Monday, September 22, 2014

What really makes a firm competitive?

What really makes a firm competitive, thereby increasing its ability to survive, export or be viable partner to existing or potential partners? That is the topic of our upcoming seminar at the Central Bank of Curacao and St Maarten on October 2, 300-6pm. The seminar is part of Curacao Competes 2014, following the Global Competitiveness Study the company recently did. Tamira La Cruz will share the findings of the study, Guido Rojer Jr. will highlight how industry and universities can collaborate, while Marcos Cova will discuss if and how firms can work together (cluster) to increase their competitiveness.  The participation fee is ANG 145,--. Register here or contact us email

Like in other countries, in Curacao we also look at government to manage taxes, cost of doing business, and other issues well enough to make our country and our firms competitive. According to the World Economic Forum and based on its Global Competitiveness Report, the sophistication and innovation of firms is also important for competitiveness and productivity in the 21st century . 

Basically these indicators refer to the firms’ degree of market orientation, efficiency and professional management. Competitiveness and productivity are important because they allow firms to survive local and incoming competition, export and be viable partners to incoming foreign investors or international partners in general.

Curacao’s largest trading partners,  the US and the European Union, but also our competitors in the Caribbean have been investing heavily in these areas as a result of these insights.  The EU recently launched a euro 8 billion program for research in many areas that will increase the competitiveness of European firms and their countries. The Inter-American Development Bank, the UK and Canada are investing USD 40 million in Cariforum countries to increase their competitiveness. To continue to be a viable local partner for your existing or emerging international partner, firms must

Recently 82 professionals in Curacao, including many executive officers and captains of industry, assessed the business sophistication and innovation of local firms through the Global Competitiveness Study. Analysis shows that, not surprisingly, there is room for improvement. It’s not surprising because since local firms are unaware of the specific relevant indicators, they do not necessarily invest in them.

At the seminar Tamira La Cruz, CEO of MarkStra Caribbean, researcher and business strategist, will discuss relevant indicators and share the findings of the study for Curacao. Guido Rojer, Jr. of the University of Curacao, will highlight how industry and universities can collaborate, among others to increase the efficiency of firms and achieve better alignment, while Marcos Cova, entrepreneur and board member of several trade associations, will discuss how and if firms can collaborate (in clusters) to the benefit of all. The afternoon will be moderated by Stacey Rene.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Please take the Global Competitiveness Survey for Curacao

As you may know, MarkStra Caribbean is  conducting the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Survey for Curacao.

At this time we are in need of respondents from  the trade (wholesale and retail) and manufacturing sectors, to fulfill our quota.
We would very much appreciate it if you can would take the survey, either by:
b.      Contacting Tamira La Cruz at 767-3085 or  for a personal interview.
The survey takes 30 minutes, so it’s best to set some time free, for instance during lunch or on a slow day (Wednesday, Friday afternoon). You can save and come back to finish. The questions are quite eye-opening and make you think about the state of your own company and industry. It‘s anonymous. Someone else in your company/industry can also take the survey since it is the opinion of a professional that is important, not that of a company.

As a token of appreciation we will raffle a ANG250,- giftcard from Boolchand's ComputerWorld among completed surveys.

Your participation is much appreciated! More info about the GCI Index below.

About the Global Competitiveness Survey
The survey, done in 140 countries in the world since 1979, ranks the competitiveness of countries.  It covers areas such as: Innovation and Technology, Infrastructure, Financial Environment, Natural Environment, International Business and Investment, Education and Human Capital, General Company Strategy, Corruption, Ethics and Social Responsibility, Tourism and Health. Importantly, the questions bring to light aspects which we might not necessarily consider as  factors contributing to the competitiveness of nations and firms. 
Because of its small size, Curacao has never been included. But, MarkStra received permission to conduct the survey in Curacao independently, following the WEF’s methodology, on our own account. We have received good cooperation from the Chamber of Commerce, CHATA, ADECK, who have either sent our request to their members or mailing list or posted it on their website.
For more information on the Curacao survey, please visit our facebook page  Global Competitiveness Survey Curacao 2013,
This year’s Global Competitiveness Report is available at  Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014

Global Competitiveness Survey Curacao 2013-2014

Around the world competitiveness and innovation are increasingly important terms. As the world becomes more global, everyone in every country is competing against each other. In Curacao the awareness is also growing.  There have been several events about competitiveness and innovation. The flagship measurement of a country’s competitiveness is the World Economic Forum’s Global Competiveness Index. 

MarkStra Caribbean received permission to do the Global Competitiveness Survey in Curacao. While the results are practical for investors and policy makers, the questions also offer individual companies insight into competitiveness of their own firm and which areas to invest in for the future.

