Curacao Business Magazine | Edition 1, 2016

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Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath

The Five P’s of Economic Development

Meet the Chamber Board Member Marco Cheis

LEED Certification What Does it Mean?

Entrepreneur in the Spotlight Mr. Daniël Corsen


EDITION 1 | 2016

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GOOD BYE LETTER FROM EDITOR Dear readers, Happy New Year to you all! I wish you all the best in your endeavors in 2016. Pursuing my own endeavors, I would like to let you all know that I decided to step down as editor in chief of Curaçao Business Magazine to focus on my passion – dietetics and nutrition. It has been a wonderful journey, having the opportunity to meet some of you, putting together each edition for all of you, and striving to make each edition better, while providing you with pieces that I thought you would find both informative and interesting. I have complete confidence that the new editor, Neelam Melwani, will continue this

mission, and even add a new flair to the magazine with her business background and expertise. While you will no longer see my face in the editor’s column, I will still be working behind the scenes: writing pieces, doing promotions and whatever else is necessary. So I just may “show up” in your inbox someday! Thank you for all your support, the advertisers and the readers alike. You have really made my work with the magazine a fun and educational venture! Sincerely, Heather d’Abreu de Paulo

WELCOMING THE NEW EDITOR While my academic background is in international relations, globalization, and development studies, I grew up in Curaçao surrounded by entrepreneurs and small business owners. My academic background in concert with my experiences have allowed me to develop a unique perspective regarding how we do business in Curaçao, and the role of the public sector in facilitating this process.

Dear readers, Happy New Year! This New Year brings changes to the Curaçao Business Magazine team! I am proud to be the new editor in chief of the Magazine. I started writing for Curaçao Business Magazine in August 2013, and have since worked closely with Heather on developing new creative content that appeals to different target groups. I was excited when asked to take on this new challenge and step in my professional career.



It is my goal to make Curaçao Business Magazine a resource for local entrepreneurs, business owners, and international investors alike. Having recently returned to the island with some international experience, I noticed that Curaçao is full of opportunities. This Magazine aims to support stories of entrepreneurial talent and success, explore current developments that facilitate the way we do business locally, and highlight growth opportunities for locals and international investors in Curaçao. As the first issue of 2016, this issue is an important one. It contains articles regarding entrepreneurship, sustainable development, and corporate social

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responsibility. Among the articles, is this edition’s cover story: an exclusive interview with the Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Eugene Rhuggenaath. The article discusses the forging of a common vision for Curaçao. Despite its size, the opportunities in Curaçao are vast, and people on the island should consider looking for new ways to fill gaps in the market, and explore the possibilities of reaching new potential markets. I hope to convey one message to readers in this edition: supporting one another moving forward will be imperative in shaping the future of our island. Curaçao Business Magazine is thrilled to be part of this positive momentum, and we look forward to a year of collaboration with our existing and potential partners. Sincerely, Neelam Melwani


LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Dear readers, Happy New Year, or as we like to say in Curaçao, Bon Aña! The people of Curaçao anticipate great things for 2016. With a new Minister of Economic Development, and several new plans, like the Tourism Master Plan, in the pipeline, Curaçao will have even more to offer local business owners and foreign investors. With Curaçao moving towards an increasingly entrepreneur-friendly economic climate, the future of business on the island is bright. This edition of the magazine focuses on highlighting entrepreneurial talent in Curaçao, and emphasizing the role of innovation in improving the way we do business. With businesses transforming the way that they work, and steps being taken to be more conscious of the environment, the ideas set forth by Minister Rhuggenaath are well underway. I look forward to a fruitful 2016 in Curaçao, with a focus on collaborating to identify new opportunities to boost sustainable economic development in Curaçao, through supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs, and attracting foreign investment to our small but unique island. I trust that this magazine continues to serve as a resource for local entrepreneurs as well as for foreign investors who are looking to learn more about the way we do business in Curaçao, and for the success stories of our business and entrepreneurs. If you have any questions or comments, please do feel free to reach out to us. Remember that the Chamber of Commerce is your partner, and we’re ready to do whatever might be needed to help your business be successful! Sincerely, Willem (Billy) Jonckheer


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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: PUBLISHER Michael van Munster T: +31(0) 24 373 8505 E: EDITOR IN CHIEF Neelam Melwani E: HEAD OF SALES Tahnee Bruin SALES REPRESENTATIVE Jonathan Jonckheer

8 Meet the Chamber: Mr. Marco Cheis


10 Providing Opportunities to Inject Growth into Curaçao’s Economy

SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscriptions: NAF 35 per year (4 issues) MARKETING AND SUBSCRIPTIONS Stephan Aalbers E:

DISTRIBUTION Nieuwe Post, Curaçao The publisher and its staff cannot be held liable for the contents of this magazine and statements and/ or its advertisements do not necessarily reflect its editorial views. Although the greatest care was given to the accuracy of the information in this publication and checked where possible, the publisher and the editors explicitly contest any liability for any incorrectness or incompleteness of the information provided.

m e d i a

g r o u p

CIFA New Year Celebration


Minister Rhuggenaath’s 5 P’s for Economic Growth

19 Business Tax Environment anno 2015: Improved and Reinvented!

ART PRODUCTION Jan-Willem Bouwman

van munster



LEED Certification: What Does it Mean?


New Strides in New Markets: The Cuban Connection


Corporate Wellness: More Than Improving the Bottom Line for your Business

28 Entrepreneur in the Spotlight: Daniël Corsen 34

Virtual Office: It Can Make a Real Difference

35 OCT and CBI Regulations: Information Session van munster 38 Investment in Education: An Opportunity with Great Potential m e d i a

g r o u p


2019: Curaçao’s Finest Hour


Information Governance: What It Is And Seven Reasons Why you May Need It!


Book Review - Irresistible Persuasion: The Secret Way to Get Yes Every Time

48 The Story of 8: The Experience - Building a Business and Attracting Foreign Investment 50

CHATA Explores a Sustainable Future for Curaçao

The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the voice of private enterprise in Curaçao. It represents the general interests of the Curaçao business community, registers businesses, and provides information and services to local and international companies.

The recent presentation of the Tourism Master Plan to the Government of Curaçao, and business associations, outlined a solid path to increase the economic contribution that tourism makes to the island’s economy.



“The satisfaction that you get from public service, the diversity of subjects, and the chance to do one meaningful thing for one person, are the factors that drove me to take this position. So, despite all the politics that come with it, this remains one of the most rewarding jobs in the world.”


Thanks to our rich cultural heritage, Curaçao has a multicultural society with people from diverse backgrounds, speaking several languages, all with a global perspective on business.


The world is becoming more and more interconnected, and as a consequence, people are becoming more important in the sustainable development of their societies.



The clock is ticking, and discussions are taking place accross the island and abroad about the big decision due in 2019.


On 25 November 2015, the Curaçao Hospitality and Tourism Association (CHATA) organized a conference on the topic of sustainability.

In many ways, Curaçao is a perfect place for entrepreneurs. Many would say that there are so many opportunities here just waiting to be seized. For many foreign, local, or returning entrepreneurs, Curaçao is a place where their dreams start becoming reality, after a lot of hard work, time and dedication.



Representative of SME’s in the Board of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the voice of private enterprise in Curaçao. It represents the general interests of the Curaçao business community, registers businesses, and provides information and services to local and international companies with an interest in doing business in and with (other businesses in) Curaçao. TEXT DENISE VIJBER

The Chamber has various executive divisions and a board of directors. The board consists of nine members who are elected by the voting members of the business community, five of which represent the corporate sector (companies with an invested capital of at least 100,000 Antillean Guilders) and four who represent



the small business sector (companies with an invested capital of less than 100,000 Antillean Guilders). Board members serve a term of three years and can be re-elected; furthermore they represent the different sectors of the business community. Curaçao Business Magazine had the opportunity to interview Mr. Marco Cheis, a young entrepreneur who was elected in January 2015 to represent the small business sector.

What is your role in the Board?

Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

What do you think the public should know about the role of the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry in our community?

MC: I am 27 years old, and have a passion for innovation and economic development. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and Language studies from Boston University, and felt that I needed to return home, to Curaçao. At the beginning of my career, I worked as a Business Information Officer at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but recently joined my family business, where I manage and assist with an array of retail and real estate projects.

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MC: As a board member, I represent the voice of small and medium sized enterprises in Curaçao, particularly those based in the city center. In doing so, I voice our common concerns and interests, and play an active role in the decision-making process of the board. Also, I represent the Chamber at various public events.

MC: The Chamber sponsors training for the private sector. We hold a lot of workshops for people who want to start a business, people who want expand their business, or people who have limited knowledge and want to gain more knowledge on certain topics relevant to the private sector. Every month there is training on how to set up your own business. We also hold information sessions, for example on new laws. Usually, there is a small fee

attached to the workshops, but some are free. For more information or to apply, interested parties can contact the Chamber or follow us on Facebook.

Why did you decide to run for a position on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry? MC: When I moved back to Curaçao four years ago, I realized that this is my home and I could have added value. Also, I want to be part of a Curaçao that is very productive and where businesses flourish. For a little over two years, I worked at the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In this role, I was tasked with facilitating business investors investing in Curaçao, and attracting potential international investors. There was a lot of interest from international investors, but when they saw all the costs associated with doing business here, many decided to move their business elsewhere. That is when I realized that even though the Chamber has great intentions and is able to realize many things, there are circumstances outside the Chamber’s control that have to change. This became even clearer when I started to work in the private sector. It is for this reason that I decided to run for the Board: “I want to actively play a part in decreasing the cost of doing business in Curaçao to make it more attractive for businesses to set up shop in Curaçao.” Another reason I ran for the Board, is because I think it is important to make our community and especially the young generation, our future, more entrepreneurial. We need to make it possible for young people to start businesses. We have enough entrepreneurial people, but a lot of them go to the Netherlands because they see more opportunities there, so we need to make it attractive enough not to go abroad but say, “Hey, Curaçao is the place I want to invest.” There are so many things that can be done, for example, temporarily exempting young entrepreneurs from paying sales tax or offering reduced interest rates or rates for property rental. The public and private sectors have to work together to make it easier for young, ambitious entrepreneurs.

Why is it rewarding to be on the Board of the Chamber? MC: Representing SME’s on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry does not directly benefit me right now. For me board membership shouldn’t and cannot be for one’s personal benefit; it’s about working together to realize positive change. I like to think that col-

laboration is important, and as a member of the board, I am able to work with fellow representatives from the private sector, and our counterparts in the government, to ensure economic growth and progress.

Do you think young people in Curaçao are interested in starting up their own businesses? MC: Definitely! Take ‘Start-Up Curaçao,’ for example. There was an article about the company in the previous edition: a young organization that offers co-working spaces and a platform for entrepreneurs to engage with one another. It is a very organic and a grassroots type of movement, where the young people are in charge and are empowered. In order to ensure young people’s investment into the economy, we need to ensure continuity, regardless of politics: we need to all want to go in the same direction, whether we travel in a Volkswagen or Toyota is a different matter entirely.

