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Why we chose to stay: Carlton Brooks

What is your background?

I have a background in electricity. Sterkstroom Installaties.

 What do you find the biggest reason is that people do not return to Sint Maarten?

Because there is slightly no future promised there and when they come back, mainly what they hear is that they are “overqualified” or “they don’t get paid.for what they are worth”. Therefore, they prefer to stay where they are where they feel more comfortable.  I think they feel more safe where they’re at, they have a safety net.

Do you feel  that way as well?

Yes, I do.

Do you feel that you may have a better and brighter future here than home?

No. I wouldn’t say that but I would say it’s difficult to do what you may want to do at home.

What do you want to focus on while in UPG?

 I would like to focus more on agriculture, creating certain events like sports, cultural events. For example, have booths and cookouts, where  people could set up their own tents and sell their food and stuff get to know their customers. It’s really to get something going and get the people together and talk about stuff. 

What goals have you made for yourself in UPG?

Right now, I am working with Denicio Wyatt with more agriculture and that is why I would like step into that field. I was thinking more along the line of the dump, but that dump situation is kind of out of hand for me to sit down and think up a plan for that. I would rather work on agriculture because no one is really looking and working on that field and I like agriculture also. So I was  “Hey, I like this better”.

How is that going working with Denicio?  

Well, he is willing to work with us, he is very willing to do whatever to make something happen. From talking with him and learning how he’s doing and having more information to help him lout in this situation..

How far have you gotten with in helping him?

Right now he is still going through the process of getting everything stabilized for him. So, right now that is basically what we are talking about. It’s really a back and forth right now with the government.

So right now, you are like a support system for him?

Yes, you could say that.

How do you think your background will  help you to accomplish the goals that you   have  set out for yourself in UPG?

Well seeing that electricity is my background, I have not thought about it like that. I would say one of my ideas were about the dump and having a nice recycling system but I would say more the agricultural side.

Then you would say that is more of your interest rather than your background that is in line with your goals you right now.?

Yes, you could that.

And what more do you want to do with your goals, apart from helping  Kenicio? Do you want to do something else with that or just some kind of support for the local on the ground?

I wouldn’t say some kind of support, I  would say, to pick it up. To bring something some new to the table of UPG. I want to work on agriculture. I don’t have something concrete at the moment, but I am busy brainstorming on that right now, something new.

What do you want others to know about UPG, if someone where to ask you?
I wouldn’t that say that’s a difficult question, I was talking to other members of UPG and I would say right now we are looking for our first gig! Our first way to do something. We want to do make a better St.Maarten, maybe we have layouts and plans  and having our own format of doing so. And I would say that has not happened as yet.

Why do you think that is?

Because no one gave us a chance for us to represent, you know. And that’s what I’ve been telling one of our members. I find that we have to have a product, we do have a plan and layouts, but we have to perform, we have to get something going. Let’s sign a contract and it’s like okay, we can handle this and then is when UPG  gotta represent. I can call and say “We can do this and that” but we have to get in there and I think that’s what we’re doing now. We’re finally making steps and we “knocking, knocking” and get “ no and no “ and now we finally getting some “yeses” to get an assignment on the table that we can perform.

At one point we weren’t getting projects, what if we create our own and then see what happens that way?  That’s also a possibility too! What do you think?

Hmm That’s true. What I was thinking for like having cultural events. For example, like how we approach the government up here, if we approach the gemeente up here with something like that  I think we would be most likely to get funded and sponsored for something cultural and bringing the people together.

UPG discusses reverse migration at the Sint Maarten House

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS– On Tuesday November the 30th 2018, UPG’s Chairman Carlvin Brooks had the honour of being one the presenters at “At the Cabinet After 5” event. This was the first event in a series of discussions that cater to students and (young) professionals living in The Netherlands.The series are being arranged by The Cabinet of the St. Maarten Minister Plenipotentiary.

The theme of the event was “Will I stay, or will I go?”. What was meant with this question is whether the presenter is planning on staying in The Netherlands or returning to Sint Maarten.

There were two presenters at the event. Carlvin Brooks of Unleashed Potential Group (UPG) and finance professional and Treasurer of the board of Unified Sint Maarten Connection(USC), Duane Meade. (See related story in the Daily Herald)


Carlvin Brooks discussed that his intention is to stay and his reason for doing this is, he believes that he can better give back to Sint Maarten by further developing the foundation of UPG. He also took time to explain in his presentation the vision of UPG.

“At UPG we don’t believe that people don’t want to return to Sint Maarten, we believe that they do not know how to” mentioned Brooks. There are many factors that has to be considered before returning to Sint Maarten.

When returning home, Sint Maarteners deal with the saying that they are overqualified. They enter the situation in which, they are qualified but do not have job experience for the job they want, but they need the job to gain job experience.

There are also the questions that need to be answered such as: Where will I stay? What arrangements needs to be made before returning to Sint Maarten? How much will it cost to return? Where will I work?

There are no easy answers to these questions. Especially, when it is considered that Sint Maarten is currently recovering from Hurricane Irma (2017), that devastated the infrastructure as well as the economy.” UPG is the bridge that Sint Maarteners can use to find a way back home”.

Target group
The target group of UPG are students who are in their 3rd school year and above and (young) professionals

UPG seeks to give students the opportunity to gain job experience with projects relating to Sint Maarten. This way they get the chance to apply the knowledge they are learning to real situations that will benefit them and the island of Sint Maarten.

When it comes to the (young) professionals they have already gained work experience. Due to this, we look for ways to use the knowledge and experience that they already have and connect them with the right companies on the island that can use their expertise. In order to do this, we map out what they want to do and the party or parties that they need to work with to achieve it.