The process
The methodology asks for 90 participants. At this moment 70 professionals have participated. MarkStra is looking to recruit 20 more participants, especially among Manufacturing, Wholesale and Retail. If you are interested in the economy, globalism, competitiveness, innovation and strategy, please visit the Facebook page of  Global Competitiveness Survey Curacao 2013 and follow the link to the online survey. You can also contact Tamira La Cruz at 767-3085, for a personal interview
. Participants do not have to be the company owner or director. The focus is to get the opinion of professionals in each country regarding the factors that contribute to competitiveness in their country. 

MarkStra started the project in August with the help of UNA intern Yverna Hu-A-Ng. Says Ms. Hu –A-Ng: “The first thing we did was use data from CBS and Chamber of Commerce to get a good overview of the different sectors and number of businesses in each sector, so that we could draw a sample that is representative of the Curacaoan business landscape. We have received good cooperation from the Chamber of Commerce, CHATA and ADECK who posted the link on their  website or sent the request to their mailing list.  We also used MarkStra’s own database of more than 1,000 professionals. Of course, a 35 minute survey that asks questions one does not usually think of, can be daunting. That’s why we included an option where participants can save their work online and continue later. We know it takes a lot of time, so MarkStra will raffle a gift check of ANG 250 at Boolchand’s ComputerWorld as a sign of gratitude.’  

What’s in the survey
The survey covers areas such as: Innovation and Technology, Infrastructure, Financial Environment, Natural Environment, International Business and Investment, Education and Human Capital, General Company Strategy on a local scale, Corruption, Ethics and Social Responsibility, Tourism and Health. It is anonymous. The questions are thought-provoking and indicate what the factors for competitiveness are for companies and countries. For more information visit the Facebook page. Global Competitiveness Survey Curacao 2013.

Why this survey?

Says Tamira La Cruz, MBA, CEO of MarkStra : “My interest in the survey is trifold: professional, academic and nationalistic. MarkStra’s core business is to help companies grow their profit, revenue or following in an increasingly competitive global economy. We would like to know where the challenges are. In addition, I have written several academic articles on competitiveness and innovation in small states for local and regional publications. However, while the survey has been done for over 30 years, my country Curacao, was never included. That bothered me.  I was pleasantly surprised that, upon showing our credentials, the WEF immediately gave us permission to use their methodology and offered their support. We do it on our own cost, because WEF does not fund the survey in economies as small as ours. An initial round of fundraising locally did not yield enough support. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

MarkStra Caribbean and Legal@Your Services conduct the World Bank’s Doing Business Survey in Curacao

Often it is said that Curaçao lacks data, whether it is  to use as a basis for ‘selling’ Curaçao to investors, to compare us to competing countries or aid in economic policy-making. One of the premiere global tools to do so is The World Bank’s Doing Business Survey, now in its 11th edition. According to the World Bank, the Doing Business Survey ‘investigates regulations that enhance business activities and those that constrain it’. As such it is used by to assess, compare  and promote the ‘ease-of-doing business in 185 countries. Curacao is not included in the study because it is not an independent country. MarkStra Caribbean and Legal @ your services have taken the initiative to conduct the Doing Business Survey in Curacao following the World Bank methodology.

‘Same as done in other countries, we have experts in each field covered by the survey describe the procedure, time and cost . Afterwards, 2  or 3 colleagues, experts in the same fields will verify their work. I myself was the legal counsel for a large company, am a labor law expert by training and now work with a notary office. So I start some of the descriptions’. says Fleurella Olaria, attorney, CEO of Legal @ your services.  ‘The second step will be to calculate where Curacao ranks in the world ranking. Calculating rankings, comparing to competitors and recommending changes for improvement are things that MarkStra would typically do in its research and strategy practice’, adds Tamira La Cruz, MBA, CEO of MarkStra Caribbean.  

There are eleven (11) research topics, among others, starting a business, registering property, enforcing contracts, paying taxes and employing workers. Because it describes procedures, cost and timing, the Doing Business data also provides transparency and acts as an unambiguous guide to advisors to investors, investors themselves and other stakeholders. The summary of regulations in Curacao and abroad, and their effect on ease of doing business, will indicate to policy makers which regulations need to be changed and which changes are most likely to have significant effect on transparency and ease of doing business. The results will be presented later in the year by way of a seminar and a manual.  For more information, please Google our blog ‘Caribbean Research and Strategy by MarkStra Caribbean’ or visit MarkStra Caribbean on Facebook.

What are the business topics surveyed?
  1. Starting a business
  2. Dealing with construction permits
  3. Getting electricity 
  4. Registering property
  5. Getting credit 
  6. Protecting investors 
  7. Paying taxes 
  8. Trading across borders 
  9. Enforcing contracts 
  10. Resolving insolvency 9
  11. Employing Workers 

Who are the initiators?

