Social Confoes 024 – Representing Suriname at the IDB, Travel and Opportunities w/ Jade Tjon
In this episode of #SocialConfoes, we have a chat with Jade Tjon. She is the representative for Suriname on the Executive Board of the Inter-American Development Bank Group and serves as the focal point between the Government of Suriname and the Bank, and is dedicated to bringing attention to the needs and opportunities of small and island states. We talked a little about Suriname, about her role as IDB representative, about her traveling experiences and how to leverage opportunities. At the end she also shared for the first time her brand that she is launching in July 2021 called Foreign Exchange, as an effort to raise awareness and action around the Sustainable Development Goals.
- 0:00 – Introduction
- 2:17 – Transforming the workspace
- 10:27 – Projects and IDB investments
- 12:39 – Where does the IDB get funding from?
- 25:32 – Experiences and perspectives gained from traveling
- 33:37 – Lessons from dancing ballet
- 35:55 – Discrimination as a women in the workplace
- 39:29 – Getting the job at the IDB
- 43:04 – Key factors for success
- 51:57 – Investing in yourself and the value of a coach
- 54:43 – Announcing Foreign Exchange by Jade
- 58:10 – Superpowers
- 1:01:26 – Closing off
Video Version of the Episode
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Diego: [00:00:48] Good evening. Good morning. Good afternoon. Wherever you are in the world. Welcome back to social Confoes and I’m very excited to be back here. It’s good to be back. We’ve had a few interesting past episodes, right? Where we had you. We met the other host. We had the other shows, but now we’re on a regular schedule again, and I’m here with my co-host Jean-luc, my name is Diego, and to get straight into it, Jean-luc who do we have today?
Jean-luc: [00:01:08] I just want to say a, for some reason, I like your intro a lot better it sounds cool. And calm and relax that for me, it’s always like, what do I have to say? What do I have to say? But let’s go straight to the, to the guest indeed. So today’s guest is somebody that I’ve known for a very, very long time, but I don’t actually know her. We went to the same school and then we went through the same sport club and our paths crossed a couple of times. We even lectured the same students at FHR. It’s actually kind of the first time having a social conversation with her, which will be A lot of fun. He’s actually currently in Washington, if I’m correct. And she loves Suriname she’s born and raised here and she has found a way to represent Suriname in the United States or actually globally. And that’s what we we’ll talk about a little bit as well today. So without further ado, let’s introduce our guests for today. Jade Tjon welcome Jade.
Jade: [00:02:10] Hi. Hi everybody. Thank you so much for that beautiful introduction. I am very excited to be here actually. So thank you for inviting me.
Diego: [00:02:17] We are excited to have you, and just as we, before we went on Jean-luc was already complimenting you all the female guests we have on have such a, you know, elegant background, very. Sophisticated look clean, no clutter. And we’ve been wondering, how has COVID impacted your workspace? Are you in an office? Have you transformed your home into an office? Cause it looks great.
Jade: [00:02:42] Yes. I have transformed my home into an office. We’ve been working from home, I think for 15, 16 months. Now we have not been going back to the office as of yet. So to IDB and all sorts of other IFI sort of world bank IMF are starting to go back to the office in July with 10% capacity. And then in September with 25% and we’ll see how that goes and then we’ll move forward to, to having more people in the office.
But yes, so I did transform my home because I’m a person who likes to sit on the dining table, but I actually sold my dining table and I bought a desk. To really be able to work better from home and to organize my home better because we’re here the whole day and we have long hours because now the work is just fully behind your desk.
I think we got used to it, but I think a lot of people think that all the nice things about the work. So being able to network and talk to your colleagues and have interactions that is all taken away. So what we’ve been doing, especially in the first month was just reading a lot of documents, focusing on how we could help and support the countries because it was, it was an unprecedented time.
So we really had to get used to it. And the less fun part, just stayed you know working from home and not seeing your colleagues and it’s, it’s obviously harder to, to network and to talk to the different countries being from home. And it’s always different if you have a call or even if it’s on video.
Jean-luc: [00:04:13] So what you’ve also seen countries adapt like different countries in different way, because of course you talk with the other representatives about it. So what’s the most fun way you’ve seen people figure out a way to kind of keep the interaction going online. Is there something like, Hey, this country, try to keep the interaction going or keep the networking going in this way.
Jade: [00:04:35] We’ve been trying different things. So especially in the board as well, we do the IDB has 48 member countries. So we have people from 48 different countries working here at the bank. So for us, for example, we tried different happy hours. But it doesn’t work very well because how do you talk to 70 people at a happy hour?
So it was kind of hard. So we’ve been trying different things to stay in contact. We’ve been doing virtual drinks. So me and some colleagues that are close like some of the ladies be like, okay, you know, at 7:00 PM after work, we’ll have a wine and we’ll still do our happy hours. So that’s the way we’ve been trying to get together.
And also still, it was kind of winding down literally with wine, but also still working because now you would not have the ability to chat with people in between with coffee or in the corridor. So you had to do it via those kind of informal wines after work, to be able to get the insights, because being in this job, you need to hear what other countries are thinking or what their, you know, that that’s the, that’s the most important thing.
Like if a new strategy is coming or if we need to implement something new, you need to know like, oh, what’s the us thinking or a, what is Uber do I thinking? So that’s, that’s the way to get your information informally
Diego: [00:05:52] Is there anything to stick to the office space, you know, 48 countries, big building. Is there anything in particular that from the office, the normal office that you kind of replicated to your home office that you think, you know, that this works, that you were able to translate home?
Jade: [00:06:11] No. So actually know what I mean? How can you do that? I need to put a flag. Oh, sorry. No, no. It’s my in my office, I have the flag of Suriname I have a beautiful painting of Struikelblok. My favorite artists from Suriname We have that at the IDB. I do have one in my home as well. So those are the things that I do miss and I do need to implement, but I would always wear my pin. So whenever I have an official meeting, I would wear my pin. So that’s the way to still, you know, have that part of, Hey, I’m representing my country. Even though we’re from home.
Jean-luc: [00:06:48] I do feel there is indeed on the wall behind you. There should be at least something representing Suriname.
Jade: [00:06:57] I have, I had my painting from Struikeblok before in my previous setting and I haven’t put it back yet. And one of my colleagues, my colleague from Barbados was like, where is your Surinamese painting? And she’s right. But I wasn’t able to fit that in this, in this particular area, but I will work on it.
