The “Curaçao Smart and Sustainable” conference was held on November 20, 2018, at the Auditorium of the University of Curaçao (“UoC”). The event was organized by the third year students of the faculty of Engineering. Their main goal was to share knowledge and get inspired by local entrepreneurs. As well as educating the participants on the advantages of becoming a sustainable island.
The event started with a Q&A session where several entrepreneurs participated including Vicky Trinidad from Trinidad Consultancy, Alex van Sprang from Curaçao AgroTech, Sander van Beusekom from BLEND Creative Imaging, Maharo Isenia from Stulimesa.com and Boudino de Jong from Profound Projects. They shared their background, the challenges they encounter as entrepreneurs, how they continue to strive as entrepreneurs and their views on sustainability. One factor that was mentioned by one of the entrepreneurs is the importance of financial literacy. He shared his story of how financial literacy changed his perspective when looking at business models.
Monique Raphaela from Curaçao Innovation & Technology Institute presented all the available platforms for entrepreneurs to help them start their journey as business owners. The first level is the Kickstart Curaçao platform where people can brainstorm their innovative ideas. The next level is the “Startup Launchpad” which is a program that prepares startups to pitch their ideas locally as well as internationally. City also has several platforms that support startups including Curaçao Innovation Award, FABLABCuraçao, ecommerce.cw and the Tech Hour initiative. Also, a startup ecosystem which includes several organizations from the public and private sector was presented and can be seen on the below picture.
Up next, Benjamin Visser from SamYama Consultancy, guest lecturer at the UoC, discussed technology, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. He focused on the definition of sustainability, the U.N. results on climate change, the need for a low-carbon society and the opportunities for entrepreneurs including the use of blockchain for eco-friendly sustainable product and services, the implementation of a circular economy or a sharing economy, the implementation of timebank or volunteer economy and the implementation of permaculture. There are sufficient unexplored business models in Curaçao which are opportunities for entrepreneurs.
John Amarica from Selikor NV, Chairman of BPM Curacao, discussed sustainability as a great business opportunity by improving the health and well-being of employees, reduce the environmental impact of the business as well as generating income. In order to become a sustainable island, we need to move from a linear economy into a circular economy. Selikor is recycling demolition waste into new construction material. Many people don’t know that Selikor collects waste like concrete and asphalt for free. There is no need to bring these to the landfill or dumping them in the Mondi, you can deliver them to Selikor for free. Selikor recycles the waste into new construction material that is used to build homes and building. For companies that are interested in becoming sustainable Bedrijven Platform Milieu (“BPM”) Curaçao is able to help the companies reach their sustainability goals.
The event finalized with a short Q&A session.
We were happy to see the enthusiasm and interest of the students to become entrepreneurs. Congratulations to the organizing team!
Sustainability, Green Economy, New Economy, however, you wanna call it has a lot of business opportunities for local entrepreneurs. On a global scale, there is much interest by angel investors and the Worl Bank to support initiatives that will contribute to a healthier green environment. Today digitalization allows you to easily enter the international market. But like one of the entrepreneurs mentioned financial literacy is very important for a business owner. At the DCSX, we are aware of this fact and we are working together with the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten and Vertex Investments to create a financial education program for business owners, professionals, and students.