Why are you so passionate about improving business opportunities for small businesses in Curaçao? MC: As an entrepreneur, I’ve always strived for growth, and I can’t help but recognize the missed opportunities. The costs of doing business in Curaçao can be detrimental in determining the success of local SME’s. I recognize that SME’s drive the economy, and create a middle class. Consequently, the middle class forms the largest proportion of your consumer population, so it is important that SME’s continue to feel empowered. “We need to create the right circumstances to promote the growth of SME’s and the middle class, which is not an easy feat.” Building confidence in our economy plays a large role in this, and the Chamber is proposing changes to boost the export of goods and services. A great opportunity is the Curaçao Space Expedition, for example. Currently commercialized space travel is not possible anywhere in the world. Seeing as developments in this sector are rapid, if the private and public sectors work together, we can realize the space port here and will be in a very unique position. Commercial space travel will attract high net worth individuals and this can be the catalyst for more investments.

In your view, what is the role of the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry in improving Curaçao’s business climate?

of public private partnerships (PPP) in Curaçao. Through working with our government counterparts, we were able to realize the creation of an Investor’s permit in Curaçao, which is another step in promoting foreign direct investment on the island. In my opinion, we need to work towards creating a platform where the public and private sectors can come together regularly. Although we already have a form of this through the National Dialogue for an Advanced Curaçao where high-level government, private sector and union representatives come together, we need to work towards creating structural discussions between all stakeholders and strengthening PPP, especially because our community is small.

In five to ten years, where do you hope Curaçao will be? MC: I think that we need to work together to develop a plan with a common vision; based on that plan we can realistically project where we want to be. I hope that a plan like this can be developed with insight from the government, private sector, and NGOs. It requires great commitment on the part of all those involved; and it should mean that there is a clear direction despite politics. Confidence from the private sector will also be important, and as a result we’ll have people investing left, right and center. Continuity and alignment are key, so it’s not really a question of where I see Curaçao five to ten years from now, but more a question of creating the circumstances to move forward together, now.

What would your advice be to young entrepreneurs in Curaçao? MC: Young entrepreneurs, everyone will tell you cannot; you cannot start a business, you cannot do this, you cannot do that. You will hear so much negativity, but that really should not discourage you. If anything, it should become your motivation to succeed. Do not give up because we are the future. We have a least another 60, 70 years -if we are healthy- to go. So if the economy is not doing well, if you’ve lost your job, or if you haven’t found a job yet, you have 60 years to go. That is a lot of time. We, young people, are rich in time. So just focus on the positive. Don’t give up! If you keep going you will get there. You cannot give up.

MC: In my view, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the embodiment of the highest level


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The Friendship Treaty

Providing Opportunities to Inject Growth into Curaçao’s Economy The recent presentation of the Tourism Master Plan to the Government of Curaçao, and business associations, outlined a solid path to increase the economic contribution that tourism makes to the island’s economy. TEXT KATY BRANUM

The focus of this plan is to attract larger numbers of visitors from the northeastern area of the USA. This target group is particularly attractive, because they spend much more on the island than visitors from other parts of the world. This in turn could mean that they use more services, which results in an injection of a greater amount of money into local businesses. It also provides potential for local businesses to grow and help support the community with jobs. The good news is that the island’s ability to prepare local people for the influx of these visitors, both regarding the type of business opportunities it presents and the service skills that US clientele require, has now become easier. “The Friendship Treaty,” an initiative that



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is embedded in Curaçao’s history, has been in effect since the fifties and was originally initiated to help foster economic development on the island. After years, a new interpretation of the Treaty has presented itself, and has been in effect since 1 June 2015. Within the ‘reinterpreted’ Treaty framework, American and Dutch passport holders are able to work in Curaçao under similar pretenses, providing opportunities for knowledgeable workers to come to the island, share their experiences, and inspire others. Curaçao’s history and rich tradition of collaboration with USA and the Netherlands dates back to the Second World War, when the island relied very much on protection from US forces, after the Netherlands fell to the Nazis. The US occupied Fort Nassau was a key defense position, deterring potential attacks. In its new interpretation, the Friendship Treaty outlines the following criteria for Dutch and American citizens. According to research, figures indicate that foreign workers spend more money locally than abroad. Further, these workers expose the

local population to new career possibilities that they may not have previously considered, helping to inspire potential entrepreneurs. The workers also bring valuable skills and knowledge to the island, fueling creativity and helping to prepare the island for any challenges it may face in the future.

“According to research, figures indicate that foreign workers spend more money locally than abroad.”

Another effect of an influx of foreign professionals includes the friends and family that they attract to the island for vacations, and the effect that this could potentially have on the local economy.

A relatively unknown effect of these workers is wonderful work that their families do to help the local communities. The local Britannic Club (an association that dates back to the 1930s consisting mostly of the wives from Commonwealth countries), for example, raises 25,000 ANG per annum, and distributes funds to local charities such as: Stichting Shimaruku, Kwido pa Grandi na Kas, Kwido pa Famia, Kinderoord Brakkeput, SILOAM Children’s Hospice & Dierenbescherming Curacao, Dierenhulp, Arco Cavent, Stichting FELIS, CARF, Stichting Equine Curacao, Fundashon Jabi di Libertad and Huize Tabita. These foundations work to help the less fortunate and the youth on the island. The Friendship Treaty provides a very attractive proposition to the local IT sector. The IT sector is very competitive globally, and living in the Caribbean would be attractive for many software engineers. This Treaty enables these businesses to attract top engineers from the USA and the Netherlands, potentially allowing Curaçao’s software industry to grow, and increasing its economic contribution to the island. It also

The applicant must have: • A Dutch or US passport and birth certificate; • No police record; • A letter confirming employment from a proposed employer or an investor permit (to launch a business or purchase a home); and • A permanent address on the island.

provides the potential to develop educational programs that will build the local skill set in this area. The Friendship Treaty offers endless possibilities for the island’s people and continues to strengthen the island economically. Let’s hope that these types of initiatives continue, as they make Curacao an attractive destination for business knowledge, thus ensuring its economic growth.


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CIFA New Year Celebration The Curaçao International Financial Services Association (CIFA) and the Curacao International Financial Center (CIFC) held a festive opening of the New Year on 8 January 2016 at the Curaçao Maritime Museum. The event, which served as an opportunity to network and give input to the board on certain topics, was also a gathering of minds to discuss the outlook of 2016 for Curacao’s financial services sector. TEXT TAHNEE BRUIN

Several prominent members of the financial services sector, key members of the local government, and noteworthy stakeholders were present. Various speakers updated the guests regarding new legislation, investments by the government for this year and a new marketing campaign for the sector.

the financial services sector, and appealed to the guests for increased collaboration in the coming year. Last year CIFA, and all the members of the association, collaborated with the government, members of the financial services sector and other organizations in an effort to move towards a new era for the island’s financial services sector.

In the opening speech, the chairman of CIFA, Ms. Anouschka Cova, talked about a new era for

CIFA envisions an even closer collaboration between government, members of the finan-

cial services sector, and other stakeholders. The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Economic Development spoke about the government’s efforts to strengthen the economy and particularly, the financial services sector. The ministers expressed their commitment to avoiding overregulation, continuing efforts regarding strategic ties with key global partners, and striving for real economic growth. To close the evening, CIFA introduced Curaçao’s international financial services sector’s new marketing campaign: “We speak your language.” The campaign targets high net worth individuals. The logo represents our connection to the world: from our strategic geographical location (between the Americas and Europe) to our multicultural workforce.


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“I was always prepared to take this step when asked, and I am happy to step in at this important crossroads, where creating a new momentum in a different direction is so important for the future of this island.”



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Minister Rhuggenaath’s Five P’s for Economic Growth

“The satisfaction that you get from public service, the diversity of subjects, and the chance to do one meaningful thing for one person, are the factors that drove me to take this position. So, despite all the politics that come with it, this remains one of the most rewarding jobs in the world.”

an international independent financial service provider, in the fields of mutual fund services, custody and trading, and banking. Prior to 10 October 2010, the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles and the signing of the new constitutional arrangement for Curaçao as a constituent part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Minister Rhuggenaath served as a commissioner of economic affairs, tourism and labor for the island territory of Curaçao, and as commissioner of finance in the Island Council.


The 5 P’s

Curaçao’s Government is made up of nine ministries, one of which is the Ministry of Economic Development. The Ministry consists of four sectors: (1) support for businesses and entrepreneurship; (2) economic development and innovation; (3) foreign economic cooperation; and (4) policy development. With the creation of a new coalition government, Mr. Eugene Rhuggenaath (Partido Alternativa Real ), became the Minister of Economic Development, inheriting one of the most interesting and important portfolios for Curaçao’s future. CBM had the exclusive opportunity to interview the newly appointed Minister, and learn more regarding his plans regarding his next ten months in office, leading up to the 2016 elections, and his long-term vision for Curaçao.

About Minister Rhuggenaath Minister Rhuggenaath has a long history in both public service and the private sector. Considering his history in both fields, he has a clear understanding of what is necessary to empower the private sector in Curaçao to boost the economy, while also having a solid understanding of how the public sector works and how processes could become more efficient.

With elections taking place in the second half of 2016, Minister Rhuggenaath noted that continuity is of vital importance. He is not looking to reinvent the wheel, but rather, to catalyze existing projects and processes, which he refers to as “the 5 P’s”: Plans, Projects, Ports, ProInvestment Climate and Production.

Plans With Plans, Minister Rhuggenaath refers to the already existing plans and the plans that are in progress within his Ministry. He specifically referred to the implementation of existing plans: the Tourism Master Plan, the Airport Master Plan, and the Long-Term Economic Strategy. The first six months of execution in any plan is crucial, and according to him, the Tourism Master Plan will play an imperative role in determining the future of the industry of tourism in Curaçao, as well as the development of parts of the island. He therefore hopes to foster collaboration between public and private partners, and hopes that his Ministry is able to bring stakeholders together to take the appropriate steps to make these plans a reality, by setting up implementation strategies and structures, and investing in the right human capital and experience.

most importantly, they create new opportunities for the youth. We can therefore use projects to build our policies.” Minister Rhuggenaath explained how it is imperative to emphasize continuity through executing projects that are already in motion – there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are numerous projects to strengthen the tourism sector, and increase the impact of tourism on our economy. The Minister placed emphasis on continuing these projects, and even ensuring completion of these projects in some cases. His predecessors started various projects than remain unfinished, and he hopes to add value to their contributions through catalyzing processes to ensure successful execution, even if completion is not possible in the ten-month frame. Also, the Minister hopes to continue to develop key areas in Curaçao. He mentioned, for example, the continued development of an airport city, and how the area around the airport is an important part of the development of Curaçao. “There are so many communities that live on that side of the island, and in all cases, it’s the first and last thing people see when they visit the island.” This was one of his key points in the following “P” – port development.

Ports The next important “P” according to Minister Rhuggenaath, is ports. With ports, he refers to airport development, seaport renovation (including the downtown area and megapier), and revamping Curaçao’s Freezone. “Plans for all these areas are in their advanced stages, and as I mentioned, I’d like to assist in bringing existing plans into motion. We need to take steps to realize our full potential.”