Diego: [00:07:15] Awesome. Well, we’re looking forward to it. But on the flip side and moving virtual, is there a go to for virtual method or platform that you use or tool that you use to help you be productive, being remotely from home. Is there a go-to strategy that you have found for yourself?
Jade: [00:07:37] Well, we don’t have an option, so there’s no strategy needed. We are fully booked. So how the board actually works is that you have your mandatory board meetings. So it’s almost every day. We have our mandatory board meetings and you need to participate and being from a small shareholder country, I’m the only one to represent my country. So I’m always there in every meeting. If you would have a bigger country, Suriname is in the constituency with Brazil. For example, they have four people represented because it’s a big shareholder.
So they do not need to be in every single meeting. So for me, I tried to be in every meeting because I want to know what’s going on. If my capital is asking me like, Hey, what’s going on on this subject? I need to. I don’t even need a strategy to be motivated because one, you have all the meetings and before you have those official meetings, you do need bilateral meetings.
Meaning you will have previous meetings about that subject before with the project groups that create or develop those projects. So my weeks are super filled. And there’s no way to not do it. Do you understand what I’m saying? So if I think that I would have, I would have needed a strategy if I would, if it, you know, if you don’t have a lot of work, cause like, what are you doing with yourself? But for now it’s really just going on and on.
Jean-luc: [00:08:56] So we, we do have some quick comments. Danielle wants to let you know maybe city novel virtual background. This is an option. You’re getting some shoutouts you’re getting some shoutouts as well from Hannah and I seeing. And Marvin also joining in tonight and Rajiv says he is excited about this one Rajiv is always excited when it comes to Suriname.
Jade: [00:09:20] that’s good. Happy to see. That’s fine. Sorry. I get too excited. Thank you. Yeah,
Jean-luc: [00:09:24] no, that’s good. So I quickly, this wasn’t the question that we had prepared, but I have to ask you how many emails do you get on a daily basis?
Jade: [00:09:32] You would think more, but not a lot. I think it’s just about 20 again, because everything is prepared. So to meetings are set. So to only meetings we need, like the meetings are prepared by office assistant. So is the assistant for Brazil and Suriname and not just for me. So everything is being done. So whenever I need something, it goes via that assistant. Or if people personally, it would depend on a daily basis, but the work that we do, it’s not a work where you would have like hundreds and hundreds of emails per day.
It has been going up ever since we’ve been talking more about private sector investments. I have a lot of requests coming in from, from Suriname in how we can help. So it has been going up, but again, usually, yeah, it’s pretty well. Okay. Maybe 20 is not, I think a bit more, maybe 50.
Jean-luc: [00:10:27] So actually Diego, I want to jump straight into the private investments from Suriname of course, there are some more people in the comments Anil is joining and Theo was also joining. And I think the law, a lot of people in the comments also want to know, like you’re talking private investments for the IDB. Then the question that immediately comes is like, okay, so how big of a project are we talking about to be able to get an IDB investment? Or is there also from small medium enterprises? Is there also a possibility for that?
Jade: [00:10:56] That’s a great question. And that’s indeed a question that a lot of people have, and I’m happy that you’re asking because we need to promote this and we need to promote private sector support and investment.
So as we all know where we’re independent mix, so it’s not only in Suriname but a lot of governments, and also in Suriname where we have our fiscal constraints right now. So that’s why we’re really pushing for private sector investment. The IDB invest our private sector. Of the Inter-American development bank, they, and do like the minimum approximately of 1 million.
So that’s already big. So that’s what we’ve been fighting for. So I’m like I’m advocating not only for myself, but to get her with the other small countries from the other Caribbean countries, but also from central American countries and saying, Hey, you know, a small project for a country, like Brazil is a huge project for, for our companies in Suriname.
So how do we deal with that? So one of the things that we’ve been doing is the IDB invest, can invest in financial intermediaries. So any financial institution like our commercial banks or other micro financier’s, whatever. And they have specific projects with those financial intermediaries would then with loan give, provide loans to SMEs.
So unfortunately I’ve been trying, and we’re not there yet that the IDB invest is able to lend directly to our small and medium enterprises because cost efficiency. It just, it doesn’t, it doesn’t work and they’re not able to abide by all the regulations and, and, and, and rules that the IDB invest would require from them.
Diego: [00:12:39] So this quickly brings the question. The IDB is a bank at its core, right. And you’ve previously worked at the central bank here in Suriname as well, we’ll go back to the, that journey in a bit, but that’s the wrap up the IDB part real quick. So the IDB is the inter inter American development bank, right?
The, the, the question that I’ve always had is I kind of understand, you know, how the central bank comes by money they created, and then you have a reserve, but how does an institution like the IDB on an international level get these funds to be able to lend, to developing countries, to be able to, as you said, invest in these countries.
Jade: [00:13:23] Also a good question. So yes, we are a bank, but we are a development bank. So any project that we do, if it’s with the governments or to private sector, it needs to have development impact. So let’s put that first. Second we have borrowing countries and we have non-borrowing member countries. So the shareholders who are non-borrowing member countries, they.
Put money in the bank and they are the funders of the bank. So that’s one area that, you know, we’re getting money in, but the second area, we are a development bank, but still we’re a bank we’re still giving loans with rent. So we also like the commercial banks still get money from those loans back into our wallets as well.
So different, different sources. And we do a lot of blended financing and we have a lot of other people like funds that, that also support.
Diego: [00:14:18] All right. That makes sense. I guess, yeah. And having a development, impact that’s a. Very tricky thing to do, right? Because then you come up with, you know, risk versus the actual repayment of it. And how does the, I guess the IDB deal with that kind of thing, cause you, you lend it to the financial institutions or you landed.
Jean-luc: [00:14:44] Diego.
They’re really strict.
Diego: [00:14:46] So how, how does risk play a role in that? And also with the currencies, with the different countries? I imagine that that makes it even more complicated.
Jade: [00:14:56] I’ll try to answer your questions. I don’t know an nitty-gritty because the offices go like in, in every country, in every borrowing member country, you have country offices and they know all these things. So they are the ones that talk to the people on the ground. Like, Hey, this is what you need. So I don’t see those things. I only see the end results, but so we do have mechanisms to see. What kind of impact we’re making and they have all these, I dunno, beautiful things that they do that would calculate like, okay, this is what we’re providing.
