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Qredits is offering 2% microloans to new and existing entrepreneurs

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Qredits is now providing microloans to entrepreneurs on St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, with an interest rate of only 2%.  The Qredits office, located in Miss Lalie Commercial Center, is ready to assists entrepreneurs with microloans up to $25.000, personal mentoring and business development tools.

2% loans for entrepreneurs

With the help of the Dutch Recovery Fund, Qredits is now able to provide loans with a low-interest rate of just 2%. On top of that, once the loan is approved, will only pay back the interest rate for the year, not the loan. This means that the first year applicants’ monthly fees will not exceed $50.

“This gives persons a chance to rebuild or start a new venture during these difficult times,” says loan officer Mariah Constant, Qredits Sint Maarten. “Qredits wants to help aspiring and existing entrepreneurs that have a sound business plan but cannot get a loan or mentoring through regular channels,” she adds.

Rebuilding with Qredits

Qredits is a private foundation, which started on 1 January 2009 by a group of public and private partners. Qredits' vision was to build a strong and independent entrepreneurship culture in the Netherlands by providing financing, mentoring and tools for micro-entrepreneurs that have a viable business plan, yet are unable to obtain credit facilities from conventional lending institutions.

As the success of Qredits grew, the foundation also wanted to share its knowledge and experience to foster entrepreneurship in the Dutch Caribbean. In 2015 Qredits opened its first Caribbean branch office in Bonaire.

On September 1st, 2017, Qredits opened their doors on Sint Maarten. Hurricane Irma, devastated the island shortly after. Due to this, Qredits not only is in the position to help new entrepreneurs who want to start a business but also existing businesses that need a boost to rebuild.

Easy application process

Any persons who are legally registered and/or can legally operate a business on Sint Maarten, Saba or St. Eustatius can apply for a microloan via Qredits. An applicant can be someone who has been working for 30 years or someone who does not have any work experience; someone who is unemployed or who previously had a business of their own; someone who is well off or someone who does not have any savings.

Constant and her colleagues encourage persons take a look at the http://stmaarten-en.qredits.com or their Facebook page for more information. Applying for a loan can be easily done online, through the website. “There is a procedure that everyone has to follow to get approved. It is easy and we will help you through it, step by step,” explains Constant.

Interested persons will meet with a Qredits officer, whom will assess their business and financial plan. Qredits also offers educational material and coaching to create a proper business and financial plan. Depending on these plans, that proper paperwork is in place, and the personal commitment the applicant exudes, Qredits will assess the applicants’ loan-request.

Workshops and coaching

Qredits is also planning to hold regular workshops to aid entrepreneurs in growing their business. Some workshops that are in the works include information sessions about Qredits and entrepreneurship, marketing skills and other business development techniques that Qredits noticed a demand for.

Another important aspect of Qredits is that they aim to create a ‘coaching pool’. All branches of Qredits have a group of mentors whom have an affinity with entrepreneurship and want to voluntarily use their knowledge and experience to help others with their business. As this voluntary group grows, Qredits will link them to entrepreneurs who can benefit from their guidance.

Entrepreneurs can apply now

Qredits would like to invite entrepreneurs to take advantage of the low 2% interest rate they are offering. Whether you are an existing or new business you might be able to benefit from any of Qredits services such as microloans up to $25.000, personal mentoring and business development tools.

Qredits St. Maarten, Saba & St. Eustatius is located at Miss Lalie Commercial Center. Check out more information on Qredits Facebook page ‘qredits st. maarten - st. eustatius - saba. Eustatius, Saba’ or http://stmaarten-en.qredits.com. For further questions contact Qredits at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +1-721-587-3427.

Qredits is part of the early recovery projects financed by the Dutch Reconstruction Fund for Sint Maarten, under the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. For the early recovery phase, a total of 7 million euros in total has been made available for all participating projects that have a direct impact on the population of Sint Maarten.

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SXM Airport Stresses Island and Hub Partners Are Open for Business at Routes Americas in Ecuador

SINT MAARTEN/ECUADOR - “Still Connecting the Caribbean to the Globe,” is the theme of the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, at the 11th Annual Routes Americas conference which is being held in Quito, Ecuador, from February 13 – 15, 2018.

