St. Maarten’s constitutional transition from island territory to constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands brought more than just geopolitical change; it also brought changes to the future financing of social development. With the decision to dissolve the former Netherlands Antilles also came the decision to close Stichting Antillean Medefinancierings Organisatie (AMFO). For many years AMFO worked to reduce poverty and promote sustainable social development throughout the former Netherlands Antilles. During its existence, AMFO financed numerous programs and projects and was able to raise the standard of living of countless individuals, create numerous jobs and improve the quality of life for many residents of the former Netherlands Antilles.
Recognizing the void that would be left with AMFO’s 2014 closing, the Government of Sint Maarten began the process of establishing a new entity that would continue to focus on the development and financing of programs and projects geared towards poverty reduction and sustainable social development. The results of these efforts were realized with the May 2012 incorporation of the St. Maarten Development Fund Foundation.
Upon SMDF’s incorporation work immediately began on outlining its work areas, structuring the organization and creating policies and work procedures that would be used once SMDF began operations. SMDF’s plan forward was formulated in the Social Development Policy Plan Sint Maarten 2013 – 2023. This Policy Plan, comprising of a number of reports produced in prior years, thoroughly assessed St. Maarten’s vulnerable target groups, geographic areas for neighborhood interventions and strategies that the Fund should adopt to be most impactful. Moreover, the Social Development Policy Plan Sint Maarten 2013 – 2023 also outlined the voids in the financing of social development that would be realized with the closure of AMFO.
Wanting to mitigate the negative effects of such voids, the Government of Sint Maarten made its first financial commitment of ANG 300,000 towards SMDF’s startup. The following year, the Government made its second financial commitment of ANG 1.65 million. With this injection, SMDF began its financing operations with the first grants being signed in July 2013.
Since beginning our funding activities in 2013, we have remained committed to executing projects as well as providing development support to non-profit organizations actively working to improve the lives of the most vulnerable within our community. Our dedication to St. Maarten’s social development has been the driving force behind our efforts. It has energized us and moved us to disburse over ANG 18 million towards social development initiatives. During our first six years, we saw the number of organizations we support grow year over year. We expect that this trend will continue in the years to come and that SMDF will grow in tandem.