This is the risk. And it would calculate in what is the impact, for example, it could be job creation or, or, you know, your, your, your developing the agriculture sector. And this is what it will do to, so they have all these tools that do to work. So that’s kind of, I don’t know if that answers your question, but that would be somebody who was on the ground insert on, but we do have those mechanisms to calculate actually, if it’s, if it’s viable to, to do a project, but, but you’re right, but okay.
Jean-luc because I heard you, but I’m actually fighting. No, but I am not the one who strict I am fighting for us. So that’s why I always say to my people, you need to let me know what the hurdles are and what makes it difficult for you to get certain projects. Because that’s actually what I need to know as a board member.
Because if you tell me like, listen, we’ve been wanting to do this. This would be the impact for our Suriname et cetera. I can stress here and go to the teams and be like, listen, these things are not applicable in Suriname, and this is what we need to do different. And this is what we need to change to have quicker and better, more efficient procedures to get those loans for our people. So actually I’m the one who needs to fight with the people here. And that’s why I’m the representative. So, yes. So please tell me. Yeah,
Jean-luc: [00:16:53] because one of the people who I, who I did a proposal, I think it was IDB pro. So here was, was Paul. Paul is looking from LinkedIn. He says his connection is bad. So for the others who are watching from LinkedIn as well, please let us know if the connection is okay, because I also see Priscilla watching here Raoul also joining in my experience with IDB. I think there are two things and I think they’re positive.
So if you’re asking me for feedback, I’ll start a with of positive. I think it’s always phased meaning they’re different phases and you don’t get the funding from. For phase two, if you haven’t completed phase one, which I really think is a very logical and a good thing. I think the second thing is you, you have quite strict guidelines to get these funds, and I think that’s good as well, because at the end of the day, you are a bank and you have to loan.
You have to get someone somewhere, you have to get return of investment. Hey, speaking of the devil, we were talking about Timothy, I think, in a pre pre-show.Timothy also joining and thanks. And I’m gonna get to your the question of ideal in a second. So I think, I think the, the 1 million U S is kind of a it’s steep and the reason I think it’s steep for developing countries, to be honest, if you would give my company 1 million us dollars, I wouldn’t know what to do with it.
And I would be worried to invest it because if I would invest $1 million. I would not get my increment income to grow as quickly to kind of make it beneficial. So I would rather have a 10 to a hundred, a hundred K investment because I know with that investment, I can take the next step, whereas with a million, I mean, you’re going to invest in things that you probably won’t need, or you won’t be able to stretch your resources to make it work, to get an income, or are.
To make enough volume of sales to make it actually sustainable. And, and then also happens a lot with, with venture capitalists that, that put just poor money in a, in a company that’s totally not ready for that amount. And especially insurance, I mean, I can look at all the million dollar investments that have been done and yeah, the, the return of investment it’s, you can find ways to justify it.
But in most cases it was, it was just throwing money over just destroying money over the bank. And it was like, yeah, you’re not getting the most out of it. So on, you wants to know what is the key difference between the IDB and a commercial bank?
Jade: [00:19:17] So I already said it we are a development bank, so anything we do needs to be we need to know that it has a development impact, so we cannot just go and go landing, but that’s, I think that’s just the main difference.
Jean-luc: [00:19:31] For the rest is basically the same essence as a regular bar.
Jade: [00:19:35] Okay.
Diego: [00:19:35] All right. So I guess that paints the picture regular bank, and we have talked about venture capital a lot the last few weeks in the episodes and kind of, kind of similar positions. So I definitely get where Jean-luc coming from, so hopefully that, that that feedback helps you and your position, but for the others in the comment section as well, if you guys have feedback, you heard Jade send it her way or that, or know one way or another, but let’s shift the conversation, I guess if you will.
Jean-luc: [00:20:05] I want to question Diego before his shift. I do want to ask the pedigree question so last week we had. Enzo in our, in, in our talk from Startupeable which is a venture capitalist firm that helps startups get connected with a venture capitalist. And he mentioned the difference between a pedigree entrepreneur and non pedigree entrepreneur, basically saying that if you have a certain pedigree, like you’ve worked for big organizations, you have an MBA you can get actually capital with just the PowerPoint.
You just go out and you pitch and you get the money. Whereas. If you don’t, if you’re not a bad agree, if you don’t have the better yet, you don’t have any established records, or diplomas or anything from universities, big universities, or you haven’t worked for a big multinational, which kind of gives you the leverage that you can already network with these companies, you kind of, you have to start differently going out and pitching. You will get blanks all over the place. So it’s this something that’s relatable when you look at getting a investments or loans in from the IDB?
Jade: [00:21:13] No. So that’s, that’s perfect that you’re actually saying this. That’s, that’s also a big difference, I guess, so to IDB has, I mean, our slogan is improving lives and we are very much focused as well on sustainable development goals.
Right? So we have a lot of things that we need to consider. We look at gender diversity inclusions, or also including persons with disabilities. Et cetera. And we also, we are all about the most poor and vulnerable. So not only in the smaller countries, but there’s a huge inequality in Latin America. For example, we have it less in Suriname.
But the IDB is focused on targeting vulnerable groups. So it might be indeed women or persons with disabilities are just like poverty and poor people in general. So no, so that is exactly what we stand for. So if there’s anything, if there are entrepreneurs who are, they don’t have a background, they don’t even have a bank account, for example, because I still need to work on financial.
That is, those are the projects that we want to do because that focuses today. I had a meeting about the poor and vulnerable populations and how we go about with that. So, no, that’s the difference between venture capitalism I guess, and a bank like the IDB.
Diego: [00:22:35] Yeah. And I guess in that sense the target entrepreneur are more, the social entrepreneurs that’s kind of fit the category that you guys are even for. Am I correct?
Jade: [00:22:46] No, not necessarily. No, no, that doesn’t. No, we do. I mean, I haven’t, I haven’t mentioned that before, but we also have IDB lab, so we have three arms within the IDB. The IDB lab is also for the private sector, but for though what kind of smaller projects and more innovative projects, and they are able to take more risks and we have and Hannah that I bought, I had a beautiful project with the IDB lab, for example, where she had a project with, with, with youth and, and, and training them and educating them in soft skills, but also in, I think it was ICT in it skills.
