Muriel’s Cosmetic Gifts: An entrepreneur on the rise in Suriname

Priscilla Wielzen-Hoogdorp works as a teacher in the District of Coronie in Suriname. Coronie is often referred to as the “Coconut district” of Suriname. Pricilla and her husband, Benson, have three young children.

Climate change effects in the region and other obstacles mean they must diversify their income streams to make sure their family is financially secure.  This is what spurred Priscilla to start making cosmetic products from coconut oil, which they had readily available.

Every business starts with an idea

While helping out at a local beauty salon, Priscilla realised that she could make additional income by selling beauty products. Inspired and determined, Priscilla decided to launch her own brand of papaya-based products: Muriel’s Cosmetic Gifts. The brand offers three types of skin and hair care:  Papaya oil, papaya soap and papaya vaseline, made with coconut oil that she sources from the district itself.

Profit for all

She sells them in gift bags of three products. Each one sells for around US$ 8 in the capital, where her relatives take care of sales on commission. Overall, she brings a profit of approximately US$ 637 a month to her family, and also enables extra income for her relatives.

Enabling growth through alliances

Thanks to promotion through Facebook, Priscilla is gaining regional and international interest, and is motivated to scale up her business. The International Trade Centre’s Alliances for Action programme and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) are supporting Priscilla and other coconut entrepreneurs across the Caribbean region through the ‘Alliances for Coconut Industry Development in the Caribbean project, funded by the European Union and CARIFORUM.

They will support her on topics such as branding, product development and marketing. Priscilla is also a member of the national coconut processors WhatsApp group that is managed by the project’s National Coordinator in Suriname, Mr. Jerrol Renfurm, where members exchange tips and knowledge.

Priscilla is on the rise, and we can’t wait to share more on her journey very soon. Stay tuned!


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