Leading with Integrity… Terrence Campbell Remains Guyana’s Largest Franchise Holder

January 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

With each passing day, society slips a little further down the bottomless pit of moral degradation. From the broken election promises to corruption at the institutional level, evidence of the great ethical decline is inescapable.

Moral erosion has even permeated the business world. In fact, many aspiring entrepreneurs are so consumed with bagging large profits overnight that paying bribes to get their way is a ‘no brainer’; but certainly not Terrence Campbell!

This 53-year-old’s rise to arguably becoming one of Guyana’s most thriving entrepreneurs and the largest franchise holder within these shores cannot be credited only to his sheer fiscal proficiency.

Campbell is at the top of the leader board and will remain there for quite some time due to his unwillingness to compromise his principles. Above anything else, Campbell’s professional integrity is his most guarded attribute. And while doing the right thing may not always come easy, the life story of this astute entrepreneur proves that it is certainly worthwhile in the long run.

In a profoundly wide-ranging dialogue with the Guyana Inc. Magazine, it was apparent that there are several intricate, yet fascinating facets to this business magnate. Below is an extract of our findings regarding Campbell; the family man, the shrewd businessman with a keen sense for taking calculated risks and the firm believer of integrity.




A native of Queenstown, Essequibo, Campbell was born on February 16, 1964. By the age of seven, his family made moves to the city where their first two years would be spent in Kitty and then another two years in Campbellville, before finally settling in the tranquility of Republic Park. He stayed there through most of his teen and early adult years. Overall, Campbell asserted that his childhood years were marvelous.

“Queenstown was a closely knit village where everyone knew everyone and people were, in some form or fashion, related. You referred to each other as cousin this or cousin that and, very often, it was because they really were cousins. My parents, as well as my grandparents, were from Queenstown. So it was much like living among an extended family.”

“Even after I left, I returned to Queenstown several times for vacation. I have very fond memories of being there. In Essequibo, I was protected because I was the only child for my parents. The average boy was allowed to jump into the trench to learn how to swim. But I was not allowed to do that… It was the only thing I missed out on, but I got to climb trees.”

Campbell’s parents, Robert and Carmin, passed away before he turned 51. He still recalls, however, the invaluable life lessons and the uncompromising value system they gave to him.

The businessman said, “Both of them were contented people. They lived a simple life. They were not interested in material possessions. I can’t say I am that way, but I am not overwhelmed by it. They were hard working too.”

“My mom was a seamstress and my dad, a public servant. They were honest and had integrity and I took that. I don’t bribe; not a policeman or a customs officer. So I took the value of hard work from them; honesty, integrity and the power of generosity. They are both Christians and I try to be, as well.”




Campbell related that his educational journey began in Essequibo at St. Bartholomew’s Primary. When he moved to Kitty, he spent about three years at St. Ambrose Primary School. He also attended a private school called Henry’s Under 12. It is now defunct. He would then progress to Bishops’ High School in 1975. He noted that he spent seven phenomenal years there and remains passionate about giving back to the institution.

At the University of Guyana, Campbell shared that he did Law but was unable to complete the programme due to financial constraints. This meant foregoing plans to head to the University of the West Indies (UWI). Campbell shared that in those days, students completed one year of legal studies at the University of Guyana, which he did, and would then move on to completing two years at UWI to obtain the Bachelor of Laws. He subsequently did two months of basic training in the Guyana National Service (GNS).




Since financial difficulties prevented Campbell from taking the next step after UG, he decided that between 1983 and 1984 he would request a leave of absence from UWI.  He plunged head first into the exportation of limes and pines to Barbados. But this venture did not result in the profitable end he had imagined. In an effort to ensure that all was not lost, he bought tyres in Barbados and shipped them to Guyana for a quick turn over. This helped him to break even and repay the loans he took to support the venture.




After his taste of entrepreneurship turned sour, Campbell decided that it was time to look for a job. It took him a couple of months before he could actually secure one. And finally, he found a place at Income Tax for one month.

Campbell was hired in December of 1983. He was told that they couldn’t hire him as a trainee inspector and he was subsequently offered a job as a clerk.  He left after one month.

Six months later, in July of 1984, Campbell turned out at Hand in Hand Trust as a Management Trainee.  He worked there for six and a half years.

“They were a good six and a half years because I joined a programme where, after you spent about two to three years with the company, you were promoted to junior supervisor. But during this period, you were rotated through several departments. So before I joined, I spoke to a friend who had experience there. I asked him about the exams that you would have to take in insurance so you can get a fast promotion. He said that there was the Fellow of the Life Management Institute (FLMI) exams and the Associates of the Chartered Insurance Institute (ACII) exams.”

“One was British and the other, American. I started the job and probably on day one or two, I signed up to do three subjects of the FLMI. I wrote the exams in November of 1984 and I passed all three. I did the other six in May of the following year. In less than one year, I was attempting to do all nine subjects. I decided to do them simultaneously; five subjects of the ACII, when the recommendation was that you shouldn’t do more than three.”

“ACII exams were once a year and it was in April. Everyone thought I was crazy… But results came out and I passed the FMLI with distinction… ACII came out and I passed four out of five. After that, I promptly resigned from Hand in Hand. I didn’t have any place to go, but at the time, the most anyone there had was about four of the FLMI and I had nine of it. But I knew the company wasn’t going to let me go…”

Determined to hold onto Campbell for a bit longer, Hand in Hand offered the professional a new position as Junior Supervisor in November 1985 and the Berbice Branch Manager position in August 1986.

He worked in Berbice for six months before returning to Georgetown as Assistant Manager (Marketing) in February 1987.

Being the contrarian that he is though, Campbell decided that he had to be on his own. He had a hard time wriggling out of it, but he finally got through. His last working day at Hand in Hand was December 31, 1990.




After moving on from Hand in Hand, Campbell made contact with a packaging company in Barbados and another in the United Kingdom. He said that the companies made packaging materials which he supplied to local businesses. It was a profitable project which kicked off in 1991. For his first three months into it, he made US$10,000 per month.

He made his first trip to the United States of America that same year and after doing some market research, he realized that there was no Federal Express (Fed Ex) in Guyana.

He eventually made contact with the relevant officials and Camex, short for Campbell’s Express, was launched in Guyana in March 1993. Following this was a rental company, called Camex Car Rentals, which had a fleet of 30 cars. This was a great boost to the tourism sector, which was booming at the time. But this venture subsequently died.

Campbell noted that even though he had left Hand in Hand in 1990, he still pursued the completion of his ACII in 2000. This was the equivalent of a Degree and it only reignited his desire to pursue an academic career.

“I got the itch to go back to school. I told myself that life can’t be just about making money and having fun. I left Guyana in September of 1996 and I went to the University of Westminster. I did a Masters in International Business and Management and I graduated with Merit. That took one year. I had just become a resident of the USA and I moved there in September 1997. ”


“I joined the University of Fordham and I felt business wise, I needed to know about finance. In two semesters, I knocked out the Graduate Certificate in Finance. I, then, applied to do a Doctorate in International Business and Economics at Pace University. In 1998, I went to Pace where I did my course work. But I had to return to Guyana in December 1999 because both my car rental business and Fed Ex was not doing well. I returned to focus on business.”

In 1999, Campbell related that four of the top Sales Executives at Hand in Hand resigned and joined him to form Apex Insurance Brokers. One of the partners has since died, but the other three and Campbell continue to operate Apex. When it started, Campbell was Apex’s CEO and President. Today, he serves mostly in the capacity of a consultant.

Furthermore, Campbell’s return from his studies would see him launching Camex Suriname N.V. in 2000. Seventeen years later, it is still doing well.  In 2001, he launched Consolidated Cargo and Aviation Services Inc. When his new businesses seemed to be stable, Campbell made a return to the USA in 2002 to study and write his Comprehensive exams.

“I returned to the USA and spent a month locked up in a hotel room, in New Jersey, just studying. I wrote the Comprehensive exams and I passed. Now, when I started the programme in 1998, I had 10 years to complete. So I had six years left to write my thesis. But, I got caught up in negotiations and business to get the Church’s Chicken franchise in 2005.”

“When I started the Church’s brand, I did not have enough money. It was a crazy, crazy journey. To go back a little bit, back in 1991 when I went to the USA, I not only tried to contact Fed Ex but also Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). KFC told me that I needed to have net assets of US$250,000 to get the franchise. I don’t even think I had US$1,000, so it was a waste of time trying to get them.”

“Then, I tried to get the Popeye’s franchise and that did not work out. But one day, I was reading a Trinidadian newspaper and I learnt that Church’s Chicken was launched there. After doing some research, I learnt that Popeye’s and Church’s were owned by one company called AFC Enterprises.”


Campbell noted that he made contact with the officials of Church’s, but for some reason or the other, plans were always falling through. In 2005, he received a call from the entity and an official was able to make it to Guyana’s shores. A deal was subsequently signed in June 2005.

“I got around to building the restaurant but I did not have enough money at the time. So one of the guys from the Church’s team told me that it was a pity that they were now getting around to me because they just closed five stores in Jamaica and the guy in charge there was selling the equipment for a song. What he sold it for was less than it would cost for me to pay for just one store, and this was five stores.”

“The equipment was supposed to be sold to someone in The Bahamas, but then, out of the blue, I got a call from the guy in Jamaica and he said that he was going to sell his equipment to me. I never met him or spoke to him before. I made my way to Jamaica. He raised the price on me, but we bought it and shipped it out of Jamaica. I finally opened the store in March 2006.”


Today, Church’s currently has 15 branches in and around Georgetown.

Speaking to the addition of Mario’s Pizza, Dairy Queen and Quiznos, Campbell said he was always of the view that Guyanese would love to go to a single location where they could get their pizza, ice cream and fried chicken at the same place.

The entrepreneur said that in 2016, Camex Restaurants made a huge plunge by investing in the space at Camp and Robb Streets and also at the Giftland Mall.

“When we did Quiznos, we felt that it was a good idea; that Guyanese would want healthy meals too. But this only appeals to a certain demographic. So it did not work out as planned. We didn’t build the additional stores.”

“Last year, we also made another huge plunge with the addition of Pollo Tropical. It was a decision that almost took us under because the idea was to change the narrative of simply serving the people fried chicken. Besides, it was an area that was getting overcrowded. How much fried chicken can people actually eat? Pollo has its followers, but it has not taken off the way Church’s has. We took the risk last year thinking we could change the narrative, but I suppose that will take a couple of years.”

Campbell never likes to leave loose ends lying around for too long. In this regard, he returned to his studies. His 10-year deadline for his first Doctorate was up. He eventually looked for a new programme and, two years ago, he started a Doctorate in Business at Edinburgh Napier University. He hopes to be finished by mid-2018.

For the time being, Campbell said he has no plans for expansion on the restaurant front. Part of the reason, he says, has to do with his life cycle.

“The restaurant business is a very demanding one. We are working on managing business, redoing some aspects, doing some major upgrades to stores around Guyana. But I will tell you this; in business, you need to have a plan and belief in divine intervention, if you believe in God.”

“The reason I say this is because the agreement with Church’s Chicken was granted in 2003. It would have been a failure because at the time Church’s was not doing spicy chicken. That would not have worked in Guyana. So sometimes, you can want something, but if the Big Man upstairs says it is not ready for you, then you won’t get it. Everything happens at the right time.”




Campbell is of the firm opinion that the APNU+AFC Administration needs to become more entrepreneurial. He insists that more should be done for the development of local businesses. He stressed that the Government needs to take a leadership role in this regard since the private sector cannot do it alone.

The entrepreneur insists that more can be done in Guyana in terms of attracting investments if the nation’s regulatory systems were addressed. In this regard, he said that agencies such as the Mayor and City Council and others need to be cleaned of corrupt elements, which make it hard to conduct business without passing a bribe.

Campbell said too that the banking system needs to be addressed. He said that it is extremely difficult for young businessmen and women with plans to get start up loans.

“You have to go crawling on your knees to get a loan. It is not easy. How does the young Kiana or the young Glenn Lall get started if they don’t have the resources to start up their business? We need to get more competition in the banking sector. Young entrepreneurs need to be able to get better access to financing. Interest rates also need to be revised. They are just too high in Guyana because of limited competition and the cartel-like operations of the banks. ”




Campbell’s greatest life lessons relate to debt and integrity.

On the latter, the shrewd businessman said that integrity is integral to one’s personal and professional life. While he still aspires to achieve near perfection in his personal life, he insists that the principle reigns supreme in his professional life.

As it relates to the former topic, Campbell humourously said he has found that debt is the leading cause of death of businessmen.

“I have been doing a lot of reflecting and I am trying to change that aspect of my personality, always wanting to take on huge risks. As business people, we have to do that. But you just have to watch it.”

“What I have always found particularly disturbing in the business community is that if you take a risk and you fail, people are quick to celebrate your failure rather than celebrate that you even took the risk. We need to change that culture.

We have to encourage people to take risks so that they can develop. But, as I said, it is something that you have to keep an eye on; for risks, which can lead to debt, have often resulted in the death of businessmen.”




According to Campbell, integrity is everything, especially in the world of business. To the aspiring businessman or woman, he says you can build a business and keep your honour.

He stressed that you don’t have to join the corruption, regardless of the seeming benefits that may be hanging in the balance.

Additionally, Campbell advises that every entrepreneur should strive to have some form of uniqueness with their business idea.

“In Guyana, if I open a store selling chocolate on a corner and everyone sees I am doing well, 10 more are going to open up doing the same thing.

My advice in this regard is to try to develop some skill or service that makes it hard for others to imitate; get into a business field that people can’t jump into with great ease and that is how you are going to get long term success.”

“Last I would say is, young people are going to have to come out and speak out on the corruption that holds the business community back. I have been guilty of not wanting to speak and I now realize that that was the wrong thing to do. So speak out, or else we will end up with a country that none of us likes.”