Jean-luc: [00:23:22] Yeah. So I do
Jade: [00:23:28] go talk about my personal journey. What is going on?
Jean-luc: [00:23:32] Of course, of course we just started with the formal stuff. Don’t worry about it.
Diego: [00:23:39] So you have this social project, you have this experimental project and you have this impact on, you know, what is the return model there actually, because it is learn teaching skills, soft skills, it isn’t necessarily a service or a business or a product that you’re creating in that sense.
Jade: [00:23:57] Yeah. So the IDB lab is actually, yeah, you’re right. Sort of IDB lab is actually a donor committee. That’s how we call it, not the board. So whenever we meet it’s the donor committee, because all the countries that are a member and that, that those are. But less than a 48, they need to contribute. So it’s, it’s like the, how do you say it? There’s this, there’s a sort of the similar thing in certain on where people would put money in. And then, you know, Jean-luc is able to lend off that whole pod and then it goes round around. So it’s
Jean-luc: [00:24:28] yeah. It’s something like a cooperation.
Jade: [00:24:32] Yeah. So it was, yeah, so it was just a multilateral fund. So all the donor countries put their money in, obviously what they can Suriname of the last time we put money in was 1 million, I think, and a country like Brazil would put like 20 million or more.
And then you get within that whole pot of, of the money that all the donors have put in that is going to the different innovative projects. So that’s how they do it to your right. That said kind of a different model that we use for IDB Lab
Jean-luc: [00:25:04] so, but now I do want to know, like, for instance, and, and this is just to, to clarify, is it more likely that you have to watch out, like for the IDB, what sort of sectors and what kind of proposals they are looking for, or is it also, you can come up with your own proposal and an ask the IDB for a loan.
Jade: [00:25:24] Yeah. What’s your own proposal and then okay. As long as you can showcase what the development is. Okay. What is your target? Yep.
Diego: [00:25:32] Okay. Gotcha. Well, we will, we’ll shift away from that for now, but yeah. What’s curious for me, at least as well is you’ve your journey towards the IDB. We actually started where you’re at now. So at the end, so we’re gonna reverse to that a bit and look at that. we’re good. We’re going to repeat it to engineer that. So based on your background, you, you know born and raised here in Suriname um, till high school moved to the Netherlands to do your MBA graduated, there came back, worked for the central bank here in Suriname and you you’ve traveled in, in that time a fair bit as well. How has that abroad experience in the Netherlands and also your other travels changed or, added to your perspective on how this, especially the banking or financial system works and how it has that shaped you. Okay.
Jade: [00:26:22] Thank you for the question. So more of what I’ve learned from all my travels, is that correct?
I think you learn best by doing it. And that’s why I prefer experiences over anything else. I, for example, I don’t watch television. I don’t have cable, I don’t do those things. I like to, to just go out there and see what is going on. And that also helped me a lot in this position, because you need to be able to understand the different cultures where people come from and the different, like a lot of times in Suriname, we would say only in Suriname where it’s never only in Suriname it’s, it’s even worse.
It’s even worse outside of Suriname. So, you know, if you do a travel and do get to see what is actually going on in the rest of the world, and specifically in the rest of our region, you get a better perspective in, okay. This is what we have to deal with. What I do agree on a country like cinema, we have half a million people.
So I’ve also been asking myself the question, like, how can we not get it together? Right. We are not one of the other Latin American countries with millions of people that we need to provide. So I feel like we need to be able to get it together for our people, half a million people. I think we do have the knowledge and capabilities in Suriname and, but just to implement and put it in actual work, I don’t know what we’re missing, but I think with this new generation, just looking at you guys with this initiative, for example, we will be able to do beautiful things with, with our country.
So, yes. So in the board, for example, we need to work with 48 countries. I need to understand. And I often say it’s usually not the work that is the most difficult to do. We’ll figure it out. You can Google, whatever it’s mostly, how do you get the people behind whatever you want to accomplish? And how do you get those people behind?
Is, do you understand them? Do you know where they’re coming from? Do you know how to approach them? Do you know how to make them feel heard like, and that’s, I think what has helped me here as well, and I think being from Suriname as well, because I’m a mix culturally I’ve I grew up in Suriname I’m a born in Suriname but also had my schooling, as you said, in, in the Netherlands, but also that European perspective.
So to be able to talk to the Asians here within the bank or the Europeans or the Latins in the way they work and to get things done really helped me professionally and also personally. So it does really help to, to get out there and travel and experience.
Diego: [00:28:56] Is there anything in particular that comes to mind?
Definitely. Is there anything that, that, that quickly comes to mind when you say we take things for granted or that, you know they have it worse over there that comes to mind that we should appreciate more that we have here.
Jade: [00:29:16] Yes. And that also goes back to the first question of like how I coped with the pandemic. I would see, I obviously have my social media with all of my peoples still, and, it’s normal. We all felt the pandemic in our own individual ways. We had a, we had a full lockdown as well in DC and I had not exited my one bedroom apartment for three or four months just walls. Nobody to talk to.
I was alone, no family, nobody. So people would ask, like how, how do you cope with that? Right. It’s like, whoa, because a lot of people like concern them. You cannot go out for a day. Oh my God. Like, so for me, it’s, it’s about the perspective. Just really being thankful that I had a job where I did not need to go outside.
So I was still able to provide for myself to provide for food. I had a safe place to, to stay in because we just, the things that people had to go through that need to live in a super small area with 20 people abuse. I don’t know what you’ve been wanting to think about all the nasty things that have been happening because of the pandemic.
So if you put things in perspective, you really like it’s, it’s, it’s just your day just gets better and just really put things in perspective. Yeah. Did I answer your question? I think I went through the emotional side, but yeah,
Jean-luc: [00:30:46] there are questions here that I know we’re going to get you even more so, because I don’t even want to ask my question anymore because there’s so many good questions.
So no, I think actually the thing that struck me as, like you said, the diversity is an advantage. I always believe like one of the biggest, the strongest assets Surinamese people have is they can adapt anywhere in the world because they are so multi diverse that they’ve kind of seen all ethnic ethnicities, So
they kind of can blend in everywhere. But I, I I’m wondering now that you mentioned it because you were saying like, we are not always aware, like other countries, I do feel Suriname has the most diverse ethnic. Like different ethnicities over 5% or even maybe two or 3% of the population. And it doesn’t necessarily hinder the development, but you do have to take all those different cultures into account.
