About Kersten Tourism Foundation
KTF was established on July 9, 2007. Its goal is "to promote poverty reduction and social stability by creating income-generating opportunities for underprivileged groups in Suriname". KTF's projects stimulate sustainable private sector development, income generation, capacity building and reduction of poverty and crime in fence line communities of Kersten's operations.
In 2008 and 2009 completed projects included "strengthening of supply chain activities in the eco-tourism sector (Bergendal)" where 1,380 persons received training on eco-tourism and micro-enterprise issues, renovation of heritage slave houses at Bergendal and construction of a butterfly garden, also at Bergendal. Funding was received from a number of donors including the Inter-American Development Bank (Multilateral Investment Fund), Kersten, Telesur, the government of Germany and the Moravian Church Foundation as well as in-kind donations from private persons.
After an extensive period of preparations the Brokopondo Vocational Training Center (BVTC) officially opened its doors on the 21st of October 2011. The BVTC works according to international standards for training and is capable of providing businesses with young people who are well trained and qualified. From Kersten, KTF is involved in the substantive execution of the project. KTF, which operates with funds donated by Kersten, strives to promote tourism, reduce poverty and to increase the economic resilience of the population of the district of Brokopondo. Brokopondo with over 12,000 inhabitants, of which more than 60% is below the age 16, is one of the districts of Suriname with the biggest problems regarding non-enrollment in school, dropouts and low educational opportunities. Whenever dropouts are economically active it is often in illegal activities and in the small-scale yet environmentally harmful gold sector.
In cooperation with the 'Nederlandse Zeister Zendingsgenootschap' (ZZG) which provided funds from the 'Onderwijs voor Werk Programma' (Education for Work Program), two buildings were set up for the BVTC (hospitality and technology). From the 'Uitvoering Twinning Faciliteit Suriname-Nederland (UTSN)' (Implementation Twinning Facility Suriname-the Netherlands) teachers were trained and a modern kitchen, similar to that of Bergendal, was built. The partner of Kersten in Brokopondo, IAMGold/Rosebel Gold Mines (IAMGold), furnished and equipped the technical facility and has committed itself to finance its operations for the amount of USD 30,000 per year for the duration of five years, up until 2016. A total of approximately USD 700,000 has been accumulated and invested by local and international donors in training and facilities for the project. If necessary, internships and jobs will be made available at Kersten and IAMGold.
The focus of the BVTC in 2012 will be to allow students from the 2nd year of LBGO schools access to technical career opportunities. In 2012 technical courses will commence, including also welding courses for dropouts. Furthermore there are also project proposals being prepared for the training of operators and mechanics for heavy machinery. But Bergendal is also taken into consideration. Corporate training for kitchen personnel is an ongoing process and there is a new course for hospitality assistants. Kitchen personnel from IAMGold are also included in the courses for the kitchen staff. Ultimately the BVTC has to become a regional training facility that prepares students for careers which are now, and increasingly so in the future, in high demand. The BVTC is the only facility of its kind in Brokopondo.
Kersten's biggest challenge to hire and retain the right people also creates one of our biggest opportunities, which is to further connect our businesses to the communities we work in. At this moment KTF has no other projects in operation. For quite some time, approval from the government is awaited for the start of a new community development project in the district Brokopondo in the small-scale gold industry. This project is a cooperation between the Dealer Excellence Fund of CATERPILLAR and the KTF, in which environmentally friendly gold mining techniques will be taught. Future projects are also being discussed with the ZZG.
Work at Kersten Tourism Foundation
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Contact infoDominestraat 36-38