Campbell is not married at the moment but he indicated to the Guyana Inc. Magazine that he hopes to fix that quite soon.

He said, “I have never been married. God knows what the future holds. Hopefully that is something that will be corrected soon.”

In the meantime, Campbell indicated that he has six wonderful children. Teressa is his eldest daughter. She is 27-years-old and an Attorney-at-Law. Campbell stated that Teressa does not practice law but she is a consultant. His other daughter, Safara, is a primary school student at the New Guyana Primary School. She recently turned 11. His beautiful five-year-old daughter, Keren, is in kindergarten.

As for his boys; Campbell related that Terrence Junior is 32-years-old and is an Engineer at Du Pont in Memphis, Tennessee. His 20-year-old son, Craig, is a senior at the University of Rochester studying Politics and Philosophy. Christian, on the other hand, is the baby of the lot. He is four-years-old.

Campbell said, “If I had to live my life over, I would have been married in my 20s. My life took some unusual turns. I did Law at the age of 18 at the University of Guyana but didn’t have the money to continue.

Then I went to work to support my kids and I thought I needed to give them all of my attention. I thought marriage would have been incompatible. I was traveling a lot and felt it would be unfair to be away for such long periods of time from my spouse.”

He added, “My perspective on that has changed. I am not opposed to marriage, but 2018 may be the year. Let’s see.”



While Campbell may be the ardent businessman, he has also volunteered his time, since February 2016, to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Guyana National Printers Limited. This company, which was previously hemorrhaging money, is now stable and being retooled for even greater success after he retires from that role in January 2018.

He is also a fighter for Constitutional Reform in Guyana. He believes that there is a crisis in leadership in the nation; but through Reform, Inform, Sustain Educate (RISE), a nonprofit organization, he has been making efforts to bring about a change for a better political system in Guyana.

“I do believe that it is the lack of leadership that has us in the position that we are in today. And for us to get where we need to be, there has to be Constitutional Reform. RISE is not meant to be a political party or third force, but an education force in terms of constitutional change. Guyana is perhaps just as divided as it was back in 1966, or even more so.”

Campbell stated that while he has zero interest in taking a place in the political space, he would have no choice but to do so if there is no effective reform soon, perhaps by 2020.

“Many of the persons from my generation, or many who have been around since independence, will be departed. And the question that abounds is, ‘What will our legacy be when we leave?’”

“We must have a change, we must demand it and every citizen has a responsibility to leave a better Guyana behind!”

Laparkan’s Chairman & CEO, Mr. Glen Khan… The man behind one of Guyana’s most iconic businesses

December 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

To leave behind a well-paying job to start up your own firm is a monumental gamble. Most would readily admit that they do not possess even the courage to entertain such a proposal in the form of discussion.
But taking this road of high risk in the corporate arena is one that Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Laparkan, Glen Khan, knows all too well.
Today, this entrepreneurial giant, and daredevil in some respect, is reaping the high rewards of his “gamble” as he sits at the helm of a business that has become iconic in name and nature. In fact, this revered business mogul runs an organization with over 700 employees, has offices in nine countries and a network of over 6,000 agents worldwide.
In managing such a dynamic company, Khan exudes an entrepreneurial prowess that is like no other. In any discussion, he brings a wealth of experience and sober advice. However, be sure not to make the sorry mistake of expecting him to be an explosion of thoughts and emotions.
In this exclusive interview with the Guyana Inc. Magazine, one learns that Khan is economical with his words, only revealing what he believes is necessary. This is arguably a trait that strikes at the heart of wisdom.
Taking a trip down memory lane, Khan was eager to indicate that despite how far he has gone up the ladder of success, he has never lost sight of his humble beginnings.


Born on November 20, 1950 in New Amsterdam, Berbice, Khan was the youngest of four brothers. He also has a younger sister.
During his formative years, the businessman recalled that his mother made tremendous sacrifices so that her children could have a good life. He related to the Guyana Inc. Magazine that his hard-working mother owned and operated a business in the Bourda Market.
Growing up, he lived in New Amsterdam for several years where, together with his three brothers, he was taken care of by Marjorie Ceres. Ceres is an Afro-Guyanese woman who was popularly known as Aunt Margie. Khan described her as a phenomenal foster-parent – “if you want to put it that way.”
The erudite businessman believes that his early exposure to other cultures, customs and beliefs were instrumental in shaping his perspective of life and, at an early age, he recognized that love is indeed a precious gift.
Additionally, Mr. Khan shared that his elementary learning began at Christ Church School. While that learning institution provides secondary education today, it only provided primary schooling during Mr. Khan’s time. He later enrolled at Chatham High School, which was located on Regent Street, and subsequently, the Indian Education Trust College.
Reflecting on his days in school, Mr. Khan said that he recalls skulking (playing truant) from Christ Church Primary School for almost a year without anyone knowing—well until, now of course.
“It didn’t affect me that much. I knew all the donkey-cart people in those days, but I would not recommend it for the young people now,” he said while laughing uncontrollably.
“I knew all the alleyways. It was a challenge of what you do with your time, because Christ Church School was being renovated and they had moved us to a new location.”
“School, at that time, was more like a pain; but in retrospect, when I look back at my life when I was a youth, I believe it helped me to be the person that I am today, because it gave me more knowledge about my environment. Back in those days, the alleyways were cleaner than what we have today.”
“We used to go and raid the people mango and genip trees and things like that. One day, I got caught in the mango tree and the lady (owner) walked up and I was scared. But instead of getting angry, she looked up at me and said, ‘Son, as you up there, pick some for me.’ (Chuckles). So when I look back at my youth, would I trade it for anything? No!”


In spite of his naughty ways in school, Khan’s academic performance was nothing short of admirable. He also had a flare for passing many other exams too.
In this regard, Mr. Khan shared, “At school, I had a knack for passing exams, and while at the Indian Education Trust College, I obtained 13 GCE O’ Levels (some repeat subjects) at three sittings.”
But despite being “reasonably qualified”, Mr. Khan shared that it actually took him almost 10 months to secure a job. Sure enough though, an opportunity would come knocking at his door.
“I finally started on October 25, 1968 as an audit clerk with Pannell Fitzpatrick & Co. While at Pannell, I started my quest to qualify as an Accountant. I qualified as an ACCA in June of 1973. It is my understanding that I was among the first set of Guyanese to qualify locally.
In 1975, I joined the Guyana Bauxite Company Limited (GUYBAU) in the audit department. Since 1969, I was involved in the audits of the Demerara Bauxite Company Limited (DEMBA/GUYBAU) and spent an average of three months per year in Linden. I left GUYBAU after having a disagreement with management and I was blacklisted and could not get a job in Guyana. At that time, the only solution was to migrate.
In 1976, I traveled to London, which is the recruiting center for accountants worldwide. Ultimately, I had three job offers – one in Jamaica, one in Malawi and one in Zambia. I chose Coopers & Lybrand in Zambia. I never looked back.”
The 23 year-old at that time gave the world of accounting about nine years of his life. It was a field that he loved and adored. But the innate passion and drive to take his development to the next level eventually led to Khan making the biggest gamble of his career.
It was during a business trip to Japan that Khan was struck with the idea of forming his own company.
He, along with two friends, John LaRose and Terrence Pariaug, established the company, LAPARKAN Trading after recognizing the need to provide West Indians with a reliable channel to send supplies, gifts and other personal effects back home to their families in the Caribbean.
The formidable entrepreneur expressed, “I moved to London in 1983, at which time LAPARKAN was established with my two friends, Larose and Pariaug. The name LAPARKAN is an ACRONYM born out of our last names – LA-PAR-KAN. Our initial office was in London, then Toronto, followed by Guyana, New York and Miami. We later set up offices in Trinidad, Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica, Suriname and Panama. In the barrel business, the door-to-door concept was pioneered, which was an immediate success.”
“On February 5, 1992, we started our first all-cargo flight from Miami to Georgetown. I got advice from several sources that this project would bury LAPARKAN. However, I proved the naysayers wrong. Today, we have a weekly flight from Miami that covers Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname.”
Additionally, the businessman asserted that in 1995, LAPARKAN made another bold step to establish another entity along the same vein.
He said, “We set up the Guyana National Industrial Company Inc. (GNIC), a joint venture company with the employees to acquire the business of Guyana National Engineering Co. (GNEC), which was being privatized.
In the meantime, LAPARKAN had diversified in Guyana in the areas of Office Services operations (we are the Agent for Canon), Money Transfer and William Fogartys (acquired in 1986).
We had also acquired the Bata Shoe Company, Jim Bacchus Travel Service, opened the Caribbean Rose Restaurant and the Laparkan Automotive Services, which have since been relinquished. Even with our success, we have also had our setbacks and failures; but despite it all, it has strengthened our team and we continue to grow from strength to strength.”
When asked about the challenges of doing business in Guyana, Mr. Khan expressed, “Guyana is a very small market and in order for us to succeed, we had to diversify to numerous activities. We are challenged, like many other businesses in Guyana, in retaining good quality personnel.”
“This is as a result of major migration of Guyanese to North America and in the Caribbean. This will continue to be a headache for all businesses in the future and Guyana may end up being an expatriate base economy. There are good economic signs on the horizon and there are significant opportunities but these have to be tempered with finding the right personnel to get the job done.”


With over 35 years of service to his company, Khan has proven to be the proverbial shark of the corporate world, so much so that his vision and business acumen combined with his spirit of assisting the less fortunate are unmatched. He has cemented his name amongst the most reputable and successful business persons in the English-speaking Caribbean and its Diaspora in the post-colonial era.
While this achievement is one to be honoured and respected, Khan believes that right on par with it should be the unparalleled love that abounds within family.
In fact, when it comes to his wife and children, the cheeks of this shrewd businessman easily turn red. He is very protective of his home circle and, in this regard, quite economical with his words.
He currently resides in the United States with his wife, Sandra Beharry, and his two children; 10-year-old Joshua and14-year-old Isabella. He also has two adult sons—Duane and Gavin—from a previous marriage, who also reside in the United States.
But the question of how he met his wife stunned him for a while before he exclaimed, “I’m married to a wonderful woman. We’ve been married for over 20 years and she helps me with the business and is very supportive.”
Pressed to reveal the story of how he met his true love, Khan threw back his head and stared at the ceiling, in an effort to try and hide his uncontrollable blushing.
True to his “economical” nature, he would only divulge that he met his queen on a flight to Guyana.
Furthermore, this business mogul expressed nonetheless that he is quite content with his life and is determined to continue the legacy of his iconic company.
To the upcoming generation he says, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good for the great…”


Mr. Khan was kind enough to share some of his company’s plans for 2017. In this regard, he disclosed that he is personally looking at opening branches in Europe in an articulated way by re-establishing operations in the United Kingdom (UK) and also establishing operations in the Far East.
“All these things are still percolating within our organisation. Plus, we want to establish more offices. We want to be in Los Angeles, California. We have an agent there but would like to set up our own operations there. We want to be in Houston, Texas. We want, also, to increase the number of flights within the region.”
The businessman said that he will also be looking to start a newspaper in Florida and he has already gotten the name. It will be called, “The Caribbean Diaspora”.
“There is a hunger for news about home. They (Caribbean people in the Diaspora) want to know what’s happening back home. I am going to do a paper based on the perspective of the Diaspora; how the people overseas see the community that they left behind.”


Over the past decades, this business guru has successfully piloted the diversified activities of the LAPARKAN Group of Companies with its range of services, which include ocean shipping, air cargo, manufacturing, retail trade, money transfer and travel.

Khan has even earned several awards and honours for his contribution to the development of Caribbean society in the post-Independence era. His awards and honours have come from various Caribbean organizations in the region and in the Diaspora, as well as from City and County Governments in the United States of America.
But even in the face of those noteworthy accomplishments, Khan’s main concern has always been, “How can I give back to my fellow man?”
This most profound and soul-searching question has led this business giant on a humanitarian path that he has never strayed from.
Take, for example, the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti in January 2010. Mr. Khan was actually on the forefront, lending assistance in any way possible. After the tragedy, he immediately made available, free of cost to relief agencies, some 25,000 square feet of warehouse space to facilitate the efficient dispatch of relief supplies to Haiti. He was honoured in May for this magnanimous gesture by the Americas Relief Team (ART) at a special awards ceremony presided over by former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush.
As a result of his gesture and his vision, LAPARKAN and ART have set up a permanent Disaster Emergency Relief Centre within LAPARKAN’s new warehouse in Miami, Florida.
“We are a very humanitarian organization, as people come first,” said Khan.
“We try to help and support various causes. We started a benevolent fund for the Disciplined forces in Guyana to help with scholarships, etc. We also contributed approximately US$900,000 to help with the great floods in 2005. We contributed to various charities and relief efforts and this is an ongoing exercise. Our commitment is to help our people as best as we can.”
Back in 2010, Khan was behind LAPARKAN’s move to donate $1M to the Ministry of Education to facilitate the 2010 Teacher of the Year Award at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD). LAPARKAN even collaborated with the Ministry to re-launch the award, which at that time was themed “Recovery begins with teachers”.
Additionally, Mr. Khan has made significant contributions to disaster relief efforts in Grenada, Jamaica and St. Lucia, among others.
Furthermore, Mr. Khan was also a speaker at the 2009 Miami Conference in the Caribbean. The prestigious meeting brought together officials from the Caribbean basin, the United States and Canada. It provided a platform for governments and the private sector to determine feasible and practical ways of helping their respective nations deal with the effects of the 2008 global economic recession.