Projects Minister Rhuggenaath worked in different departments of the Citco Group of Companies,

“Our economy is not built on projects, but projects create progress and economic growth, and

According to the Minister, while these facilities all exist, we need to work to bridge gaps,


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and take risks through investment, to take full advantage of the resources that we already have. Curaçao’s identity is built on our natural harbors and a large duty-free zone, but we need to inject resources into these sectors to ensure that these industries flourish. Our downtown area, Punda, is an important place to start. “I think we can all agree that Punda needs transformation… it might not look the same in ten years time, but today we can all agree that we need to do something to revamp our downtown area and bring more life to our city center.” In addition, the Minister noted that one of the largest opportunities and challenges linked to port development will be the environment. “Curaçao can be an example for the rest of the world, if we innovate and invest with the environment in mind.” Groundbreaking ideas like seawater cooling, or the development of ecoparks along our coasts are definitely steps in the right direction.

Pro-investment Climate “We need to find new ways to eliminate tedious steps for investors, so that when they are drawn to Curaçao, they end up actually investing here.” With this, the Minister refers to eliminating as



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“I do not have a magic wand, nor do I need one. Curaçao has enough ideas and sufficient passion to improve the economic climate. We just need to work together, and the Government and private sector must trust one another.”

much ‘red tape’ as possible. The Minister explained that the creation of an Investor Permit was the first step in creating a pro-investment climate, but that all it really boils down to is reinvigorating the relationship between the private and public sector to ultimately decrease the cost of doing business. The Minister explained that revamping the economy through promoting a pro-investment climate is a process, and one where there is much to gain: “By making Curaçao a place where professionals can invest, we’ll attract new people, who will set-up shop

ing sectors, there is plenty of room to use innovation to do just that. The Minister mentioned that, “Curaçao must innovate; sustainability is our responsibility and it is an opportunity. New entrepreneurs should be posing questions like: ‘How can Curaçao continue to develop responsibly?’” Curaçao’s focus should lie on the creation of a Blue Economy – enriching our existing sectors while making sustainable use of our biggest natural resource: water. All our sectors work with water, and according to the Minister, we should embrace the challenges we face, transform them into opportunities, and play a larger role in the global economy by doing just that.

Collaboration as the Key to Success Minister Rhuggenaath’s main focus, and a recurring theme during our conversation was: collaboration and forging a shared path for Curaçao. He explained that by working together, Curaçao will be able to put aside the ‘snék culture’ – this idea that our economy has limits. We must come together to work towards being a part of the Kingdom and global economy. “Once we make choices together, then we know where we want to be in the future, and what kind of Curaçao we want.” The key is coming together to answer questions like, “What kind of Curaçao do we want?” and “What are our norms and values? Cultures and traditions?”

in Curaçao. This will eventually lead to the creation of jobs. There is no ‘win-lose’ involved in changing our economic climate, we just need to think about changing the economic climate holistically and start looking at the long-term potential.” The Minister went on to mention that our Government is too small to manage private sector investments all on its own, and that cooperation is vital – where the private sector has expertise, the Government should give them the space to use it.

Production “As we move forward creating proper conditions for business to thrive in curacao, we have to create incentives for innovation,” claimed Minister Rhuggenaath. With production, the Minister was referring to content creation in the new economy. While Curaçao needs to focus on strengthening exist-

By working together, we can stop making decisions based on fear, and consequently take more risks to enrich our society. According to Minister Rhuggenaath, there are some choices that are easier to make than others: wanting a clean environment, and a sustainable economy, for example, are questions he hopes, that everyone can align on moving forward.

might decide to come back and play a bigger role in the development of Curaçao. According to the Minister, we also need to focus on the youth in Curaçao, providing them with opportunities to develop the right life skills and attitude, and allowing them to add value to a knowledge economy through developing entrepreneurial skills. While technical skills are important, it’s about creating the right attitude and fundamental values. “The youth is the new energy, we need to bring people in, and we need to empower the youth to take development into their hands.”

“The time to create momentum is now – there are so many positive stories to create energy, and we have drive and perseverance that will boost us into the future.”

Mistakes as Opportunities Lastly, Minister Rhuggenaath focused on moving away from being fear-driven and moving towards being innovative. The Minister highlighted the fact that Curaçao won’t move forward unless we take risks and make choices based on opportunities. “Making mistakes has become something bad… and we always look to place the blame. We need to start asking people, how many mistakes did you make today? What I mean with that is, how many things did we try to do?” Moving forward, it isn’t about staying in our comfort zone in Curaçao – we won’t be able to create a sustainable economy doing that. We need to take risks, and come together to make positive choices rather than placing the blame.

Investing in Our Youth, Preparing for the Future Another factor that consistently came up in the conversation with Minister Rhuggenaath was investing in the youth, both the youth that reside in Curaçao and creating incentives for the youth that live abroad so that they come back. Nostalgically, he recalled his days after completing university, and all the things he wanted to accomplish as a young professional. Young professionals don’t believe in limits and they have so many ideas that can be implemented. If young professionals see others doing positive things here, and the government creates opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship, then they

“We’re stuck in a stalemate – the same economic pillars and the same political structures. We need to create citizens of the future, who are willing to try new things to be successful. We need to take some chances and make some mistakes. In the end, I’m sure if we do this, we’ll change Curaçao for the better.”


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Business Tax Environment anno 2015:

Improved and Reinvented! While in the past a call to your tax advisor was only required close to the tax return deadline or when confronted with a tax audit, the current business environment demands having your advisor on speed dial. TEXT VIVIAN L.M. BONIFACIO-PIETERS MSC, TAX MANAGER AT MEIJBURG & CO CARIBBEAN. JEANISE J. JOB MSC, TAX MANAGER AT MEIJBURG & CO CARIBBEAN. LAETITIA J.V. WALL MSC, TAX CONSULTANT AT MEIJBURG & CO CARIBBEAN

The current tax environment has evolved from accepting a one line explanation on your tax expense to requiring an in-depth analysis to account for your tax position. Stakeholders of financial statements (i.e. shareholders, investors and tax authorities) increasingly demand greater transparency and insight into the tax position of a company. As a result, more attention is paid to the standards of information, presentation, and disclosures to be presented in financial statements. Furthermore, the tax environment of a company is shifting from being an incident-driven approach to a process-oriented approach, gaining insights into tax risks and the risk control measures to be taken (the tax function of a company). Therefore, a thorough review of, amongst

others, the company’s accounting of income taxes (Tax Accounting) can provide comprehensive insight into its tax function, and, based on the information obtained, the performance (efficiency and effectiveness) of the tax function can be measured. The performance of the tax function is often referred to as Tax Performance and the management of the risks and responsibilities of the tax function can be referred to as Tax Performance Management.

Tax Performance Management: where are we and where do we want to be? Tax performance management is the process of design, implementation and execution of an efficient and effective tax function through which the company: • A nalyzes the current and desired level of implementation of its tax strategy, tax compliance and tax risk appetite; • Identifies the current risks in the internal processes and tax compliance as well as the tax value adding processes within the business framework; • Implements the necessary infrastructure and controls to achieve the goals as laid out in the tax strategy; and • Continuously evaluates and reviews the implemented processes to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the tax function.

The changing business tax environment requires a new approach and interpretation of your tax position. No longer is the emphasis solely on your tax expense and tax return, but rather on the management of your overall tax performance.

Tax accounting: the presentation of the tax position in the financial statements Internal and external auditors rely on tax experts to provide and/or assess the tax position of a company in order to accurately reflect the tax position in financial statements. The most important information to be presented in the financial statements with regard to income taxes is tax expense. Tax expense comprises current tax and (movements in) deferred tax. Current tax is the amount of income tax payable (recoverable) with respect to the taxable profit (loss) in the current period and prior periods to the extent that it has not yet been settled. On the other hand, deferred tax arises from current transactions that have future tax consequences due to temporary differences arising from different accounting methods for the accounting and taxable profit, tax losses carry forward, and tax credits.


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The accurate presentation of information on a company’s tax position requires an in-depth knowledge of current tax legislation, anticipation of future tax legislation, and the reporting requirements as prescribed by the accounting guidelines.

International accounting principles, such as Dutch GAAP and the IFRS, require separate presentation and disclosures of the tax position in the balance sheet, the income statement, and the equity of the company.

Presentation of the tax position in the balance sheet Under the Dutch GAAP and IFRS, unpaid current tax for current and prior periods is recognized as a liability. If the amount already paid exceeds the amount due for those periods, the excess is recognized as an asset. The current tax liabilities (assets) are measured by the amount expected to be paid to (or recovered from) the taxation authorities at applicable (future) tax rates. In addition, an overview of the Receiver Office, in connection with the outstanding profit tax assessments, can support the calculation of the current tax liability (asset). Under the IFRS, deferred tax asset and liability are classified as non-current in the balance sheet. Under the Dutch GAAP, general classification rules for current/non- current assets apply to deferred tax assets. Therefore a portion of a deferred tax asset may be classi-



fied as current. Unlike the IFRS, the deferred tax liabilities are classified as a separate class of provisions within liabilities, for which the current/non-current distinction is not applicable. Unlike the IFRS, the deferred tax assets and liabilities are allowed to be discounted under the Dutch GAAP. Furthermore, the current and deferred taxes are measured using the tax rates and tax laws that have been (substantively) enacted by the reporting date.

Presentation of the tax position in the income statement and equity Under both Dutch GAAP and IFRS, total income tax expense recognized in the income statement is the sum of the current tax expense (or recovery) plus the movement in the deferred tax liabilities and assets during the period, net of tax amounts recognized directly in the equity. In case a transaction and/or event is recognized outside the income statement (either in other comprehensive income under the IFRS or directly in the equity under the IFRS and under the Dutch GAAP), the deferred tax expenses in connection herewith are also recognized under other comprehensive income or in the equity.

Disclosures in the notes In the notes of financial statements, applicable methods of calculating the tax expense as well as the effective tax rate should be disclosed. In addition, accounting principles require that reconciliation be presented between the tax expense (derived from the taxable profit) and accounting profit. This provides the user of the

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information with insight into the transactions that impact the taxable profit and consequently the effective tax rate of the company.

Summary and conclusion The tax professionals with a specialization in Tax Accounting & Tax Reporting of Meijburg & Co Caribbean aim to bridge the gap between your accountants and tax advisors. We are specialized in the recognition and analysis of your business transactions’ tax impact on the financial statements of your company. We have extensive experience in providing our expertise and assistance during internal and external audits, as well as in designing and effectively implementing a tax function that contributes to your overall tax management (tax governance). We look forward to assisting you in the process of maximizing the added value and effectiveness of tax performance management.

