Rudi D. Sardjoe, founder and president of Rudisa Image Credit: Supplied

What started as a one-man company back in 1975, today is one of the most prosperous businesses in Suriname and the CARICOM region. Rudisa’s companies distribute the basic products consumers need and they work with the most renown brands of each sector. From food to automobiles to media to travel, they cover it all. They also focus on industrial distribution and consulting, whether it is fuel, heavy machinery, cement, lumber, shipping, mining, electricity or real estate. How did this outstanding success came to be? According to the company’s founder and president, Rudi D. Sardjoe, “a good balance sheet can only be made if you have enough consumers in the country or if you have a lot of companies”, explaining that they chose the latter and that is how Rudisa came to be what it is today.

Furthermore, given their success in Suriname, Rudisa opened branches in Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad, and later on, offices in the United States, India and China that serve as stations to redirect container loads to the country. Nowadays, they are expanding their presence in Guyana aiming to mirror the development they had in Suriname. Ironically, their spectacular growth has sometimes been challenging, especially when it comes to getting funds from local banks. “We are bigger than all the banks together," highlights Sardjoe, explaining that now they take loans for credit and not business purposes.

Suriname_article 3
Rudisa’s current focus is on expanding their product base by producing its own food products. Image Credit: Agencies

Nevertheless, Rudisa’s current focus is on expanding their product base by producing its own food products. They are currently in conversations with companies in Germany, Turkey and the US to develop this project focusing on agriculture and livestock. On the one hand, although Rudisa is the number one supplier of milk in the country, the fact that close to 90 per cent of what is consumed is imported powder milk has motivated them to start producing their own fresh milk, as it will profit them and Suriname’s economy too. “This is going to save the country a lot of money in imports, because milk powder is a very expensive product," assures Sardjoe.

On the other hand, Rudisa is also looking into agriculture to produce soy and corn in Suriname. To achieve this, they started consulting with Embrapa, a Brazilian agricultural research corporation specialised in sustainable development. Additionally, they want to expand their water bottling plant to export water beyond their local neighborhood. Currently they export 100 containers monthly to Guyana, Trinidad and Barbados, and they are in conversations with Pepsi, Walmart and other companies to enter the US market.

Above all, they are open to investors willing to produce in Suriname and distribute in the Caribbean market, particularly the French Caribbean nations, a promising prospect with its 25 million people and a high-end, EU market economy.

Rudisa is not all about profit though. Through their Foundation, they provide their employees home loans at affordable rates, between 0-3 per cent interest. “Our motto is that everybody that works with us should have their own house and property," assures Sardjoe. They also provide funds for medical treatments and sporting projects.

Their most recent project revolves around football, and Rudisa’s CEO is particularly proud of their latest acquisition: S.V. Transvaal, a 100-year old amateur football club that now serves as a platform to incorporate and support talented underprivileged kids with a total monthly investment of over $100,000 to cover their expenses. “We give them an opportunity in life," assures Mr. Sardjoe.

In the future, Rudisa aims to keep on growing and transforming the lives of those around them by providing people the basic products they need. Whether it is the highest-quality brands in the market or their own products, they are sure they will continue to be the undisputed leaders in their industry and the best potential partners for international investors. As Rudisa’s CEO states, “the best thing for foreign investors that want to come to Suriname is to find a very good partner. If you have the right partner it is an investor’s paradise.”