And I do think even though we only have half a million, so it should be easier. I think it might have something to do with it. But again, that’s a very, very personal opinion. So, so let’s go to the questions. And I think this is a really interesting question by Anna because she asks does IDB support real estate projects that can help a lot of young people slash young adults. Do you know of certain projects? Do you maybe do a project that IDB did that would be, could be replicated somewhat replicated to Suriname for real estate
Jade: [00:32:12] yes, we do. We do a lot in infrastructure and, and, and, and real estate. I’ve been to one of the projects myself in Brazil. And again, that’s also, that is the best part I think about the job. So they actually brought us to a project where two people were living and in super bad conditions and, and, and very, very, very bad. And then afterwards, they brought us to the place where like, it was indeed real estate apartment buildings, where everybody was moved to. So, you know, just to see that transition.
Because the people have a better life now because the IDB funded a project like that just warms your heart and then you say, okay, you know, I’m on the right track. And the IDB is an institution that we actually really need because w we all have that question. Right. And I think you guys are also, you have that in my, like, is, is the IDB really something that countries would need like a lot, what has been going on in, and I’m like, oh, and another project, another loan.
But if you do see these projects where the livelihoods, and then the way of living really improves for people, then you’re, then you understand what the IDB does. So, yes. And, and what we want and what you’re saying, like what we want to try, w what we try to do is yes. If we see a successful project somewhere else, and for us looking at other Caribbean countries, for example, we do ask, you know, how can we replicate that in Suriname and, and also have that successful project. So we do, we do that.
Jean-luc: [00:33:37] Okay. That’s good to know, because I think like, especially studying abroad and seeing like people, especially students in Suriname, still living with their parents. And also there are no really cheap student housing. There’s one now. And that’s already kind of been an issue to really get it going.
But I think especially with the market was saturated. With, with interns, a lot of Dutch interns that were willing to pay 300 and 400 euros a month for, for rent. And basically like if you’re a Surinamese students, you can’t afford 300 euros a month now with the current exchange rate.
Definitely not. So I think that’s a very interesting question by Anna and Tanya wants to go a little bit more into detail about your ballet days. And she wanted to know if there’s something that she learned during those years, if she implemented any of those lessons from them in everyday life. So from
Jade: [00:34:31] well my hair, my hair is still the same.
A lot of people complain. Why do you have that bun well, it comes from the ballet days and I really love my bun and it’s not going anywhere. No, but it does, it did teach me discipline. It was something I did for 13 years in Suriname where I had to be disciplined. I had a lot of times where I did not want to go to my classes and it was mandatory for me.
it looks like something small, but that’s why kids and children in, in, in, in, in, in general, they need something after school to get that discipline. I think I would see the difference with people that did not have something mandatory after school and how their discipline is because I mean, you remember, and then you become a teenager.
You’re like, no, I want to just chill with my friends and then, oh no, you need to go and you need to go and practice your belly. So it did teach me discipline and I kept it. It kept me motivated till this point to be active and to live a healthy lifestyle. I’ve always been dancing. After ballet, I started dancing salsa.
I have been teaching salsa for four years in my days in Amsterdam and here I just have time for the gym. I still do Zumba. So it’s a whole lifestyle that was created by doing 13 years of that. So, yeah, it’s contributed a lot,
Diego: [00:35:49] quite a few people know you from the dancing day, so
Jade: [00:35:53] danced together. Yes,
Diego: [00:35:55] Marvin, that’s great to know that it actually, you know, translate it into, you know, life skills to call it that and that, you know, discipline. That’s really great to know. And then to go more into, you know, the personal, you already mentioned, you had a, you have this diverse background, you are mixed, so you kind of understand how things work. But then we have a question here from Nicole and she says, have you ever experienced discrimination in your profession because you’re a woman? If so, how have you handled that?
Jade: [00:36:24] I love that question. Thank you, Nicole. Obviously yes, I am. From the day I started representing Suriname the board till today I am the youngest woman represented. Country. So Bravo, cinema and I’ve comes. Yeah. So it comes with a lot of challenges and, and my friend Timothy, who’s also underlined knows about these things.
How have I handled that? Well, I’ve never really thought about it cautiously because I grew up with only men and I didn’t know it was an obstacle to begin with. So my attitude, I, what they call it here was all, always being a tomboy. So I have a big mouth. So whenever what somebody would want to say something, I would not, you know, I would respond.
So I didn’t, see how that affected me in the beginning, but a lot of times I would actually identify that I need to show people first that I actually have a brain. Because you are a woman you’re young and you walk into a room, people would just, they have different assumptions first, unfortunately, and then you would need to do your best extra than a man.
Like if a man would walk in and be like, Hey, I’m young, but whatever people would not think twice like, oh, you know, is he supposed to be here? And how did he get here? And as a woman, you would get those things. And how do I handle that? Just you really should not be bothered and what I’ve learned. So we had an executive training here for just women.
And I was the one who said, why is it just for women? You know, we need to be like, it needs to be with, with just males and females. And the women of the board almost killed me. But afterwards I saw the difference in what other women were experiencing in how they feel. like that they cannot speak how they want to speak because they are a woman, I guess it’s very cultural.
The difference also lives in the different cultures. So in the Latin, in the Latin culture, for example, you would see the difference in the women as well. And the rear European women who also don’t, they don’t mind, they just have a big mouth back. So you would see the different cultures as well. So really just, I don’t know, I don’t have a specific answer in how to deal with it, but just really speak your mind and believe in yourself. It just really the cliche stuff, like just do whatever you think you should do for you. It’s it sounds cliche, but it’s really true. I’m sorry if I didn’t answer that nicely.
Diego: [00:39:05] No, I, I think it’s a great way to put it. A lot of things that are, you know, pretty straight forward are cliche and really simple. And often people over-complicate things and make it more than it is in that sense. And you just mentioned before you started to answer this question, you know, you’re, you’re the youngest woman youngest individual even not even just the woman on the board there.
Jade: [00:39:28] So youngest woman
Diego: [00:39:29] representing a country at the moment.
