits of Venezuelan tourists spending here on the island as they did in the 1960’s. On the contrary, the recent influx of Venezuelans appears to be more of a strain on our economy. He also identifies another factor that hampers our economic growth, whereby the development in regulations in the international
financial sector has positioned Curaçao as a less attractive destination for international financial services. This, put together with the image of political instability, suggested by the fact that the government has changed 5 times in the last 7 years, makes foreign investors hesitant to explore opportunities in Curaçao without the reassurance of governance that demonstrates cohesiveness and continuity. But the mere acknowledgement of these factors is significant. It shows an awareness of the issues that need to be addressed, and a willingness to take on each specific challenge. He acknowledges that we are not in an ideal situation at present, but he does see many opportunities on the horizon that could potentially turn the economy around. Mr. Martina elaborates on a quote by Charles R. Swindoll as he says, “ ‘We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.’ It takes the leader in us to see the difference, and I’m motivated and energized to make a difference.” Without ignoring the many smaller current and future initiatives that will serve to assist in a turnaround in the economy, Mr. Martina also wants to focus on the bigger opportunities for growth. He notes, “There are times in the history of a country when the opportunity for a major initiative could become a significant trigger to economic development.” Specifically, he refers to the modernization
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of the national refinery with a 3 billion dollar investment from the Guangdong Zhenrong Company in early 2019. He sees this as a major catalyst for economic recovery, but looks even further into the future as he investigates the feasibility of the Chinese company committing to constructing an entirely new refinery and LNG center in years to come. This translates into an enormous investment potential with further opportunities for economic stimulation from other companies as well. But the important point is that these agreements need to be negotiated now, in the coming months, when we find ourselves at a pivotal moment for change with the signing-over of the refinery. Mr. Martina also refers to the Tourism Master Plan already in place, and intends to continue implementing its structures. He highlights the importance of improving our tourism product by addressing key issues such as crime; the general cleanup of our island, and in particular our beaches; educating the public on the importance of being friendly hosts to our visitors; expanding the promotion of our local events worldwide; and further increasing our hotel room capacity. When addressing the initiative to stimulate capital markets, he cautions that in order to attract foreign investors, we need to be compliant with new regulations and in some cases reinvent our markets. With stable, well-respected financial institutions, and a stable government, he is confident that we can re-create the image of a well-respected market for foreign investment that we held some years back. He also acknowledges the need to eliminate red tape in an effort to further attract investors. He sees the solution to this problem by fully automating and digitalizing all procedures, which will achieve complete transparency, not only within each branch of the government, but also inter-departmentally. It is crucial that all ministries are in alignment so that they can cohesively move forward while simultaneously reducing the opportunity for individual exploitation. With all of these promising initiatives and projects, Mr. Martina is all too aware of the need to ensure that the potential stimulation to the economy trickles down to the smaller business owners, entrepreneurs and investors. In order to more evenly distribute the wealth within the population, he recognizes the need
to introduce specific programs that will further facilitate economic development within this sector. The disparity of wealth has stoked the flames of divisiveness amongst the people, which, as seen in recent times, stands to affect the country’s political stability. This comes full circle, as any semblance of instability could dissuade foreign investors. Therefore, creating a certain level of political stability has, in essence, become an economic initiative. With the intention of creating consistency and coherence, Mr. Martina hopes to promote a fundamental intellectual change throughout the population as he explains, “We need to cultivate a positive mindset amongst the people of Curaçao by promoting a positive, constructive ‘yiu di Korsou’ – a ‘yiu Korsou nobo’.” He further explains, “This is a new type of person that has a positive, constructive mindset, who knows
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that the only way to progress is through hard work.” This is also a person whose underlying motive is personal progress as part of a greater picture that enables further civic development for the entire country, and doesn’t just stop short at personal progress alone. Mr. Martina views this as a crucial component in the effort to reduce the social deficit. Not withstanding the responsibility that the government holds in implementing measures to ensure the recovery of the social system, Martina acknowledges the need to increase available funds to improve the people’s health, education and poverty levels. He sums up his intentions for his term in office, quite beautifully by saying, “Be consistent… be selfless… govern with continuity… so that we can walk in front and lead by example.”
Curaçao has the capability to become a new financial hub in the Western Hemisphere, following in the footsteps of Singapore. A number of informative insights into the progress and potential of the Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange, (DCSX), were presented to executives of the financial sector at a recently held seminar entitled, “The Power of Capital Markets.” Mr. Derk Scheltema, Chairman of the Supervisory Board DCSX, and Director of Amicorp, presented a clear view of the status of the DCSX and elaborated on the investment potential for local and foreign investors. During his presentation, Scheltema stressed the need for an active capital market, without which economic growth would be stifled. He explained that an active capital market increases the availability and diversity of investment potential and encourages domestic savings at a lower risk. He warned that without this, there would be ‘an inability to match long term savings with future pension and health requirements,’ thereby creating a generation of poor retirees.
Connecting Investment Opportunities to Foreign Investors:
Bringing International Listings to the DCSX Infinite investment opportunities lay on the horizon for local and foreign companies alike. With many of the key ingredients already in place, the momentum of the Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange, (DCSX), is starting to take ground and realize its potential. TEXT BY HELEN GRIFFITH
With this in mind, the DCSX was created with the intention of attracting financial service businesses to Curaçao, thereby creating a platform that serves as a hub for regional issuers and investors. Its primary goal is to generate foreign exchange by providing financial services to listings on the stock exchange in the form of corporate finance services, brokerage and banking services, investment management, legal and tax advisory services and finally by attracting regional headquarters and financial centers to the island. It goes without saying that all this commercial activity would undoubtedly generate jobs, increase the island’s tax base and lead to economic growth. To date the DCSX has over 30 current listings, including international companies such as Grupo Farma, Telconet, Zeta Group Holdings and Agri Resources, and local companies like the newly listed, Building Depot. There are a number of significant benefits to listing a local company on the DCSX. Some of these include: creating transparency, (thereby decreasing political influence); attracting capital for pending development projects; allocating an alternative lower-cost form of financing; enabling an exit strategy for existing shareholders when required; and promoting an increased profile and status of the company. As we look beyond our borders, the benefits of the DCSX continue as regional companies and
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The recently held Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange, (DCSX), Seminar was opened by Prime Minister, Eugene Rhuggenaath, who stated that our local Capital Market, if given the right momentum, has the power to “awaken sleeping capital,” and finance Government N.V.’s and future bonds. The Prime Minister acknowledged that the Curaçao Government intends to fully support and utilize the new securities exchange in an effort to inject fur-
governments can procure a legally secure and regulatory environment in which to conduct financial transactions. As Scheltema explains, “The goal of the DCSX is to attract these companies and governments to Curaçao […], to issue their securities, connecting international investors to international investment opportunities [thereby] becoming the financial center of choice for the region.” One particular initiative that the DCSX is focusing on, is to encourage the listing of the Cuban Government and many of its state-owned companies and projects to Curaçao’s stock exchange. Many suppliers delivering to Cuba operate under a Letter of Credit from international institutions. A listing on the DCSX would enable them to pre-finance this Letter of Credit. Also, because the Cuban Government lacks capital for its public infrastructure pro-
ther capital into the economy. Mr. Rhuggenaath’s opening address to the 185 attendees was followed by a speech from Minister of Economic Affairs, Steven Martina, which highlighted the importance of a well-functioning Capital Market to the overall health of the economy. He stated that the government will start the process of stimulating the DCSX but also appealed to the private sector for their support of this local securities exchange.
jects, secured bonds can be issued through the DCSX to finance these projects. Curaçao is a natural choice because of is historical and financial reputation and geographical location. In the case of Singapore, half a century ago, in realizing their potential to become a major financial hub in their region, they set forth several goals to sustain long-term capital market growth by restructuring their: regulatory framework; cornerstone institutions; regulations and standards; taxation laws; and market infrastructure and technology. As such, they were able to trigger key catalysts for change to their economy including the modernization of their Government Securities market; the boosting of financing for infrastructure; privatizing state-owned entities; securing mortgages and reforming pensions. Due to the newfound momentum in their economy, they were able
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to attract major stakeholders in the region by providing tax incentives and enabling access to business opportunities. The result speaks for itself; Singapore has created one of the most thriving capital markets not only in their region, but also in the world over. With many similar parallels, Curaçao stands in a position to follow in their footsteps with the potential to grow into a regional financial hub with a prosperous capital market. The DCSX is at the budding stage of such an ambitious expedition, but it is on the right track and well on its way to building momentum in the economy in order to achieve this goal.