About the authors: Vivian L.M. Bonifacio-Pieters MSc, Tax Manager at Meijburg & Co Caribbean Jeanise J. Job MSc, Tax Manager at Meijburg & Co Caribbean Laetitia J.V. Wall MSc, Tax Consultant at Meijburg & Co Caribbean

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LEED Certification:

What Does it Mean? You are planning to build a new building for your company and are considering a LEED certification, but do you know what that means? Perhaps you’ve heard of LEED and know that it translates to going “green” – a building that is energy efficient and “good” for the environment.

Demand for Clarification In 1998, the US Green Building Council (USGBC), an independent, non-profit organization, recognized that without guidelines to regulate what it means for a building to be “green,” anyone could claim that a building was environmentally

“LEED is a certification program that focuses primarily on new, commercial building projects, though there is also LEED rating systems for existing buildings and commercial interiors.”


You’d be surprised to find out that LEED actually encompasses much more than that; it is about the overall effects of the structure on the environment, but it also entails the working lifestyle of employees as a whole.



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-friendly or sustainable. In response to this need, the USGBC established LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The first LEED building went up in 2000 and since then, there have been more than 10,000 LEED certified buildings erected worldwide.

A Points System LEED rating is based on a points system; the more points you earn, the higher your rating. There are four levels of LEED certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum. Points are meant to encourage new commercial buildings to be designed and operated to optimally use building location, minimize non-renewable energy use, reduce water consumption and offer healthy settings in which to work and live.

All Its Cracked Up to Be? With so many LEED buildings erected in a considerably short time, the incentive to build this way exists, but what are the ultimate effects on the environment, and equally as important, the bottom line for the company? It may seem obvious that installing low-water flow systems; using recycled materials, lowVOC emitting carpets and paints; and installing better ventilation and day-lighting would be good for the environment. Fewer chemicals, cleaner air to breath and natural lighting may make for happier, more productive employees. However, not only is the concept of LEED relatively new therefore providing limited data on the effects of LEED certifi-

cation, but, it is also difficult to objectively measure the feeling an employee gets from working in this kind of environments.

According to the USGBC, there are nine key areas measured by LEED:

The LEED certification process has received much criticism from architects, building contractors, environmental activists and others involved in the building and design process. A big complaint is that the point system allows for too many loopholes, making it ineffective at truly achieving green credibility. Some skeptics argue that the USGBC stands to gain a huge source of revenue via LEED certification, while in reality, many of these buildings are not very “green” at all, and in fact use huge amounts of energy. Despite the criticisms, LEED is considered to be a successful work in progress. Taking these criticisms into consideration, the USGBC continuously works to streamline and modify the LEED certification process; the program is revised on a regular 2-year cycle. Though there are some who do look for loopholes to achieve LEED certification for not-so-“green” projects, most take the LEED guidelines seriously in order to truly make an impact on the environment – the global environment, as well as the work environment for their employees.

• Sustainable Sites • Water Efficiency • Energy and Atmosphere • Materials and Resources • Indoor Environmental Quality • Location and Linkages • Awareness and Education • Innovation in Design • Regional Priority

The initial design phase of the building is the most important part of LEED certification. However, a lot of the benefits from going LEED also depends on how the building is used and maintained once it’s built and occupied. If it’s done right, “going LEED” can make a significant impact globally in the long run. And, it’s not just about being environmentally friendly; it’s about bringing the employee into the environment, as well. It’s a mindset. For more information on LEED certification, you can go to


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Curaçao Business magazine interviewed Chris van Grieken, President of ARG Group and owner of the only LEED certified building on the island, which is in fact, Platinum certified, about his take on becoming LEED certified and what he thinks being LEED certified means for his business and the environment.

What steps did you take to become LEED certified? CvG: There are no LEED consultants in Curaçao, so I hired a consultant firm in the US and they guided me through the whole process. They flew to Curacao and before we even started with drawings, we discussed what needed to be done to maximize LEED points and incorporate efficiency. Our idea was to expand and renovate, and at the same time incorporate the LEED idea.

What did you do, specifically, to earn points towards a LEED certification? CvG: There are certain requirements that you must fulfill in order to be LEED certified and there are “extras” that get you points, but are optional. So, besides the required items, there are a whole bunch of aspects we added to the building that we would not have done if we weren’t going for LEED certification. Installing solar panels is one of them; we would have never done that because at the time no one was installing solar panels. We also wanted to use all low-VOC or no-VOC paints, meaning paints that don’t smell. While it’s normal to find these paints now, six years ago it was



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“Everything on the USBGC website is free, so if you are interested in LEED certification, you can use it as a guideline.”

impossible. I found that people here have products that can help with obtaining LEED certification, but don’t even realize what they can do with their products, though that is changing now. Besides just efficiency, LEED certification wants to promote a green lifestyle. So, we have a bike rack and even a shower in the office. This promotes the idea for employees to bike or walk to work. Then they can freshen up before starting their workday. These are things that give a company points towards its LEED certification that you would have never thought of if you were to go into a normal building process. Another interesting aspect where we earned an incredible amount of points is comparing the average building’s energy usage and efficiency in Curaçao to those of this building. Basically, we doubled the size of our building and halved our energy consumption.

How did we do that? Every single aspect was thought out: air conditioning choices, computer choices, lighting choices, refrigerator choices every single thing. Thought and research went every component of the building. Normally, people don’t do that when they are building. They think about comfort first. We have to think about both comfort and efficiency, and not just one or the other.

People have the tendency to focus on what it’s going to cost me now, rather than what it’s going to cost me over the lifespan of the building.

How can we bring LEED to Curaçao?

LEED looks at how much of the building materials is recycled or locally supplied. Van Grieken did the following: • The driveway is made of 95% recycled material: recycled sand, stone and glass from the Curaçao recycling center, rain water and concrete (not recycled) to make it stick. • The roof of the new part of the building is made from an old freezer building from the US Consulate – a naturally insulated product and 100% recycled material. References:

CvG: Everything on the USBGC website is free, so if you are interested in LEED certification, you can use it as a guideline. I personally really wanted the certification and for a short period of time, I felt like I brought LEED to Curaçao. The new Aqualectra building (utilities company) was supposed to be LEED certified, CTEX (the data center) was going to be LEED certified, and the new hospital was supposed to be LEED certified. I had hoped that I brought LEED to Curaçao and that if people became aware of it, they too would start using it. I find that the hype has trickled down again. There was never a second LEED building built, and I think if a big building had managed to obtain the certification; it would have gotten the ball rolling. One of the things the US government did in support of LEED certification is ensuring that any new government building is LEED certified. This is something the local government can think about doing. If we do make it a requirement, we don’t need to hire a consultant from the Netherlands or the US, because a new industry can be created here. There’s no work for a LEED consultant on the island right now because there’s no demand for it, but once you make these requirements, the whole ballgame changes – you create a whole new industry.

get a free, healthy lunch and we keep up our productivity. This keeps people productive, not only because they stay in the office, but it also ensures that they eat a healthy meal so they have the energy in the afternoon to keep working, rather than being bogged down after a heavy, high-fat meal. I’m looking at the whole picture. Healthy employees mean less sick days. So, it’s not just about efficiency, but also about long-term productivity of your staff, which also affects your bottom line.

Do you have anything else to add?

Van Grieken also incorporated the environment in his building design:

CvG: What’s very important that I want to get across is that LEED has nothing to do with energy cost. Everyone talks about solar panels and how expensive electricity is, but it’s about the whole spectrum. I can decide to cover my room in solar panels, but if I have an old air conditioning, no insulation, an old refrigerator, or the most inefficient equipment and that use a whole lot of electricity, I still did nothing for the environment. The cleanest electricity in the world is the electricity you don’t use.

• A roof garden, which gives insulation value and allows what nature intended to grow in that spot, before the area was developed, to re-grow. • An air circulating system that brings in fresh air. • Natural daylight – tubular skylights that bring in natural light and also a view of the outside from every location in the office.

What benefits do you see to your bottom line from making your building “green?” CvG: The complete experience you get from a LEED office cannot be expressed in dollars and cents. LEED goes beyond energy measurements; it also incorporates a wellness lifestyle for an employee, which increases productivity in different ways. For example, we buy groceries for our office employees, but it has to be healthy and reasonable – no sodas, sweets, etc. The employees stay in for lunch, eat a healthy lunch in the break room and get back to work. It’s a win-win situation - they


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New Strides in New Markets: the Cuban Connection

and international financial and business services participated in the mission. Curaçao was among 60 countries represented at the largest edition of FIHAV yet. This can be seen as a first step in what the Ministry of Economic Development hopes to be a strong, symbiotic and productive relationship with Cuba, for all the economic sectors in Curaçao, particularly drawing on our shared cultures, histories, and traditions.

In December 2014, when diplomatic relations were re-established between the USA and Cuba, the rekindling of relations between Cuba and other regional partners became a key point on several national agendas. TEXT NEELAM MELWANI

Curaçao, too, jumped on the bandwagon and since then has attempted to fortify political and economic relations with Cuba, particularly focused on economic cooperation. In order to do so, both a political and economic mission from Curaçao visited Cuba in 2015. The most recent visit was an economic mission in November 2015. The Ministry

of Economic Development and the Curaçao Investment and Export Promotion Agency led a delegation to Cuba for the 33rd edition of the Havana International Fair (FIHAV). A total of 32 local enterprises from various sectors, including the maritime logistics, tourism, information and communication technology, renewable energy, trade and distribution,

These are merely first strides towards building a new relationship with Cuba. It will be imperative that Curaçao take advantages of the opportunities that present themselves in Cuba, and look for ways to continue to work together so that both countries’ economies can grow. The Government hopes to play merely a facilitating role in the process, looking forward to stimulating the private sector to explore and tap into new markets. In 2016, there will be more possibilities to visit Cuba on official economic missions, including the possibility for companies to participate in FIHAV in the second half of 2016.


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Corporate Wellness

More Than Improving the Bottom Line for your Business “Wellness programs are not only valuable for the organizations and their employees, they are our biggest hope for fixing a national health crisis.” – Rajiv Kumar, doctor and entrepreneur, “In Defense of Corporate Wellness Programs” TEXT HEATHER DE PAULO

Many of us have heard of the term “Corporate Wellness” or “Workplace Wellness,” but what does it really mean, what does it entail for a business owner, and most importantly, what’s the bottom line? Specifically, corporate wellness is defined as any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace and to improve health outcomes.1 It can be carried out in the workplace, as well as many other settings.

difficult to find the time to act on wellness goals. Creating an on-site wellness program is important because the majority of an employee’s time is spent at the workplace,2 however, getting away from the office can prove to be beneficial in it’s own right. According to Harvard Business Review,3 workplaces have a unique power to reframe the mindset around health itself – from one of sickness to one of wellness. The organizations with the greatest success are managing to shift people’s relationship with health from one where health is something thought about and “practiced” annually at the doctor’s office, to one where health is practiced daily through small lifestyle habits. Corporate wellness cannot be treated as a band-aid, and you definitely won’t be able to find it in a fitness app. Engagement, motivation, support, and strategy are the keys to a successful wellness program.2 This commitment isn’t just for employees, it needs to go to the top – it motivates employees to see their CEO’s getting on board as well.