Okay. Yeah. Youngest moment representing the country. But that brings the question then. How do you get that opportunity? How do you even leverage getting into that position from, you know, working here at the central bank and going to a international organization? Like the IDB?
Jade: [00:39:46] Yeah, so again, just, I was just doing whatever I felt that I had to do. So I, I, yeah, I moved from the Netherlands to Suriname and started at a central bank at a central bank. Different positions. And I was always involved in bank wide projects. I was a certified trainer for the bank, so I trained different ministries in financial education. And at night, that was also part of it.
I was a teacher at the business school. So I was always involved with a lot of things. And the steps that I took were very deliberate. I started at the human resource department, but the day I started, that was the data. The human resource department also started. So I, at that point I told the then governor.
Yes. I’m willing to take this job to work on developing this human resource department because that it’s, it’s a nice opportunity, right? To set up a whole department at a central bank, but that was not my ambition for the, for the future. So whenever that would be set in stone, I would want to move forward.
And after that I did get different opportunities. Two specific opportunities at two different departments within the bank. I think three different opportunities, but I chose the one that I knew would get me to my international career, which was international relations, that department. I think I was able I’m it was not set in stone, but I was able to be a manager within the bank, but I refused.
I was like, no, that’s not my ambition that I would just be a manager dare, but I was just looking forward in, what do you want to do? Even if it’s just be an officer within the department. And that’s what I chose. So I got through that last department where I was working at the international relations department.
And again, always involved in many other things, like I think five bank wide projects and doing a lot of stuff. And at one point being at the international relations, department and doing all these things, I was asked like, would you read this? This opportunity came of like the representative for Suriname in the IDB.
They asked me, would you be interested to have an interview with the then minister of finance for the job? And I thought about it half a second. That’s how long it took me to say yes. And the person was like, I need to think about it. Like about like, no, do I need to go for the interview now? Do I need to pack?
And that’s legit how it happened. I thought, I didn’t think about it. I really knew what I wanted. So I got an interview, I think four days later, And I got the job. And I moved here a month after, so that’s how it went. And I guess because yes, a lot of people have been asking these questions over the years and I thought it was a normal decision.
And now like a lot of people are like, oh my God, you know, you live in Washington DC. Like how is that? And to the move. And it’s so huge for me was really not a huge move. So that’s just my personality. Don’t ask me what I will eat tonight because I’m very indecisive when it comes to small decisions.
Like, I don’t know, like pizza or I dunno, but if it’s like a certain big position or a a decision that I need to make, then I just, I, I just know what I want. And I guess I don’t have that fear of the unknown. I actually get very excited of the unknown.
Jean-luc: [00:43:04] You know, I have always a theory about that, but before we do a I’m quickly going to go back to the comments Kenzo wanted to let you know that you were put things nicely in perspective.
I think this was about the COVID part, even back in, earlier in the conversation Nicole is very satisfied with your, with your answer. And Gregory was once us to know that he had a really nice LinkedIn interaction with you and that you were super nice and he wished he could follow, but he actually got vaccinated today.
So he’s kind of following the conversation only following the conversation at the moment. And I’m gonna combine like what I was about to say with, with Arvind’s questions, because. I’ve had similar opportunities to go abroad to get that international experience. And it went differently for me, but I also think it’s partly because of commitment and where you are in your life at that moment, because.
I think it’s for you. It might be fairly natural how things went, but, but connected to the question that Arvin has, I want to do also want to pull back on the decision to go for an MBA and being able to go for an MBA, because I think that’s also an important factor because, because of the MBA and also the experience that you had that position was open for you where other people would maybe want the job, but they didn’t commit.
And it even goes back to your air bot for the discipline of saying like, I’m disciplined, I’m going to finish this and I’m going to go for this. So kind of connected to that is I’m going to try or allow you to, to answer both questions. Arvind is asking how will you the inspired, the next generation to follow in your footsteps and kind of connected to it.
How do you feel were your three key factors to your success? So they can. Like looking back now at that situation, what kind of, paved the way for you to get this career opportunity? And also maybe others watching this can learn from that as well.
Jade: [00:45:02] So I didn’t do an MBA. I did my masters in business administration, but I have an MSC and not an MBA title. There is kind of a difference. So I don’t know if I should say that before people are like, you don’t have an MBA. I have a MSC. that was just natural. I did that right after my bachelor’s. We all know that in the Netherlands, it’s not as expensive as an MBA or a master’s in, in the U S so it wasn’t crazy.
It wasn’t, I think like it was kind of the obvious decision at that time, because at the time maybe Jean-luc, you had the same experience. Europe was in a crisis that time, because the crisis that economic crisis hit Europe a bit later than the U S and other north American countries. So at a time that I was graduating, a lot of people were going back to study, but I always knew I wanted to do a master’s.
I wasn’t ready after my bachelor’s to just have my bachelor’s to be gone, because I always had like a strong ambition to do a lot. So, yes, again, I made deliberate decisions in, I would never say never, but I don’t think he would excite me to work for the private sector. For me. It’s really about the purpose.
So if you’re talking about going, I’m combining the questions a bit, but three key success factors. And again, a lot of what we’ve been saying is cliche, but to really follow your, what you think your purpose is like, I wouldn’t get this excited or want to work extra hours. If I wouldn’t feel for it, right.
You can not excite me. Like if you would have those conversations with venture capitalism or you would not excite me to just be like, oh yeah, $5 million or money doesn’t excite me. Impact really excites me, but that’s me as a person though. Everybody else has somebody something else. So what, I just, just to go back to an example of one of my friends during my masters, so we were doing the masters and he was able to, at that time already identify like, yes, I am studying, I’m doing a masters, but what would actually make me happy itself fries at the local market, Albert Kuyp in the Netherlands.
That’s just where my heart is. So if you know what motivates you and a lot of people have been saying this over the years, but again, it does give you that extra strength. And I said earlier as well, Usually it’s not even the task that you need to do at work, but it’s really the difference in an individual is your perseverance, your, your motivation, and just a dedication that you put in the effort in whatever you do.
And that really makes a difference because, oh my God, there are so many people with PhDs, with masters, with whatever. I mean, a lot of people have studied like con economics and business and whatever, but what really makes the difference is really your, your, your, your input, your own personality, and everybody has their own personality and how they can leverage and add value to that.
