U.S. Embassy Program for Rural Female Entrepreneurs Begins

PARAMARIBO – To help women entrepreneurs in Suriname’s rural regions expand their businesses, the U.S. Embassy is sponsoring the Female Led Innovative Rural Startups (FLIRS) program, which kicked-off on Saturday, June 26, with a virtual session for the almost 60 participants.

“Entrepreneurship is one of the values that Americans and Surinamese share,” said U.S. Ambassador to Suriname Karen Lynn Williams in her remarks during the opening session. “We are both people who look to make an honest living, who value the rule of law and the equal treatment of individuals and businesses.”

The FLIRS program will provide virtual and in-person training to 70 female entrepreneurs in Nickerie, Coronie, Saramacca, Wanica and Para. It is being led by Moreno Jackson, founder of the Act Now Foundation and an alumnus of the U.S. State Department’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) – an exchange program for traditional and social entrepreneurs.

Due to high demand during the recruitment of participants, an intensive three-day online summit was added to the FLIRS program for women in other rural parts of Suriname such as Commewijne and Brokopondo. This summit will be hosted at the end of September 2021.

Through the sessions led by a local team of trainers, which run from July through September, the participants will explore the basics of entrepreneurship, get an understanding on how to register a company, delve into finance and cost management, and expand their sales and marketing abilities.

In addition to the training, all participants will have the opportunity to exhibit their product and/or service to a very broad audience consisting of students, co-entrepreneurs, finance specialists, etc. This will take place during the Women Entrepreneurship Fair, which will be hosted in the first week of November 2021. Female entrepreneurs from our neighboring country, Guyana, will also participate at this fair as part of the knowledge exchange aspect within this program.

The FLIRS program is funded by the U.S. State Department’s Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund, an annual global competition which supports the efforts of exchange program alumni such as Jackson who are working to aid in the development of their homelands.

It is also just the latest effort by the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo to strengthen entrepreneurship in Suriname. Other programs include the Start-up Huddle, a monthly best practices exchange for entrepreneurs; the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs, a series of on-line and in-person sessions to give insight to potential entrepreneurs; and the Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Program, which helps teens and young adults develop business plans and then compete for start-up funding.