Keys to a Successful Wellness Program People are becoming more and more health conscious, but due to higher stress, longer workdays and constant multitasking, it is more



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Promoting wellness in the workplace can consist of a variety of activities, such as health fairs, health education, medical screenings,

healthy office snack delivery services, health coaching, weight management programs, wellness newsletters, on-site fitness programs and/or facilities, and educational programs, to name a few.1 These activities are all aimed at educating people as to what it means to live a healthy life, but more importantly emphasizing and encouraging continued motivation for long-term behavior change well into the future. Some of these activities can be just as effective, if not more, when they take place outside of the workplace. According to Rudolph de Wit, physical therapist/acupuncturist, natural medicine practitioner and founder of PIAI Institute in Curaçao, there are benefits to taking an employee out of his/her environment. “While we are always willing to assist companies in setting up an on-site, ongoing corporate wellness program, we firmly believe that taking the employee out of their environment for a couple of days opens up more interactive ways of getting the message across, and provides greater opportunity for concentrated focus and therefore, a greater learning experience.”

The Bottom Line Healthcare costs are rising year after year. According to the Center for Disease Control in the US, chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity account for 75 percent of total healthcare costs.2 Obesity, which tends to be the main culprit leading to the cause of many chronic diseases, accounts for a whopping 21% of the costs alone.4 In the past, companies have mainly focused on the “demands” aspect of the equation when trying to solve productivity, non-performance and other employee related issues, which is the current main motivator for local companies to engage in corporate wellness programs, as well, according to de Wit. “The new thinking is to focus on the ‘resources’ side of the equation. At PIAI, we do exactly that by working on increasing your inner strength, your ability to rise up to challenges and by working on your total well-being.” Companies that implement corporate wellness programs find that they help the bottom line, not only in the short run, but in the long run and in areas that were not considered before. The fact is, healthier employees cost you less; and there are many case studies to prove it: The leaders at Johnson and Johnson, the pharmaceutical company, estimate that wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company $250 million in health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for

Harvard Business Review lists three key approaches to a successful wellness program: 1. R ework your corporate mission to highlight health as a key element. Redefine your core business from “a company with a wellness program” to “a wellness company that happens to sell XYZ.” 2. Tap into the personal motivation of your employees. People don’t strive to get healthy because it’s the right thing to do. If a company can tap into the personal motivator of each employee, it can better communicate the value of health. Making a program tie-in to every day life makes it more relevant and increases the number of employees who participate. 3. Employees need to own the program – they have to feel that it’s theirs. American company, L.L. Bean empowers employees to design their own wellness initiatives that are relevant to their respective departmental needs. This empowerment encourages employees to take the initiative to develop their own programs, and if they get enough people in their department interested, the company funds and supports it. This creates wellness representatives who help spread the message, keeps employees accountable and give support to others when they start to fall behind.

every dollar spent.3 During a randomized control trial by doctors Richard Milani and Carl Lavie, it was demonstrated that of the participants receiving wellness intervention who were at high risk, 57% dropped to low risk at the end of the six-month program, resulting in a decline in medical costs of $1,421 per participant, yielding $6 in health care savings for every dollar spent.3 The way some companies skirt around the increasing cost is by passing on the difference to their employees through higher deductibles. However, by implementing a more positive approach, some companies are allowing healthier employees to actually help their own bottom line. For example, some employers are empowering and rewarding their employees by offering incentives such as lowering employee’s contributions with rebates if they do participate in a wellness program.

Keep it Going Corporate wellness shouldn’t be boring. Creating unique and dynamic programs that consistently evolve over time ensure the best possibility of long-term success. Human beings need to be challenged and stimulated in different ways and different means to create change. Challenge your program to stay on the latest trends; it will help to appoint a wellness leader who takes direct responsibility over the operations.

expect behavior to change overnight. However, when a person is able to commit mentally, emotionally, and socially, and on a conscious level, progress is possible. An employee wellness program needs to address this through consistent education and layers of accountability.

Employers simply cannot afford to take the financial burden of rising health costs any longer.

“Investing in corporate wellness is not a luxury,” stated de Wit, “it’s an investment in your employees’ engagement with the company leading to increased productivity and increased creativity and problem solving skills. The decrease in the cost of absenteeism and turnover is a bonus! 1

2 five-reasons-corporate-wellness-is-more-important-than-ever/


Preventable wellness is a complete lifestyle and behavior change, so it takes time and commitment.2 The only way to prevent disease is with actionable steps to halt progression. When old habits are years in the making, you cannot



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Striking a Balance: Running a Company & Getting Involved The world is becoming more and more interconnected, and as a consequence, people are becoming more important in the sustainable development of their societies.

Curaçao. As people start to play a larger role in development, it is clear that improving society stretches far beyond the work and possible limited resources of government, but that a “future that we want” needs to be built through collaboration between the private and public sector.


Whether people decide to remain at home; work abroad and send remittances home; or move their entire families abroad in search of new opportunities; each decision could have a lasting impact on a society, particularly in smaller contexts like that of




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Although ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) has become a catch-phrase in the business community today, its definition tends to differ depending on the context in which it is used. Holistic CSR strategies stretch beyond sustainably using non-renewable resources, recycling renewable resources, donating

money to foundations, or hosting charity dinners. While all of these are of course important, a holistic CSR policy entails encouraging employees to play a larger role in effectively realizing positive change in the community. In Curaçao, like in other small island communities, a company’s reputation plays a large role in determining its client base. Considering that the local ‘pie’ is already small, it is important to motivate employees to be actively involved in their communities, both through their work and outside the workplace. A small or medium sized company’s reputation is very much defined by the people who work there. In small communities, everyone knows everyone, and your employees are an indication of what your company stands for. Therefore, it is important to: define a company culture; strike a balance between work and community involvement; and create ways to allow your company to transcend sectors and borders. To get a better idea of how to “strike the right balance” in the specific context of Curaçao, CBM interviewed Mr. Daniël Corsen, 28-yearold co-founder and co-owner of D&I Business Support Services (D&I), a local consultancy firm; lecturer for finance at the University of Curaçao; and Chairman of the National Platform for Youth Development.

Defining your Company Culture In the modern day and age, defining a company’s culture has become a more flexible process. Taking advantage of technological possibilities, working hours can become more flexible, and work places more informal. Corsen explained how D&I Business Support Services (D&I) is a relatively new company founded five years ago, with the intention of doing business differently. A rather small company, with only five full-time employees, and two part-time assistants, the company has an innovative working culture: no defined working hours or vacation days, and online work space that allows employees to log in from any computer anywhere in the world. While Corsen mentions that the company hopes to grow, he claims that the flexible company culture will play an important role paving the road further. By creating a less rigid company structure,

CSR can be better incorporated in a company’s culture. Corsen says, “Your employees should feel like they have the space and time to invest in themselves and in their community, and partake in initiatives that add to their quality of life and surroundings.” Flexible working hours and vacation days, allow for a result-based management approach where deliverables matter more than the amount of hours spent sitting at a computer in an office.

“Your employees should feel like they have the space and time to invest in themselves and in their community, and partake in initiatives that add to their quality of life and surroundings.”

He says: “being optimistic, I hope that in five years, through the National Youth Platform, we’ll be able to realize real change: a collaboration between different actors to decrease youth unemployment, crime rates, and in ten years, we’ll be able to create a generation of ‘rockstars’- a generation that recognizes their potential and has the resources to take on their dreams without the fear of failure.” Much like prioritizing within a company, it is important for busy business owners to prioritize their time outside of the workplace. The challenge with flexible hours is that it is easy to get off track and become involved in too many different things at once. According to Corsen, it is important to find the one thing you’re interested in; an issue that is close to heart, and focus on bringing real change in that area. For Corsen, it’s obviously youth development.

Expanding your boundaries

Employees are therefore able to allocate their time to fit their busy schedules, whether this is training a little league baseball team on a Wednesday afternoon, cleaning up a beach on a Saturday morning, or working with the elderly every morning. At the end of the day, they are evaluated on the work that they are doing rather than how or when they decide to do it. A less rigid corporate culture also encourages employees to prioritize their time, and dedicate their time to things they consider important.

Why it’s important to Prioritize In countries like Curaçao, collaboration is key. Corsen feels like it is the responsibility of everyone, and not just the government, to bring about real change, and therefore spends a lot of his time on an issue that is close to his heart: youth development.

“Becoming involved should not come at the expense of your work… before saying yes to any opportunity outside of work, I make sure that my colleagues feel empowered enough to do their work, and I encourage them to do the same.”

While the ‘pie’ is only so big in Curaçao, there are so many ways to get involved and so many initiatives to support. For Corsen, there are no such things as business and non-business hours. “I have one agenda,” he claims, “and that’s how I get everything done in a day. There’s one life to live, not two. Trying to build a rewarding personal life around the traditional ‘8 – 5’ working hour mentality does not work if you want to bring about real change in your community.” Connecting your business to your passion is important when


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What can you do? In summary, Corsen suggested doing the following things to get more involved: 1. Get rid of rigid company structures – be more flexible with working hours and vacation days, for example. 2. L et your company transcend borders and sectors – look for other companies that have the same passions you do, and see how they are getting involved in their communities and coping with local contexts. 3. Redefine your business – approach CSR holistically and incorporate it in your company culture rather than using it as an ‘add-on’ or ‘extra.’ 4. F ind a passion that resounds with you -- and be sure it also has a positive long-term impact on your company’s success. 5. E ncourage your colleagues to find their passion -- give them the time, space, and flexibility to add value and bring about change in their communities.



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looking to add value and be successful at both.

The Many Benefits How can your business benefit from being socially involved? The answer, according to Corsen, is quite simple, especially with regards to youth development. By becoming involved in youth development, you can ensure that the youth is able to participate in creating their future. This can consequently lead to more employment, social cohesion, and a better link between schools and the professional world. Economic growth is sure to follow, if these preconditions exist, and a growing economy will have employees that are well-prepared, equipped and motivated to contribute to society. Corsen also explains how being

actively involved in your community could give your company an international edge. His company, D&I, is part of a global network of 33 consulting firms that have similar business models and corporate cultures. Companies are able to compare social contexts across borders, and look at issues they face. No company today operates within a specific sector or country alone; it is becoming more important to transcend these boundaries to ensure your company’s success, whether that is eating a larger piece of the small pie, or getting your hands on different pies as well.

Virtual Office – It Can Make A Real Difference In Curaçao, business is thriving. Start-ups are popping up everywhere, and there has never been a better time to discover your entrepreneurial instincts. However, it is one thing to start a business, and another to turn a brand new enterprise into a viable, profitable company that can properly position itself in the world economy. TEXT DANIELLE PALM

Starting from scratch is hard; there are so many costs involved, so many initial investments to make, so many relationships to foster. When standing at the beginning of this journey, it can sometimes seem impossible.Often times, entrepreneurs ask themselves: How can I encourage a fledgling business jump out of the nest and soar?