So that’s, that would really be my. My advice and what I would advise my students back in the day was, again, I also said, this don’t go for a title. Don’t go for whatever you think that society or your parents, or whatever, want like a lot of people, I think, especially in our, in our environments, it’s like, oh my God, you need this beautiful, like the title, like incident, not incident I’m, everybody’s a manager, right?
Like if you go to organizations, like everybody’s a manager, you would have different layers of managers like why? Like people really put a lot of value to, to the name in where again, go for, if people would be like, oh my God, Jay, can you advise, like I have these two opportunities, this one is a manager’s position.
And this one is just whatever it’s like. But look at the, description. And which one fits you and would get you through the next step in where you want to go further on in life. So that’s the way to look at things and not just yeah, again, I’ve not been following the normal stuff like Suriname I’m going back to the travel question.
Like a lot of people would be like, Jade, how are you still able to travel? And I’ve like, did you not buy your big television, whatever screen last week? I’m like, yeah, I don’t have a television at home. Even in Suriname. I didn’t have a television as well. I was living in a 40 square meter house. But I was traveling again because I like to invest in travel, in education.
So in not just in material stuff, but really investing in yourself. So that’s also one of the key success factors invest in yourself. And that goes till you’re done, I guess, till you die, because I will never stop investing in myself. So I do put a lot of money into myself, in the form of paying for a coach or doing like I’ve been to the region a lot for Spanish school going to school.
And I, I pay myself like going two weeks through whatever Peru or whatever, just to, to have that experience and to, to educate myself.
Diego: [00:49:54] That’s great. I quickly like to summarize all that you said there, just to, you know have it in a packet format. And to me it sounds, you know, you were very deliberate in your positioning, especially in the bank days going for that international relations role instead of manager, because the opportunities are, even though it may not have been matched that position, it had bigger opportunities in the long run and that paid off in the end.
And another thing I wanted to touch on us, you know, you mentioned the economic crisis in Europe kind of delay from north America and. I remember when I was doing my post-graduate the program director from my program, he was also saying is in times of crisis, people go to school and that’s, you kind of, you know, the opportunity to invest in yourself to learn these are growing moments.
And I think this is a very fortunate opportunity for many to invest a lot into education. I’m glad that you mentioned that as well. So to bring that into perspective we got a question here from Priscilla, which is asked, which career opportunities are there at the IDB for young professionals who want to gain international experience. Is there, you know, like you said, is there a position you could leverage to get that opportunity.
Jade: [00:51:11] Yeah, we do have a lot of opportunities. I would need to figure out how it is now with the pandemic going on. But we do have the young person like internships and fellowships going on. So always follow the website and not only the IDB, but also the world bank, the United nations, like all these institutions have those programs.
So yes, definitely. And you can always reach out, we have an office there and you can always reach out to the office in Suriname as well. But we do also have, so the, the internships here headquarters again, I am not sure how that works now because we’re not even in the office. So I would need to figure that out, but yes, so there are always opportunities and everything is on the website. So also if people want more, more information on projects and Suriname, everything is transparent and on the website
Diego: [00:51:57] Gotcha. I definitely want to, I do have one question on the last thing you mentioned on investing your, you said, you know, you’re learning another language you invest in a coach.
What’s the, I guess, what was your thought process on, you know, choosing a coach deciding to go with a coach and how does that work for you? As many people nowadays, you have life coaches, you have all these kinds of coaches popping up. It’s kind of becoming really mainstream, but for you personally, what value did you see in a coach?
Jade: [00:52:28] Yeah, I, I also I don’t have a lot of patients, so I like to do things fast and I was wondering like, how can I even progress even more? Okay. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years here in DC. What are my next steps? I feel like I need to brainstorm with a coach. I felt like I had to do more. I did a lot of different things.
So coaching started in the pandemic I also had virtual Spanish classes. So indeed took advantage. I took advantage of the, of the pandemic in, Hey, I’m at home. I might as well do this and this and that. So because I really was, I wanted to talk to somebody to, to figure out what my next steps should be. And because again, I want more and I want to grow and I couldn’t figure out if there was so much going on in my head, I felt like I needed somebody to, to organize that for me, for now, what it has brought is that I have, I started, I’m busy with my own project and I’m launching my own brand in, I think, nine days.
So I was able to, again, if, even if it’s just for brainstorming, you know, that person can then slap you in the right way, right. Directly. It, it always helps. I think everybody needs a coach because a lot of people would be like, oh, but if you need a coach, why would you need a coach? Everybody needs a coach.
Even the coach has a coach. Like my coach has a coach. so I think it’s, it’s always beneficial. And I know a lot of things are now mainstream. Everybody is also spiritual, but I’ve been doing, I’ve been this way for a very long time before it was mainstream. And for myself, I’m also very, like, I always want to, I, I, in my agenda, I feel like I need to learn at least two days, two things per day.
And I feel very unaccomplished if I haven’t learned anything in a day. So
Jean-luc: [00:54:18] really love that.
Jade: [00:54:20] Yeah. And I respect that. It’s something that I would, you know. Yeah. So, so yeah, it helps a lot with everything and it’s, again, what you, what you want to use it for. Right. It can be for anything if whatever your profession is, but having somebody to, to brainstorm and to, to, to get you into the right direction.
Jean-luc: [00:54:43] So the people are really loving the conversation. Jade. Gyanno saying he’s loving your answers. Marvin’s saying through, and thanks for sharing, inspiring words. Murli is also saying that’s true. Thanks for sharing. Our friend is very satisfied with your answer. And Renee also wants to mention like your journey is an inspirational message for, for young people, especially females to firstly, and consciously pursue their goals.
So people are really loving it. I feel this is the right time for you to plug what you’re up to and give people else maybe like a little teaser on, on what your are we are planning to do. Anil also quickly wants this to jump in and say amazing and inspiring journey. So feel free to plug because I think this is the first time we were like, deliberately saying, like, we’re going to plug something now, but go ahead.
Jade: [00:55:31] Yeah. Yeah. And that for me is the first time talking about it as well. No, I, so again, I’ve been in this, this whole journey and what can I do more? So I’ve been doing this and realizing like, I want to reach more people in, in what I am doing, but also what the world needs, right? Like I’m very passionate about, about development.