FEATURE STORY: Gem Madhoo… Guyana’s leading entrepreneur of the liberal arts

September 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

There is nothing quite like theatre.
It offers society a dramatic yet distinctive opportunity to reflect on mankind’s raw emotions and study his problems as an onlooker. In short, society is able to examine its fully-flawed reflection on stage.
Championing the cultural platform in Guyana is 63-year-old Gem Rebecca Madhoo. Born November 12, this phenomenal woman has been part of Guyana’s theatrical movement for over 40 years. She has made a successful career and business out of it with her husband, Kit Nascimento, by her side every step of the way.
For her unwavering support and sterling contributions to Guyana’s theatrical culture, Madhoo has received some of the nation’s highest honours and awards. These include; the Women of Distinction Award by the YWCA, the Guyana Folk Festival Award ‘In recognition for outstanding contribution to Guyana’s Culture & Heritage’ by the Guyana Cultural Association NY Inc, and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Theatre Arts by the Institute of Creative Arts and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.
But even with her unmatched contributions in the arena of theatre, this patriot is also a lover of nature. It is no surprise, therefore,that she is the proud owner of one of Guyana’s most enchanting eco-resorts—Hurakabra River Resort.
In this exclusive interview, the Guyana Inc. Magazine is given an in-depth look into the adventurous and multifaceted life of Guyana’s leading lady and entrepreneur of the liberal arts.


Guyana Inc. Magazine (GIM): “What are some of your most memorable experiences from your childhood?”
Gem Madhoo (GM): “Playing hide and seek with all the children in the village on the weekends and giving them a hard time to find me because I would always be hiding very high up in one of the big trees in our yard. Also, doing a ‘bush cook’ or cook out at the back of our yard with my friends.”

GIM: “How do you remember your parents during that time of your life and what were some of the most valuable lessons they passed on to you that remain relevant to this day?”
GM: “I was born to Agnes and Victor Madhoo. One of my siblings passed away, so today, I have five brothers and four sisters. My mother worked very hard; taking care of 10 children, running a business and handling all of the household chores. We helped her as we grew older but once we were in high school, she made no demands of us but to focus on our books. Education was very important to both of my parents. My father helped us a lot with our homework. We used to subscribe to the ‘Readers Digest’ which was sent from overseas. By the time the next one arrived, we would have read the current one from end to end. We also bought the Sunday’s newspapers, so there was always a lot of reading material around. My parents made sure we listened to educational programmes on the radio too. We also grew up knowing that honest living comes from hard work.”

GIM: “What was your schooling life like?”
GM: “I grew up at Auchlyne Village on the Corentyne and I attended Auchlyne Primary School, then Corentyne High School, now named JC Chandisingh Secondary. My parents moved to Britannia on the West Coast, Berbice and after I was successful in my GCE ‘O’ Levels exam, I came to Georgetown.”

GIM: “Before becoming a businesswoman and entering the world of theatre, where did you work, for how long, and what was that experience like for you?”
GM: “After I completed high school, I began working at the Guyana National Cooperative Bank in 1972. I continued studying privately and did up to Part 1 of the Institute of Bankers Exam. I joined the Public Service Union (PSU) Drama Group during the early years at the bank and did my first stage performance in Sheik Sadeek’s play ‘Black Bush.’ During that time, I traveled and saw a lot of Guyana’s coastline, as well as Linden, with the drama group.
I worked for five years before qualifying for extensive annual leave. My feet were itchy and I wanted to travel so I abandoned the remainder of my studies and went on an extended holiday around the world for eight months. At this time, it would have been unheard of for a young Guyanese girl of my ethnicity to be so brave. But, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I returned to Guyana eight months later, broke but happy; feeling satisfied that I achieved one of my dreams.”


GIM: “What led to your joining the Guyana Public Service Union drama group? And why did you choose to be back stage as opposed to on stage?”
GM: “I started with the GPSU drama group with the intention of working behind the scenes, but theatre genius, Francis Farrier, was staging a production of three short plays and he needed someone of my ethnicity to do a 12 year-old. I was 20 at the time. So I ended up as an actress while with the GPSU.”

GIM: “What was the experience like being part of your first play?”
GM: “I was very nervous.”

GIM: “In what year was your debut and where?”
GM: “It was in 1974 at the Theatre Guild.”

GIM: “What are some of your most memorable experiences, during the 70’s to 80’s, as a member of the Theatre Guild?”
GM: “I joined the Theatre Guild in 1978. The level of acting was very high. You had to be really good to compete at auditions, so when plays were being cast, I would opt for working in the production team. I learnt the craft very quickly and enjoyed the whole production process of plays. There was a feeling of ‘family’ at the Guild and a major production was staged for three weeks (18 nights) and sometimes two or three repeats. We rehearsed for two months. All of this was voluntary, no one was paid.
The presentations were of a very high standard. We attended workshops every Monday night and I always felt sad when the plays came to an end. It was three great months of working together as a team. We would have a cast party on the final night. One of the things we always looked forward to on that night is the ‘parody’ of the play put on by the stage crew and the poetry of Patricia Gomes which she would compile about all of us and everything that happened during the rehearsals and performances. They were hilarious.”

GIM: “Tell us about the genesis of The Theatre Company and how transformative it has been for the arts in Guyana?”
GM: “Times were getting really tough in Guyana and those who chose to stay were seeking additional sources of income. Some members of the Guild were travelling to participate in theatre workshops in the Caribbean and returning with information that in many of the Islands, the actors were being paid to perform. Our performances were comparable with theirs, so why shouldn’t we earn a living from our talent?
A group of us then brainstormed the idea of forming a group while continuing to be members of the Theatre Guild. The satirical show ‘The Brink Shows’ was staged every four years at the Theatre Guild, with Frank Pilgrim as its architect. We discussed the idea of doing a satirical show with Frank and launching it at the National Cultural Centre (NCC).
Frank came up with the name ‘The Link Show.’ At that time, the Cultural Centre was a white elephant. The only event that was regular on their calendar was the ‘CC Varieties’, staged at the end of the month by Lord Canary.
Myself, Ron Robinson and later Ian McDonald, joined the board, and legally registered ‘The Theatre Company’. With my limited accounting background, I took on the role of the business aspect of the productions, did the stagemanaging, publicity and generally all organizing aspects of the production. We had contracts drawn up for all persons working in the production.
‘The Link Show’ was staged on November 1, 1981. It was a huge success, beyond our expectations. Four nights sold out. The plan to stage it annually was met with a lot of negativism and so did the idea of paying persons for their talent. There were many criticisms. Nevertheless, actors and everyone else in the industry were contracted and paid for their talent in a business-like manner for the first time in Guyana.

The Theatre Company was, from all research, the first registered professional theatre company in Guyana. New playwrights, producers and directors emerged out of this era.
The NCC began to get so many requests for bookings that production meetings had to be scheduled at the beginning of each year to allocate dates to producers.This was also the time when huge migration was happening in Guyana.”

GIM: “Looking back, what do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out in theatre?”
GM: “To get into writing and directing.”

GIM: “Who or what was your biggest influence?”
GM: “I was baptized by Francis Farrier in theatre, and later, learnt a lot from The Theatre Guild experience and then Ron Robinson when we started The Theatre Company. He knew a lot of the technical aspects of theatre as well as directing. I read many scripts and recommended a lot of the plays that the company staged.”

GIM: “Do you have any theatrical superstitions or rituals before writing, producing or acting?”
GM: “The normal phrase we use is ‘break a leg’. We never say ‘good luck’. I don’t have anything unusual that I do or say. Just focus and get it all done correctly. We also do some concentration exercises with everyone in a circle before the start of the show.”

GIM: “How has theatre changed from the time you entered it to now?”
GM: “Indiscipline is on the top of the list. Serious drama has been lost because we have lost the audience for it. This has been replaced by large doses of comedy and more slaps.”


GIM: “Theatre and tourism are central themes in the businesses you have established. Let’s start with GEMS Theatre Productions, kindly share with us how it all got started.”
GM: “It was January 2002 and I was asked to host Sullivan Walker, a Trinidadian/Hollywood performer, in his production ‘Boy Days’. Things were not going too good in my partnership with The Theatre Company and we had just staged the 20th anniversary celebration of the company. It was an opportune moment for me to decide whether I should go independent and start my own production, which I did in February 2002.”

GIM: “How many productions have you staged thus far under GEMS?”
GM: “66, inclusive of stage and television productions.”

GIM: “What were some of your favourites?”
GM: “‘Round about midnight’ (musical production combining art, poetry, film and music); ‘Testament’(adapted for stage by Dr.Paloma Mohamed from the book by Dr. Janice Imhoff based on testimonies of cancer survivors); ‘Mood Indigo’ Jazz concerts (a series of Jazz concerts by a combination of local and international artists in very unconventional settings – the lawns of State House on a moonlit evening, grounds of Castellani House); ‘All in Wan’ (a musical written by Dave Martins and sponsored by GTT for Guyana’s 40th Independence Anniversary); ‘Vagina Monologues’ (the internationally acclaimed ‘voice of women’ production); ‘For Love of Aidana Soraya’ (a production based on religious conflicts in a village in Guyana); ‘Talk Tent’ (renowned Caribbean story-teller Paul Keens-Douglas post Trinidad Carnival production). ‘Last of the Redmen’ written, directed and performed by Dr. Michael Gilkes and ‘Couvade’, also by Gilkes, staged for Guyana’s 27th Independence Anniversary.”

GIM: “On a similar note, what prompted you to bring the Vagina Monologues to Guyana and will there be a return of it soon?”
GM: “I collaborated with a VSO attached to the Department of Culture to stage this production. I knew of it and she, Jennifer Davis, was ending her contract in Guyana and we both felt very strongly about the message of the play. This had to do with bringing women’s issues to the fore. We found the need to boldly stage it in Guyana in 2005. It was restaged a few years ago by Colette Jones (who performed in it during my production). There are no immediate plans to restage.”

GIM: “What prompted the birth of your offshoot GEMS Youth Theatre?”
GM: “At that time, there was no workshop or training of any kind for young persons, so I felt there was a void to be filled. I approached the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to fund a six-month workshop covering the field of writing, directing, acting, voice, story-telling and other areas of the theatre for young people.”

GIM: “Has it been difficult taking your productions out of Georgetown since theatres are based in Georgetown?”
GM: “It is very challenging and technically difficult to stage plays outside of Georgetown. You have to compromise and adapt to accommodate the productions in the various situations and venues that are available.”

GIM: “Garnering so much experience in the world of theatre, what would you say is key to being a great writer and producer?”
GM: “I do not consider myself a writer. As a producer, I would say discipline, dedication and commitment are the key factors.”

GIM: “What are you working on now?”
GM: “Producing the latest television sitcom ‘Days like Dese’ for local television. I also produced a 50-minute short film, ‘Maira and the Jaguar People’ written and directed by Dr. Michael Gilkes, which was filmed in Surama, Rupununi in November 2016. It, however, continues to be an enormous challenge to fund this production. It has been held up owing to both government and private company commitments failing to deliver on promised funds needed to complete it. Once completed, the film would be sent to international film festivals worldwide. The quality of the film is of a very high standard. An overseas crew came to Guyana to make the film. The actors are all indigenous persons from Surama who went through months of training and rehearsals.”


GIM: “Do share with us how you and your husband got involved in the resort venture?”
GM: “Our resort is purely by accident. It was meant as a retirement home for us and he changed his mind about retiring, so we decided to open it for tourism as an intimate boutique resort.”

GIM: “What’s the most important attribute of your resort?”
GM: “It is very private and intimate and a group of friends or family checking in for a few days can experience having their own private resort all to themselves. We also pride ourselves on serving excellent food.”

GIM: “What is the biggest challenge of owning and managing such a resort?”
GM: “Finding the right staff you can trust to live and work unsupervised in a quiet and peaceful location.”

GIM: “What authentic local experiences will guests have access to at the resort?”
GM: “We serve up a variety of Indigenous, Creole and Indian foods. International flavours are also available, depending on the taste of our guests. They are taken on local tours within the vicinity of the resort. These would involve the historic tours to Fort Island and Kyk-over-al. We offer a jungle walk to spot wildlife, mainly birdlife and monkeys, and for visitors to get a brief glimpse of the types of trees and foliage in Guyana. One can also enjoy seeing hundreds of parrots settling on an isolated Island at sunset, as well as experiencing some of our waterfalls and rapids in the Mazaruni River. One can also have a taste of the bustling activities of Bartica. We even offer water sports on the river such as kayaking, jet skiing, and water skiing.”

GIM: “What led to the production of the tourism booklets (Guyana- Where and What) and what has the response been like over the years for this project?”
GM: “I was inspired by ‘Barbados in a nutshell’ and felt Guyana really needed a small pocket-sized handbook that you can carry around easily. We already had the ‘Explore Guyana’ produced by THAG, which is a large magazine, so I felt this would complement our tourism material. “Where and what” is a mine of information on our country. The response has been excellent. I was really happy to discover that some of the schools are using it as a reference guide. I have a passion for history, so this book gives me the opportunity to realize that.”

GIM: “With the businesses you have built, what would you say were key moments/lessons along the way?”
GM: “Always approach whatever you are doing, especially if finance is involved, in a very professional and business-like manner. When it comes to business, trust yourself first and everyone else afterwards.”

GIM: “You have travelled extensively in and out of Guyana. With that said, have you ever longed to live in any other part of the world? And what keeps you so grounded here?”
GM: Before I ever embarked to travel overseas, I had seen a lot of Guyana’s interior and loved it. I travelled extensively and have seen many beautiful and lovely places, but home is always where the heart is. I am sorry my husband changed his mind about retiring in the Essequibo River. I would have loved to finally settle there, but then my involvement in the theatre would have been curtailed.”

GIM: “What advice would you give to women wanting to set up their own business?”
GM: “Be confident in what you want, and then execute it efficiently.”


GIM: “How did you meet your husband?”
GM: “At Wolga beach, Essequibo River (two minutes from where the resort is located) in 1976.”

GIM: “For how long have you been married?”
GM: “19 years.”

GIM: “Could you, kindly, recall his proposal to you?”
GM: “When he proposed, he said ‘I will not ask you again’, because he knew of my previous experience when I was asked several times and never said ‘yes’.”