Why use a virtual office? One of the recurring issues for new enterprises is building your business to obtain the confidence of prospective clients. You



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A virtual office can offer you all the benefits of a permanent location at a fraction of the cost.

know that you provide a quality product or service, but you do not have the traditional assurances for success: a team of dedicated professionals who work for you, a venue for meetings, or a sleek office building in a buzzing business district. You may not even have a dedicated phone number for your business yet, or a receptionist to answer your calls. This is where a “virtual office” can help. A virtual office can offer you all the benefits of a permanent location at a fraction of the cost. It allows you to operate at the professional level that your services demand, but that your capital cannot yet cover, and creates a self-fulfilling illusion, attracting clients and investors that can help you build your enterprise. As your business grows, the time will come when you can invest in an office space of your own. Until then,

Co-working spaces are an economical way to rent office space and offer so much more than just a desk.

5 Benefits of a Virtual Office - A postal address for deliveries and official registrations - Local phone number answered by a receptionist - O ffice and meeting space for rent on a pay-as-you-go basis - Access to software and equipment - Adds an instant extra level of professionalism

a virtual office environment can give you the professional sheen you need.

So what exactly does a Virtual Office offer? A virtual office gives your business a home in the real world without the crippling costs that this would normally entail. For a modest fee, you can use the virtual office’s address as your own, allowing you to receive mail and register with the Chamber of Commerce. Your new business phone number is answered by a reassuringly professional receptionist, using your company’s name. There is shared office space for rent for as little or as much time as you need, as well as fully equipped meeting rooms. A virtual office may also offer various invaluable additional services, such as photocopying and printing, a team of administrators who can take certain projects off your hands, catering for important meetings, audio and video

conferencing, and access to the most popular software applications. The possibilities are endless and usually negotiable. A virtual office literally puts you on the map.

What about co-working spaces? Working for yourself can be tough. You often spend a lot of time alone, and when your business is still in its early stages you may spend much of it at home where the pressures of domestic life life can be a distraction. Co-working spaces are an economical way to rent office space and offer so much more than

just a desk. The dedicated working space, away from the clutter of home life, improves your focus. In addition to this, the companionship of other entrepreneurs, often working towards similar goals as your own, can inspire you and boost your motivation and productivity. It is also a perfect networking opportunity. The person at the desk beside you may turn out to be a vital link in your supply chain or infrastructure, a brilliant marketing expert, or a fount of financial wisdom. Renting co-working spaces, for a few hours a month or a regular slot a week, can be a less virtual part of a virtual office package deal that could enrich your business and take it to the next level, whether you are taking your first steps on the road to success or branching out.

Is it for me? The answer to this is a resounding ‘yes’. The benefits of a virtual office for start-ups are numerous, but even if you are further along the road to commercial success, virtual office services can solve any number of logistical and practical problems. Think of temporarily hiring in secretarial services for big jobs, or expanding your office space on an ad hoc basis. We could all do with being less tied down, especially when it comes to cost. So don’t delay: check out the virtual office solutions available locally and start a conversation today about the ways they can help you on your road to success. Get ready to soar!


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The European Union’s OCT regulation, and the American Government’s Caribbean Basin Initiative Regulation, were both implemented for Curaçao at the beginning of 2014. Both are unilateral agreements that give countries likes Curaçao preferential entry to the European or American markets provided that certain conditions are met. This means that products that are made in Curaçao could essentially be free from import tax regulations in these two markets. The core of these regulations is the Rules of Origin that define the nationality (or source) of the product to be exported. The nationality or source of product then determines whether or not the product may be imported free of taxes.

OCT and CBI Regulations Information Session On 27 November 2015, the Ministry of Economic Development and Curaçao Investment and Export Promotion Agency (CINEX) held an information session for local entrepreneurs who are interested in exporting products using the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) and Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) regulations. This information session was attended by potential entrepreneurs and business owners looking to reach out to international markets. TEXT TAHNEE BRUIN

The Information Session consisted of several interesting and informative presentations, including one given by students from the Social Economic Faculty of the University of Curacao (UoC) on the history of Curaçao’s export industries and the conditions necessary in order to make use of the OCT and CBI regulations; one by the Ministry of Economic Development highlighting the possibilities of export to the EU using OCT regulation and the specific regulations regarding origins of work; one by the Acting US Consul General in Curaçao on products exported by other CBI beneficiary countries to the US and export opportunities specific to Curacao’s situation; and finally one by the Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature on requirements for products for human consumption and other international standards that must be taken into account. After the presentations, four local companies (Curaçao Ecocity, Tatiana’s Dream Natural Product/Integra Natural, The Golden Lady Distributor, and Antillean Soap Company) shared their respective experiences with regards to exporting their products and the existing using the regulations. New OCT and CBI Regulations can be very profitable for businesses in Curaçao if implemented correctly. It is important that as businesses consider expanding their reach to international markets that they ensure that their products are not only attractive when exporting abroad, but that they take advantages of OCT and CBI regulations, and follow international guidelines. The OCT and CBI Regulations are both very important for Curaçao, especially considering our view to reach more target markets close by and farther away.


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Investment in Education:

An Opportunity with Great Potential

Thanks to our rich cultural heritage, Curaçao is a multicultural society with people from diverse backgrounds, speaking several languages, all with a global perspective on business. This is so deeply rooted in our culture that we tend to forget the great advantages it has on our daily work-life. TEXT JANICE TJON SIEN KIE AND ARNE KATTOUW, PWC DUTCH CARIBBEAN

More and more, students across the world are choosing to pursue foreign degrees through international higher education programs. The need for traveling overseas to the country awarding the qualification or providing the academic oversight has decreased significantly. Through a range of collaborative arrangements with degree-awarding



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institutions from major education-exporting countries, international higher education programs can be delivered in innovative ways, crossing borders and reaching students demanding these programs. Research shows that over 153 million students participate in higher education. Based on current trends, the number of students’ with global mobility is expected to be around 6.7 million by 2020. This particular form of education is referred to as Transnational Education (TNE). Curaçao’s Ministry of Economic Development has identified this sector as a key investment opportunity with great potential.

Transnational Education in a Nutshell The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines transnational education as: all types of higher education study programs, or sets of courses of study, or educational services (also distance education) in which the learners are located in a country different form the one where the awarding institution is based. Institutions in Curaçao are already successfully engaged in forms of higher transnational education. Most of them are delivered by franchised providers and branch campus operations. For example, University of Curaçao (UoC), University of the Dutch Caribbean (UDC) and College of the Dutch Caribbean (CDC) are local institutions offering higher education programs, some in partnership with foreign institutions. Additionally, Curaçao is home of three medical schools that award Doctor of Medicine degrees (MD). These

three universities: Avalon University School of Medicine, Caribbean Medical University and St. Martinus College have around 600 students 90% of which are foreign. The staff members are also a combination of foreign and local professionals. Another local example of TNE in Curaçao is the Caribbean Marine Biology Institute (Carmabi). This institute welcomes around 200 scientists annually to conduct research and attend specific courses in marine biology. Curaçao, as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is a politically stable country. The inhabitants are multilingual and the infrastructure is well developed. Immigration laws for Dutch and American passport holders are very flexible. Also, Curacao’s tax regime offers attractive incentives and possibilities for foreign institutions to invest in Curaçao. Several tax incentives are available, for example with regard to corporate income tax. Depending on the amount of investment, a “tax holiday” could be requested. This specific incentive reduces the corporate income tax rate to 2%. Another incentive that might apply for foreign education institutions is export regulation, which would provide them

with a tax rate of approximately 3.2% from 2016 onwards, in cases where students are mostly foreign. In case a tax holiday applies, this also allows for an exemption towards import duty and sales tax, with regard to the cost of building and furnishing the school. For teachers, the regular income tax and social

More and more, students across the world are choosing to pursue foreign degrees through international higher education programs.

security premiums are greatly reduced in case they qualify for the “expatriate regulation.” To apply for this, incentive specific requirements regarding income, education and experience of the teacher must be met. The students that attend the school for a short period of time, for exam-

ple less than a year, may not be considered a resident for tax purposes and will therefore only be taxed on locally earned income. In case students become a resident for tax purposes, they will be taxed on their local and foreign income. Nevertheless, periodic financial support from

Transnational education can be delivered through different models. The most common delivery methods are: • Distance or virtual education: courses and • Double degree or joint degree: in this form • Franchising or partnership: an educatioof TNE, education providers in different programs are offered through different channal institution in an offering country enters jurisdictions collaborate to offer a program into a partnership with an institution in a nels (internet, video conferring, skype) and through which students receive qualificatihost country by offering courses and eduother methods within or beyond the national cation programs. This model is also referboundaries. An offering institution has no phyons from all institutions involved. red to as delivery through-third parties or sical presence in the country of the student, service suppliers. but they can make use of support centers. • Branch campus: this is the most visible example of TNE; through this form, an • Articulation or twinning: an institution educational institution establishes a fully • Study abroad: in this more traditional mofrom an offering country systematically operational branch campus in the host del, students of local institutions have the recognizes specified courses or programs country. Furthermore, persons from the ofopportunity to undertake courses and de(e.g. through partial credit transfer) at an fering institution are based in the foreign grees for a fixed period of time at an instiinstitution in a host country. country. tution located abroad.


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family or any amount of student loans they receive is not considered taxable income. If a student does enjoy taxable income, then the initial USD 10,000 (approx..) is considered tax free.

Opportunities beyond borders for Curaçao According to Curaçao’s Central Bureau of Statistics, over the last three years, more than 2000 students have attended higher-level public high schools (HAVO/VWO). Transnational education may offer local students access to high-quality, accredited education programs, without the need to travel overseas. Developing this sector will create jobs, generate cross-sectorial income, and contribute to the annual GDP.

For teachers, the regular income tax and social security premiums are greatly reduced in case they qualify for the “expatriate regulation.”

Curaçao can benefit significantly from TNE opportunities. Nevertheless, the number and type of TNE operations and the aggregate enrolment of local students, expatriate students and staff enrolled in all operations must be taken into account. Flexible immigration policies to facilitate this sector are key.



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The potential for TNE in Curaçao lies creating a variety of programs and opportunities. Current programs offered in Curaçao are focused on management, financial services or medical professions, but there are great opportunities for niche studies such as hospitality, culinary arts, fine arts and science.

About the authors: JANICE TJON SIEN KIE holds a master degree in Finance & Investment from the Erasmus University Rotterdam. She is a Senior Consultant for advisory services at PwC Dutch Caribbean. Within PwC, Janice leads many projects focusing on strategy & business. Janice is specialized in developing strategic business plans, investment guides, codes for corporate governance reporting, and sustainability reporting. She also advises on business improvement. ARNE KATTOUW is the Head of the tax technical bureau at PwC Dutch Caribbean and has extensive experience in Dutch Caribbean taxation. After a long career with the Dutch and (former) Netherlands Antilles Tax Department, he joined PwC in 2001. Within PwC, Arne is involved in local and international structuring and tax advice, and the development of new tax legislation and policies.