And so I decided to start my own brand where I want to advocate and create awareness about the sustainable development goals of the United nations. And the goals are set for 2030. So we have less than 10 years to go to, to, to fulfill these goals. And a lot of people and individuals think it’s far from their bed, it’s like far from their bed show and that it needs to be done by governments or big organizations or institutions like the IDB.
But we don’t realize. Every individual can contribute to all these SDGs. So that’s the brand. I want to promote that in different ways. So my brand for now, I think it’s the beginning of a whole lot more, but for now I will be selling clothes and products that are sustainable and also having an awareness collection where you would see and talk about, you know, diversity inclusion and the number one, the number one sustainable development goal is eradicating poverty.
And then also making aware that people need to be. Aware that they need to consume consciously because we’re all like fast fashion is pretty much in like, oh my God, I’m going to buy this. And, and we’re not aware of where all those clothes end up and how it pollutes the environment or that again, an individual can really lower their own individual, carbon footprint, like use a bottle.
Like why do you need to buy water, plastic bottles or don’t take the plastic bag. If you buy one or two products or take your own sustainable bag, would you, so it’s all in small things. I’ve been creating that for myself in my home. I think my home is 80% sustainable. Even like the detergent that I use, even my toilet cleaner and everything in my kitchen.
But we think that we’re not making a difference, but think about all the individuals is 7 billion people. If they would do just a little bit in how it would actually help the world. And we don’t, we cannot think about it anymore. We don’t have, I think the luxury to not contribute individually as well.
Diego: [00:58:10] That brings me to my final question. I guess, if you had to describe Jade as in what would you call to be your superpower?
Jade: [00:58:25] Yeah, I think my mindset, I think I was, I think I was really privileged and to, to be born this way because when I started reading about spirituality, A long time ago. I was like, oh my God, but this is the way I live. I don’t need to work on it. Like a lot of people need to work on it, like, oh, let’s have this positive mindset.
And it really comes natural to me. So that is one of the things, but I’m actually a very simple person. So that’s just that, that would just describe me, I think.
Diego: [00:58:58] Great. And then to add to that, if you had to say, what would Suriname’s superpower be? And you know, compared to on a larger scale as a nation,
Jade: [00:59:09] like if you go to Suriname you see the world, I think that’s a super power and that where we need to leverage you know, to multicultural people that we have and everything that we have to offer.
So I don’t think that if that is the superpower, I think that would be because again, so my brand, my brand’s name is foreign exchange. So that comes to the question as well. People often think if they see the name foreign exchange, they’re like, oh, currency, are you trading? Or are you doing this? I’m like, no, exactly.
This is why people think they want to know. What we forget is that humans are like human resources are the most valuable foreign exchange that we have. And it has been for years, everybody is for an exchange. You are a foreigner, I’m for an exchange I’m from Suriname here contributing to contributing to the economy of, of, of the U S as well.
Thank you, Timothy, but a shout out. But yeah, so I don’t know if that answers your question, but I think that we need to, like, that is one of our superpowers.
Diego: [01:00:09] No, I love it. Then I think that also answers Arvind’s question foreign exchange is the name of the brand. So there you have it. Thanks Jade.
Jean-luc: [01:00:17] Yeah. And now you’re getting a lot of loft so quickly some outs from Priscilla, love it we need to embrace our own individual responsibility and can make a difference for sure. And Tanya’s loving it as well. So I want to close it off a little bit light because we went pretty deep in to certain topics. So what do you miss most about Suriname?
Jade: [01:00:38] The food, the food and the people. Okay. I love my people.
Jean-luc: [01:00:45] What’s food specifically. Can’t you get, or can you get it in Washington? RSE?
Jade: [01:00:50] It’s different so I can get similar items. Right? So I’ve, so one of the main things I’ve been missing here is that we don’t have Indonesian food, but now I now know that Malaysian food is pretty similar to, to Indonesian food.
So I now go to the Malaysian for my Indonesian food. I go to the Chinese origin of Chinese food. I go to the Caribbean to have my Curry roti, Curry whatever. So I, I know where to go sort of to get similar products or I need to cook, but yeah. So the, yeah, I am able to get some, some good food, but I do miss our food.
Jean-luc: [01:01:26] Okay. And a Tanya connects something to the last question, and she also wants to see, she’s happy that you’re actively sharing everything that you do on LinkedIn. So please for us continue to do so, which kind of builds up to the last question, which of course the question that we always ask to our guests and that’s where can people contact you?
Whether it’s a pitch idea for the IDB are just connecting with which you personally,
Jade: [01:01:53] Well, I, yeah, via social media or my email address, or like, like all social media channels, I think LinkedIn and I can connect you to the right people within the IDB. Again, I am just the person that will connect you to the right people on the ground in Suriname because I don’t do that as a board member, but I’m very happy to connect you to those who would be able to help.
Are you guys providing all my, my information you guys are providing, we’ll put them in post
Jean-luc: [01:02:21] the, let, let me say it correctly, Diego. We’ll put it in post.
Jade: [01:02:26] Great.
Diego: [01:02:26] Yeah. So you will put all the contact details, everything that Jade mentioned in the description, once we release the episode on the website and all the podcasting platform. But, but that being said, Jade thank you so much for sharing with us, sharing your journey. You kind of we, we, we, we can go on, we can go on, but
Jean-luc: [01:02:46] we’ll do a follow-up episode. I mean, we will definitely do a follow-up episode,
Diego: [01:02:51] very specific, you know, on your journey to the IDB kind of, you know, the, the way we did it this time, which kind of reversed how we usually do it.
And it was really interesting to see, get the heavy lifting out of out of the door first. And then, you know casually ease in the more fun conversation, but thank you for sharing so openly that the chat really love what you’re saying. And I also want to thank the chat, you know, for asking all these questions and showing your love and support.
So with that being said, you guys know the drill episode will be edited and released on Saturday or at podcasting platforms. So if you have people who’ve missed this friends, family, let them know Jade was very inspiring. Like let them get inspired and we are looking forward to foreign exchange. Thank you so much.
Jade: [01:03:38] Thank you. Jean-luc: [01:03:38] Thank you so much for being our guests, Jade, and thank you all for being active in the comments. And thank you for watching. Thank you for listening. This was Social Confoes, and we’ll be back here next Tuesday. Bye.