SINGAPORE 1 million inhabitants • 581 sq. km • Oil refinery, dry dock, international trade • Limited financial services, close to Indonesia and SE Asia • Very low income, very limited skilled labor, no infrastructure, no unity
CURAÇAO 160,000 inhabitants • 444 sq. km • Oil refinery, dry dock, international trade • E xtensive financial center, close to LATAM • Relatively high income
Coming Soon: Business Hospitality @ the Airport Conveniently located just down the road from the Curaçao International Airport, the new Airport Hotel and Conference Center will feature a modern contemporary architectural style, comparable to what you would find at a Marriot Courtyard or similar, and will be just moments from airport check-in desks offering fantastic connectivity to Europe, USA, Caribbean and Latin America regions. TEXT BY KATY BRANUMI
The Hotel will offer a three star experience with 100 well-furnished rooms, containing in-room amenities for the modern business traveller. There will also be 25 apartments available for those that are planning an extended stay or seeking additional amenities such as a kitchen. The business centre will offer meeting rooms and will come with; videoconference calling facilities, Wi-Fi and other features that the modern business traveller would require. Other hotel facilities will include; a pool, a gym, convenient car parking and, once the conference center has been completed, there will be various restaurants and bars, also located in the complex.
This development is a combined Curaçao Airport Holdings, (CAH), and Global International Private Foundation, (BSL), project. CAH owns the land and BSL is leasing the land from them. BSL has two areas of responsibility, managing both the investment and the operations facets of the project. BSL operations created the architectural plans for the hotel, and are responsible for the build of the complex as well as the business model. BSL in consultation with CAH is currently in discussions with various hotel management companies, to identify which applicant is the best fit to manage the day-today operations of the hotel complex once the hotel opens to the public. Most of the com-
panies being considered are American hotel management chains. BSL has experience in these types of projects, having built and currently managing an apartment complex in Piscadera, next to the World Trade Centre. Energy efficient and sustainable energy methods will be utilized, where possible. This includes the use of the solar panels to generate electricity and a seawater cooling system for the air conditioners. This cooling system harnesses the very cool water found in the deeper depths of the ocean to cool the air within the hotel and conference center. The hotel will primarily service the stayover airline crews and the business community that is seeking hotel facilities and meeting room services conveniently located near the airport. The Development team is currently waiting for the final permit, prior to being able to break ground. Once underway, it is estimated that the hotel and be ready to open in approximately two years, a compact timeline for this type of build. CAH is proud to have the project underway, having recently expanded its role to include the direct responsibility for the development of the airport area. They are very excited to be able to turn the soil, signifying that construction has started. For CAH this is just the beginning, and they have an aggressive focus to continue this momentum to execute the Airport City plan, and the development of the neighboring area.
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CSEC Conference 2017:
Once Again Confirming Curaçao as a Top Event Destination
With raving reviews and congratulations still rolling in several weeks after the conference, the 16th annual Caribbean Shipping and Executives Conference, (CSEC), hosted by the Curaçao Ports Authority, (CPA), was such a huge success that many of the delegates from the port and shipping industry, were awe-struck and even perhaps a little envious. TEXT BY FARAH DIBAH AYOUBI
The Caribbean Shipping and Executives Conference, (CSEC), is an annual event held by the Caribbean Shipping Association, (CSA), that is currently based in Jamaica. Every year key shipping industry executives from all over the Caribbean, and the Northern and Western hemispheres gather at a different destination in the Caribbean to discuss matters pertaining to their industry. Aside from the many insightful lectures and discussions presented, it is the networking opportunities during the evenings’ social events that are most valued by the participants. CPA won the bid for hosting this 16th annual event for the third time around; previously hosting in 2006 and 2010. In true CPA fashion, a top-notch organizing team was installed and headed up by its Port
and Land Development Officer, MiIaika Capella-Ras, a CPA events veteran. CapellaRas rolled out her vision of how to best showcase what Curaçao can offer its participants during the 5-day CSEC event, by bringing together a dream team of professionals, of both in-house employees and external suppliers, that could make this happen exactly the way she had envisioned it.
Elements of CSEC
This 16th CSEC consisted of 5 days of sessions. One day was reserved for CSA’s Board of Directors to discuss internal and strategic matters. The other days were filled to the brim with insightful sessions delivered by international and local speakers from all spheres of the sector. With topics ranging from the
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current state of the Caribbean cruise industry, to port security and safety issues; all topics pertaining to the advancement of the shipping sector were covered. CPA also utilized this golden opportunity to introduce their future plans for Curaçao’s ports, and in particular, the Waaigat Development Project, to many of their valued clients in the shipping and cruise industry. They invited all delegates on an exclusive harbor tour to showcase Curaçao’s unique harbor and all of its facilities. To heighten the delegates’ opportunities to make the most of their time to network during the conference, a special conference app was created to keep everyone actively involved in all the proceedings and to enable them to communicate directly to other delegates. The CPA team created three exquisite social events. The first evening offered a casual relaxing Welcome Reception that was a postcard perfect event around the Renaissance Hotel infinity beach pool. On the second night, Kompania di Tou Kòrsou, (KTK Tugs), hosted a historical Cultural Evening that transported guests on a historical journey with a walking tour from the Riffort Fountain to The Gouverneur
Benefits of hosting your own international conference in Curaçao:
We asked local event organizing company, QUBE Pure Enjoyment, to sum up the main benefits of organizing a business conference in Curaçao. Managing Director, Sigurd de Wind shared the following points for local companies thinking about hosting a conference here: • Your company gets a lot of goodwill and free publicity. It sets you apart in your sector, building up the image of your company as a front-runner and community-minded company. • You grow your international contacts within your sector. Foreign companies are very likely to respect your company and regard you as the leading company in your sector. The relationships you build will enable you to fall back on international expertise, knowledge and opportunities and sometimes even exchange employees who in turn learn and grow from the experience. • Increased business opportunities for you and others: international companies come to your conference hoping to increase their business; a win-win opportunity is around every corner at these conferences and as a host, you can immediately zoom in with your team to be proactive and take advantage of these opportunities. • A large number of your employees can attend the sessions; as opposed to just a few when the conference is abroad. You can even bring your suppliers to the event and team up for the best solutions and support.
from cranes above the dancing crowd and fireworks embedded the moment in their minds forever.
Behind the Scenes
What makes Curaçao so unique, that conferences held here always seem to touch the hearts of people of all nationalities? Unsurprisingly, it is not our warm weather, nor the dynamic and diversified tourism product that we offer. It’s our people. Seeing this conference emerge from scratch and being privy to a behind-thescenes look during the days and weeks leading up to it, makes for a great analysis of the factors contributing to its success. From the moment the organization team was created by Milaika Capella-Ras, its primary focus was to try to make things easy, hasslefree, efficient, productive and most importantly enjoyable for the attendees. It seems our
people thrive on pleasing others and creating unique pleasurable experiences for our island’s visitors. Unwilling to settle for being ‘small’, we pride ourselves on striving for greatness through creativity and resourcefulness, with no room for constraints. This conference was one for the history books and once again distinguished us on map of the Caribbean. As one of the delegates, Robert West of Boston, MA, shared with us on the final day: “A great conference is one that you don’t notice. Everything is so seamless that you don’t incur any hassle. From the minute we arrived and were met at the airport, everything was taken care of and this is still happening. We didn’t have to find ourselves a cab and the ensuing days things just kept getting better. I’ve been to many conferences in bigger countries with more resources, but this one certainly exceeds anything I’m used [to].”