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Industry Leadership: Oil & Gas

2019: Curaçao´s Finest Hour How will this historical pillar that represents both a strong social element and economic benefits be transformed to embrace a future that realises Curaçao’s economic, social and ecological sustainable development? TEXT KATY BRANUM

The clock is ticking, and discussions are taking place accross the island and abroad about the big decision due in 2019. Specifically, what to do with the ISLA refinery and the harbor site that it is located on, when the current lease with PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. – the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company) expires in 2019. The ISLA refinery, located in Curaçao´s historic natural harbor, is a sense of pride for many families that immigrated to the island and have based their livelihoods on the success of the refinery for generations. Over the years, the refinery has provided valuable income to the island; however, fast forwarding to today, the economic benefits seem to pale against the much-publicized pollution that it generates and the associated health issues the island’s citizens experience. The debate surrounding the future of the ISLA refinery is complex, and many things must be considered. Today, the refinery produces crude products that are outside many countries’ acceptable sulphur emission benchmarks, thus the market is limited. Needless to say, the refinery remains one of the island’s largest sources of revenue, and as the contract with PDVSA approaches its expiry, a taskforce has been established to review options and make strategic recommendations, taking into consideration the island’s other financial obligations. Their remit also includes the implementation of those recommendations, which are currently underway. As part of the activities; various reports have been generated, however only one has been made available to the public. This is a report that was produced for Curaçao´s Ministry of Economic Development some time ago, outlining three possible strategic paths:

pollution. Nevertheless, a very large investment is required, and an investor needs to be found.

Building a new refinery at a new location The main economic effect is that a modern refinery would be efficient, and allow for optimal processing. The suggested location, would position the refinery near storage areas, and tanker access points. It would also move pollution away from residential areas. This solution would allow for oil refining to remain a pillar of the economy, providing economic diversity and employment. The impact is the new zoning required and the building of the new refinery infrastructure would require a significant outlay of funds.

Redeveloping the ISLA area If the contract with PDVSA is not renewed, and the refinery is no longer used, a sustainable plan will be needed to redevelop the land where the refinery is located. In the short-term, the refinery’s storage areas could be rented out, generating some degree of income. There would also be employment generated in the short-term, as parts of the current refinery could be dismantled and some of the cleaning up processes actioned.

The main economic effect is that a modern refinery would be efficient, and allow for optimal processing.

The level of contamination is significant, so this would take a long time, possibily up to 30 or 40 years depending on investment and methods used. There are other areas of the ISLA site that are clean and could be zoned or redeveloped. The short-term impact is a loss of economic revenue as refining activities cease and unemployment from those companies are dependent on the refinery.

Upgrading the refinery at it current location Provided there is strong demand for the product produced, this decision adds to the economic diversity of the island and will provide temporary employment associated with upgrading. The modernization of the refinery would also shift the refining process from sulphur-based to liquefied natural gas, reducing



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All three options suggested in the report have pros and cons, and are difficult decisions that require leaders consider a sustainable long-term vision for Curaçao. To appreciate the complexity of their challenge, it is helpful to explore a little of Curaçao’s history with regards to the refinery.

Difficult decisions will need to be taken to determine how Curaçao will move forward, and what the role of the refinery will be in all of this. Only time will tell. Curaçao´s finest hour is soon upon us.

Geo-political Foundation In 1985, the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company left the Curaçao refinery, after operating here for over fifty years. They sold the refinery to the local government for a symbolic amount. This was a complete shock to the island as no one anticipated that Shell might one day leave.

In 1985, Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company left the Curaçao refinery, after operating here for over fifty years.

The sitting Prime Minister of Curaçao visited the President of Venezuela, which resulted in PDVSA stepping in and leasing the refinery to refine Venezuelan crude oil at the ISLA refinery allowing Curaçao to receive much needed revenues and foreign exchange.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean Over the years, with global warming becom-

ing a significant issue, there has been an increased focus on the pollution resulting from refinery processes. Modern refineries have processes in place to minimize pollution with older refineries often being closed and refining activities moving to places with less strict pollution controls. In February 2015, Hess Corp, an Americanbased refining company, and PDVSA, closed down the large Hovensa oil refinery in St. Croix based on a three-year trend in the US of closing refineries due to pollution controls, the global economic slowdown, and the preference to use the modern refineries being built in emerging markets like India, China and countries in the Middle East. This example indicates that old refineries require large investments to modernize so that they comply with evolving environmental standards while producing products that meet emission levels of large international markets, such as the US and Europe. As mentioned, this level of investment would also be required to modernize the ISLA refinery. In order to fund such an endeavour, an investor will need to be identified, and guarantee will need to be provided for the development of a market for the product produced.

According to publicly available documents, there is a memorandum of understanding between the PDVSA and ISLA, which might indicate that PDVSA could possibly be interested in continuing to use the refinery after 2019. However, with the increasingly challenging economic situation in Venezuela and Venezuela’s recent remarks that the crude price needs to increase, and remain consistent around $70 per barrel; the future of PDVSA in Curaçao remains largely unknown.

Looking ahead The taskforce working on the “Beyond 2019” solution is confident that they will produce a solid plan for the future of Curaçao, despite the various uncertainties. Difficult decisions will need to be taken to determine how Curaçao will move forward, and what the role of the refinery will be in all of this. Only time will tell. Curaçao´s finest hour is soon upon us. Download a full copy of the “ The Sustainable future for Curaçao” Strategic options for ISLA and the ISLA site. Go to: Curaç


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Information Governance:

What It Is And Seven Reasons Why You May Need It If you’re already familiar with Corporate Governance and Transparency, Information Governance, or IG for short, is exactly what you might think it is. TEXT VANESSA VROLIJK

According to the Business Dictionary online, governance is: “the establishment of policies, and continuous monitoring of their proper implementation, by the members of the governing body of an organization. It includes the mechanisms required to balance the powers of the members (with the associated accountability), and their primary duty of enhancing the prosperity and viability of the organization.” One of the more popular definitions of information governance is, courtesy of Wikipedia: “Information Governance, or IG, is the set of multi-disciplinary structures, policies, procedures, processes and controls implemented to manage information at an enterprise level, supporting an organization’s immediate and future regulatory, legal, risk, environmental and operational requirements.” If you are a medium to large sized organization, all of the above are applicable; it might be not as complex as is the case for international corporations, but enough to give you grief while trying to figure it all out.



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IG is managing information where required, to take the way your organization works into account. This could include: 1. L egislation and directives that are applicable in your line of business (OECD regulations, local fiscal laws, IFRS); 2. Security and authorization; 3. Documents and records; 4. L ifecycle management (How long does your company keep its records? How and where? Who can access them? Who can create and manage files?); and 5. C ompliance and risk management (ensuring due diligence as well as managing risk for your organization).

So the question is: Do I need IG in my organization and if yes, how do I go about it? The short answer is: probably, yes. As for how to go about it, there is no short or simple answer. What you can do however, is use the following points as a guideline for assessing whether or not you should start considering an IG strategy or revamping your existing IG strategy.

Know your Relevant Information Not all information acquired within your organization is relevant or is equally valuable, so why treat all of the information in your

organization the same way? Make an inventory of all the types of documents and data your enterprise receives and creates and assign a value. Only those that have value for your operation need to be managed. Those you have identified as having little to no value, you can dispose of immediately.

Risk Management: Identify Your Weak Links Every organization has weak links when assessing internal organization. Sometimes, it has to do with quantity: some types of information (data & documents) are received or sent in overwhelmingly large quantities. There might also be a process, primary or secondary, which consumes every available resource as it goes along. The weak link might also pertain to establishing or securing the authenticity of records & information (physical or digital), which can lead to faulty decision-making processes or even legal issues. Whatever the case might be, once you have established what your weakest link is, you have identified your starting point for setting up IG.

your applications and systems to ensure that you are not only compliant and accurate, but also that your information is secure at all times.

Security and Breach Issues One of the most important questions to ask is not whether your security will be breached, but when. In other words, hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. Aside from setting up appropriate security and authorization policies within your organization pertaining to your physical as well as digital information environments, you need to have a plan. The plan must guide you through a security breach: when it happens, what do you do? How do you do it and with whom? Every organization faces different kinds of threats; you must asses your own organization’s specific vulnerabilities and set up a plan accordingly. Do you have sensitive documents lying around on printers in the hallways or on desks? Can anybody gain entry to your physical archives spaces? How accessible is your network and its applications? What is the first thing you will do when a breach has been detected? Are you insured? Those are some of the important questions that you can ask yourself.

Storage and Retrieval Issues If your organization is experiencing any kind of issue with either storing or retrieving information, be it not enough digital or physical space, difficulties retrieving correct information (in a timely manner), or losing information, then you should do something about managing your information. If this happens to be your weakest link, this means your IG plan needs to start with setting up proper information management. Where to start depends on your specific issue: if it’s storage, then it probably starts with identifying relevant information and setting up procedures and policies to remove irrelevant information and develop retention schedules for information that is relevant. If your issues are linked to retrieval, it points towards the way you might be storing your information which makes it difficult to access it. This might mean you need a new way to manage your information, whether it is technological or procedural.

Legislation and Compliance Check This point is linked to the previous three: is your company in compliance with due diligence and legal policies? Will your organization be able to procure evidence that you have fulfilled your duties concerning corporate governance and transparency? Will your organization be able to prove that the documents and/or data, which you claim to be authentic, are in fact authentic? Is the information valid and up to date? Is it accurate? If your answer is no to any of the above, then you should start setting up proper proceduresto handle records and information, as well as looking at

Digital yet? If you are a paper centric organization, you might want to rethink why that is and ask yourself what you might be losing because of this; be it efficiency, money, service, control, or an opportunity. At the very least you might be losing your edge! Rethink and evaluate!.

ROI vs. WIWCY When trying to decide whether or not to implement a new system or strategy that requires a substantial initial or long-term investment, you need to calculate your return on investment, ROI. This means you measure and assign a monetary value to the new system, which you can compare to the initial investment. A very sound method all around, because who wants to lose money? However, depending on where you are at within your organization, you might not be able to afford to not invest in IG or at least some aspects of it, to strengthen your weakest link for example. In other words, you need to calculate your, “what it will cost you” (WIWCY) would be, if you don’t invest! It could be legal proceedings, clients, new business or accounts, regulatory fines or maybe even your reputation. The first step is admitting you need help! It is very common to feel either overwhelmed or even in denial about your issues concerning Information Governance. The best place to start is to admit that you need help and get profes-

Getting People on Board: 1. Talk to them about the plan 2. Communicate your message 3. Leverage their knowledge and experience

sional help! A knowledgeable and experienced professional will be able to get you started and guide you along in the right direction. Either by identifying your main issues, setting up a plan for addressing your main concerns, or implementing your ideas and converting these to long term viable strategies, a professional might be the right person to get in touch with. The most important thing is finding the right fit: an Information Governance strategy custom made for your organization! Last but certainly not least, the human factor: your colleagues or employees. Even if you have a top of the line, accredited technology and systems in place, if qualified and dedicated personnel do not cooperate with your IG plan, it won’t succeed. You will still experience the same issues or you will have a whole new set of issues, not to mention capital that it will cost you over and over again. It can be really simple to get your people on board. Firstly, you need to communicate what the plan is and how it will be reshaping the organization. Use the company Happy Hour or outing and take half an hour to explain. Secondly, keep communicating your message no matter how often you have to do it. Once is never enough! Thirdly, leverage their experience and knowledge, your colleagues will have invaluable insight and input for implementing your chosen strategy, after all they are the ones responsible for the daily output of your organization. Welcome anybody who wants to take an active part in your setting up your IG strategy and implementation.

