PHILIPSBURG–Music Producer Bertaux “Mr. Rude” Fleming, who amassed 101 votes in Friday’s St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) elections said he is overwhelmed and appreciative of the support he received at the polls.
Fleming will spend the next three years on the COCI board representing small businesses. He said in a press release that he was motivated to run because of the challenges he faced in trying to start his own businesses. Since returning from the Netherlands with a degree in Computer Science, Fleming worked hard to kick off his companies – Xtratight Entertainment, Genesis Music Group and Quality Sweepers. But the road was not an easy one he said.
“As a young entrepreneur in 2011, when I tried registering my businesses, I got the feeling that St. Maarten was not pro-entrepreneurship, because of the number of challenges I faced. In order to motivate certain things, the process has to be as simple as possible. I was faced with too many challenges. I continue to hear the cry from the small businesses and after five years of working and surfing above the water myself, through hard work and being focussed, I think it was time.”
One of the main goals he would like to see while serving small businesses on the board of the Chamber is the push to educate young locals on how to go about starting their own businesses.
“I want us to create opportunities to elevate small businesses/entrepreneurs … to motivate them.”
This passion stemmed from his own observation as a child where he saw many locals owning their own businesses. “The average people on St. Maarten used to own businesses. Now we see that has declined so much where there are not many local businesses surfacing. So I would like to encourage that next generation, especially if you do not want to work hard for others; then at least be willing to work hard for yourself,” Fleming said.
He believes that the Chamber must do more to educate people and help them to network with larger companies to learn the ropes. “The Chamber can’t put money in your pocket. There is only so much the Chamber can do and that is to educate you, train you, and open your eyes to the various options that you have to enter to the business market.”
Fleming is giving himself about two months to get a good understanding of the inner workings of the Chamber before he starts working on his ideas. He said he needs to know the rules of engagement before he engages. Although his three companies keep him busy, he believes that by helping others, he would help himself to be a better entrepreneur and, by extension, help his fledgling island-nation be more entrepreneurship-friendly.
This is the first time that Fleming has been nominated for a Chamber position and he did it because he wanted the population know what he represents. “I believe by winning people in a natural way … by hearing what they are saying. That resulted in an amazing result of 101 votes. I am very happy. I am overwhelmed. What is very obvious to me is that the appreciation of the support and the love for this achievement go beyond the businesses. It feels like the entire St. Maarten community is rooting for this achievement for me and it says a lot.”
He thanks his family, especially his wife, Shasca, as well as his friends for the support. “I had a super team, including my campaign manager, but the biggest support was the people of St. Maarten. It was amazing to me how many people championed this new endeavour of mine. I generally feel that St. Maarten is happy for me,” Fleming said.