Meanwhile, the associated tag line is “SXM Strong - Rebuilding Our Nation.” Both themes appear vividly on the exhibition booth, which is strategically located at the heart of the Routes Americas exhibition hall.

The event will allow the SXM Airport team to network with international senior airline decision makers. It also offers the opportunity for SXM Airport to build high-value relationships with some of the most influential aviation professionals across the region.

The SXM Airport delegation is led by Michel Hyman, Chief Operations Officer (COO), Some 650 delegates are attending the conference including representatives of 147 airports.

The SXM Airport delegation has confirmed a total of 14 key meeting sessions. The delegation is set to meet with Southwest Airlines, Eurowings, Suriname Airways and Air Canada amongst many of the legacy carriers.

The initial meeting sessions included a meet up with representatives of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The IATA representatives were briefed on the reconstruction process and discussed how IATA can assist with the reviving of the airport.

Another agenda point was the Caribbean Aviation Day which is set to be hosted in Barbados in June 2018. “The vital task at hand is to attract new air lift and service recovery to St. Maarten, while driving home the message that although we are in the midst of our recovery phase, we are actually open for business,” said Hyman.

“Additionally,’ he continued, “our hub partners were affected minimally by the recent hurricanes and are therefore, even more so ready to reap the rewards of the potential partnerships.”

Though eager to bring home great partnership deals with the potential airlines, the delegation remained honest and open with information of the local hotel room inventory as shared by SHTA and target dates of the reconstruction process of the terminal building.

PHOTO: Michel Hyman, SXM Airport COO (File photo)

SXM Airport Michel Hyman COO Act CEO

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Dutch jobs market is starting to overheat for first time since crisis

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – There are so few candidates for every job vacancy in the Netherlands that there is talk of an ‘overheated labour market’ for the first time since the 2008 crisis, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday.

In its report on the final quarter of 2017, the CBS said that at the end of last year there were fewer than two (1.8) job seekers for every vacancy. Job numbers increased by 57,000 in the fourth quarter while vacancies were only 14,000 higher.

The number of people without work declined by 29,000 the CBS said. Last month, the state job centre UWV warned that the building, IT, transport and logistics sectors faced the largest shortages of staff.

A full 60% of companies in the building sector are expecting problems in filling jobs this year. But despite the shortage of job candidates, wages are not expected to rise very much, Peter Hein van Mulligen, chief economist at the CBS told the Financieele Dagblad.

Nevertheless the CBS figures are good news for job seekers. Van Mulligen said those having jobs stood a good chance of improving their position through more attractive work or increased hours.

The number of jobs in the Netherlands has risen steadily for the past four years and now stands at 8.2 million, the highest since the crisis but still 10% lower than the all-time high in 2008.

Of the 500,000 jobs created in recent years, half are temporary, a sector which now accounts for 10% of total job numbers. (DutchNews)

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Prime minister survives no confidence vote, says lie is not a deadly sin

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Prime Minister Mark Rutte survived a no confidence vote on Tuesday evening over his handling of the Halbe Zijlstra affair. Zijlstra stood down as foreign minister earlier in the day after admitting he lied about a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Rutte told MPs during an emotional gathering that he had under-estimated the impact of Zijlstra’s lie and had thought he could continue in the job because he had a good explanation.

‘I thought it was a sin, but not a deadly sin,’ Rutte said. He confirmed that Zijlstra had told him about the lie two weeks previously, after the foreign minister was contacted by the Volkskrant who wanted an interview.

The delay was due to Zijlstra’s busy diary and the fact he was ill for a time, Rutte said. ‘There was no deliberate attempt to delay, but it would have been better if done sooner,’ Rutte told MPs.

Explosive

Opposition MPs said they did not believe Rutte had so under-estimated the situation and said they could not imagine that the prime minister had not discussed such an explosive situation with others.

‘There is a real lack of leadership,’ said Forum voor Democratie’sThierry Baudet. ‘How can the prime minister have wanted to keep Zijlstra on as foreign minister?’ Tunakan Kuzu, leader of Denk, said during the debate.