restaurant alongside the picturesque harbor, and following a trail of cultural expressions throughout Curaçao’s history. A dinner reception was held featuring an assortment of local cuisine and culinary specialties. The final evening was set to wow the delegates with an All Black Party held on board the Doña Luisa freighter and the West Wharf. The freighter was transformed into a luxurious gala venue complete with laser lights and sculptures, and guests were pimped up with boas and hats upon arrival and danced the night away while Cirque Magic acrobats hung
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Curaçao Export Series:
Taking Export from Hobby to Passion
When consumers think about Alcolado Glacial, they think about a bottle with a cute penguin on it, the one that contains that green splash lotion that can cool you off on a hot day and makes you feel like the air-conditioner is set on high. TEXT BY FARAH DIBAH AYOUBI
Its image resonates with an entirely different segment of the brain compared to the image of Senior Genuine Blue Curaçao’s round bottle containing that blue exotic liqueur used in many delicious cocktails. But, to Sebastian Opschoor, both Alcolado Glacial and Curaçao Liqueur appear to be etched in
the same parts of his brain. Opschoor is the Marketing Manager of both brands, and both are currently being exported. His office is in the historic Landhuis Chobolobo, headquarters to the both companies that produce these local brands, and home to a cozy cafe, and a well-stocked gift shop. The store is very popu-
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lar with tourists, who love to take the exotic liqueur bottles and gift packages home with them as souvenirs. Adjacent to the Landhuis Chobolobo is the Curaçao liqueur distillery and Glacial production facility, which, through the years, has become a popular tourist attraction of its own.
The Senior family first started producing Curaçao Liqueur in 1896. Just a little over 50 years later, in 1948, the family shareholders of the company established Curaçao Laboratories and added Alcolado Glacial to their product collection. In Curaçao, Alcolado Glacial, or simply Glacial, as it is commonly referred to, has long since become a household staple. Approximately 70% of the population uses the product. Most of the locals have memories of a mother or aunt regularly using Glacial to cool off in the tropical heat, to alleviate nasal congestion, headaches, and even belly aches, and the local market is still growing. In the 1960’s, Curaçao Laboratories
identified and took advantage of various CARICOM, (Caribbean Community), opportunities and started the production of Glacial under a license in Barbados. Surinam followed, and more recently licensed production has begun in the Dominican Republic. Six years ago, Managing Director, Loes van der Woude, embarked on a journey to grow the exporting activities of Glacial. Her travels and research led to a significant change in the companies’ approach towards export. As a result, staff was recruited, and a new marketing strategy is changing the way the company approaches its targets.
Challenges and Tenacity
Fast forward to 2017, and now both Glacial and Curaçao Liqueur are growing their exporting activities with fervor. No longer a matter of merely meeting the requests of a few loyal distributors, both the Glacial and the Curaçao Liqueur product lines are now imbued with streamlined efforts to build strong brand strategies, to find more prized distributors, and to effectively meet the market specifications in terms of packaging, economic drivers and cultural preferences. In 2014, Opschoor joined Van der Woude’s team and set out to strengthen the brand strategy for Glacial. Although he is also responsible for Curaçao Liqueur, that is growing satisfactorily, it is Glacial that is currently the sizzling export product.
although he does admit that the challenge of effectively gathering market data is currently taking up much of his precious time and effort. “Data collecting in the exporting countries is important for Curaçao Laboratories, (CL), to be able to make swift, informed decisions and forecasts. Not only do distributors expect CL to know what is happening in their specific market, but also any economic and demographic change that could potentially affect sales. CL is in the process of pinpointing what is available, and where and how to collect this market data periodically.” Opschoor is looking for ways to centralize target market data to be able to easily analyze and use it in the decision making process.
The export arena holds many interesting aspects. Opschoor points out, “People should know that there’s never a dull moment, especially not at the pace with which we want to grow. Every action we take elicits a reaction, from either suppliers, consumers or the market; which leads us to our next course of action. It is so stimulating to learn from each step of the way. We are now tapping into new markets in new countries, in pursuit of growing our exports, but at the same time we need to stay on top of the existing markets to secure, and possibly even expand them. For 2018, e-commerce will be high on the priority list of Glacial. In Curaçao we are very progressive in Internet technology, social media, and content marketing. We also have a social
media specialist on our team. For instance, currently Curaçao Liqueur’s Instagram page has almost the same number of followers as the brand Cointreau in the USA, which - like most liqueur brands - has taken many years to develop and create brand recognition. That is just one quick example of the opportunities that are out there making these exciting times for local export.”
Advice for Newcomers
When asked what he can share with newcomers to the exporting arena, Opschoor replied, “Keep focusing on the long-term. When you invest, you need to be in it for the long haul. Through the years you will get your ROI, but not all that you invest will yield an immediate or substantial ROI. In our case we can combine efforts and resources spreading them over the two product lines. For a newcomer this may not be possible. Online marketing makes the world smaller and the pace faster. With many opportunities out there, I would say, Yes! Go for it, BUT do your homework well before starting. Look at the region; maybe focus on the Caribbean. Despite some challenges in logistics there are many opportunities in this region. I also believe that in some cases Caribbean consumers are more likely to endorse Caribbean products.” He sums it up eloquently by saying, “View each challenge as an opportunity waiting to be exploited by you - the savvy entrepreneur. And tackle it passionately”.
The main challenge when Opschoor first arrived was, how to stay at the forefront of the minds of those in our export markets? Glacial got a brand image makeover, which included a restyling of the penguin mascot, a fresh new look for its ads and a clear brand-positioning. Opschoor explains that the brand-position differs per country depending upon the taste, culture and even laws that affect decisions surrounding Glacial’s color, scent and package size. Each market requires its own approach. There are strategic partnerships with factories in Barbados, Surinam and the Dominican Republic. Curaçao is the brand owner and determines its marketing strategy. Opschoor works closely with the distributors in the corresponding markets and conducts extensive research to gather data on consumer behavior and preferences to maintain a good business relationship in each country.
Opschoor has always been one to recognize an opportunity in almost every situation,
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FOTO COURTESY: FABIENNE AUGUSTIJN
Can We Meet the Expectations of Today’s ‘New’ Travelers? For many years Curaçao has struggled to find the true essence of our island that sets us apart from other destinations in the Caribbean. We have focused on a variety of different features that our island has to offer that set us apart as a unique tourist destination, such as: our architecture, our natural beauty, our colorful culture and history, and the fact that we are uniquely “different”. But focusing only on these aspects, and relying on them to attract tourists, is no longer sufficient, to give us a competitive advantage in the tourism industry. We also need to appeal to the more discerning travelers, willing to invest in an unforgettable journey rather than “just another vacation”. TEXT BY KORRA PIETERSZ-JULIANA, DIRECTOR OASEAN VISION, CORPORATE WELLNESS AND WELLNESS TOURISM CONSULTANTS
So far our weather and beaches, (according to the strategies put forth by the Tourism Master Plan, (2015-2020, Rosen College of Hospitality Management), are what attracts most tourists to our island. But as we know, most Caribbean islands can boast of these same benefits and use these same marketing tools to grab the attention of sun-seeking travelers. So the question still remains: what else
do we have to offer as a destination to attract a new type of discerning traveler that can elevate our tourism product and inject a further impetus into the industry?
What the new traveler is looking for:
Before we can begin to answer that question, we have to investigate what really appeals to today’s traveler. Nowadays, people travel as
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a form of retreat from the crazy hectic days of their routine life. They travel to discover the unexpected and to take pleasure in revitalizing and playful activities. “They travel to escape from work and responsibility, which allows the individual to let go, thus exposing a more “authentic” self,” (White, N., & White, P. (2004). Travel as transition: Identity and place. Annals of Tourism Research). Because of this longing, they are looking for something different to make them feel different. So the key is to appeal to their emotions, as the traveler is looking for something they want to “feel” when they embark on a journey. What they want to feel determines what activities they want to do. And what they want to do, determines what experience they will select. And this has an impact on what destinations they will choose.
The biggest factor in decision-making is emotions.