GIM: “How supportive has he been regarding your business ventures?”
GM: “He is very supportive, but critical at the same time. He has the expertise to advise what I should get into and what I shouldn’t. Invariably, he is right but I don’t always listen to him.
In fact, he encouraged me to get back into the ‘Link Show’ production in 2009, after I left The Theatre Company in 2002. The shows had come to a halt and many of the actors were behind me to get involved again. With his encouragement, I did that for the next eight productions,which led to ‘Link Show 32’.”

GIM: “What do you admire the most about your husband?”
GM: He is a stickler for discipline and leaves no room for excuses.”

GIM: “For young married couples, what would you say is key to sustaining a long-lasting and satisfying marriage?”
GM: “Understanding each other and learning to adapt to each other’s needs. Find something to do that might become a ritual. Like, my husband cooks every Friday evening (except when we are invited out) and we have a romantic dinner with candle lights et al on our balcony surrounded by foliage. He is a gourmet cook. We still adhere to it in this our 19th year of marriage.”


GIM: “What are some of the plans in the pipeline for your businesses?”
GM: “Television. I started a new local sitcom called ‘Days like Dese’. It is currently being aired weekly, with a new episode per month. I am hoping to be able to have my own studio in order to produce a new episode per week.”

GIM: “Is there a philosophy that you live by?”
GM: “Always lend a helping hand to whoever needs it. Don’t be afraid to dream because they just might come through.”


(Article taken from the Guyana Inc. Magazine Issue 27)


The Undisputed Master of Guyana’s Automotive Industry- TONY RAMCHARAN

January 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“At the end of the day, if you like what you do, you don’t see it as going to work but doing what you love. I won’t exchange my job for any other profession. I absolutely love what I do”

The automotive industry has emerged as an international trading force in the 20th century. An instrument of economic growth and success, it is characterized by generations of industrious “command and control” leaders locally and beyond.
In Guyana, the automotive industry remains a steady sector with ever changing conditions that test the resilience of its members. But regardless of the trials that came over the years, Tony Ramcharan remains the undisputed champion of the industry.
In this series of the Guyana Inc. Magazine, we delve into the life of the owner of Tony’s Auto Spares, the largest auto spare parts dealership within these shores.
Ramcharan grew up in the unassuming sugar estate community of La Bonne Intention (LBI), East Coast Demerara. He is the third of eight children born to Jerry and Joan Ramcharan. He attended the LBI Primary School and later moved onto the Cummings Lodge Secondary School.
The businessman was unable to further his studies at the tertiary level since this pursuit could not have been afforded by his parents at the time. He informed this magazine that his father worked as a Clerk at the LBI Sugar Estate, while his mother was a housewife who tended to the family’s kitchen garden and would sell some of the produce from time to time.
For him, growing up in the sugar industry was always enjoyable. In the afternoons, he and his friends would indulge in a “good game of cricket, fishing or a visit to nearby cinemas”, particularly at Starlite Drive-in at Montrose and the then Tivoli Cinema in Beterverwagting, which is the village east of LBI.
Although he experienced a tough life growing up, he still considers it to be a time when persons could have had more fun than nowadays.
In this regard, Ramcharan stated, “I grew up with eight other children in the home so life was generally not easy. However, it was more fun. I actually enjoyed life then and it was a lot easier in terms of not worrying about where you are going and so on.”

At the age of 16, Ramcharan related that he began working at the LBI estate. He was assigned by his supervisors to work in the fields to bail punts, throw limestone, plant cane and at one time, he was even made to catch rats.
However, after doing this for some time, his supervisor advised him to apply to be a messenger for the estate since there was an opening.
“A Messenger in those times was one who would ride this big carrier bike and pick up the mail from the post office and deliver it to the different managers and to the various departments.”
Ramcharan said that he did this for one year after which, he began working in the estate store. This is where he learnt about “Spare Parts”. After acquiring much experience in the field, he subsequently left there in the mid 80’s and began working with Hack’s Auto Sales in Charlestown, Georgetown.

The entrepreneur noted that during that time, he made the decision to marry his childhood sweetheart, Nadira, who was practically his neighbour. Today, the couple has three children; Jasper, Stacy and Joel Ramcharan.
Speaking to where his children are today, Ramcharan noted that Jasper manages the day-to-day operations of the company’s La Resouvenir, ECD branch store. His only girl, Stacy, was in 2014 crowned Miss Earth Guyana. He said that she has since pursued the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) examinations and has become a well-known name in the local modelling and fashion industry. Tony’s third child, Joel, has completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in the United States of America and is now moving on to do his Masters in the same field.
Though he has his son Jasper already involved in the business, Ramcharan says that in his ideal world, he would love to have his other two children eventually become a part of what he is doing in some way or the other.
He described his children as being “solid young people who are kind in every way.”
Ramcharan noted, “Fatherhood is an amazing experience. I’m blessed that I have three kids; if I had to describe them in one word, I’d say they are solid kids. They are very kind, they are easy to talk to, we can sit and we can talk, we won’t agree on everything but there is always common ground. At the end of the day, the most important thing for me with kids is if they are kind.”
Ramcharan shared that he believes this quality is of utmost importance especially if children grow up in a business environment where they did not have to experience the struggle which their parents went through. With this in mind, he strongly believes that the key thing is to keep them grounded.
The entrepreneur even recalled that he became a father at age 25. He said that during his time, transitioning from being a young man to a father was practically a huge deal.
“Fatherhood is something every man should experience. When Jasper came along, it was a good experience, and then my daughter came along, then Joel; when you have kids and they are healthy and they are good kids, no business or anything can compensate for that. Fatherhood has been a real blessing.”
Not taking the credit for the upbringing of his children alone, the humble Ramcharan said that his wife Nadira has been a remarkable mother to her children. “When they were growing up, she would normally take them to school and wait all day on them under the tree nearby the school in the car.”
All of Ramcharan’s children attended the Mae’s Private School. He said that his wife has always been protective of her children and did everything to ensure that they were well provided for.

In 1991, Ramcharan said that he was faced with a tough decision. It was either he invest some $5000 he had in savings into a business or be a conductor for a minibus in greater Georgetown.
Choosing the former was perhaps one of the hardest decisions he had to make. He noted that in the initial stages it was harsh but with hard work and dedication, success soon followed.
The young businessman at the time started his own business in Shell Road Kitty called Tony’s Auto Spares.
After marketing the business properly and trying to buy into customers here and there, the company soon became a name to be reckoned with and in 1998, Ramcharan moved to Bel Air Springs where he currently resides.
In those days, there were only a few auto spares shops since only a small number of people knew the trade.
Ramcharan was lucky enough to have extensive experience with mechanics and spare parts, particularly with the Land Rover brand. He acquired this experience during his time at Hack’s Auto Sales as well as his time at the estate. At the latter, he worked diligently as a mechanic for certain officials who drove Land Rovers. He might just be one of the last Guyanese who knows Land Rover parts from “back to front” as he puts it.
“There was always a market for land rover spares, and when we started, we specialised in land rover spares because I know those parts very, very well and a lot of the companies which had land rover vehicles started to support us.”
Upon establishing a name in the Land Rover brand, the company soon branched out to supply other brands of parts. The company was then able to acquire its own building in Light Street, Albertown and this, coupled with the already established reputation, improved business.
According to the businessman, his company has the lowest turnover rate for employees. “The same people who worked with us then, work with us today. We currently have about 45 to 50 people working for us. I really appreciate those who have become permanent staff.”
In 2008, the company ventured into the auto sale business; that is selling auto sale parts and quickly became known for selling the Toyota brand of pickup vehicles. “I can confidently say that most of the pickups that sell in Guyana nowadays, we usually sell them. It’s like a niche market and we have a good control over that market.”
In his fair description of doing business in Guyana, Ramcharan said that it can be quite challenging, however, he believes he has been fortunate to have a great group of people working with him.
Like in any other business, there will be issues which will arise that have to be dealt with, but due to the hard work of his employees, they have managed to overcome those challenges.
Ramcharan said, “Our human resources are our biggest asset; our workers generally wear their hearts on their sleeves. There have been a lot of challenges but we are up for it because at the end of the day, we have the people who can deal with it.”
He credits the commitment of his workers to the ‘family like’ atmosphere which is encouraged at his offices whereby everyone looks after each other and they are the ones responsible for keeping the company open day in and day out for the past 25 years.
Ramcharan, also shared that he has never missed a day at work and attributed his personal drive to ensuring the success of his business to simply liking what he does.
“At the end of the day, if you like what you do, you don’t see it as going to work but doing what you love. I won’t exchange my job for any other profession. I absolutely love what I do.”
He relayed that spare parts is a unique industry and only some people have managed to be successful in the business. Ramcharan, who did not receive any formal training in the field, said that his only regret is that he does not have a University Degree along with his business.
“I wouldn’t exchangev this for a degree but if a degree had come along in the process, I would have felt a bit more complete.” There is no substitute for experience according to the businessman.
In terms of commercial support to the business, Ramcharan said that a lot of support has been provided by the company’s bankers. He noted that the majority of his customers come from government agencies, the gold industry and the sugar industry. This is in the form of selling spare parts, tyres and batteries. Due to the wide range of services offered by the company, it is always busy, even when one section might not be doing so well. The diversification and wide inventory has helped to keep the company thriving in an increasingly competitive market.
Ramcharan said that the nature of the business requires a relationship to be established with each client so as to understand the situation they are in and to further figure out the best way they can be helped.
The businessman believes that his humble beginnings has allowed him to relate to the ordinary man who would come to the store looking for aid with a part since he understands what it means to be in tough situation with limited means.
“So when I get a customer, I try to put myself in their shoes. I may get a customer and for all you know, the person bought a car with all the money they had. Therefore, this man needs to get value for his money. What I want for myself is exactly what I would want for others.”
In order for his children to develop this quality, Ramcharan encourages them to be involved in charity work. The business over the years has been involved in various charitable outreaches as well.
In this regard, Ramcharan said, “For the last fifteen years, we, along with other people in the neighbourhood, have been sharing out hampers to different communities. Every year, we would do a children’s party in LBI and every year we would take hampers to different persons in LBI who are over 60 years old.”
In addition to giving back to his community, Ramcharan also partakes in doing charitable contributions for a number of underprivileged homes and orphanages around Guyana. “That is something I’m very involved with and that I am very proud of.”
Ramcharan does not give because he can afford it but for the simple reason of understanding what it means to have come from the ‘ground’.
“You see, when you come from the ground, you don’t give because you can afford it; you give because you understand exactly how it feels to be down there.”

The auto business has become a bit saturated over the years but the company has remained second to none, according to Ramcharan. Most of the company’s customers are repeat customers due to a well established client base.
The next step for Ramcharan is to open a modern Auto Centre to complement the existing branches. Since the company sells vehicles and parts, the Centre will provide a place to have vehicles serviced.
Reaching to the position which he now enjoys in the business arena was a long, hard but rewarding road for Mr. Ramcharan. He believes that his success has made persons around him proud.
He said that when doing business, one has to be patient.
“That is one of the problems with the young generation out there now, they are not patient enough. You have to see the larger picture and you have to keep working towards that larger picture and you will get there. The future of this country looks bright with the young business persons in Guyana once they put their minds to achieving their goals.”
One of the important factors in business according to Ramcharan is taking calculated risks. He said that it is necessary that persons identify what they are good at and exploit that quality to their benefit.
In addition, “There will be setbacks. Any big businessman will tell you that but you just have to keep pushing because when you keep doing that, the door has to open at some point.”
His favourite pastime is to be at home playing with his dogs. The businessman completely adores puppies and believes that they have so much love to give humans but are most times taken for granted. He enjoys walking his Pomeranian dogs. Additionally, he enjoys throwing back and soaking up a good movie or out and about hanging out with his close friends and relatives.

STANLEY MING- The Philanthropist Who Built A Dynasty

November 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Unless we … collaborate to build a solid future for ourselves and our families – this country will experience very limited growth and future successes.”


Greatness is not measured by what we have achieved, but rather, by the things we overcome. Stanley Ming; a philanthropist, former politician and motor racing enthusiast is the embodiment of such a saying. And in this 25th Edition of the Guyana Inc. Magazine, we will peel back the intricate layers of this all-around-good guy and redoubtable being who has defied all the odds and emerged as one of the most successful businessmen in Guyana.


