[Entrepreneurs Impact 17] Journey Earl Thijm

Childhood of Earl Thijm

“Do what you say, then you won’t lie.”

Earl Thijm was born to Ursila Norine Thijm and Henk Blijd. He grew up with a stepfather, Edmund Neijman, who played the role of father and father figure to Earl and his siblings. Earl Thijm, also known as Simpel, was born on August 22, 1971. He is a husband to an amazing wife, a father of two children, and a grandfather of one grandchild. Earl comes from a family of nine children, consisting of 2 girls and 7 boys, two of whom have passed away, including his twin pair. It was a challenging time for him, but ultimately Earl was able to find closure and move forward with life. As a brother, he witnessed firsthand the suffering his brother had to endure. The suffering was heavier than his brother’s passing. Thus, the family had to make a choice about what was best for him at that time. Seeing someone suffer is worse than seeing them pass away. Earl grew up in Kwatta, a neighborhood in the West of Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, and enjoyed his childhood years there. Kwatta was a peaceful neighborhood that was quite livable. Alongside neighborhood friends, he played house, stole fruits, pocketed items from stores without the shopkeeper noticing (since there were no cameras back then), and occasionally skipped school.

Earl lives by the quote, “Do what you say, then you won’t lie.” He values this because he believes it’s important for people to keep their word. Just do what you say, and then you won’t lie. If you’re not going to do it, don’t say it. His hobbies include watching TV and being in nature. Earl practiced karate in the past and occasionally played soccer, although not on a team. His educational journey began at Aloysius School, then St. Vincentius School, Wulfingh School, and KuldipsinghSchool. He then attended Cabelschool, IMEAO, and finally Surinaams Pedagogisch Instituut (SPI). He was placed in the transition class at IMEAO, which he did not complete. At that point, SPI  was the only option. He continued at SPI until the second year, also serving as a class representative. He was very energetic and cherished his school days. If he could turn back time, he would still be in school. He particularly enjoyed his high school years and had a great relationship with his teachers. While home offered a different upbringing, school provided a lot of freedom, and he caused quite a bit of mischief during his time there.


His Impact

Earl’s journey began with selling popsicles at the same pedagogical institute where he was a student. While waiting for a call from the Suriname Police Corps, where he had applied, he started selling popsicles to support himself. Often, God has a different plan for our lives; things don’t just happen by chance. Despite passing all the tests, Earl was never called by the Suriname Police Corps. During this wait, the Bonjo Boys group emerged as a football team and later transitioned into a music group. Earl was never one to sit idle. He always wanted to do something. To support his family, he began making and selling popsicles. Eventually, he became an artist, writing, recording, and selling songs with his best friend in the Bonjo Boys. In their prime, the group embarked on a tour to the Netherlands, which unfortunately failed due to the organizer’s different intentions. After the tour, the band broke up, and Earl had to find a way to support himself.

To make ends meet, he worked as a gas station attendant and later at Kasimex, a trading company in Kwatta. He then moved to a lottery office before starting to rent sound equipment to bands needing to perform, which led to the creation of ‘Tap A Bankstel.’Through ‘Tap A Bankstel,’ Earl honors and values individuals who have gone through significant life experiences to reach where they are today. Drawing from his own struggles, Earl understands the importance of recognition and experience when striving for personal growth and future generations’ well-being. He acknowledges that even those in high positions faced challenges on their journey. The program’s ‘lighthearted’ conversations allow Earl to better understand his guests and the struggles they’ve endured. It aims to introduce the person behind the title, approaching guests informally. This platform fills the void of recognition sometimes missing in their immediate surroundings, providing an opportunity to

know the individual behind their accomplishments.Since his youth, Earl has had a close friend, Steven ‘Wesje’ Westmaas, with whom he founded the Bonjo Boys. They discussed everything and learned a lot from each other. Sadly, Steven passed away tragically on April 23, 2011, which was a profound loss for Earl. One lesson Earl carries from his friend is leaving a mark wherever you go so people notice and remember you. Earl made his mark with the program he started, which is now a social foundation and led to the creation of Simply, a sandwich restaurant that serves breakfast and more.

Growth through Experience

As a young and inexperienced newcomer, Earl Thijm embarked on a new TV program—an innovation both for himself and for Suriname. During that time, a gossip website named Mamjo was actively discussing him and his program. He was the subject of gossip, most of which was critical of his methods, style of questioning, and the program’s general originality for Suriname. . Many felt his questions were too bold, with one of the harshest criticisms being, “Even my six-year-old daughter could ask better questions.” Initially, dealing with this criticism was quite challenging for him. However, it profoundly impacted him, prompting Earl to learn how to handle criticism and master the craft of hosting.

Earl began his journey with Louis Vismale, who believed in him when no one else did and provided crucial support. The director of SCCN Television Station shared this belief in Earl and the potential success of his program, granting him three months of free airtime purely out of faith in its success. Earl’s simple strategy was to attract sponsors rather than actively seek them. By consistently delivering quality content, he positioned himself to be approached by potential sponsors, even sparking a competition between two telecom providers vying to sponsor his program.

For Earl, maintaining independence and pursuing his own endeavors are paramount. He cherishes the freedom it affords him and avoids dependence on others. His primary focus has always been growth, sometimes leading him to abstain from certain activities. Earl made significant sacrifices and savings, starting with just one camera and gradually acquiring additional equipment until he could fully outfit himself.

One of the standout moments for Earl and his team with “Bankstel” was the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands during the Kwaku Festival to conduct interviews—an experience that marked a significant highlight for the program.

Closing Remarks from Earl

Make your mark. Sometimes you’ll have to make sacrifices to reach your goals, which might mean missing out on fun things. But keep a clear goal in mind and work towards it with focus. Do what you say and be honest. Make your mark and position yourself in a way that makes you visible, so that the positivity in what you do shines through, making others need and approach you. Above all, be yourself, no matter what others say.

As a parent, there are no role models outside your home. Being a role model starts at home, and you should be the first example for your child. Pay close attention to your children; they are your future security.

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