So we have ascertained that a traveler’s decision-making process is driven by emotions. Some want to feel relaxed and opt to spend their days lying on a beach, basking in the
Global Wellness Tourism Statistics The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness tourism as journeys ‘made by tourists who seek to improve or maintain their well-being during or as a result of their trip’.
sun. Others want to experience a feeling of freedom from the daily grind and choose to spend most of their days in nature, like scuba diving. Some others have the need to feel adrenaline pumping in their veins to feel alive, and prefer to embark on adventurous journeys. Yet others have a great urge to feel connected with people, and seek holidays where they can submerge themselves in new cultures to get a taste of a foreign lifestyle. Many destinations have already shifted their focus from being exclusively product driven, to appealing to the traveler’s emotions. Countries like South Africa, India, Costa Rica and Thailand, all use emotions as a tool to draw travelers. The often-overlooked fact is that the tourist destinations that have traditionally offered the typical sun and beach or historic sites for their mass tourism marketing, are losing customers to destinations that offer more complete experiences. Every euro and every dollar that is not being spent on traditional destinations, but rather on new ‘emotional’ destinations is a confirmation of this new trend in travel. In our case, as a Caribbean destination, the traditional tourism model of sun and beach is also too dependent on price to be competitive in the market. The only way to avoid this dependency is by adding more features to the traditional range of products and services, thereby expanding the vacation experience. We need to
• Wellness tourism is projected to grow by more than 9% per year through 2017, nearly 50% faster than overall global tourism. • An estimated 17 million travelers identify themselves as being ‘health and wellbeing’ focused, with 40% of them travelling regularly. • Wellness tourists spend 130% more than the average tourist. • O ver half the global business population has experienced an appreciable rise in workplace stress in recent years. • Non–spa-related healthy travel represents 59% of the wellness tourism industry. • 71% of travel agents in North America and Europe say consumers are more aware of wellness travel • More than half of the projected growth in wellness tourism trips through 2017 will take place in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa Source: Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report (GWTER) and SRI International
offer something that would make tourists no longer look at price as a factor when choosing us as a destination. Betting on wellness activities, short escapes, ecotourism, or any of the newer experiences that are being increasingly demanded by travelers, is the only way to give us that competitive edge. One single word dominates the new traveler’s mind - EMOTION. Emotion, related to passions and desires to experience something that makes the traveler feel good about him or herself. That is what is driving the leisure travel industry today. Social media is playing a huge role in this. The wide variety of social media outlets will continue to enhance the value of the travelers’ experience even further. Each one strives to find new ways to make the sharing of these emotions, experiences, passions and interests easier and faster. Digital sharing is the new “word of mouth” and is becoming the biggest influencer of consumers’ decisions.
“Curadise” – A Healing Island.
Can Curaçao appeal to the emotional needs of todays’ travelers? The answer is YES! That is exactly the beauty of this new approach, as the way to accomplish this lies in simplicity and authenticity. The discerning traveler has already seen the most fascinating landmarks, has stayed in the most luxurious hotels, enjoyed the best spas around the world, and dined at the most sophisticated restaurants. But what more and more travelers are now searching for is connection; connection to people and connection to self. They are searching for places where they can fall back in love with life, where they can be their real self again and let go of all the stress and burden of their
daily lives, where they can focus on things that make them feel good and revive the best in themselves again. That’s why wellness travel has gained such popularity. Its rate of growth is 74% higher than regular global travel, according to statistics released in 2014 at the Global Wellness Summit. Wellness, a US$3.72 trillion global industry with US$563 billion in wellness tourism, is certainly an avenue Curaçao should pursue more diligently. Our history as “Ilha da Curaçao”- Island of Healing, is not yet known by many. The healing tales date back to the end of the 15th century when our island was discovered. It takes us back to the time of sailors’ expeditions to the West Indies who often became sick on their voyage. From the chronicles of that time we learn of these sick sailors who were left behind on our island, ostensibly to die. On their way back to Europe from their discovery voyage of the Americas, briefly stopping back on our island, they found most of the previously marooned sailors fully-recovered. That’s how the sailors introduced the term Ilha da Curação or “Island of Healing”, the hidden story of Curaçao. As our islands’ name stands as a testament, it’s time we focus back on our strengths, in our nature and in our people, to help those who seek to find a connection. We have the potential to become a true wellness vacation paradise – ‘Curadise.’ We can be a destination focused on wellness in a natural way, where people believe in helping those who seek to heal emotionally, spiritually, and physically by using the power of nature and the wisdom of people. Source: Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report (GWTER) and SRI International
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Curaçao Chamber of Commerce Upcoming Events TEXT BY HELEN GRIFFITH
3rd Quarter 2017 September
September 18 – 19 – The Curaçao Business Point Conference will be held at the Renaissance Curaçao Resort. The theme of the event will be Innovation, Quality and Patent, and will
4rd Quarter 2017
October 30 – November 3, 2017 – Feria Internacional de la Habana, (FIHAV) will be held in Havana, Cuba. This is a 3-day investment forum to promote and establish business links with Cuba. Fihav is one of the most well renowned annual trade fairs in the Caribbean and Latin America. The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce will be attending the feria in order to promote business and trade opportunities in Cuba and the region.
feature in-depth workshops that will allow you to deepen your knowledge about the different aspects of innovation, quality management and the patent process. Specialists in managing creativity, quality and innovation from Argentina, Canada and the Netherlands, will share their
November/December 2017 – Caribbean-Central American Action, (CCAA), Annual Conference, will be held in Coral Gables, Fl. The conference will mark their 41st Anniversary and will address business opportunities and solutions geared towards encouraging economic development within the Caribbean and Central America. For more information, please refer to: https://c-caa.org
For more information, please refer to:
For more information, please refer to: http://www.businesspointconference.com/
Mission Curaçao – Colombia will be held in Bogotá and Medellin. This is a business mission that is organized by the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Holland House, Colombia with the objective of concretely matching companies in Curaçao and Colombia in an effort to foster closer business relations between the two countries. For more information, please contact: Businessinfo@curacao-chamber.cw
experience and explain what to do, how to manage your quality and innovation process, as well as patent your innovation.
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TRADE AND INVESTMENT AGREEMENT SIGNED BETWEEN CURAÇAO AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Earlier this year, the Consulate of the Dominican Republic, here in Curaçao, hosted the signing of an agreement between Asosiashon Di Empresarionan Chiki Di Korsou, (ADECK), the association of small and medium businesses in Curaçao and the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic. This agreement facilitates business communities interested in conducting business and investing in both the Dominican Republic and in Curaçao. TEXT BY HELEN GRIFFITH
The Trade Agreement will serve to promote trade relations between the two countries by coordinating various related studies and activities in order to recommend to governments ways and means of reaching economic, commercial, technological, and cultural benefits to both countries. Another main objective will
be to mutually explore tourism development and cooperation between the 2 countries. Wilbert Geertruida of ADECK, and Taiana Mora of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic, signed the agreement. ADECK was formed in 1993 in Curaçao, to promote entrepreneurship as the core of Curaçao’s
economy and to protect and promote the interests of micro, small and medium sized entrepreneurs in Curaçao. It functions as a counterpart or, when necessary, as an interested party for the benefit of its members in their relationship with third parties e.g. government departments, banks and even marketing firms. ADECK has helped small enterprises in the following sectors: agriculture, non-food retail, livestock, food, wholesale, construction, renewable energy, IT, financial services, recreation and hospitality sectors, transport, healthcare and automotive establishments. They are the largest association for small business owners in the region.
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Ghatim Kabbara: “Your story has to be something that makes them dream….”
The Art of Selling Your Idea to an Investor You spent hours and hours working on the details of your product, perfecting your idea or your prototype. You know you have something great and with the right investor this startup will be a great success. So what will it take to make an investor eager to inject money into your idea? TEXT BY FARAH DIBAH AYOUBI
According to Ghatim Kabbara, Founder and Managing Director of Blue Ocean Consulting Group, many startups lack an effective story that will sell their idea to an investor. They spend a lot of time developing their product, but stop short at getting someone to invest in their startup business.
Kabbara urges, “Lots of people think the product has to be perfect. But it will
never be perfect. You just have to start.” Products such as Coca Cola, Marlboro and Windows are great examples of how a product will still sell regardless of its imperfections. “At what version of Windows are we today? I’ve lost count,” adds Kabbara. Strong advertising that makes consumers warm up to the product is more powerful than the perfect product details. So maybe it is time you stopped focusing on the product attributes
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and spend more time figuring out how it impacts your potential consumers.
