• Projects
  • Empowering Suriname’s business community
Social dialogue

Empowering Suriname's business community

VSB, founded in 1950, has grown in the 74 years of its existence into an umbrella employers’ organisation of member companies. It stands up for the interests of its members and is committed to promoting the economic and social well-being of the Surinamese community. Ton Voortman, PUM expert in the sector Employers’ and Business Support Organisations, cooperated with VSB in revising its strategy with the aim to better serve the members of the organisation. Together they explored the possibilities of VSB becoming an umbrella organisation for the whole of enterprising Suriname, and they looked into the process of restarting the social dialogue with employee representatives.

Ton Voortman: “VSB  stands for Vereniging Surinaams Bedrijfsleven in Dutch. The organisation  has a twofold purpose, namely: representing the interests of its members, and promoting the economic and social well-being of the community. Because of its second objective, VSB distinguishes itself from other entrepreneurs organisations. Especially in the last decade, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’ has gained worldwide recognition among employers, emphasising the business community’s role in sustainable development. Companies must seek a balance between the financial aspects like profit, economic return and guarantee of continuity, as well as the social and ecological aspects. VSB therefore embraces the 17 UN SDGs. In implementing its activities, the VSB aims to contribute to them wherever possible.

Strengthening the organisation

PUM has a long history with VSB, including assistance from PUM’s merger partner DECP in strengthening the organisation and providing training for VSB and union representatives. The implementation of DECP’s recommendations has been significantly delayed, partly because of COVID-19.  Now, with a largely new board, VSB seeks to revitalise its organisation and has approached PUM for that purpose. The collaboration aims to enhance VSB’s organisation including revising its strategy to better serve its members,  examining the potential for VSB to become an umbrella organisation for the whole of enterprising Suriname, and reassessing opportunities for restarting social dialogue with employee representatives, building on previous activities in this context by DECP, now part of PUM.

“Before starting the project”, Ton adds, “I had extensive discussions with representatives of the executive committee. This enabled us to clearly identify VSB’s needs and jointly develop a work plan. Solutions were offered by creating a framework for a new or revised strategic plan, empowering VSB to draft it independently for member approval. Additionally, possibilities to enhance VBS’s membership policy, communication with members, advocacy and lobbying activities, and member services were explored. Strenghtening the inpact of both the Board as well as the Secretariat was an import part of the discussions.”


While concrete results are premature, a solid foundation has certainly been laid for strenghtening of VSB. A stronger VSB is a major boost for Suriname’s economy as well as the investment in a stronger and more effective social dialogue. Ton: “Through discussions with representatives of employers and employees, as well as with the Minister of Labour, Employment and Youth, we have agreed that PUM will continue to support and train social partners to strengthen this social dialogue. Ultimately, this will serve as a significant catalyst for the Surinamese economy.”

Gerard den Dekker
Board Member of VSB

“With almost 75 years of history, VSB stands as a beacon of resilience and progress in Suriname. As VSB, we welcome the journey we have embarked on with PUM. This support programme gives us the opportunity to strengthen our organisation, recalibrate our strategy and focus on effective and efficient advocacy as an employers’ organisation. PUM’s valuable input enables us to laying the groundwork for achieving our sustainable goals and strengthen our role as the leading representative of the Surinamese business community.”