Hydroculture in Suriname thanks to start-up financing from the government

Growing vegetables, fruit or herbs without soil, only with water, is known as hydroponics. Samantha Biharie and Vinod Baldew realised the benefits of this innovative technique and decided to start their own company. Initially, funding problems threatened to throw a spanner in the works, but the government offered a solution through the Dutch Good Growth Fund.

Telen op water in Suriname

With hydroponics, no soil is involved in the cultivation process. The crops are grown in water. This can be done in two ways: in a pond with a depth of 15 to 20 centimetres or via a system of PVC pipes through which water flows. Biharie and Baldew opted for the first technique. In August 2019, they hope to launch their company H2O Dutch Greenhouses in Paramaribo.

Surinamese dream

'Vinod's father was an agricultural engineer,' Samantha Biharie begins. 'He saw a future in hydroponics years ago. Some time ago, we started looking into this more deeply and we understood why. We believe it's the method of the future. That's why we decided to take the plunge and start up our own company.'

Although Biharie and Baldew both have Surinamese roots, that was not the only reason why they decided to set up their company in the Surinamese capital Paramaribo. 'Thanks to the high temperatures, there are no heating costs,' Biharie explains. 'In addition, the wages in Suriname are about half the Dutch wages. Moreover, we also want to make a difference to the local population and the Surinamese economy. We will be providing employment to at least 15 people.'

Starting in Suriname

The Dutch government encourages entrepreneurs who want to spread their wings abroad. The Dutch Good Growth Fund helps Dutch entrepreneurs such as Biharie and Baldew expand to developing countries and emerging markets by granting them the necessary funding or credit risk insurance. Suriname is one of these countries.

H2O Dutch Greenhouses is a Dutch company that wants to set up its production process abroad. 'That's why the Dutch banks were reluctant,' says Biharie. 'Borrowing money in Suriname is out of the question due to the high interest rate of 20 per cent.' After some research on the internet, they found a consultant who referred them to the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF).

The next step: getting started

'We could not have started on this scale without this loan,' according to Biharie. 'Now that it is finalised, we can buy all the equipment we need and prepare hydroponics training for our staff. Hopefully we will be able to achieve our dream within a few months.'

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Read more about the DGGF fund and see its country list.