Born in Georgetown, in 1951, Ming spent his early childhood years in a rented house at the back of Lot 61 Public Road, Kitty, as the eldest of six children. He remembers well, his father Cyril, who worked as a clerk at Lall’s Camp Street Bazaar, which was located where the Demerara Bank on South Road and Camp Street now sits. His father and mother, lrene, both struggled daily to make ends meet. He recounted, however, that no matter how hard life got, or how bad things were growing up in a “tenement yard”, it was always home and the bond of the family was what trumped any feeling of despair. According to him, family means everything and home will always be where the heart is. “I was the eldest, and five of us grew up in that home. We were all delivered by a mid-wife whom I remember until now. Her name was Nurse Wason and she lived a few yards away from us.” As it relates to his schooling life, Ming said that he attended kindergarten school at “Teacher Modest” in William Street, Kitty. He would later attend the Walkers’ Under-12 Primary School in Barr Street, also located in Kitty. He recalled during this interview that his parents made every possible sacrifice to give him and his siblings a sound education at various private schools, even though they could least afford it. Ming eventually wrote and passed the Common Entrance Exams, now called National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), and earned a place at the prestigious Queen’s College located at Thomas Road and Camp Street, Georgetown. He was rewarded for his great work with a bicycle. “They bought me a new Rugde bicycle from Hack’s Cycle Store. Wait, I remember the cost of that bike. It was $112 and I don’t think you can buy a hamburger now for that price!” Ming said chuckling. By this time, his family had moved from Kitty to a home his parents purchased in Campbellville, with a mortgage loan from the New Building Society (NBS). This kind-hearted fellow was always moved and inspired by the efforts of his parents. And so with the help of his mother, Ming learnt
to improvise and contribute to the household at a very young age. “My mother taught me how to rear chickens and how to plant and tend a kitchen garden; which was a necessity, not sort of like a hobby. It was a means of survival. In Campbellville, from the time we moved in there, we had quite a large garden at the back of the yard where my brother, Colin, and I planted everything under the sun; bora, pakchoi,
tomatoes, calaloo, boulanger, ochroes, peppers, thyme, squash, corn, sugar-cane, cucumbers – you name it. I also became known in Campbellville as one of the best persons who made covered buttons and buckle-heads for women’s clothing and I also learnt to sew on buttons and make button holes on women’s garments. I also did quite a bit of cobbling,” Ming said. A little shop, Ming recalled, was started on his mother’s initiative in
the front section of the family home. The shop, he said, sold everything that was necessary in a typical household; including rice, sugar, flour,
salt, potatoes, onions, garlic, bread, margarine, butter, lard, kerosene etc., and a full range of haberdashery. He added that the shop, in some way, was the stepping stone for him; since it taught him the basic business practices and techniques which propelled him to become the successful businessman he is today.
“My mom also taught me how to make sugar-cake and fudge – which I would make on weekends to sell in the shop – and I still can make it now – but I don’t do it anymore. I would do it if I feel like eating my own fudge, and I have since showed our domestic assistant how to make it. She now does so in the same way as I would,” Ming said chuckling. (Ming has promised to share his secret recipe with Guyana Inc. and we’re holding him to that!) His thoughts trailed off again before continuing, “Oh, and I also know how to wash my clothes by hand, using a wooden scrubbing board, but now we have washing machines. Ha! I remember, in those days, we had a one-burner kerosene stove and a box oven that was placed on top of a fireside, but now, there are four-burner gas stoves with ovens built in.” After completing High School, Ming said that he had to sacrifice furthering academic education because he desperately wanted to continue assisting his family, especially his mother. Soon enough, he began working at T. Geddes Grant on Main Street, Georgetown, in 1972, as a Yamaha Motorcycles salesman. His earnings at that time exceeded that of his father’s due to additional commissions he earned on the sales of motorcycles. His determination to have his mother no longer maintain the shop was realised shortly
thereafter, and it was closed. The businessman pointed out that it was the job at T. Geddes Grant that increased his passion for motorcycles and motorcycle racing.

Ming shared that he continued his motorcycle repairs and spray-painting afterhours and also during weekends, assisted by his younger brother Colin, at the back of the family home in Campbellville. “This provided Colin and myself with the financial resources to pursue our love of motorcycle racing, both at South Dakota and at various venues around the country, where we competed in grass-track racing. Colin had a Suzuki A50 which we had modified for grass-track racing, and on which he was the Champion for several years. The motorcycle was famously known as HERBIE, which was painted on the fuel tank.”

Tapping Into The Speed Force

With his love for motor-racing blooming uncontrollably, Ming set foot on the South Dakota Circuit at Timehri, in 1971, with a Suzuki 50cc and during the years that followed, he was very successful on the track. He earned himself the reputation as one of the greatest of all times. His reign spread from the local grounds to the regional scene, where he participated in numerous events in Barbados, Jamaica and Cuba. He held the title as Caribbean Motorcycling Champion for four consecutive years before stepping into the international scene. Ming has participated in racing events in both England and the United States of America. He rode at Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Cadwell Park, and Lydden; all circuits located in England. He has also left his stamp at the Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida, where he competed from 1980-1985, in the 250cc Grand Prix class at speeds in excess of 150 mph.

The need-for-speed Guyanese was the motorcycle grass-track racing Champion in his homeland for several years and from 1971- 1985 he raced at the South Dakota Circuit in the 50cc, 100cc, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc and unlimited capacity motorcycle events, at speeds in excess of 170mph on the long circuit. A brief stint in car racing saw him competing in the Suzuki Swift series in the late 1980’s. He also successfully raced karts in the Guyana National Park, at South Dakota, and even in Jamaica. He was the National Champion for several years. But participating on the circuit is only a part of Ming’s connection with the “speed-force”. He has also represented the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club (GMR&SC) at the level of President, during the periods 1987-1991, and again from 2000-2002. During the first four years of his Presidency, he presided over the complete reconstruction and refurbishment of the infrastructure at the South Dakota Circuit, which had collapsed during the energy crises of the 1970’s. He vividly recalls the tour-de-force he led during that period, with the determined commitment and support of a team of young motor-racing enthusiasts. They included Andrew King, Jad Rahaman, Ray Rahaman, Anthony Amres, Michael Correia, Christopher Correia, Kevin Jeffrey, Gem Madhoo, Judy Wong, Chris Ram, Ron Robinson and others, including the ‘Sheriff of Soesdyke’ Bert Carter, who designed and presided over the installation of the Grand Stand in the Gooseneck, which was sponsored by Industrial Engineering Limited and Shell Antilles Guyana Limited. Besides fishing, golf and table tennis, which also rank high among his hobbies, Ming does seem to have a soft spot for home-bred humanitarian organizations like the ‘Special Olympics-Guyana,’ of which he was a committee member for a number of years. Since the early 90’s, he has been both a Rotarian and a founding member of the NGO, ‘Habitat for Humanity-Guyana’ and more recently, ‘The Guyana Foundation.’

After spending two years at Geddes Grant, he joined Eric Vieira in establishing ‘Technical Services and Supplies Limited’ at the corner of Robb and Camp Streets, as the Assistant Manager. The business introduced Yamaha outboard motors and Holder tractors to the Guyana market. Four years later, Ming was on a flight to England – a place, he reflected, that was vastly different from Guyana. Ming said that the winter was something he “really couldn’t handle,” so he returned to Guyana in 1978 and later joined Industrial Engineering Limited, at the invitation of George Jardim, as the Production Manager. Within six months of joining the company, he became a Director and shortly thereafter the Chairman, where he toiled for 10 years before branching off in 1988 to establish his own business, Mings Products & Services Limited (MPS).

Finding Love

In 1989, Ming married Michele Phang, an Optometrist/Ophthalmic Optician. Their union produced three daughters – Stacy, Siobhan and Serena – and one son, Stanley (Jnr.) “I vividly remember the day and place when I met Michele for the first time. I had just returned, the night before, from a snow-skiing trip in the USA. My close bachelor buddy, Joseph King, and I went on one of our customary Sunday motorcycle rides to the South Dakota Circuit, and on the way back to Georgetown, it was routine that we stop in at the Swims Club for a thirst quencher. The club was located on the East Bank of Demerara, at Coverden.” Michele, who had recently returned to Guyana from England, having obtained her B.Sc. Degree and professional training, was there with her uncle and aunt, Clarence and Jean Da Silva, boating on the river. Ming and Michele started dating shortly after that day. “We were very fortunate to be able, over the years, to provide our children with the opportunities to attend private schools, which included Mae’s Under-12, Marian Academy, The Georgetown International Academy and School of the Nations. They also participated in a wide range of extra curricular activities, including athletic sports, swimming, badminton, squash, lawn and table tennis, karate, scouting, hockey, playing the piano, basketball, volleyball, cricket and, of course, riding motorcycles, all terrain vehicles and water vehicles and driving karts, from a very young age,” the proud father said Ming said that his family has since graduated to hot-air ballooning, zip-lining and skydiving; and over the years as a family, they have traveled to several countries on vacations together; gaining an education in diversity, different cultures and customs. “My wife is the academic and disciplinarian in the family, while I am the fun parent, responsible for most of the extra-curricular activities.\ In the past, I dared the children. These days they are daring me to participate in adrenaline sports. I don’t intend to chicken out!!” Ming said chuckling uncontrollably.

Building A Dynasty

Ming’s Products & Services Limited is Ming’s most successful venture to date. It was founded, in 1990, by his wife and himself. He recalled that when the company made its debut, it did so with only three employees, including himself. Today, the company is over 60-strong and has become more like a
close-knitted community, where everyone coexists as a diverse multiracial family. He singled out a few colleagues for special mention, such as, Audrey Ford-Director, Colin Ming-Director, Fazal Azeem-Supervisor, Michele Ready-Macintosh-Supervisor, Janis Chee-A-Tow-Supervisor, Dindiyal Rambarran-Supervisor and Ramdularie Narine (Sugan)- Supervisor; all of whom have been with the company for over 20 years, and more recently, John Chin-Director/Operations Manager. The company is the sole distributor of the entire line of Yamaha products, including outboard motors, motorcycles, generators, water pumps and water vehicles, manufactured by Yamaha Motor Company. He said that the company is also the sole distributor for the entire range of motor vehicles manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, along with a range of construction hardware, which are manufactured and supplied by Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS), Tensar International Corporation, and Shore Guard. Several years ago, as a result of a Yamaha Motor Company assessment, it was documented that the staff body at Ming’s Products and Services ranked number one in the world in terms of their efficiency, friendliness and quality customer service. Ming said that this was all his staff’s accomplishments and not his personal doing. For just over 20 years, Ming, who had established a very successful partnership with a Dutch group of businessmen, headed by Renger Van Dijk, was also the Chairman and a shareholder of ‘General Equipment (Guyana) Ltd.’ and ‘Farm Supplies Ltd.’ These two companies are the exclusive distributors in Guyana for ‘John Deere’ tractors and a wide range of heavy equipment, manufactured by ‘Komatsu’ of Japan and ‘Doosan’ of South Korea. Having a glimpse of Ming’s early life, he was asked how his exposure to poverty has impacted his business psyche. Ming said, “Coming from absolute poverty and trust me, I mean real poverty – I’m not ashamed to say it – has given me and my siblings a very good grounding.” Today, having been reasonably successful in business, Ming said that he appreciates what he has acquired. He added that this was only made possible through hard work and with the dedicated support of his wife, Michele, and the team of people who surrounds him. “They have all made what I have achieved possible – I didn’t do this alone,” Ming said. Ming stated that his main customers are, and has always been, the Guyanese public. He added that the company has never relied on or tendered for too many Government contracts – it has always been the Guyanese public that his company aims to deliver the quality goods and services to, hence the company slogan, ‘The Quality and Technology People.’

The businessman was asked how he intends to have his company evolve to accommodate new avenues that are being created where they never existed before. He replied, “I often tell people that in a country like Guyana, where our population is not growing, it is in fact declining; if 10 percent of the
population can presently afford the goods and services that you have to offer, the only way you can grow the company is by working towards the 10% being increased to 15% then to 20%, etc.” “To do that, I need to invest in creating opportunities for the lesser privileged to be better educated in order that they can realise their full potential, so that in years to come, they can afford to buy the goods and services we have to offer. When we invest in people’s development, we invest not only in the community, but in Guyana and in the company’s future growth prospects.” Ming reiterated that the Guyanese public has been extremely supportive over the last 25 years and he considers himself and his company blessed. “Because the people of Guyana have been good to myself and the company, we have, over the years, tried our best to show our appreciation by doing things for various communities around the country – Tiger Bay, Agricola, Bartica, Buxton, the riverain communities along the Berbice, Demerara, Essequibo and Pomeroon rivers and several other communities, by contributing primarily to their welfare and educational development. It has paid significant dividends,” Ming said.

During 2011, when sections of the company’s Urquhart Street premises and some inventory were destroyed by a huge fire, what transpired, Ming said, was a clear demonstration of mutual respect and concern by the entire Tiger Bay community.The fire was started in the Guyana Transport and Harbours Department property. He said that that night, the members of the community advised the Police who were present that they were taking charge of the situation. They had organized themselves into teams and emptied all the offices and showrooms of their entire contents and took them over to the School of the Nations yard. When the dust settled and the equipment and inventory were replaced and checked, Ming said that not a single item was missing and the only damage was a tiny dent on one of the new Mitsubishi vehicles when it was pushed out of the premises. “I happened to be on a cruise ship in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Alaska, with my entire family when we got a telephone call telling us what was happening. I distinctly remember telling my wife very calmly, that l was quite confident that the people of Tiger Bay would take care of our interests to the best of their ability. So said, so done. My decision to set up my business in Tiger Bay, and engage the community over the years is, undoubtedly, one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made. It has been a mutually beneficial and satisfying experience,” Ming stated. The businessman said that he is a staunch believer that education is remedy to cure all societal ills. With this in mind, MPS has used this as a base on many of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) exercises. Throughout the years, the company has engaged in many other activities to promote education, including partnering with Banks DIH and Shell Antilles Guyana Ltd to provide school children, living in the riverain areas surrounding Bartica, with a brand new fiberglass boat, a Yamaha 75 HP outboard engine, life-jackets and fuel for a year, to ensure that they could attend the secondary school located in Bartica. Ming said, “Education is the solution to numerous problems currently facing Guyana and other developing countries. The success stories of today – most of which are in the South East Asian countries (ASEAN) – have been based on providing easily accessible and affordable educational facilities. By providing universal quality education, you pre-empt a series of other potential societal problems.” The company has also contributed significantly to the development of sports and in areas of infrastructure development in various communities.