Strategic Map
After his presentation, Brooks made use of the opportunity to hand over a document called “Expanding the foundation of Sint Maarten’s Economy”. The document outlines a project that UPG has created to help diversify Sint Maarten’s economy. It is the hope that this project can be transformed into an international start-up company that can create jobs and help Sint Maarten to rebuild. The document is also part of a strategic map that UPG created to help (young) professionals return home. 

From left to right: Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Michael Somersall, Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite, Senior Advisor Culture, Education, PR and Protocol, Kelly Busby and Chairman of UPG, Carlvin Brooks.


UPG meets with Minister of TEATT

UPG Chairman Carlvin Brooks and Minister TEATT Stuart Johnson

During his visit to The Netherlands, UPG had the honour of being invited to meet with the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication (TEATT), the Honourable Stuart Johnson in The Hague.

UPG’s Chairman, Carlvin Brooks was able to meet the Minister, members of his ministry,
the Honourable Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite and her Deputy Minister Michael Somersall.

After pleasantries were exchanged, a more in-depth explanation of UPG’s background was given.This included sharing what our main goals were for our target groups as well as our vision for the future. Our main goal is to stimulate Sint Maarteners to return home, where the focus is mainly on students and (young) professionals.

Our platform allows students to gain experience for their dream job during their education. It will give them the opportunity to be involved with the development of Sint Maarten from abroad as well as enable them to use real examples from Sint Maarten during their study.

Students are free to choose what area of Sint Maarten can benefits from their help based on their study. This helps them to relate their study and be up-to-date to the developments of Sint Maarten. Most importantly, it gives them a foundation to return to Sint Maarten after their study and the experience to apply for junior or senior roles and functions.

We target students who have at least 2 years of living experience in the Netherlands. These students have had the time to adjust to the Netherlands and are entering a period in which they start think what the future will be after they are finished with their studies. We want to give these students the opportunity to gain work experience while rounding off their studies.  Our goal is for, when they are finished with their studies they have at least 2 years of work experience in a professional environment.

We target professionals who are no longer studying but are living in The Netherlands. These individuals want to return to Sint Maarten but are uncertain as to how they are to contribute based on their education and work experience.

In UPG, we help to build a network that includes companies on the island who are interested in the professionals’expertise. If they need to first gain work experience in order to make that transition, we create with them a project that allows them to gain the work experience. This way they become the ideal candidate for the type of job they are applying for. 

Entrepreneurial spirit
There is also the case that despite our efforts the student or professional is not able to find a company that has a job that matches with their study or work experience. In those cases, we work together with the student or professional to turn their idea into a company. 


A sneak preview of UPG’s NRP plan shows important elements

Nation building

  • Develop your own possibilities by constant education and commitment in order to achieve perfection
  • If everybody contributes by their own endeavors to create a better Sint Maarten, the sky is the limit
  • As Sint Maarten will be an investors paradise and a sustainable growth created by local entities, foreign investors and a facilitating government support, Sint Maarten will be the envy in the Caribbean and attract even more rich leisure seekers

Improve workforce

  • New sustainable jobs and beyond in innovative companies and educational facilities in order to comply with the demand of the industries in the 21st century
  • Multiplier effect of other new jobs in accordance with the growing development of Sint Maarten, subject to change according to the development of projects

Diversify economy

  • A new perception of the island’s economy
  • Make it a hub and duplication of Silicon Valley-like industries instead of only focusing on leisure and tourism
  • Due to developments in the cruising industry and the dynamics of people from the cruise ships, who are only using the facilities onboard and not staying on the island for more than one day, the tourist industry needs a complete overhaul in order to survive

The UPG National recovery Plan consists of many more important elements and can truly be qualified as a serious rebuild and reconstruction of the Sint Maarten economy and social welfare

Click to go to UPG National Recovery Plan (NRP) SXM

UPG launches activities website for St. Maarten

THE HAGUE–A website that focuses on year-round tourism-related activities in St. Maarten is the latest initiative of Unleashed Potential Group (UPG), a group of enthusiastic Windward Islands students and young professionals in the Netherlands.

The Facebook page @365sxm has just been started, but already it is generating much traffic and has received more than 1,800 likes in the last two weeks, according to UPG. Also the website www.365sxm.com, which is online and still under construction to add more functionality, has received a lot of positive feedback. This is one of the first tangible results of the efforts of UPG’s team, which wants to help develop St. Maarten.
The website, part of the branding project for destination St. Maarten that UPG has been working on since November last year, is developed in cooperation with a number of experienced people residing on the island.The concept is to have a digital calendar with year-round activities that visitors and locals can consult. Also, the functionality of digital interactive maps, indexes and pointers to the local economy will be part of the website.UPG wants to give the site even more content by working together with local sports organisations with the aim to organise sports activities, such as attracting professional sports teams to St. Maarten, tournaments, trainings and meetings. This would in turn generate more visitors and spending on the island, and thus contribute to the local economy.
The website will include a new concept, the Choice Awards, a public nomination and election of a large range of categories, like the favourite establishments and persons working in the service and hospitality sector. Examples are the favourite restaurants, bars, taxi drivers and barbers in St. Maarten. The candidates will be nominated and voted on by the general public.“The idea is to have a low threshold, a bottom-up approach, by the public for the public.
Through these awards we want to promote the local economy and dedicate special attention to the people working in the sector,” UPG stated. The Choice Awards will be launched on February 1.
Article courtesy of The Daily Herald St.Maarten.