To pitch to your potential investor you need a great story. When it comes to storytelling to get an investor on board it’s all about creating excitement and projecting a successful outcome. •C ome up with something that makes people dream. A story that your investor wants to believe in too. •T hink about why you are here. The best way to get an investor excited is to make him/her relate to the impact you are going to make on the community or a particular market. Are you trying to make people’s lives easier? Is it that you want people to feel a certain way? Happy or stress-
free maybe? Or are you in this because you want to lower their monthly expenses? Maybe your ‘product’ is saving the environment or giving people more time to spend on doing the things they love. • T hink about how you are going to sell it. Even though you are pitching to a big investor, your consumer is actually your first investor. If the consumer can’t or won’t buy your product, you will have a great product, maybe even an eager investor, but no cash coming in. So your investor wants to be convinced that the way you are going to sell your product will excite your consumers enough to make them buy it. • Here is where you need to show the investor how you intend to connect the emotions of your consumers to your product. To the consumer, you are selling a feeling. When they connect to that feeling they will buy. A great example of this is Apple. The reason most people buy Apple is not just because of the product, but also because of the feeling that Apple is about people who actually think differently. Another great example is Nike. People relate to the Just-Do-It feeling. You get the feeling that you can workout almost twice as hard when wearing Nike shoes.
When thinking about how you are going to sell your product, Kabbara suggests, “You need to think beyond the physical product attributes and connect with the experience the consumer will have when buying it.” • Be honest. Have integrity. Selling a product is not about making money anymore. The days of doing business because you are in it just for the money are over. Consumers don’t buy into this anymore. • T hink big. Be hungry and ambitious. Investors believe in someone who will go the extra mile because settling is not an option and big can be bigger and better can be best. Going back to the drawing board and taking a good look at your product with all this in mind will help you determine whether or not you are ready to pitch to your investor. When an investor gets excited about your idea and feels convinced that you are going to make a positive impact on a large market of people, and make money while doing it, then you will have mastered the art of creating the winning story that captivates your investor.
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Internal Transfer Pricing Documentation Requirement on Curaรงao As of January 1, 2017, the conditions agreed between affiliated parties with respect to intercompany transactions must be documented and properly accounted for. This includes the transfer prices charged, the transfer pricing method and the substantiation thereof.
In principle, affiliated parties are involved when the entities belong to the same group. Nevertheless, an affiliated transaction also concerns transactions between entities that do not belong to the same group, but in which the same person directly or indirectly participates in the management or supervision of, or in the capital of, both entities.
TEXT BY REJAUNA I.S. ROJER MSC, TAX CONSULTANT AT MEIJBURG & CO, CARIBBEAN
Until recently, Curaรงao did not have a statutory documentation requirement for transfer prices. This situation changed with effect from January 1, 2017. The documentation requirement concerns both affiliated transactions effected as of January 1, 2017 and contracts concluded before January 1, 2017. For transactions entered into as of January 1, 2017, the documentation must be available at the time of the transaction.
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Most countries base their rules on internal transfer pricing on the transfer pricing guidelines prepared by the OECD. These guidelines and rules on transfer pricing are being steadily tightened to counter tax evasion and profit shifting in international transactions. The tightening has led to changes in the actual application and assessment of existing tax rules and the implementation of new tax rules worldwide.
Intra-group transactions, such as the supply of goods and services, take place on a large scale between affiliated entities. Such transactions should take place on the basis of the arm’s length principle. When determining a transfer price, for example the following aspects should be taken into account: 1) The functions performed (duties and responsibilities); 2) The assets used; and 3) The risks actually run by the affiliated entities in respect of the affiliated transactions. The remuneration received by independent third parties for the exercise of similar functions, the use of corresponding assets and the running of comparable risks under identical circumstances and conditions as the affiliated parties will subsequently be examined. These components are used as a benchmark to determine and substantiate the arm´s length price. The documentation requirement may also have benefits. For example, the functional analysis that precedes the documentation of the at arm’s length nature of the transfer prices provides the group’s management with insight into the functioning of the group and thus the
information required to make any necessary changes. Moreover, the use of appropriate and well-considered transfer prices can even lead to tax savings in some cases. Failure to comply with the documentation requirement will lead to incomplete accounts and may ultimately
of rules and legislation and the introduction of the requirement to document transfer prices in Curaçao tax legislation, it is advisable to obtain timely insight into the current state of your accounts to ensure they are organized in the best way possible. Commissioning a
“One of the aims of this documentation requirement is to provide the tax authorities with sufficient information to enable them to properly assess the arm’s length nature of the agreed conditions.”
also lead to a reversal of the burden of proof. If the tax inspector takes a different position and adjusts a taxpayer’s tax base, the burden of proof lies in principle with the inspector. The taxpayer’s ability to mount a successful defense will usually deteriorate significantly if the taxpayer – and not the inspector – must substantiate the arm’s length nature. In the context of the growing global tightening
baseline measurement, for example, may provide good insights. From there, it should be determined to what extent further measures are required as a solid foundation for meeting the documentation requirement and applying a proper transfer pricing policy.
E-Commerce and Payment Solutions for Merchants in the Caribbean A key factor in any business expansion plan is cost containment and improving the companyâ€™s bottom line. E-commerce has redefined the way companies do business nowadays and companies are often scrambling to find a payment system that aligns with their business operations and enhances customer experience. TEXT BY LUIS SANTINE, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF INFOCAPITAL AND CX PAY
Payment solutions for Caribbean based companies have long been a challenge. With e-commerce gaining more and more traction in the region, merchants on the islands have struggled to find adequate payment options to support their online offering and receive online credit card payments directly into their local accounts. The tide has been slowly, but surely, turning with solutions now readily available to help facilitate merchants to participate more efficiently in the e-commerce arena. For the past decades e-commerce has altered the practice, timing, and technology of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) commerce. It has affected pricing, product availability, transportation
patterns, and consumer behavior in developed economies worldwide. The steady growth in business-to-business e-commerce has changed the cost and profit picture for companies worldwide. B2C e-commerce has had a significant impact on the economy and on buyersâ€™ behavior. Buyers and sellers that engage in e-commerce retail trade are no longer restricted by store hours, geographic marketing areas, or catalog mailing lists. With a few simple clicks, they can gain access to a variety of goods and services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As technology, e-commerce, and globalization become more intertwined, buyers and sellers are increasing their connectivity and the speed with which they conduct sales/financial transactions.