‘The reputation of our country has taken an enormous international hit’. Rutte survived the no-confidence vote by 43 votes to 101. The Socialists, PVV, Denk, pro-animal PvdD, Fvd and 50Plus all backed the motion. (DutchNews)

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Dutchman takes world’s best baker title for his wow factor bread

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A baker from Barendrecht has won the title of Master of Bakery at the European world championships in Paris, in the category ‘nutritional bread making’.

Peter Bienefelt, who owns the Atelier du Pain bakery in the Rotterdam suburb, says he trained like a top athlete to win the competition, including taking on a mental coach.

The competition included baking bread with the ‘wow’ factor, for which Bienefelt used purified Oosterschelde sea water, algae, squid ink, currents and olives. ‘The bread had a very low percentage of salt,’ he told website Bakkerswereld.nl.

‘That is totally in.’ Bienefelt had to see off the best bakers from Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and Turkey to win the prize but says time was his biggest enemy. ‘I did take time to eat and drink… imagine you had to go to the restroom,’ he said.

‘You got five penalty points for every extra five minutes. And you cannot afford that at this level.’ (DutchNews)

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Zijlstra admits faking story about Putin’s ‘greater Russia’ ambitions

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Foreign affairs minister Halbe Zijlstra has admitted lying about being at a meeting where Vladimir Putin supposedly set out his plans for a ‘Greater Russia’.

Zijlstra claimed that he had overheard the Russian president talking about his expansionist ambitions during a gathering of businesspeople at Putin’s dacha in 2006. At the time Zijlstra was working for Shell.

But in an interview in the Volkskrant at the weekend he admitted that he had not been at the meeting, but ‘borrowed’ the anecdote from someone whose identity he wanted to protect.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Zijlstra’s decision was ‘not sensible’, but he would not be seeking Zijlstra’s resignation. Zijlstra and Rutte are colleagues in the right-wing Liberal (VVD) party.

‘I made the decision that this is an important geopolitical story with serious implications,’ Zijlstra said. ‘I attributed the story to myself to make sure that the revelations weren’t about the person who was actually there.

Because that could have had implications for him or his company.’ Rutte said it was ‘not a case of fake news, because he wanted to protect a source. I think he is credible because there is no dispute about the content of the story.’

In his original version of the story, Zijlstra claimed he had been a back room in the dacha when he heard Putin define ‘Greater Russia’ as ‘Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states,’ adding that ‘Kazakhstan was nice to have’.

Doubts about the veracity of the foreign minister’s claims came to light when former senior Shell executive Jeroen van der Veer told the Volkskrant that Zijlstra had not been at the meeting in 2006.

Zijlstra admitted he was not present but insisted that the substance of the story was true. ‘Was it sensible to protect my source in the manner that I did? No, it wasn’t. But the information is correct,’ he said.

He did not confirm whether Van der Veer was the source. The revelation comes at an awkward moment for Zijlstra, who is due to fly out to Moscow on Tuesday for his first official meeting with his Russian opposite number Sergey Lavrov.

Geert Wilders’s PVV party has called for a debate so the minister can explain his actions to parliament before he leaves. The VVD’s spin doctors used the anecdote in October to counter claims that Zijlstra lacked experience of international affairs when he took office. (DutchNews)

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Tourism Bureau and COSME program begins for Hospitality Assured Certification

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Tourism Bureau along with COSME, from February 12-16, is having a five-day training workshop for seven persons who will become Hospitality Assured Certified (HAC) as a Business Advisor when the course is over.

The HAC workshop is sponsored by the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and COSME, the European Union programme for Competitiveness of Enterprises, and Small and Medium Enterprises in the Overseas Countries and Territories.

The objective of the workshop is to provide the necessary training to equip participants with in-depth knowledge of the HAC program and sharpen their business advisory skills to enable them to provide technical assistance to tourism businesses, participating in the HAC Programme.

The workshop is being facilitated by Ms. Norma Shorey-Bryan, a Business Advisor, and assisted by Ms. Sharon Banfield-Bovell, a Tourism and Hospitality Trainer.