Ming The Politician

Ming also dabbled in politics for a while, but lost interest in it and quit. Describing himself as a pragmatist by nature, he said he was associated with the main opposition party, the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R), up until he tendered his resignation from its Central Executive just before the 2006 National and Regional Elections. “I did not go there with my Reform colleagues to be just another set of politicians. We joined the PNC, to become the PNC/R in a very formal alliance, to see how we could have assisted in improving the old political culture and contribute to enhancing the country’s future. However, we subsequently realized that we were having limited success, so some of us decided to resign from politics, since we believed that it would be better to help people in communities achieve some of their goals, in a more direct way, and that is what I will continue to do as long as I am around.” He added, “Spearheaded by Supriya Singh, along with Eric Phillips, Nadia Sagar and myself, we established ‘The Guyana Foundation’ in 2012. This NGO has been receiving significant support and contributions from both Guyanese and foreign well wishers
worldwide, and has significant numbers of local volunteers countrywide.” “The unfortunate thing about Guyana, and I say this often, I am not concerned about being politically correct, but Guyana came out of a very unfortunate history; we all know about slavery, we all know about indentureship.” “The people who presided over us, during the colonial days, used to play the two major ethnic groups against each other and we have allowed that unfortunate scenario to continue, even as some of the current politicians in their ruthless self-interest, are attempting to perpetuate it even more, which is very sad.” “We urgently need to educate our children and ourselves, about the facts such as that, during the days of slavery, all the major canals throughout Guyana were dug manually by the African slaves using shovels. After the abolition of slavery, the Africans were replaced by East Indians, who were brought as indentured labourers to continue the back-breaking work of manually cutting sugarcane and loading punts up to this day.” The staunch political activist at the time said that both major races have made very significant contributions to Guyana’s National development over the years, and should recognize and respect each other for so doing, and not allow partisan politics to create divisions and distrust.

Ming is convinced that, until all Guyanese learn to respect each other and start working together in national interest – recognizing that Guyana is there for the benefit of us all, and not just a selected few – this beautiful country will not move forward and realize its full potential. Back in 1990, Ming had an interaction with the then President of Guyana, Desmond Hoyte, his wife Joyce, and the President’s Economic Adviser, Dr. Kenneth King, at the private home of Reginald and Cheryl Lopes on High Street, Kingston. He and a group of about 50 young Guyanese, consisting of professional and business persons, had met with the President to air their concerns about the lack of proper infrastructure among other
issues that prevailed around the country at the time. “It wasn’t a pleasant interaction, to say the least. I told him that, as the President of Guyana, the buck stopped at his door and he had to take full responsibility and make the kind of decisions and changes that would allow Guyanese to develop and prosper. It was quite an encounter, during which I was critical of his Government. A lot of people don’t know, but I will say this because it is the truth – When I confronted him about the lack of proper schools and education for the next generation, I told him that the Government had intended to provide free education for everyone, but the very limited resources of the state did not allow that to be possible at a quality level.” At that time in 1990, there were only Government-owned and operated public schools. Ming said that he was persistent in getting his views across. He suggested to the then Head of State that Private Schools should be permitted to be re-established so that those who could afford it could exercise the option. He pointed out to President Hoyte also that whatever resources the Government had could then be divided amongst a lesser number, so that the quality of education in the public schools could be improved somewhat. “I also told him that, at that time, computers and related hardware; which were classified as electronic goods, attracting somewhere around 70 percent taxes, should be zero rated since they were neither entertainment nor luxury items; they are modern tools used for teaching and learning. I remember very well that it was a Thursday night when I had the encounter. In fact, there were many others, including Nigel Hughes and Denise Dias, who are still around and were present that night. I recall the audience being quite silent, during and after my very blunt comments,” Ming said. The former politician said that many who were present told him that he was brave to do what he did. Many also cautioned that he should hold his tongue because the President can ‘lock him up tomorrow and throw away the keys’ because he was being very critical. Ming said that he dismissed these assertions by saying, “Well, it was the truth, so let it be whatever the outcome.”
“At nine o’clock the next morning, I received a call from the Office of the President saying that the President wanted to see me at 3:00pm. That Friday afternoon when I entered the Presidential office, President Hoyte, in the company of Dr. Kenneth King, extended his hand and greeted me with a handshake.” Ming admitted that he was a bit apprehensive; however, after the President called him by his first name, he began to feel that it wasn’t
going to be that bad. Ming said that Hoyte told him, “Last night, Joyce and I went home and we reviewed what you said, and I want to tell you that it was never put to me so bluntly; but you were correct, and I would like you to join and work with me to bring about the changes that you talked about.”
The following day (Saturday), President Hoyte addressed the graduating class of teachers from the ‘Teachers Training College’ and he announced, at that occasion, that private schools were free to be re-established in Guyana. Shortly thereafter, Mae’s Under-12 came into being, and several other private schools began to appear. Early the following week, the taxes on computers and related hardware became zero- rated.

The relationship between Ming and Hoyte began to grow. Ming became one of Hoyte’s confidantes and the duo became close friends and colleagues right up to his death. Ming indicated, “After Mr. Hoyte demitted office in 1992, I used to pick him up at his North Road home in my car, at 5:30am along with two of his security guards and proceed to the seawall at the head of Camp Street. From there, we would walked to the head of Vlissengen Road, five days per week.” Ming said that when Hoyte passed away, his wife asked him to supervise and co-ordinate the construction of his tomb at the site of the Seven Ponds in the Botanical Gardens. Ming said that he felt honoured to do this. “I looked up to him as an exemplary Statesman of unquestionable integrity and a true Patriot.”

Dennis Kerpaul Charran- Taking The Business Of Comfort To An International Level

September 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

At a very young age, all the odds were against him. He watched his mother, Nyleptha Charran, work untiringly to make ends meet and put food on the table for him and his brother Derrick.
With unconditional love and an appreciation of her sacrifices, he joined the world of work the first chance he got. He endured numerous sleepless nights to break through the chains of poverty in his Riverview, Ruimveldt neighbourhood. And breakthrough he did.
Today at age 52, Dennis Kerpaul Charran is easily considered the leader of Guyana’s mattress industry. Reflecting on his rough beginnings, the shrewd but humble businessman said those obstacles only made him a stronger, more dynamic and principled individual, who is ready to surpass any future challenge with finesse.

Delving into the details of his life story, Charran shared that the core teachings, which served to transform him into the upright man he is today, can be traced back to his very humble childhood days.
The astute businessman recalled living with his mom and older brother in a time that was filled with difficult circumstances. He shared that one of the most disheartening realities he had to deal with as a child was when his father just one day opted to walk through the door and never looked back. It was heartbreaking for him.
“It was a very saddening experience for me and my brother. Of course, we wanted our dad to be there for us and to be there for our mom. But even though he made that decision to leave, it did not deter my mother from her role for one second. Instead, she worked hard every day to ensure we had all that we needed. Her strength was admirable and she was there for us every step of the way.”
Charran said, too, that he admired in particular, his mother’s insistence on his acquiring an education. He said that daily, she would insist that he should equip himself with all the tools that would enable him to build a brighter future.
The business leader expressed, “I attended the Carmel Roman Catholic School and from there, I went on to the Government Technical Institute which was also known as GTI. Throughout that period, my mom was always my biggest supporter. She was stern and ensured that I always got my homework done and got assignments completed on time. She was caring and pushed me to always believe in myself and never doubt my capabilities. I can safely say that she gave all the guidance and teachings I needed to not only be a great son and a husband, but a supportive and dedicated parent.”
Charran also shared with Guyana Inc that his mom, who worked as a Clerk, instilled in him the importance of being patient, disciplined, kind and respectful to elders. He stressed that these very qualities are essential to any successful business.
The factory owner said, “My childhood was indeed tough, but I would say that the teachings of that time of my life were really instrumental in shaping my mindset and the road I chose to walk. In fact, the most important lesson I have from my childhood is the fact that in those days you had to do what it took to survive.”
The entrepreneur explained that in those days, he experienced the hardships of a political era that was led by the late President Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. Charran recalled that in the “Burnham era”, certain products were banned. As a consequence, the citizenry he said was forced to “make life from what was produced domestically.”
“We were living in a political era which saw many having to grind rice to make flour, or eating provisions every day. But the hardships of that time did not break me, my brother or my mother. In fact, it transformed us into innovative people; a people who were stronger and self sufficient because you had to make life. You had to think, you had to push yourself to make it.”
Charran recalled however, some happy moments during his childhood which were shared with his friends in Albouystown. To date, he still visits his favourite spots in that community to reminisce about the old days, play friendly card games and “have a few drinks with the boys for old time’s sake.”
“I always enjoy the crazy fun in that area,” Charran expressed with a warm smile.
The businessman also spoke of his undying love and appreciation for his stunning wife of 28 years, Sabita. Being the romantic that he is, Charran said that his happiness is only complete when his wife is a part of all that he does. “She completes me,” he asserts unashamedly.
“I still remember that fateful day we met in Albouystown. That’s where she grew up. At that time, I was only 21-years-old and she was 18. She was a gorgeous gem then and years later, she is the most prized diamond I can ever hope to have.”
Charran said that he met his first and only true love during a visit to his relatives in Albouystown.
“I met her in Albouystown where I had relatives living at the time and she and I would often meet there for lunch. She lived in that area too. When I met her, I just knew that she was going to be my world and just about six or seven months after, we got married on May 13. I just knew she was the one.”
The young trader at that time said that he and his wife after tying the nuptial knot moved into a family home in Waterloo Street, Georgetown, where they shared the first few blissful years of their marriage.
Charran said that marriage was and still is, a fulfilling experience. He expressed gleefully that he is one of the luckiest men alive to have found his soul mate.
“She is a fantastic mother and wife and I praise her every day for her strength, love, support and for all that she has done for us. Her love for me holds me together as well as the family. I am so grateful for all she does. She has made me a better person.”

The former student of the Guyana Technical Institute expressed that he got involved in the trading business in his early 20s.
The entrepreneur said, “I started trading out of Suriname in my early 20’s. I imported items such as chowmein, soap, flour, and toothpaste and I sold it in Guyana. Starting out at the time was a challenge for me but that did not deter me from ensuring that I got the job done. Many times I slept at the wharf because I could not afford a room to stay in at a hotel or so.”
Eventually, his relatively young merchandise businesses saw expanded relationships with companies in Trinidad and Tobago.
Charran said that when it came to his trading relations with the Twin-Island Republic, this led to the exportation of unique pieces of clothing and the profits from that venture were used to purchase car parts and pharmaceuticals. These, he explained, were brought back to the Guyanese markets and sold.
“Eventually, I got involved in importing foam sheets and mattresses and from the profits made, I was able to open a store in La Penitence in 1994, retailing the foam and mattresses, household appliances, among other items,” Charran related.
He shared, however, that he was forced to close his first store due to several internal issues.
Having imported a lot of foam from Trinidad, the entrepreneur said that the regional company decided to open an operation in Guyana in 1995. And having been a good customer to them, Charran said that the company representatives gave him the distributions right for the company.
“That venture however, only lasted for about eight years and due to some internal issues, they decided to close shop in Guyana. With what little I had, I offered to buy their machines and they agreed to sell them to me and boom— that led to the birth of Comfort Sleep on August 1, 2003.” The company’s Head Office is located at 49 Eccles, Industrial Estate, East Bank Demerara (EBD).
The successful businessman stated that Comfort Sleep offers the best mattress in Guyana, and he is proud to say that.
“And I am not saying that because it is my company but on a daily basis, my company receives hundreds of calls from our customers who express nothing but love and satisfaction with their product and that is what drives me. I know the value of a good night’s rest and the importance of sleeping in comfort. Also, we value people’s hard-earned money so for me, giving them quality is priority.”
Charran shared that his mattresses can be found in, Linden, Essequibo, Bartica, Berbice, Lethem, Port Kaituma, and Georgetown; pretty much just about all across the country.
The shrewd businessman also stated that alongside providing international and high quality products to his customers, he believes in the power of customer service and appreciation.
“Building a relationship with your customers, letting them know that you care , that you are genuinely interested in helping them find the best product to suit their needs, goes a far way and that is something I keep lamenting on to my workers. A customer’s loyalty is not only bought with high quality products, but also with how you treat them, and I firmly believe in this.”

One of the biggest and perhaps most devastating challenges Charran has ever faced was back in 2013, when a fire completely destroyed his factory; this included all of his machines, stocks, records, etc., with the exception of two trucks.
“I would say it was my biggest challenge in life, but with the Grace of God, my dedicated staff, loyal and dear customers, suppliers, friends and my family, I was able to re-build and open the Comfort Sleep doors in eight months time, which was in July 2014.”

Though Charran may be required to keep a stern face in the business world, he has a soft spot for children. He simply adores them and it comes as no surprise that he is involved in numerous charity activities on an annual basis.
He said, “I started my humanitarian work over 18 to 20 years ago, but for the past eight years, I have been involved in a lot of school feeding programmes, feeding about 500 children. We feed the less fortunate kids during the school year. We also supply monthly groceries to Ruimveldt Children’s Home and Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre.”
In an effort to give back to society, and as part of assisting the less fortunate and disabled, Comfort Sleep some years ago embarked on a programme to assist the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre.
Charran said that for the past 18-20 years Comfort Sleep has been rendering assistance to the rehabilitation centre, and on a yearly basis, a Christmas party is held for the children housed by the centre and also those visiting for therapy.
According to Charran, the company would also assist the centre with whatever they need during the course of the year.
Meanwhile, as it relates to the feeding programme in Malgre Tout, West Bank Demerara, he explained that the company commenced the programme through the Malgre Tout Catholic Church, which receives groceries each month and the church staff prepares the meals.
However, over the years the programme expanded and as such, the church has now started to feed four schools on the West Bank – Malgre Tout, La Grange and Bagotsville, ParFaith Primary Schools. These are given lunch three days per week, compliments of Comfort Sleep.
Its other school feeding programme is in New Amsterdam, Berbice, feeding three days per week, the children of Edun-Burg and Friends Primary schools.
An annual Christmas party is hosted for all the children on the school feeding program, Charran added.
Mr. Charran said these Christmas parties are his favourite part of charity work because of the joy and excitement he sees in their eyes and faces.