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In a region where seamless solutions and competitive processing fees are scarce, merchants are constantly on the lookout for efficient solutions to help them power their online sales and grow their business. Given the fragmented market of merchants, acquiring banks, processors and customers spread out all over the region, it is essential to bundle products, services and expertise into one package for an easy one-stop e-commerce and payment solution. Merchants are therefore most interested in an offering that includes: web development, shopping carts, payment gateway, advisory services in e-commerce and payments, as well as web hosting services, which include a (cheap or free) SSL. As the e-commerce world is driven by the API, (Application Programming Interface) technology, merchants now have access to a wide range of payment methods, acquiring banks and processors through a single payment service provider, (PSP). Consequently this same API technology, applied by PSPs, enables banks and financial institutions to expand their offers, streamline processes, and offer new API-based services to their clients. It must be noted that many buyers still hesi-
tate to shop online because of privacy and security concerns. This sort of behavior is expected to continue in 2018. Therefore, merchants that want to increase the volume of their e-business need to use fraud management tools to track and identify fraudulent activities. In short, ensuring that your e-shop is completely safe for online shopping will offer a secure and positive shopping experience to all shoppers. Such anti-fraud tools are offered by those PSPs that offer payment platforms with the most advanced compliance & fraud prevention technologies available on the market, in order to guarantee a safe, secure and flexible online payment environment. The solutions currently available are especially targeted to small and medium sized businesses as well as non-profit organizations and charities to help facilitate online payments and fundraising. In addition, banks facilitating online payments are requiring additional security measures like 3-D Secure. Also known as 3DS, itâ€™s s an XML-based protocol designed to be an additional security layer for online credit and debit card transactions to help improve online transaction security and encourage the growth of e-commerce payments. This is also extra security for the cardholders,
whereby their card cannot be used without being challenged. PayPal has set the stage and tone, and has become the buzzword in the world of online payments. Merchants and customers blindly refer to PayPal as the one and only payment solution worth considering and often exclude themselves from perhaps more suitable alternatives for their specific businesses, that are readily available in the market. While there are many solutions available in the market from different providers, influenced by the rules established by the major card companies like Visa and Mastercard, merchants in the Caribbean often prefer a solution that will offer direct settlement in a local merchant account. Because of the demographics in the region, credit cards are often seen as a luxury of the happy few. And while many single out PayPal as the preferred payment method, the fact is that most PayPal accounts are funded by credit cards. Moreover, PayPal doesnâ€™t allow users to pay with a credit card without first forcing them to create a PayPal account. Nevertheless, facilitating debit card transactions alongside the more traditional credit card transactions would vastly improve e-commerce sales in the region. Luckily, PSPs these days can offer
advanced solutions and expertise that help businesses broaden their product range and reduce their expenditures while meeting the highest standards in technology, regulation, and usability. The payment technologies and e-commerce innovation currently available in the market are geared towards simplifying collection of funds for business owners through different payment methods and present solutions for retail storefronts, payment processing for both online and mobile devices, electronic invoicing, digital wallets as well as gift cards and digital vouchers. In short, companies in the Caribbean have no limitation and certainly no excuse, to stand on the e-commerce sidelines any longer. Powered by a new breed of payment service providers, merchants can now easily engage in e-commerce transactions, applying the most modern API-based technology that will allow integration with more than 125 processors and payment networks worldwide, and over 150 shopping cart applications as well; all this while receiving payments directly into a local merchant account.
The Synergy of Vidanova and SFT Bank The recently announced acquisition of SFT Bank by Vidanova has actually been in the works for over a year. On January 1, 2016, Vidanova became a 67% shareholder in SFT Bank in an effort to align the two companies, and exactly one year later, they sealed the deal with the purchase of a further 14% of shares. TEXT BY HELEN GRIFFITH
The primary intention of this recent acquisition is to combine the portfolios of the two companies in order to create a more cohesive banking and pension fund offering. Vidanova has traditionally been a pension fund organization that was started in 1968
to execute pension services and arrangements to companies in the utility sector. They later expanded their clientele to other companies in the private sector so as to maintain its profitability. Since then, they have continued to expand with the introduc-
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tion of Pension Management services that provide pension administration services to companies with pre-existing pension funds. Vidanova has more recently implemented their Integrated Financial Services Concept. One of the pivotal aspects of this concept involves the acquisition of SFT Bank, in order to offer banking services to their pension clients. At the same time SFT has been gearing their focus towards local banking, and in particular mortgages. Initially, part of CITCO Banking Cooperation, a worldwide offshore banking company, in 1985 a local division called CITCO Bank Antilles was created
in answer to the growing needs of the local banking market. Ten years later, the official name was changed to SFT Bank N.V. and more recently they have further disengaged from CITCO and the offshore banking industry, solely focusing on the local market and expansion of their mortgage services. It seemed like the two companies were made for each other, and with Vidanova’s acquisition of 82% of SFT’s shares, the bank was renamed Vidanova Bank. There are countless benefits that the two companies bring to the table as they integrate their products and services. Vidanova is able to offer full-service pension and banking to their customers to further improve their service levels. In addition they are now able to offer joint financing to the employers. Banks usually provide short-term financing while pension funds usually provide longer-term financing. But the possibility of combining them into one product for the employer creates added value. “So the idea is not only to service the participant but also the employer. And that’s the fit that we saw with Vidanova Pension Funds and SFT Bank,” as Charlene Alberto, Executive Director of Vidanova Pension Fund explained. From the banking perspective, since its acquisition, Vidanova Bank is extending its mortgage and banking services to the pension fund clients. But there is even greater potential for growth as they are also expanding their services and tapping into new markets. The bank is now also focusing on the development of a Bond Agency, managing the issuing of bonds and their registration on the Dutch
Caribbean Stock Exchange. Leo Rigaud, Managing Director of Vidanova Bank proudly notes, “That is a new product, and up to now we are the only bank that has issued such a bond.” Additionally, the bank is also committed to the continuation of development as an arranger of Consortium Financing, together with Vidanova Pension Fund. With all the new products and services that the two companies have in the pipelines, they are actively reaching out to their customers
to effectively communicate the many benefits to be gained from this partnership. They also will be rolling out a new marketing strategy geared towards the public in an effort to expand their customer base. And in anticipation of the many new large projects on the island that are either in the planning stages or already underway, the long-term strategy is to also focus on these emerging markets. Yet in spite of their potential growth trajectory, Vidanova Bank intends to stick to its roots and continue as a ‘Boutique Bank’ with high quality and more personalized customer service, and the opportunity for clients to contribute to the profit of their own pension fund through the use of the company’s banking services. When a customer banks with Vidanova Bank they create added value and profit for the company and that will translate itself into investing in their own pension. This is what makes the collaboration between Vidanova Pension Fund and Vidanova Bank such a unique synergy and a perfect fit. Indeed, with the collaboration of the two companies, together they emerge as a bigger player in the local market, enabling them to compete with other large financial institutions. As Mr. Rigaud notes, “That is for us, one of the biggest advantages of being acquired by Vidanova.” Ms. Alberto chimes in by adding, “We have formed our own consortium.”
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NEWS B RIEFS BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY: A SOLUTION AGAINST DE-RISKING PRACTICES TEXT BY HELEN GRIFFITH
De-risking is a common practice in the banking industry whereby financial institutions sometimes opt to sever business relationships from certain companies due to the high cost of regulatory compliance and the comparatively low returns. Developing countries are often hardest hit by these practices. Earlier this year, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, (ECLAC), published a report indicating that blockchain technology may offer a solution to this problem. This technology offers cryptographic measures that allow data to be safely shared across a large international network of servers and controlled by a vast number of international organizations. Because of its multiplicity, this system becomes decentralized and all records of transactions are digitally recorded across myriads of computers, making it impossible for records to be changed without subsequent blocks from other computers. Bitcoin is perhaps one of the most widely recognized forms of blockchain technology. As such, a well-designed blockchain network could provide an adequate amount of transparency and enable the surveillance of all banking transactions to identify those that are fraudulent. Caribbean banks particularly stand to benefit from this technology because they would no longer be required to utilize correspondent banks, thereby reducing their transaction times and costs. While this technology is still in its budding phase, and many issues such as privacy and international compliance regulations still need to be addressed, the report concludes that this could be a promising solution to the problem of de-risking practices.
GUANGDONG ZHENRONG ENERGY PRESENTS ITS PLANS FOR THE CURAÇAO REFINERY TEXT BY HELEN GRIFFITH
Representatives of the Chinese State Company, Guangdong Zhenrong Energy, recently gave a presentation to a cross-section of different stakeholders in the business community, regarding their plans for the development of the refinery once they have assumed management of the facility next year. They also laid out their plans for the construction of an LNG plant in the future. The Chinese company expressed their need for local qualified workers from different areas of expertise in order to fully realize their future plans. Attending the presentation was Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath, and Minister of Labor and Social Development and Welfare, Hensley Koeiman. The Prime Minister reiterated that the government and the Chinese company are committed to making these development plans a reality.
CHATA CELEBRATES ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY TEXT BY HELEN GRIFFITH
This year, the Curaçao Hotel and Tourism Association, (CHATA), marks their 50th anniversary since its inception. Originally the association was formed to provide a collective board that would make a unified effort in the promotion of Curaçao as a premium hospitality and tourism product. To this day, the CHATA has become a resource for insight and expertise in the field through its collaborative partnerships with stakeholders in the hotel industry. One of CHATA’s key priorities for this year is to facilitate the cooperative efforts that are made in conjunction with the Curaçao Tourist Board, (CTB), in their new Tourism Master Plan.
