In 1971, 50 years ago, the first branch of Optiek Ninon opened in Suriname. The company sought to provide optical services to the people of Suriname and over the past five decades, the company has expanded its services to six different locations in the Dutch-speaking nation.
On Thursday, however, the company opened its seventh outlet, and this time, it was in Guyana.
The business, located at 219 Camp Street, Georgetown, has a staff complement of five people- who are all Guyanese and one Surinamese Head of Sales.
“From the initial moment we set out eyes on Guyana- I think five years ago- I was certain that we had everything it took,” Derrick Klaverweide, the company’s Manager of General Affairs and Business Development, said on Thursday.
According to him, the two countries share many similarities; they are both large countries with small populations and they have similar demographics and economies. As such, expanding to Guyana was almost a ‘no-brainer’.
Meanwhile, Managing Director of the company, Danielle Elkerbout said that planning for this venture has involved the dedicated efforts of many people, some of whom were willing to leave Suriname and take up residence in Guyana.
Importantly, she said that it was imperative for the company to expand its operations since the company has been growing well.
And, referencing the Guyanese outlet, Elkerbout highlighted, “This is just the beginning of our international endeavours.”
The outlet’s launch was attended by the Senior Minister within the Officer of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni SIngh and Suriname’s Foreign Minister Albert Ramdin.
The Surinamese Minister is in Guyana as part of a visiting high-level delegation that includes Suriname’s Head-of-State Chandrikapersad Santokhi.
The Surinamese and Guyanese authorities have been working closely to improve business opportunities and generally, the lives and livelihoods of citizens in both countries.
On Thursday, the Foreign Minister dubbed Optiek Ninon’s opening as “symbolic”.
It was not that he was filled with immense national pride, nor was it because this is a business he is a patron of.
Instead, it was because the opening illustrated the vast economic potential that can be garnered through an integration of the Guyanese and Surinamese economies.
“We strongly believe that these two markets must be seen as one market,” the Foreign Minister said.
He also noted that this is part of the high-level discussions between Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali and President Santokhi.
Guyana’s Senior Minister Dr. Singh echoed similar sentiments.
“Our Presidents have spent the last two days speaking about how we can achieve an even more effective integration or realisation of the singularity of the economic space that we live and work in,” he said.
Earlier Thursday morning, Dr. Singh said that Guyanese and Surinamese companies should look towards expanding their operations into each other’s countries.
As the two governments seek to deepen their cooperation, the Optiek Ninon company is already eyeing further expansion in Guyana.
When asked by the News Room about his plans for expansion, Klaverweide said, “It is the ambition to do so.”
He, however, explained that the company is more focused on ensuring that its first Guyanese outlet can provide a level of service to Guyanese.
“First and foremost, we want this to be solid,” he emphasised.
Once that has been achieved, then he said the team would be able to quickly expand and make its services more accessible.