Saturday, October 20, 2012

Living in mud huts

In the Amigoe Newspaper of October 5, Mr. Mike Willem, director of the Antillean Contractors Assocation (AAV), suggests that Curacao must economize, reform and become cheaper. This because over the past 20 years Curacao’s economic growth has been less than 1% on average. Focusing on ‘economizing’  is what Curacao has been doing for 20  years, with success in some areas - look at our schools, roads, poverty and subsequent crime-, but not in GDP growth. Why would continued focus on the same thing yield a different result this time around?

According to the World Economic Forum, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland, Sweden and Holland, in that order, are the most competitive countries in the world. They are also nowhere near ‘cheap’, which, according to Mr. Willem, is IMF’s recipe for success. Instead, these countries have consciously sought and found high-added value sectors and jobs where a small cost-differential is not a deal-breaker.

In this increasingly competitive world it requires professional skill  to find  and analyze these opportunities. Unfortunately more than a generation of our best and ‘go-to’ professionals have specialized in economizing, becoming cheaper, repeating broad macro-economic tenets, regulations and laws.  As a result, as a country we just don’t know how to identify and  go after the high-added value innovative and global 21st century industries and opportunities. We also do not think it  is a priority. Case in point?  The new Minister of Finance and Economic Development, himself a public finance expert, has enlisted the support of no fewer than three high level public finance experts, but, to my knowledge, not one expert in economic/business development, the area where the new minister is likely to be less strong.  I am a business development strategist (often misunderstood and dismissed in Curacao, I might add). Yesterday I returned from a business development conference. I respectfully submit that we must urgently professionalize our business development approach and skills, and make it a priority. After all, if our priority is to become cheaper, the simplest solution is that we all live in mud huts instead of brick houses.

Tamira La Cruz, MBA
5 october 2012.

Tamira La Cruz, MBA, CEO of MarkStra Caribbean (1995), specializes in helping organizations in small states to establish, maintain or grow their revenue, profit or following. The practical solutions are based in research, strong analysis and strategy, as well as 25 years of regional work experience. Based in Curacao, she is a graduate from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (MBA) and Boston University (BSBA. She publishes regularly on small state innovations and growth. Contact via, or

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