Transforming Local BusinessesOctober 18, 2019
Marowijne is a district of Suriname, located on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on the north-east coast. A boom in mining significantly enriched the entire country in the early 20th century, thanks to bauxite, which was discovered in Marowijne. The district has a large tourism industry and many oceanfront resorts. Marowijne is also home to many Maroon palenques – descendants of slaves who escaped from Dutch plantations centuries ago.
The Pater Ahlbririck Stichting (PAS) is a foundation that aims to strengthen the social and cultural well-being of inhabitants of communities in the interior of Suriname – ethnic groups like the palenques who have long been marginalized politically and economically – as well as promote women’s participation in economic activities.
CESO partnered with PAS to enhance the overall sustainability of the organization, specifically through support of their acai production. Acai is a small, dark purple berry that is native to Suriname, Brazil and Peru. Known for its health benefits and antioxidant properties, the Surinamese name for this berry is podosiri.
CESO and PAS worked together by engaging in a joint venture with the acai farmers and producers to enhance their productivity, create jobs and secure more income for acai processors and farmers. They also explored the possibilities of processing the acai into new marketable products. CESO VAs provided several recommendations and business practices to improve the quality of the product, introduce health standards and to improve hygiene in the production plant.
Some of the more notable changes include modifications in business practices, such as a more rigorous product selection criteria for suppliers, and improved strategic planning skills such as the development of a new strategy for transporting products. They are also now using newer and better equipment, implementing stricter health and hygiene practices, and improving quality control by introducing a consistent recipe for all products.
The organization has succeeded at increasing overall production by producing their own acai berries, and by diversifying their suppliers to avoid dependency on a single source. They also expanded their product line to include two different types of jams.
As a result of these changes, the client is much more motivated and there has also been a positive change in the staff’s attitude. The board of directors is much more actively involved in activities. CESO VAs trained nine women in product improvement, and four women were hired on an on-demand basis. These women also increased their understanding of business investments and are now more capable of accessing financing and markets.