Guyana’s annual exhibition for trade and businesses of all types usually sees Comfort Sleep as one of the main attractions. According to Charran, the event is one which gives the company the opportunity to explain to the Guyanese public all the intricate details and effort that go into producing quality products for them.
“We try our best to take advantage of that event because we get the chance to really interact with the public on a deeper level. We have discussions about many topics that relate to what we do and how much time and effort we put into ensuring that they are satisfied. We also try to answer as many questions as possible.”
He continued, “From that experience and edification, we are able to better our selves, services, and to continue doing what we do best. Also at that forum, we let them know why our mattresses are of a better quality than the imported ones with the big brand names.”
Charran’s company also takes part in various GuyExpo’s which are held in other parts of Guyana, such as Berbice, Linden, Essequibo, and Bartica. He noted too, that his company takes part in the trade exhibitions which are held in Suriname. Charran said that his company’s products are available there too.”

Comfort Sleep is not only recognized for its commitment to quality products and services within its homeland, but also abroad.
In fact, it was awarded in 2015 for its excellence at the International Star Award for Quality (ISAQ) Convention in Switzerland.
The award came as a surprise to the company even as it was working at the time to recover from hundreds of millions of dollars in losses following two fires at its Eccles, East Bank Demerara (EBD) bond.
The company was singled out for its commitment to ensuring the best quality product that directly impacts lives for the better through its well trained and highly experienced employees.
Charran, in explaining how his company was selected for the award said, “We did not submit any proposal and we did not even think of doing what we do for any award, but we just got a mail telling us that after research we have been selected because we create the best sleep through our comfort sleep brand.”
He shared, too, that the experience was one that was simply astounding. Charran said, “It was truly an amazing experience and being there and walking up that stage to receive that award made me think ‘Wow .. Your hard work has paid off’…It really is a humbling experience when the quality of your work receives international acclaim and I am grateful for all those who were part of the process.”
The Managing Director, expressing elation, said he owes the award to his customers and the hard working and committed employees. His employees, he noted, are dedicated to ensuring people sleep in comfort.
It is through these people that the company has been internationally recognized.
The International Star for Quality Convention is part of the annual programme of BID (Business Initiative Directions) awards, designed to recognize the prestige of the outstanding companies, organizations and businessmen in the business world.
Last year, the International Star for Quality Convention took place in Geneva, from September 19th to 20th and the ISAQ awards were handed out at a ceremony in the Inter Continental Genève Convention Center.
The event was attended by prestigious companies from 74 countries, together with leaders from different business fields, professionals from the worlds of economics, the arts and corporate image, quality experts, as well as academic personalities and representatives from the diplomatic corps.
Charran was the only Guyanese to walk away with the award for that year.

Reflecting on his life, all that he is involved in, and the growth of his empire, Charran says that his family remains his biggest accomplishment. He is the father of NateshaSohan, Namanda, Nakita and a grandfather of two beautiful children; Narissa and Nathaniel Sohan.
Charran said that he thoroughly enjoys spending time with his wife and children. He added that since his family resides in Canada, he would often times have to travel to be with them.
The businessman noted that while he is proud of his company and wants the best for it , he always tries to find a balance between that and his family life.
He said, “My wife and kids are very, very important to me. What I work for is for them. When I’m in Guyana I talk with them every morning, every night, and during the day. I always ensure I’m with them for their birthdays, graduations, and any special and important activity in their life. They mean everything to me.”
Furthermore, Charran said that he has some plans for his business in the future which involves expansion but time, money and some other important factors need to be in place before it can become a reality.
For those who wish to enter Charran’s field, this seasoned business tycoon has one piece of advice; “Work very hard and most of all be honest.”

Pritipaul Singh Rises To The Top of The Fishing Industry

August 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Guyana’s seas have been one of untold secrets, success stories and impressive riches.
For decades, its territorial waters have been a rich source of nourishment for the nation; and the springboard for catapulting many local fishermen to the throne of grand success.
But there has been a renewed push by the Government to revamp the industry to maximize profits using modern methods and equipment. It has called for all to get on board.
At least one businessman has been paying close attention and is staying one step ahead of the game.
He is Mr. Pritipaul Singh. His name would be familiar to many in Guyana, as he has leaped to the top of the local fisheries business.
This “Guyanese King of the Sea” is now involved in fishing for tuna and other value-added processing.
Today, Singh’s investments which have now spread to Suriname, and grown to almost US$100M, is surpassing all expectations and it seems there is no stopping his strides.
Highly successful and driven, Singh or ‘Krish’ as he is called by his family and loved ones, is also well known for his philanthropic side, helping to rebuilding many mandirs and assisting with other charities.
He is now grooming his sons to take over the reins of the company.
But it wasn’t always a rose bed for the 50-year-old businessman.
Despite the laid-back appearance he has, his sharp eyes for catching success in abundance spoke of a mind that was constantly on the move.

Humble beginnings

Singh came from a single parent home, growing up with his grandparents in Bellevue, West Bank Demerara. It was a tough life in that farming community back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Krish was not afforded any school there. But amidst the negative influences of the environs, Singh was still hungry for opportunities to improve his standard of living.
He said, “I was glad to move from my grandparents’ home because I didn’t like the environment too much … too much drinking and bad influences.”
Singh added, “So I moved to Georgetown with my mom and was enrolled in Richard Ishmael Secondary School.”
He intimated that his loving mother even sought help from others to teach him as she saw it as a way for the family to move from the tough conditions that they were living under.
“While in school, I was also helping my mom. It was four of us and I, being the eldest, helped my mom and this gave me a lot of business sense…road sense. She had a stall in Bourda Market- a greens stand- and I would go to school, come home, do what I must and go help her.”

The Market- A Home away from Home

Naturally a disciplined person, Krish had to rise at 5:00 am every day to help his mother. He was just 12 and it was in the mid 70’s. It was those early years that taught Krish some valuable lessons. He knew that he wanted to get out. And the only way to do it was through hard work.
The entrepreneur recalled, “When my mom started with the stall, we used to sleep in the market on top of the stalls. My mom would hang up a hammock and we would sleep there. We used to bathe in the market… sleep there… buy bread there and butter it and carry it to school.”
He continued, “I knew hardship and I grew up humble. It was my mom, sister and two other brothers. I had to make a lot of sacrifices because I had to help her out and ensure that I always educate myself.” He insists that he is grateful for the valuable lessons he learnt during this period of his life.
In spite of the odds being against him, Krish did well in school, graduating with passes in the GCE O’ Levels exams.
He related that it was a proud moment for him.
Singh said, “When I got my O Levels, I started to teach and study as well… giving lessons at home and other locations and also helping my mom. I was teaching at Richard Ishmael Secondary. While I was teaching, I completed my Advanced Levels.”

Learning the trade

With his company, Pritipaul Singh Investments, he stands as the first in Guyana to become involved in what is called long-line fishing.
Longline fishing is a commercial fishing technique. It uses a long line, called tHE MAIN LINE, WITH BAITED HOOKS attached at A snood is a short length of line, attached to the main line using a clip or swivel, with the hook at the other end.
Being ambitious and always on the lookout for opportunities, Krish was able to befriend a trader who was selling grapes and apples to the market. With his keen senses, he latched on to the experienced trader and became his student.
“I was able to beg him to train me on how to do trading, to take me to the other countries so that I can learn the trading business- this was in the early 90s.”
But when Krish started, he quickly learnt that there was a huge market in Barbados especially for seafood.
“I used to take things like Colgate (toothpaste), watches and seafood from here and trade in Trinidad. From there you buy greens such as cabbage and carrots and so on and take it to Barbados where I would sell and then buy apples and grapes and come back to Guyana. I worked in this way for about for four years,” Singh explained.
It was around this time that the young businessman made the decision to venture into the fishing industry and he started by purchasing prawns from locally-owned trawlers.
“I would process it and freeze it myself and then export it to Barbados…that was the biggest market I had. It was a lot of work and I used to do it from my home.”
Of course, the challenges were many. In the early 90’s, the Guyanese King of the Sea noted that power outages were raging.
He said that keeping his “catch” frozen was a task because he was shipping it from Guyana to Barbados. He said that this required him to ensure high quality was always maintained.

Opportunity knocks twice!

Being a shrewd businessman, Singh was able to save his hard-earned cash and fortunately, another lucrative venture came up. Around the mid-90‘s, a sawmill at Friendship, East Bank Demerara, went on the market.
“I wanted to do more here too as I had already established the seafood business and I wanted to do both of them. The seafood was not by containers but smaller amounts on a regular basis. This was like about 1996.”
In 1997, a gas station at Supply, East Bank Demerara, was up for sale. Krish saw the potential of the investment with the Demerara River being nearby and plunged head on into the transaction.
“After a while, I wanted more and I thought of diversifying, and in 1997, I was able to buy a gas station and do designs for a seafood processing plant.”
Krish was building a reputation with his bankers as a serious entrepreneur who honored his obligations. Republic Bank, GBTI and his business associates were all more than willing to forge an alliance with him in his ventures.
With financing from the bank, he bought his first trawler, using the Demerara River behind the gas station as the centre of operations. It was the beginning of things to come. Krish had a market and a supply of sea foods. He also had an additional income rolling in from the sawmill.
“After using and seeing the potential of the trawler, I used the funds to buy nine more trawlers, so I had 10 boats. I was able to use financing from Republic Bank. Always keep the bank happy and you will be happy,” the businessman advised.
“In 1996, I was just about 32 years old. I had approximately 100 staffers. When you are investing, you have to always keep an open mind and always try to expand. With the gas station, I was able to distribute gas about the place. With the new investments with the trawlers, I was able to ensure that the banks always stay happy.”
In 1999, Krish learnt that part of the Marine Food complex at McDoom, East Bank Demerara, was up for rental by the operators. It was perfect- spacious and ideally located with the place to moor the trawlers.
The location was ideal also as it would cut out the need for the trawlers to transit through the Demerara Harbour Bridge, saving costs and time. Pritipaul Singh Investments (PSI) was in full swing.
“I saw the possibility to acquire the whole complex so I did a proposal to the Government and eventually they granted me the permission in 1999 to buy. I bought the complex and by then I had 15 trawlers.”
During this time, PSI was selling to Noble House and BEV Enterprise.
But Krish was not satisfied with just selling his shrimp and fish. He wanted to offer his overseas customers more.
“I saw the opportunities that existed to do my own processing. This included making more revenues by peeling the shrimps which was much more challenging, but I was able to acquire the overseas market. It meant more staffers and we eventually hired about 200 staffers.”
It took the company one month to do a 20-foot container. He decided to plunge headlong into expansion and soon, with more staffers and financing from the bank, increased the number of containers for the overseas customers.
The businessman admitted that initially he was worried. The investments in the fisheries complex were heavy.
“I was worried but everything you do is about checks and balances and soon I had about 800 ladies peeling shrimps. In 2000, I left my brother in charge of the sawmill and I came to McDoom to concentrate on the seafoods.”
Krish was moving into the big league. He was taking shrimp out by the containers.
“Eventually, doing both fish and shrimp, and using this to support the expansion while we were constructing, we had workers hand-peeling, grading and exporting so we were able to do a 40-foot container once a week.”
The fisheries company was picking up steam, holding its own.

Georgetown Seafoods

Another major opportunity also came up in the 2005. The Georgetown Seafoods, an operation based in Providence, was in deep trouble.
“It was always my dream to own Georgetown Seafoods, and eventually because of global warming… there was a drop in the catch and with this came high fuel prices. I took it over and was able to keep everybody and their jobs.”
Krish said that his company is now looking at deep sea fishing, going down in 800 meters of water.
“This is unheard of in Guyana – nobody else does it. We are looking to can tuna. We are the largest privately-owned seafood operations in Guyana.”
Today, Krish owns 75 trawlers, doing fish and shrimp.
According to the businessman, the two fisheries complexes under Pritipaul Singh Investments are partially automated to increase efficiency.
“Between the two companies, we have over 2000 employees. Because we are shipping to the US and Europe, we are mandated to ensure our quality meets international standards. We are HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) compliant. This means our safety requirements meet international criteria. The US Department of Commerce comes to certify our plant twice a year.”
The company is serious about its standards. With numerous customers in the supermarket trade, Krish said that his company has opted to use British standards, which allows him to ship his shrimp, prawns and fish anywhere in the world.
PSI is also moving to receive its greenlight from the Marine Stewardship Council which ensures that fishing practices are in keeping with requirements worldwide.
“This means we are certified as being a responsible company that protects our species, including measures to equip our trawlers with turtle excluder devices and other things.”
While today he manages his time between family, sleep, and living healthy, he admits that the work schedule had not always been that way.
“In the earlier days, I would work for 14-18 hours per day. Often, when I leave for work, my family was still asleep and when I get back home in the evening, they were sleeping so it was a sacrifice and it was worth it because it was all for them to benefit and be comfortable.”
Today, the businessman’s first of three sons, Pritipaul Singh Jr., is the Managing Director. He is only 22. The second son, Sanjay, is the deputy, at only 19. The eldest son went straight from school to work.
Krish has his own views on furthering one’s education.
“I was practical. I have an empire here that I was able to achieve not from a Degree or a University certificate, but because of dedication and commitment to working hard and using my smarts to get things done. You have to be able to focus and have goals that you work hard to achieve.”
“With business comes many challenges and you always have to be in command of what you are doing. I have a partnership with Nation Choice in Jamaica- they are distributing our products. We are talking about trout, grey and red snapper, banga, butter fish and we have this in three forms -steaks, fillet and whole gutted.”
PSI is catering to the big tourism market in Jamaica, supplying the hotels there.
“We are also doing business in Trinidad, St Lucia, Barbados and we ship shrimps to Miami. In order to stay ahead of business, you must be competitive.”
The businessman is practical when it comes to making money- there is only one way- to work hard.
“You must always have a vision to be the person on top and to do so one must make time to compete and excel and work hard and always come up with great ideas on how to keep your customers, and happy at that too.”
The company, according to Krish, is currently aggressively pursuing more expansion that will see more processing in Guyana. This is especially critical at a time when fishing is becoming more difficult with a declining stock.
“We want to reduce our fresh-on-ice exports. We are looking at international financing for this expansion in the value-added and we could be on our way in five years.”
“I can only thank God for my success. I tell myself that for every good action there must be a same equally good reaction. So I believe in helping out and I would always try to give back to society and in order to be successful you must help others also.”
The businessman is well respected in especially the Hindu community. He has helped refurbish 12 mandirs, including the one at Diamond, East Bank Demerara.
But it is not all work for the man who slept in the market when he was a boy.
“I do lots of reading. I keep myself occupied constructively. I exercise every day. I always do what’s best for my health and peace of mind. I frequent mandirs and I believe that there is a God and our actions make a big difference.”
The entrepreneur, who has risen to the top of the fisheries business in Guyana, believes that there are many opportunities in Guyana for the young.
“…but there has to be that drive…that extra effort and willingness to work hard to want to be on top and to want success. Many times, people want stuff but we are not willing to go that extra mile to work a little harder to want to take that risk. Don’t allow the negatives to stop you…always be in the driving seat.”

