Suriname - 10 March, 2022
From March 3rd until March 10th 2022, 18 Saamaka Maroons from the Upper Suriname resort, Sipaliwini district, were trained in Sales & Marketing.
The trainees from the villages of Nieuw Aurora, Grantatai and Pikin Slee, have united per village. The agro-cooperatives from Grantatai and New Aurora, respectively: Wa Ta Wei (meaning: we do not get tired) and I Sa Goo (meaning: we will progress) were founded on 3 March. The Hatti Wai agro-cooperative (meaning: working with the heart) was founded in 2019.
The training was part of the Working Landscapes program that promotes good management of community forests and agroforestry systems among Saamaka villages in the Upper Suriname River area. The trainer was Mr. Leeroy Jack, MBA, who has extensive experience in community development. Through knowledge transfer, the target group has access to a wide range of agroforestry and non-timber forest products.
The group has been able to broaden their insights to give substance to their business plans. The components of the training were:
- Basic Accounting
- Payment and income receipts
- Cost calculation
- Cash Flow Statement and Estimating, Components of Profitability,
- Establishing profitability
- Introduction to businesses
The Cooperative bank GODO, which promotes entrepreneurship from its unit for MSMEs (Medium and Small Enterprises), gave a presentation on credit options. Ten participants have opened a giro account on the spot, bringing them closer to the possibility of approving a microcredit application for executing their business plan.
Photo1: GODO bank clerk sharing information with participants who opened giro accounts
Orientation through Company Visits
An interactive part of the program were visits to the following companies: Joab Soap factory, Rising Sun Winery, Ketmien & CO, BDC Saamaka and Mokisa Busidataa Osu.
Joab Aboikonie of Joab Soap factory narrated enthusiastically about the history and motivation behind the soap company. The participants were especially impressed by the different raw materials used for soap production, which occur in their habitat, such as Amana (Astrocaryum sp.) oil from Upper Suriname, which is used in skin care products.
Photo 2: A participant of Grantatai receiving answers about the benefits of herbal soaps
When visiting Rising Sun Winery, Benito Amania shared inspiration about the start of the company that produces wine from fruits and non-timber forest products such as the 'Dulu Dulu' vine. Mr. Amania also shared the hurdles he and his wife, who is also his business partner, had to overcome. A surprise for the participants was that his mother comes from the village of Pikin Slee, while he grew up in Paramaribo. Since he is proficient in Saamaka, it was convenient to speak to the people in their native language
Photo 3: A collection of herbal infused wines from Rising Sun winery
On day 7 of the training, the participants visited Ketmien & Co, Suriname’s largest distributor of local cosmetics. An entrepreneur who has been supplying her cosmetic products to Ketmien & Co since 2018, is Consuela Cindy Maai under the company name BDC Saamaka. Consuela Maai's roots lie in the village of Grantatai.
Photo 4: Cindy Maai presenting her product line
She shared her success story about the collaboration with Ketmien & Co, the obstacles she had to overcome and encouraged the participants to have the courage to get more out of NTFPs. She urged them to work on the quality of their raw materials and to be disciplined when it comes to marketing: "We may come from the same village or we may even be related, but business is business," says Cindy Maai.
Photo 5: Participants in the corner of ‘Authentic Su’ products
Photo 6: Participants in front of the Ketmien & Co company building
The last company visit was made to Mokisa Busidataa Osu (translation: healing house of the forest doctor). The participants were given a tour of the facilities followed by an inspiring speech from the owner about the initiative behind the company idea to offer traditional knowledge, medicine and products from the maroon culture as quality services.
Photo 8: Herbal tea, detox herbs and oil from Noni (Morinda citrifolia) roots
Photo 9: A look in the traditional massage area of Mokisa Busidataa
At the Tropenbos Suriname office, the training was concluded with a presentation by Ketmien & Co on the quality requirements and standards for labeling local raw materials and end products. During the presentation by Ketmien & Co, various options for supplying raw materials obtained from NTFPs to the visited companies were discussed. Ketmien & Co is known for promoting the 'Authentic Su' trademark as an incentive for high-quality Surinamese products.
Photo 10: A presentation on labeling by Ketmien & Co employee Mr. ‘Nootje’
Photo 11: The ‘Authentic Su’ custom made brand bag
The introduction to local products (food - non-food, cosmetics, and oils) made from forest fruits, medicinal plants and ornamental plants (NTFPs) broadened the trainees' insights. The development of outlets can make a good contribution to the economic development of the villages, but also reduce vulnerability to climate change. This offers the target group an extra handle to earn money throughout the year.
On March 11 the participants returned to their three villages in the Upper Suriname area, fully 'inspired'.