Tamira La Cruz, MBA, CEO MarkStra Caribbean
  • Business economist, MBA , The Wharton School
  • From marketing to research strategy and innovation
  • International research  and strategy for global and local brands, industry leaders, as lead and subcontractor
  • Local and regional network in private enterprise and academia

mr. Fleurella Olaria, attorney, CEO Legal @ your Services
  • Dutch social economic law, University of Groningen
  • Legal Counsel Fatum Insurance
  • Independent legal consultant
  • Expert in insurance, business and notary law 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Delivery of MarkStra Solutions

Our solutions are delivered in a variety of ways, convenient for our clients whatever their needs or ROI constraints or wherever their geographical location.

  • Outsourced Chief Business Development or Chief Marketing Officer
  • In-person consultations
  • Teleconsulting
  • Tailored consultation and professional services
  • Industry reports
  • Articles
  • Training and Keynote speeches

Outsourced Chief Marketing or Chief Business Development Officer

Many businesses or not-for-profit organizations in small Caribbean states cannot afford or do not have the need for a full-time C-level Chief Business Development or Marketing Officer. Yet, they need a C-level expert to help them develop and guide implementation of marketing. Tamira La Cruz can be your part-time Chief Business Development or Marketing Officer.
Includes weekly calls to monitor progress on business development targets and activities. Typically Tamira La Cruz would work with you before in a tailored consultation engagement to research, analyze or establish growth opportunities, locally, regionally or globally.  

In-person consultations
Whether for yourself or your management team, MarkStra Caribbean can facilitate in-person consultations on general business, business development, market research, corporate strategy, marketing, innovation, growth or competitiveness.

CEO’s of organizations in small states sometimes do not have a trusted and experienced person to share and discuss business development, growth, strategy or marketing ideas with or to get fresh ideas from. Tamira La Cruz, CEO of MarkStra Caribbean can be that person for you. Please use the contact form to let MarkStra know the topics you would like to discuss.

Tailored consultation and professional services

Themes typically include market research and strategy development in the areas of revenue, profit, sales, market share, market opportunity, market potential, sales forecasts, core values, brand positioning, competitors, innovation, new product, product testing, product portfolio, business planning, online (affiliate) marketing.

Industry reports
MarkStra Caribbean is the publisher of the bi-annual ‘Reaching Curacao’ market research report on demographics, lifestyle, spending, media and lifestyles, bought by over 30 local and global companies and used in their advertising and marketing planning.
MarkStra Caribbean can also produce reports for your industry or professional group to help it to more effectively serve the local or international market.

MarkStra Caribbean’s Blog Caribbean Research and Strategy covers the basics of market research, strategy, marketing, competitiveness, growth and business development, as well as articles and presentations on economic growth.

Training and Keynote speeches

Speaking to marketers on Return on Marketing Investment

About MarkStra


Over the past 17 years MarkStra Caribbean, based in Curacao, has helped more than 150 global and local organizations to establish maintain or grow their revenue, market share, profit or following, particularly those operating in small Caribbean states  like Curacao.
Our practical market research and strategy solutions and implementations are:

  • tailored to the challenges of Caribbean small states: small scale, limited resources and close relationships
  • based in market research, strong analysis, strategy and implementation
  • return-oriented
  • conceived by multicultural teams with an international outlook

Companies come to MarkStra Caribbean for:

  • the business development expertise they cannot find in general management consulting firms
  • the strategic approach they cannot find from advertising agencies and like agencies
  • when  a thorough understanding of the Caribbean and the nuances within the region is required.

MarkStra works with business partners across the region and elsewhere, depending on the market being served and specific expertise required.

Solutions are delivered as an outsourced or interim Chief Marketing or Chief Business Development Officer, through in-person consultations, tele-consulting, tailored consulting engagements, industry reports, workshops and speeches, and articles.

MarkStra Research Strategy Implementation and Evaluation

Getting a feel for fieldwork in Haiti (before the 2010 earthquake)

Our areas of expertise are:

Research and Analysis
MarkStra Caribbean’s expertise is desk research, moderating focus groups and other qualitative research, and B2B market research. However, MarkStra does all kinds of market research.
Tamira La Cruz, CEO of MarkStra Caribbean’s strength lays in practical but thorough analysis, keeping in mind the broader organizational and ROI objectives.

MarkStra’s added value lies in adapting common strategy and growth models to the situation of Caribbean small states. MarkStra Caribbean can help you with feasibility studies, as well as business, growth, innovation, export and marketing strategy and plans.

Many businesses and not-for-profit organizations in small states cannot afford or do not have the need for a full-time C-level Chief Business Development or Marketing Officer. Yet, they need a C-Level expert to compete effectively against global competitors. Tamira La Cruz can be the part-time outsourced Chief Business Development or Marketing Officer for your organization.

Evaluation, auditing, monitoring
Let MarkStra Caribbean help you measure your progress in achieving your projected revenue, sales, profit, business development or other marketing objective in the areas of: 
  • Strategy and marketing implementation
  • Customer service
  • Enterprise, Business and Economic Development programs funded by local or multilateral organizations