The participants will be evaluated based on their preparedness, demonstration of their knowledge about the tourism/hospitality industry, quality initiatives and business planning and development; as well as of their skills in coaching, communication and presentation.

The workshop and program promotes a culture of service and business excellence and was developed specifically for tourism and tourism-related businesses. More specifically, the training provides a framework for companies to look at their own operation from the customer perspective, the employee perspective and the organizational perspective to see where improvements should be made to enhance the customer experience and to strengthen overall business performance.

The ultimate and most beneficial aim is for these participants to provide the necessary training to equip participants with business advisory skills which will enable them to provide technical assistance to Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) which will be participating in the Hospitality Assured Certification Programme.

Tour training 2

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Be The Change distributes basic necessities to the communities for those still in need

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Sunday, February 11, 2018, was a busy day for Be The Change volunteers, the organization said in a press statement on Monday. “We were on the road with our bus, distributing items to families and individuals in our community. Many are still in need of basic necessities.

“We went to Belvedere, Middle Region, and Dutch Quarter. Be The Change had reached out on their Facebook page, asking for names of people who were in need. The response was overwhelming. We are sorry we could not get to everyone on the list but we will be distributing more items as supplies arrive.

“Please visit our Facebook page for any updates on our activities. https://www.facebook.com/BeTheChangeSXM/

“Be The Change would like to thank Sons and Daughters on Anguilla, in New Jersey, for their generous donation of personal and household items. Thanks to Lisa Richardson Hall of that organization, the shipment of goods to Anguilla also included items for St. Maarten. We are grateful.

“Thanks also to Nicole DeWeever and Art Saves Lives for their donation of the bags, and to Waldo Richardson for his donation of the bus for the day. Special thanks to Tyrone Yates and the Be The Change team and volunteers for all their hard work.”

BTC bus

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Yellow Building set for demolition on February 19th

POND ISLAND - The Yellow Building that once housed the Ministry of VROMI and the CIB Department before the passing of Hurricane Irma is now set for demolition on February 19th 2018.

The Minister of VROMI Miklos Giterson has secured the commitment of the owners of the Yellow Building.

Minister Giterson hopes that this announcement will bring clarity to persons who may have thought that the Government of Sint Maarten are the owners of the Yellow Building and were not proactive in removing the damaged structure.

Persons that are passing or residing in the vicinity of the building are asked to be vigilant and cautious to ensure safety during the period of demolition.  

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TelEm Group Pond Island building open to public Monday

POND ISLAND – TelEm Group management called its workers back to their main building on Pond Island, Monday, following last week’s emergency closure due to raging fires on the dumpsite nearby.

Many members of staff, especially Customer Service personnel, Technicians and engineers not affected by last week’s closure continued working throughout last week’s incident, however the majority of TelEm Group workers, located in the main building were unable to continue their daily duties because of the closure.

“Technically we could have called staff back to work on Friday, but we wanted to be extra cautious that the air in the building was as clear and as safe as it could be for personnel coming back to work and also for customers visiting the building,” said TelEm Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, Sunday.

He thanked members of staff who doubled up shifts at two other TelEm Group locations in Bush Road and Simpson Bay, so that customers, unable to do business in the main building, could continue to be served.

The CEO also praised the technical staff for continuing to provide service to the public and customers while an emergency situation existed at their home base that also houses work supplies.

“Even with the continuity of work by those mentioned above, we have had almost a week of lost business and productivity from this very unfortunate incident at the dump that was totally out of our control. We are all returning to our duties Monday with a lot of catching up to do,” added Mr. Dupersoy.

The CEO said that during the emergency situation the company’s Human Resources & Development Department was in continuous contact with personnel via their managers and supervisors who related messages directly to them as well as via the local and online media.

TelEm Group is meantime advising customers that they can continue to make payments at any of the TelEm Group locations and apologize to all customers for any inconvenience caused by last week’s main office closure.

PHOTO CUTLINE: TelEm Group’s technical staff did not allow last week’s fire on Pond Island to stop scheduled maintenance and repair works throughout the island.

TelEm technical2

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