Common Business Sense It might seem, even after establishing that you have one, two, or even more of the issues mentioned in this article, that implementing an IG strategy, even if only partially, is quite the endeavor. Just remember: IG is just like everything else in business: use your common business sense to bring order to chaos. In other words, you should only do that which either benefits your overall business health or eliminate factors that (could) have a damaging effect on your business overall. That said, IG can be the solution to many of your business’s challenges, especially if implemented correctly!


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Book Review

Irresistible Persuasion: The Secret Way To Get To Yes Every Time REVIEWED BY KATY BRANUM

I first came across this book, when tasked to manage a sales team in a small but ambitious business. However, I discovered that Burch provides a fantastic checklist to ensure that your whole business is presenting professionally to existing customers and prospective customers alike. This book also includes important tips for your sales team on how to engage effectively. Burch provides valuable tips for both the new intern to the sales team as well as the seasoned professional. Burch is a leading authority on sales, customers, leadership and change. He was recently voted ‘Business Communicator of the Year’ by the UK Speechwriters’ Guild. He frequently contributes to, and presents on TV and radio, helping small businesses survive and thrive. It is therefore not surprising that some of the concepts in this book go beyond your sales and marketing team, and provides solid advice for all managers and directors. It also includes a business concept that is close to my heart, which is, “always look for the win/win” as this is the basis for all good business; a concept that is often overlooked in Curaçao. Another key insight is that “you cannot plan a journey if you have no idea where you are

going.” While this may seem like a strange statement, in essence, it is something that is unintentionally ignored by business owners as they get tied up with day-to-day tasks. Often, business owners tend to focus on the operational parts of the business rather than a longterm vision for their company. It is vital that as a business owner, you have identified your long-term vision and have developed a plan to accomplish these goals. Doing this will allow you to focus and measure what is important and what is not. You will be surprised how easy your day will become once your longterm goals are clear. Connected to this, is the next great piece of advice, “pick a target and make a list of things that stand between you and victory.” This is fairly straightforward, and a good exercise to do once the previous insight is clarified. The next suggestion is a natural follow-up step: “if you get an opportunity, don’t waste it – make sure you know exactly how you’re going to use it.” You can clearly see how each of these tips link together to really get you and your business humming.

This is really about two aspects of people management. Firstly, people can be unexpectedly wonderful, if their energies are focused positively and in the right direction, often spending the time clearly explaining to them what we want them to do will greatly help here. Secondly, it is important to remember that no one is born with a bad attitude but that it is a behavior that they consciously choose for themselves. These are issues that can be tackled with a human resources team, once the previous steps are clarified, to make sure that everyone pulling in the right direction. The final thought that I will leave you with is about prospecting, because sales are core to business success. Remember, “no one is ever, very, very interested.” This is so key, as it quickly identifies who, in your sales funnel, is a validated prospect and where there is more work for your sales team to do. There are many more gems in this book, so I highly recommend reading it. It’s absolutely full of business wisdom.

Another key piece of advice is about your people, and the question is asked, “Have you Ambassadors or Assassins working for you?”


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Before attracting investment: 1. Study the island 2. Understand the culture 3. Find a niche within an industry 4. Focus on filling that specific need

Building Your Business and Attracting Foreign Investment

The Story of 8 In many ways, Curaçao is a perfect place for entrepreneurs. Many would say that there are so many opportunities here just waiting to be seized. For many foreign, local, or returning entrepreneurs, Curaçao is a place where their dreams start becoming reality, after a lot of hard work, time and dedication. There is a melting pot of people to work with, a multilingual community, a steadily growing stream of tourists, and plenty holes in the market that need to be filled. TEXT BY NEELAM MELWANI

Needless to say, like any country, there are also challenges involved in this, some that could hinder the success of a start-up or could scare away foreign investment, which might be key in building your business, given the small numbers on the island. To learn more about how to go about making your start-up dream a reality, and attracting the right kind of foreign investment, CBM interviewed Ms. Kimberly de Freitas, an American entrepreneur whose personal life brought her to Curaçao, where she is now director of 8, a local spa based in Coral Estates, on the west end of the island.

“Simply put, we want to be an exceptional member of this community that we are so proud to be a part of.”

nesses are very much based on working with the people you know, and the people you know will deliver. As an American, de Freitas acknowledged that she had taken one of the biggest risks of her life moving to Curaçao, but that she noticed very early on that Curaçao could be more than just a home for her future family; this could be the place where she started building her professional dreams. Very soon after moving here, de Freitas started a small salon on the second floor of what was mostly an empty shopping mall. Through hear-say, her clientele grew, and she noticed that there was a demand for the services she offered and the work she was doing. Although she started small, her dreams were much bigger. De Freitas claims that her American heritage is part of what inspired her to achieve her dreams.

Making your dream a reality For foreign investors, coming to an island of only 444 square kilometers with a population of 154,000 can be a culture shock. It is always surprising how everyone knows everyone, and how busi-



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Dedication and Attracting Investment One of the largest challenges facing start-ups in Curaçao today is the lack of numbers. De Freitas noted, “We literally need more people!

With foreign investment at play, the island will be able to attract the numbers we need to seize opportunities. This island is built on entrepreneurship and unless the young movers and shakers of our future are fed with the resources they need, this business-minded culture might be at risk.”

“We never aim to meet expectations because we want to consistently exceed them.”

According to de Freitas, the most important thing with regard to attracting foreign investment is the link between preparation and opportunity. Before looking for investment (both locally and internationally), there is much work to be done to ensure that an idea is possible and plausible: study the island, understand the culture, and find a niche within an industry. When the time comes to sit down with investors, an entrepreneur need to be sure that the investors buy into their dream. “I had to provide them with a vision, a plan, a budget and the confidence that I could build a successful company. Most importantly, they wanted to make sure I would put my ‘all’ into this project. I knew then that if I wanted my business to be a success, my answer had to be yes.” In the end, it is the amount of time, energy, conviction and dedication you are willing to put into to your company’s future that will determine its success.

She claims that the success of a company is far more than simply the sum of its parts; it’s about a mentality: “We never aim to meet expectations because we want to consistently exceed them.” De Freitas notes that a successful business needs to have a clear vision as to what it wishes to achieve, and that doing business is as important as the passion that goes into it. In addition, de Freitas noted how important it is for a business to integrate into the community – it’s not about just being a business in Curaçao, it’s about playing a social role in Curaçao as well. For this reason, 8 organized “Celebrating Strength,” a two-sided event that focused on firstly, raising money for the local cancer foundations, Prinses Wilhemina Fonds and Sinta Ros, and secondly, on providing 15 women who were affected by breast cancer with a day at the spa. “Simply put, we want to be an exceptional member of this community that we are so proud to be a part of,” claims de Freitas.

Using Diversity to give your Business a Boost

was one of the most exciting things about doing business in Curaçao –the possibility to lead such a culturally diverse group of people,” said de Freitas. One of the things she has learned in the process is how to use cultural diversity as an advantage: use the cultural ideas around you to build bridges and strengthen your business ideas. Curaçao is a unique melting pot of people, cultures and languages, and there is so much to be learned every step of the way. Overall, de Freitas was very pleased with the number of opportunities to do business in Curaçao and hopes that information can become more readily available, particularly the necessary information to build a start-up. Curaçao is a place for entrepreneurs, both local and international, and as we continue to foster a business friendly environment, look for ways to boost our economy, invest in our education and youth, and build solid private-public partnerships, the future is bright for entrepreneurs and foreign investors, alike!

Despite Curaçao’s small size, there are over 100 different nationalities living here together. “This

“The American Dream, and the promise that it carries with it, opportunity is ours for the taking, will continue to be the driver for any success I may have. It is what led me to the opportunity of bringing the ‘8’ Experience to the island.”

Seeing as Curaçao is challenged with numbers, it is always important to think bigger than Curaçao. This is a small place where opportunities are born and nurtured, but when looking to attract foreign investment it is very important to have a global mindset – know what is most important to your audience and how to deliver just that. Remember that most investors are looking for a long term plan: not a one year strategy but a five or even ten year plan.

Thinking Out of the Box De Freitas indicated how one of the most important parts of building her business was looking at finding a creative way to differentiate her business from other similar businesses on the island. She explained that the mission of the spa is so much more than providing excellent spa services.


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CHATA Sustainability Conference On 25 November 2015, the Curaçao Hospitality and Tourism Association (CHATA) organized a conference on the topic of sustainability, with the aim of creating awareness among key stakeholders on the importance of mitigating and preventing the adverse effects of development on the environment through utilizing an integrated approach to development. TEXT BY NEELAM MELWANI

The conference was free of charge and attended by a variety of stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as stakeholders from the international community. Fabien Cousteau, world-renowned oceanographer and grandson of the late oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau, opened the event with an impressive keynote address on the importance of ocean exploration, and the work being done in Curaçao with the Deep Reef Observation Project. He then shared his experience as an ocean explorer and his con-

cerns with regards to the future of man’s most important resource: water. The following speaker, former Prime Minister and current head of Fundashon TAS, Don Martina, highlighted the importance of integrated water resource management policy (IWRM), and the benefits of learning how to sustainably harvest water for people, food, nature and industrial growth. Fundashon TAS regularly works with cross-sectorial partners to provide support for IWRM. Thereafter, TUI Care Foundation and

Greenforce launched a joint-recycling initiative on the island, providing new trash disposal and recycling bins to hotels across the island. Waste management is imperative in moving forward and developing Curaçao – and projects like Greenforce are positive forces for changing the mentality of people on the island. The ‘reduce, reuse, recycle,’ mentality is something that both partners agreed needs to be built in Curaçao, and investing in bins at busy hotels is only the first step. The partners have bright dreams for Curaçao’s future. The WAITT Institute’s local representative for the Blue Halo Initiative (‘Oura Blou’), Gisette Seferina, spoke next, providing insight into the plans for appropriate ocean zoning in Curaçao through collaboration and the support of the WAITT Institute. Currently in its initial research phase, the WAITT institute hopes to develop an agreed upon strategy for water management and ocean zoning, while promoting sustainable development, and building the necessary skills for the public moving forward. Lastly, PRIVA’s managing director, Jan Westra, concluded the conference with a presentation on sustainable agricultural solutions and the use of technology. He highlighted the importance of urban farming initiatives and equipping farmers with the adequate resources and knowledge to continue to sustainably and efficiently produce crops for Curaçao. Overall, the event was very informative, showing all the ways that Curaçao is on the path towards sustainable economic and social development. While most of these ideas are still in their early stages, there is wide support from both the public and private sectors for positive initiatives like these.



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