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rival upgrades, and strengths, the percentage for possible success rises to 82%. The overall environment must be taken into account from the early planning stages. Take for example electric cars. This great new idea was slow to kick-start as there were scarcely any re-charging stations. So until electric re-charging stations are as plentiful as gas stations, hybrid cars (electric and/or gas) will prevail.
To consider the interplay between these forces, four possible scenarios exist:
Creative Destruction: When the emergence and establishment of a new technology is not very challenging and quite easy to install without much need for changes in the existing technological environment. At the same time, the possibility for the extension and continued use of the old technology is time consuming and difficult to upgrade. Then the new technology will gain market dominance in a short period of time.
Business Article Review:
“The ‘Right Tech, Wrong Time’ Syndrome.”
(BY RON ADNER AND RAHUL KAPOOR, HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW, NOVEMBER 2016)
We have become quite savvy in determining whether a new technological innovation poses a threat to the existing technology offered by our businesses, industries and public sector institutions, but we have very poor tools for determining when we should actually make the transition to a new technology. TEXT BY JOSEFINA DELIMA
The number-one fear is to miss the opportunity, (e.g. the case of Blockbuster, where DVD film rentals became obsolete due to “video streaming”). The number-two fear is to make the transition too soon, and exhaust our finances and our research and development resources before we can launch our new technology on the market (e.g. cloud-based storage was incumbent on broadband availability and on-line security software, and this resulted in delays thereby tying up capital and months of research). There is a fine line between being too early or too late, and to understand why, we must look at two different scenarios. Firstly, we must look, not just at the technology itself, but also at the broader conditions and variables that form the necessary background that supports the new technology. Secondly, we must also look at the variables between the existing networks and background settings supporting the old technology, alongside those supporting the new technology. That is to say, old technologies can often be upgraded, so should we consider anything new in the first place? When we are assessing a new technology’s potential for success, we drill down on its ability to satisfy customers and generate a good
return on investment for its producers. Crucially, this result will hold only if the new technology’s background settings support it in all aspects. For example, when a new type of light bulb is introduced to the market, it will have a quick and successful implementation as light bulb sockets are standardized worldwide. However, when considering the example of HDTV first being introduced to the market in the 1980s, where new HD cameras, new broadcasting standards and different postproduction processes were also needed, the HDTVs were ready to be marketed long ago but the supporting factors surrounding its use were not ready. This was a great idea at the wrong time. Old technologies enjoy an established background with existing pre-established settings. But a new technology needs to consider not only its required platform, but also whether the old technology could be upgraded thus delaying the ROI on the new technology. Research results show a success rate of 48% when the introduction of a new technology only takes into consideration the new product’s market, price, performance, rivals, existing tenure. But when consideration is also given to pre-established settings, environment, networks,
Robust Resilience: When the new technology’s required infrastructure is very complicated, costly and time consuming, causing it to have a deferred time span for success. In addition, the future possibilities for the old technology’s continued use are readily available and can easily and quickly be improved and extended, then this new technology will gain market dominance slowly and gradually. Robust Coexistence: When the new technology’s conditions and market readiness challenges are minimal and the old technology’s lifespan can be readily extended, then both can exist simultaneously. Consumers benefit the most from this scenario. Illusion of Resilience: When the new technology’s background needs are complicated, costly and time consuming, and the old technology’s background needs can simply and easily be extended, the time needed for implementation gives the illusion that the old technology is resilient.
THE COST OF “WHEN”
As automation and digitization transform the world, established players are losing out to smart upstarts, for example: department stores and shopping malls are loosing business to e-commerce and online purchases; taxicabs to Uber; and HBO and TNT to Netflix and streaming. Yet CEOs find it hard to walk away from an established well-working business with established processes and happy customers. The main point is that the pace of substitution is determined by how quickly the new technology’s challenges can be resolved, and whether the old technology’s continued usage can easily be extended. It all comes down to the question of WHEN investors should introduce new technology. It’s simply a question of timing.
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Why Requesting the Help of an Embassy or Consulate General Makes Sense When thinking of expanding your business beyond our shores, the big question is, where do you start? As islands in the Caribbean we are dependent upon regional cooperation. The Dutch Kingdom embassies in the region are there to help Curaçao businesses with questions related to export or trade. The embassies are part of the Kingdom Ministry of Foreign Affairs and working for the whole of the Kingdom: NL, Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. TEXT BY FARAH DIBAH AYOUBI
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The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has Caribbean regional embassies in Havana, St. Domingo, Panama, Caracas and Port of Spain, and the Consulate General, (CG), in Miami. They help support regional cooperation between Curaçao companies and countries within the region. They work closely together with the Curaçao Ministry of General Affairs, (MINAZ)/ Directorate for Foreign Relations, (DBB), the Ministry
of Economic Development, (MEO), The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and other organizations such as CINEX and CTB. The Dutch embassy building in Havana is currently undergoing renovations to create an Orange business hub where entrepreneurs who are Dutch citizens, (upon written request), can work there when on a business visit to Cuba. The reason for this facility is because of the limited access to good temporary workspaces with internet access in Cuba. Because Cuba has a state-orientated economy, having the services of the embassy staff around the corner, is very helpful.
Embassies and CG’s can help Dutch entrepreneurs with a number of economically related questions such as: •M arket information: trade related questions and sector information. •P romotional activities: matchmaking, expos, networking events, trade fairs. •T roubleshooting: when you encounter any specific problems when doing business in any given country. •R eports on doing business in the country: such as macro economic information, government policies, SWOT analyses (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), etc.
Diplomatic Affairs in the Region Source: Presentation of the Regional Envoy for the Caribbean of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Liesbeth Mol at the business event “Connecting the Dots” organized by the Dutch Representation in Curaçao (VNW). There is a worldwide diplomatic network of 150 embassies and Consulate Generals, (CGs), offering business opportunities for companies in the Dutch Kingdom. The functions carried out at embassies and consulates are very similar, so you can approach them for the same requests. In addition, there are the Honorary Consuls, (HCs), in countries where we don’t have embassies or a Consulate General. HCs serve the interest of the Kingdom upon request. Usually an HC is someone from the local business community. “I have to say on the islands in the Eastern Caribbean we are lucky to have a great group of loyal and helpful HCs that know our Kingdom well,” says Mrs. Mol. The Caribbean region has six diplomatic missions in Panama, Port of Spain, St. Domingo, Miami, Caracas and Havana. There are of course more embassies that are part of the wider region, for instance Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico. All the embassies in this region are at the service of citizens of the Dutch Caribbean. They are a tremendous resource for advice, and can provide Curaçao businesses with an understanding of the ins and outs of the country in which they are based.
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An Interview with Mark Babbitt, Author of ‘A World Gone Social.’
The Shift Towards Social and Digital Media
It’s no secret that the world is more connected than ever. Internet penetration is growing exponentially, and with Facebook’s mission to ‘connect the world’ by providing Wi-Fi connectivity to remote areas in the world, that are otherwise inaccessible, you can be sure this shift in the way we live our lives is here to stay. Curaçao is very much at the forefront of this shift, with an Internet penetration of 86.7%, far surpassing global Internet penetration numbers and those of the Caribbean region, and Facebook penetration at an astonishing 93.1%. (Source: Internet World Stats – www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htm). TEXT BY MARUJA BOGAARD
There’s no question Curaçao is riding the digital wave. But what does this mean when it comes to doing business? How can we benefit from this disruption in the way we live and the way we
consume, or – perhaps more importantly – the way our customers consume? We spoke to Mark Babbit, co-author of ‘A World Gone Social’, to gain an enlightened perspective.
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Mark Babbitt has been named on the list of ‘Top 100 most desirable mentors’; been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and Forbes; runs one of the top 5 online communities for college students entering the workforce; and is a true advocate of how social and digital media can enrich the way we do business today.
MB – Mark, one of the things that stuck with me, when reading ‘A World Gone Social’ was the inspiring story of how your company YouTern got started, and the influence social and digital media had in turning it into what has been recognized as one of the top 5 career sites for college students. Can you tell us more?
