These entrepreneurs want to go to Suriname, ‘country needs us’

The call to entrepreneurs with a Surinamese background to invest in the ailing country is not addressed to deaf ears. A number of entrepreneurs already have concrete plans to start a business in Suriname.

The new Surinamese Minister of Foreign Affairs is in the Netherlands, among other things to attract investments. It is the first time in ten years that a Surinamese minister is in the Netherlands again for official talks.

Lax business climate

But the economic and political climate made it difficult to build the company. Under Desi Bouterse, who was president from 2010 to last month, the relationship between the Netherlands and Surinam deteriorated. Bouterse drew more attention to Suriname’s neighboring countries and to China

The new government led by Chan Santokhi is now looking towards the Netherlands again and hopes to improve relations and trade relations. Suriname’s financial situation has deteriorated considerably in recent years. In four years time, the national debt has doubled to 2.5 billion euros, which is a large amount for the relatively small economy of Suriname.

The difficult relationship between the Netherlands and Surinam was an important reason why Cedar was previously unable to set up a business in Surinam. “In addition, the extremely changing exchange rate did not help.”

The currency has depreciated drastically in recent years and has been hyperinflationary. President Santokhi therefore wants to attract more foreign investors. Even before he became president, he regularly came to the Netherlands to talk to wealthy Dutch people with a Surinamese background. Santokhi also made a concrete plea last month for a special ‘diaspora fund’ to stimulate Surinamese from the Netherlands to invest in their motherland.

The hope the government has placed in entrepreneurs is mutual. With the new government the entrepreneurs hope that there will be more stability and room to invest. For example, faster and cheaper internet is important for companies in Suriname

Cedar hopes that entrepreneurs will no longer face major changes with every new cabinet in the future. “The government must work to create a climate in which entrepreneurs are not so exposed to government policy.”

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Although Cedar and Banks are both very optimistic about the future, there are also concerns. The corona crisis is hitting Suriname hard. It is also still awaiting the actual policy of the new president. “Every cabinet starts with the idea of breaking through the mistakes of the past, yet things have remained the same in the past”, says Ceder. “The government must therefore now continue.”