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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. 


Heck of a bargain

daily-herald-logoA very strong editorial in The Daily Heralds paper of October 28, 2016, referring to the “Unleashed Potential Group ready to better St. Maarten” article in this paper on the same date.

There’s an interesting story in today’s paper about the “Unleashed Potential Group” (UPG). It regards Windward Islands pre- and post-graduates in the Netherlands who want to help with the social-economic development “back home” and gain job experience free of charge.

The move followed a June workshop held by Unified St. Maarten Connection (USC) where some 30 participants showed enthusiasm and a willingness to contribute to their place of origin. Goals include providing incentives for more of the students abroad to return when they complete their education, which is currently a big problem that leads to brain drain.

The idea is for UPG’s multidisciplinary team to work on projects that benefit the community “to train our people and give back.” By removing the money barrier they want to take away all excuses for not seeking their input.

How it is all going to function remains to be seen, but Government and the private sector alike would do well not to ignore this commendable initiative by some of the island’s own “best and brightest.” Involving them more in shaping the future of the community they clearly still care about makes all the sense in the world.

Now here’s one thing the incoming Parliament and Council of Ministers can tackle immediately without worrying about major consequences for an already-tight budget. Sure, a few expenses may ultimately have to be covered, but being able to use the group’s acquired knowledge, skills and expertise at no direct cost seems like a heck of bargain.

Original editorial: https://thedailyherald.sx/editorial/61221-heck-of-a-bargain

St. Maarten graduates want to help to develop their island


A new initiative has been launched in the Netherlands: the Unleashed Potential Group (UPG) which aims to assist in solving St. Maarten’s economic, environmental and social issues.

UPG has developed a knowledge and resource hub for projects, which organisations and groups can readily access for positive impact. According to the initiative, St. Maarten could benefit from highskilled graduates from St. Maarten who have studied in the Netherlands. These (pre)graduates want to help make a difference for their island.

UPG founder Raimond Nicodem and a number of pre and postgraduates from St. Maarten and Saba, all currently residing in the Netherlands, have developed a knowledge and resource hub for projects to which organisations in St. Maarten could have access to and benefit from.

In a press release, UPG spoke of co-partnerships between students abroad with UPG and organisations, firms and institutions on the island to encourage a repatriation of skills and knowledge for solving complex issues.

Currently, there is a growing recognition that “traditional” approaches have failed to solve complex disparities, shared among many large firms, institutions and individuals in St. Maarten.

“This loss of understanding is due to many converging factors, including the failure to incorporate multi-level explanations,” stated Nicodem of UPG. “To effectively curb those issues, feedback from this community of knowledgebased individuals needs to be addressed.”

College and university educated and highly skilled graduates contribute their expertise to the economy of other countries, causing a drawback for St. Maarten because they are not returning to their island after finalising their studies abroad. This potentially threatens the speed of progression of economic, environmental and social developments.

UPG wants to contribute with evidence to the efforts of improving the island’s well-being and showing that investing in people unlocks indispensable resources for progress with an approach that utilises the acquired knowledge of highly-skilled graduates living in the Netherlands.

Together with the cooperation of St. Maarten organisations, UPG works to provide value in carrying out projects that will have a positive impact on the local economic, environmental and social developments.