Mark – The success of YouTern was an accident – that’s the best way to put it. Inspired after
seeing an online recruiting business fail, pretty much because like most job boards, they were taking the ‘human’ out of ‘human resources’, we thought ‘what if we created a site that not just helps people – particularly college students – find jobs, but helps them prepare for jobs.’ At first no one knew we existed. But my team believed in the power of social and digital media, and of blogging, and slowly but surely our efforts started catching on. Then we got a huge break: Mashable selected us as a top 5 career site for starting your career, and literally overnight we went from, ‘Does anybody know we exist?’ to ‘the Motherland.’ From there, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc., and The Wall Street Journal found us, and word of mouth spread and all of a sudden we were helping thousands of people every month find their next job or internship.
MB – Incredible how instrumental social and digital media were in getting your message out. And to think that your team struggled to get your buy in!
Mark – Oh, I was the typical old guy, who thought: “Facebook is for kids – there’s no way that we can build a business model based on social media.” It took them three months to convince me to get on Twitter. They did everything for me: set up the Twitter accounts, helped me get a Facebook page, and spruced up my LinkedIn profile. At the time I had no idea, not just of the power of getting on social media and treating people with respect, but also of the blogging and the digital media side. I was so new to all of it that I was shocked to see how it helped us get where we needed to go.
MB – There’s something else that was a winning strategy for YouTern. You have a philosophy of giving away value-added content. Mark – Yes. Social media gives you a chance to talk to people, and to listen! But talking is not the same as providing a valuable resource. And that’s what set us apart. To this very day, we still give away everything we know for free, with the belief that people will choose us when looking to choose a career partner. And it’s that kind of loyalty that community building, (empowered by social and digital media), helps us earn.
MB – That struck a chord with me, because it’s a topic that often comes up in my work with clients. Many struggle to find that fine balance between giving away information freely and that infinitely important ROI. Mark – There is an absolute balance in giving away enough information to establish ourselves
as subject matter experts, but not giving away so much that the company, or client no longer needs us as consultants, as speakers, as solution providers. When you find that tipping point between giving just enough away where your customer knows you’re the right choice to help them solve their problem – that’s where the magic happens, that’s where the ROI kicks in.
MB – That’s a great way of putting it! So, one of the things I love about ‘A World Gone Social,’ is that you go down to the core of what social media and social business really accomplishes – how it transforms us as people and as communities, and how that is applicable, not only to customers, but also to employees and to business leaders. Who did you have in mind when you were writing it?
Mark – We actually wrote the book for leaders at many different levels. We wanted to bring about a shift in the traditional thinking of leaders of large corporations, in particular, who are so much more interested in maintaining control over their employees, over their customers, over their processes than they are in listening to their customers and their employees, and offer a better way to lead, a better way to hire the best people, and to treat customers. But this was so counterintuitive to them, that they didn’t get it at all. However, a more diverse crowd of middle managers and younger leaders kind of latched on to the book, and saw it as a way to differentiate themselves by being more inclusive, more collaborative. They realized they could win the respect of their team by being themselves, and by being open and vulnerable. And we’re so proud of the fact that we’re actually helping social media become kind of
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a middle-out, bottom-up trend and an organic movement in the workplace – instead of the topdown, traditional way.
MB – Also for entrepreneurs and leaders of small and medium businesses, (SMB’s), who are often able to make a quicker turn-around in the way they do business – it’s a great philosophy for them to adopt.
Mark – That is absolutely true. We often talk about contagious pockets of excellence in our consulting practice. Nobody wants to be told that change is inevitable and is going to happen at them, or to them. They want to help make change happen. They want to be part of that metamorphosis. And it happens by social listening, by collaborating, and by hiring the right person at the right time – these, often young, entrepreneurs know how to tap into that. And when change starts to happen, they go back to their team and say ‘look what we’ve just accomplished!’ Evaluate, compare, and iterate. That’s where organic change starts to happen. And our goal is to help companies realize that change, by building those contagious pockets of excellence.
MB – So social and digital media really is where business is happening right now… Mark – It is! And I think, especially for those people who are reluctant to embrace it, it’s time to realize that social and digital media is a way of life, not just a way of running your business. You know, not being on social and on digital media today is like hearing the phone ringing – know-
MB – You say transparent… In the book you refer to transparency as ‘one of the most paramount elements of business success.’ How can we make transparency work for us – especially on social and digital media?
Mark – That’s a terrific question, and actually quite difficult to answer; here’s why: transparency, like authenticity, has become such a buzzword. And it’s absolutely tragic that we minimize these concepts to buzzwords, because there’s nothing more important on social and digital media than being yourself. So instead of using a discredited buzzword, let’s instead talk about honesty. Let’s talk about vulnerability, and what it takes to not just be a subject matter expert, but a trust-worthy, likeable person, that people actually want to do business with. That’s what transparency and authenticity does for us. It not only puts us in a position of being known as a technical expert, or a subject matter expert, but as a person that people trust enough to want to work with.
MB – Mark, it’s been an honor and a true pleasure. In closing, do you have any advice for those who wonder how to truly
COPA AIRLINES SERVES CURAÇAO 5 YEARS
Last June COPA Airlines completed its fifth year of operations with four weekly flights between Panama City and Curaçao. This Panamian flag carrier, officially named Compañía Panameña de Aviación, S.A., was founded in 1947 and currently operates more than 315 daily scheduled flights to 74 destinations in 31 countries around North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Having Tocumen International Airport in Panama City as its main hub, it connects a score of cities and countries on the American continent with each other, and thus also to and from Curaçao, while actively promoting Curaçao as a cultural and tourist center in the Caribbean.
ing here’s a potential customer on the end of the line – and yet you refuse to answer. Social and digital media is how business is done; it’s how life is done. And if your business or your personal brand isn’t on social media, being transparent and authentic, and leveraging all that’s good about social and digital media, you’re missing out!
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make social and digital a way of life, and struggle to find the time? Can we take it step by step?
Mark – Oh God, yes! It took months for me to embrace social media. I can’t expect anybody else to do anything differently. I think we can get our profiles up and get our toes in the water, and see what works best for each of us. For some it may be Facebook, for others it’s Twitter or Instagram. Just listen for a while, see what is being said, and when you feel ready, get out there and join the conversation. But don’t be afraid to listen first – the world can use more great listeners!
NEWS B RIEFS KEEPING THE DUTCH CARIBBEAN ISLANDS CONNECTED BY AIR TEXT BY HELEN GRIFFITH
In light of the recent sharp decline in air traffic to and from the island, due to the precarious financial situation of our national airline InselAir, the government has secured a commitment from various senior Dutch officials including the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ronald Plasterk, to maintain a sufficient flight connection between the Dutch Caribbean islands. To ensure the economic health of the aviation connection between Aruba and St. Maarten, a joint declaration was signed by all three countries.
DIVI EXPANDS WITH NEW AIRCRAFT
For the last 16 years, the small regional airline Divi Divi Air, based in Curaçao’s Hato International Airport, has been operating approximately 10 daily flights between Curaçao and Bonaire. In 2016 ‘Divi’ transported about 30,000 persons on this route, which is proof of the necessity of reliable inter-island connections. In addition, ‘Divi’ can also operate charter flights to neighboring Aruba or the Venezuelan cities of Punto Fijo and Valencia. The current operations are executed mainly on Britten-Norman BN-2P Islander aircraft carrying a max of 9 passengers. Managing director Mrs. Germaine Durand confirmed the recent acquisition of 2 new aircraft, De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter, with a capacity of 19 seats. With this expansion Divi Divi Air will be able to increase its current number of flights, and to include Aruba in its daily schedule.
CLOSER ECONOMIC TIES WITH SURINAM
Curaçao’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Steven Martina, strongly favors creating closer economic ties with Surinam in South America, which he feels would create a win-win situation for both partners. Earlier this year an economic mission consisting of a group of Surinamese entrepreneurs came to visit Curaçao to explore potential areas in which economic cooperation could be achieved. In reciprocation, during the second week of October, a delegation of entrepreneurs from Curaçao that are professionals in the fields of financial services, information technology and marketing activities, will participate in a congress entitled, ‘Doing Business in/with Curaçao’ to be held at the Courtyard Marriott in Surinam’s capital Paramaribo.
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