PSI is looking beyond

Krish knows that supply of the precious fish and shrimps will reduce.
“I am just setting the pace and foundation. One of our next projects could be looking at pond raising of fish and shrimps so in the next 10 years we could very well be doing this. To stay ahead, you have to eat right, think smart, take good rest and care your health. I have always had a drive to be successful and when I have a vision I work hard to achieve my goals.”
The businessman is clear about what it takes to be successful.
“We have invested in our staffers. We are doing our own construction. We provide free food for our staffers. In this business, whether you are at home or at work, you have to keep thinking, looking ahead.”
Perhaps one of the most critical elements in doing business is learning.
“You have to know all the nuts and bolts of the business. If the trawlers are critical to your business, don’t sacrifice on the maintenance. You have to find ways to deal with issues that crop up. Deal with it at once and don’t leave it totomorrow.”
The businessman wants to hand the daily business operations to his two sons.
“I am not going anywhere. I will be overlooking but we have to also plan for the future. To be successful, you have to be a visionary and make the impossible…possible.”
Singh’s aggression and drive have propelled him to the top of the fishing game.
He was not unwilling to take the risks, to borrow and work hard.
His empire today with that two-decade period has come with sacrifices, but the dividends have been rewarding.

Guyana’s seas have been one of untold secrets, success stories and impressive riches. For decades, its territorial waters have been a rich source of nourishment for the nation; and the springboard for catapulting many local fishermen to the throne of grand success. But there has been a renewed push by the Government to revamp the industry to maximize profits using modern methods and equipment. It has called for all to get on board. At least one businessman has been paying close attention and is staying one step ahead of the game. He is Mr. Pritipaul Singh. His name would be familiar to many in Guyana, as he has leaped to the top of the local fisheries business. This “Guyanese King of the Sea” is now involved in fishing for tuna and other value-added processing. Today, Singh’s investments which have now spread to Suriname, and grown to almost US$100M, is surpassing all expectations and it seems there is no stopping his strides. Highly successful and driven, Singh or ‘Krish’ as he is called by his family and loved ones, is also well known for his philanthropic side, helping to rebuilding many mandirs and assisting with other charities. He is now grooming his sons to take over the reins of the company. But it wasn’t always a rose bed for the 50-year-old businessman. Despite the laid-back appearance he has, his sharp eyes for catching success in abundance spoke of a mind that was constantly on the move. Humble beginnings Singh came from a single parent home, growing up with his grandparents in Bellevue, West Bank Demerara. It was a tough life in that farming community back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Krish was not afforded any school there. But amidst the negative influences of the environs, Singh was still hungry for opportunities to improve his standard of living. He said, “I was glad to move from my grandparents’ home because I didn’t like the environment too much … too much drinking and bad influences.” Singh added, “So I moved to Georgetown with my mom and was enrolled in Richard Ishmael Secondary School.” He intimated that his loving mother even sought help from others to teach him as she saw it as a way for the family to move from the tough conditions that they were living under. “While in school, I was also helping my mom. It was four of us and I, being the eldest, helped my mom and this gave me a lot of business sense…road sense. She had a stall in Bourda Market- a greens stand- and I would go to school, come home, do what I must and go help her.” The Market- A Home away from Home Naturally a disciplined person, Krish had to rise at 5:00 am every day to help his mother. He was just 12 and it was in the mid 70’s. It was those early years that taught Krish some valuable lessons. He knew that he wanted to get out. And the only…

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Mr. Roy Beepat

January 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“In everything, you must have balance. Fortunately, I have been able to manage both business and family with much success.”

Mr. Beepat in his office at Giftland Mall

Mr. Beepat in his office at Giftland Mall

Giftland Proprietor Roy Beepat Remains Guyana’s Leader in Contemporary Trading

Outstanding entrepreneurs never stop being innovative. Even when facing life’s most unpredictable circumstances, they show tireless dedication in completing the task ahead and are willing to take risks. They are undaunted by failure and are always seeking to bring to life, a vision greater than their last.
Guyana’s leader in contemporary trading, Roy Beepat, is the embodiment of these very fine characteristics and more. This assertive businessman has built for himself, an empire that is respected locally and regionally. The Giftland franchise and its success to date, is one that leaves his competitors swimming in envy.
At age 56, he credits his prominent placement in the local business world to the unwavering support of his wife and family and not forgetting his committed staff and Board of Directors of the Giftland Mall.
But getting to such heights of success was surely no fluke or no walk in the park.
Life and its uncanny circumstances forced Beepat to start business from scratch, not once, not twice. But every time he was hit by unassuming situations, Beepat rose to his feet and went back to the drawing board, knowing that he was going to reconstruct the perfect plan to claim his treasures at the end of the proverbial rainbow. And he did.
“Keep it moving, regardless of what faces you” is his mantra and the journey to where he is today, proves that Beepat is a businessman who practices what he preaches.

Mr. Beepat with his mother celebrating her birthday

Mr. Beepat with his mother celebrating her birthday

This creative businessman was born in Georgetown to Madho and Sheila Beepat on December 21, 1958. His mother moved to England in 1962 where she resided with him and his two sisters and his brothers who are now the owners of the family business Beepat & Sons. His father, a businessman, lived in Guyana. He described his parents as being old fashioned, the kind of folks whose parenting was grounded in passing on the values such as honesty, integrity, the importance of kindness and respectability.
The father of five daughters said that since his parents were living in two different territories, it did have an effect on his schooling life.
He remarked, “I left school at age 15. But prior to that, I had trouble settling in one school because when I was four the family moved to England during the riots in 1962 and then my father who was in Guyana missed me, so I was back and forth between the two. Between age six and 10, I was split, sometimes spending long periods in Guyana so it became difficult to keep track in school. I got bored with it and said that’s enough. But I did have some fun days playing soccer in the park after school and I still am a fan of soccer.”
After leaving school at such a young age, he joined the family business in Guyana.
He said, “My father owned Beepat and Sons and so that was where I first started in the world of business and since I had a taste of it I have been hooked. I love business and what it entails and that was where my passion for it started. But my dad was really old fashioned. I had to learn the ropes of the business. I started out as a porter and then as a salesman and worked my way up. I trained in banking, importing and customs brokerage as these were all part of the Beepat business. When I turned 17, I decided to venture out on my own and start a clothing business. I took the family owned business Beesons garment factory and developed it into a successful clothing manufacturer.”
Beesons was a small factory which had 13 sewing machines. With a great concept in mind, he started the stylish ‘Gypsy Jeans’ movement and launched the opening of his first company in 1978 called ‘Jeans Junction.
Beepat stated, “Within the first year, we had over a hundred sewing machines going and had established Gypsy as the number one Jeans Company in Guyana.”
His business became one of the most prosperous clothing stores in the country.
Beepat would later move to Barbados in 1980 due to the volatile climate of the business environment at the time. “I left and set up a jeans company in

Mr. Beepat and his wife Monica

Mr. Beepat and his wife Monica

Barbados. Unfortunately, I lost it in a fire in 1983. But that did not deter me at all. I then started from scratch again in the world of business in 1985 and had six stores called Top Model which was the leading clothing company in Barbados with six branches. This was something I started with my first wife, Jennifer. But after some irreconcilable differences, we split or severed ties you could say and I gave her the stores and returned to my homeland in 1992 where I started from scratch, once more.”
The hardworking Beepat upon returning to Guyana, started out in some construction work for a brief time and would soon return to work alongside his brother in the Beepat and Sons family business.
After saving up enough capital, about US$4000, he entered into the closeout market. The Closeout Market is one which sees traders disposing of obsolete or slow moving stock through a clearance sale.
He said, “Between 1992 and 1997, I had three acres of land which I used for housing purposes and the proceeds from that was what I used to start trading in Closeouts.”
Being involved in that for a few years, his next business venture, Giftland OfficeMax was started in 1997 when his second wife, Monica Beepat’s small gift shop was combined with his wholesale stationery company. It was merged at one location on Regent and Albert Street. It moved from there to Charlotte Street in 2000 and then to Water Street in 2003.
From that point on, one could say that success was once again, a guarantee. It was on the horizon and Beepat, a true believer in his ideas, sailed effortlessly to the top of the leader board.

The opening of the Giftland Mall by the Honourable Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

The opening of the Giftland Mall by the Honourable Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

During a decade in business, Giftland has occupied more than three different premises. Each time that the company has relocated, it has been for reasons of expansion. Before moving to its current location at Liliendaal, it was stationed the longest at Water and Holmes streets.
Every instance of relocation has also been attended by increases in its product range as well as its volume of its goods. Its music and DVD departments never seem less than crowded while the popularity of its clothing departments exceeds that of its more established rivals in the city.
From its beginnings as “another Regent Street store” in 1996, Giftland has grown steadily on urban consumers and far from modest about the company’s achievements. Beepat believes that the company may have already left its rivals behind. “We never worry about the competition. We are more preoccupied with doing what we do well and allowing the results of our efforts to make the point for us,” he says.
To make his point about the company’s success Beepat proffers statistics for growth in sales since 1996 that are scarcely believable. Each year since its launch a decade ago Giftland has increased its sales turnover by more than 100 per cent. Over the past ten years, sales have grown by more than 5000 %.
He said that Giftland’s phenomenal growth is also hinged on an uncompromising insistence on high standards of customer service and the energies of what he believes is the most talented team in the business. “We have the highest entry level in the business,” he quips. If the company has had it bouts of high staff turnover, Beepat says that is because, “our customer satisfaction outlook means that we will only retain staff with the highest possible commitment to customer service.”
Giftland is simply one of those businesses which has “crept up” on urban shoppers gradually. Today, many simply can’t see the business landscape without it. Beepat said that he has worked hard to create a “feel good” environment- an atmosphere that panders to shoppers including an exchange or refund policy on goods that is not fashionable with its competitors.
The store’s success, Beepat says, including over ten successive years of growth in sales turnover, is due to the company’s unwavering focus on creating the conditions that maximize customer patronage and the role that its staff has played in helping Giftland achieve that goal. His own role, he says, has been to provide the conditions and create the environment that has enabled him to get the best out of the Giftland team.
Arguably the biggest difference between Giftland and its downtown competitors is embodied in Roy Beepat himself. From Beepat’s perspective paying too much attention to “group think” can be counterproductive. “We focus more on our belief in our capacity to create an environment, whatever wider conditions may obtain, that allows us to increase our market share. That has been our focus and it accounts for why we have done well,” Beepat says.
He said that the focus on keeping Giftland in the public eye has resulted in a sustained increase in the company’s marketing and advertising budget. The company spends millions on a monthly basis in various forms of advertising and marketing including sponsorships and community initiatives. “Our marketing programme centers around the Giftland concept,” he said.
The Giftland franchise which also believes in giving back to the public has been involved in various community based activities and innumerable charity projects over the years.
He believes, that contemporary marketing strategies ought to focus on “marketing service rather than products,” an outlook that accounts for his personal preoccupation with the performance of the members of Team Giftland. “We never worry about sales. We concern ourselves more with providing the best service in the business. I set high standards and expect the staff to meet those standards. That is why we pay careful attention to our recruitment policy.”

Mr. Beepat with his wife, son-in-law Ian and Crystal Ramdeo, Store Operations Manager and CEO Giftland

Mr. Beepat with his wife, son-in-law Ian and Crystal Ramdeo, Store Operations Manager and CEO Giftland

Buoyed by the phenomenal success of what he calls “the Giftland concept” Roy Beepat had declared his intentions to establish a ten floor high rise commercial mall that will include restaurants and bars, banking services, beauty salons and a giant department store. When he made the announcement, many believed that it was just not possible.
And against all odds, Beepat was able to create what now stands as Guyana’s largest mall. It is a project that compares favorably with facilities similar to those in North America and rivals most in the Caribbean.
The Giftland Mall which represents more than a US$24M investment was officially opened to the public on July 2. The opening ceremony was one that saw great attendance from various sections of the Guyanese society which included the presence of Guyana’s APNU+AFC led Government.
Many within the Government deemed it to be a major investment in Guyana’s retail sector and the kind of shopping complex that is a “scientifically selected” blend of business, entertainment, cuisine and architectural magnificence.
According to the speakers at the opening, the new Giftland Mall is a testimony to the determination, commitment, persistence and sheer guts of the President of Giftland Mall, Roy Beepat.
Each speaker recounted the way in which Beepat’s determination overruled their natural caution and fears about the risks involved in the project.
Rudy Collins, Director of Giftland’s Board recounted conversations he has had with Beepat over the last ten years during which Beepat spoke enthusiastically of the entertainment features that could be available to the Guyanese people at a Giftland Mall.
Rubis Country Head and Director Ricardo Milford perhaps said it best when he told those gathered that they were there “to witness the launch of a fantastic dream, a dream of a man who willing, moved a grandiose idea from conversation to commitment, an idea that necessitated courage, strength and without a doubt tenacity.” Guyana’s first mega mall, he added, speaks volumes of what private capital can do to advance the economic and social wellbeing of the populace”.
Among the many stores at the Giftland Mall are GL Giftronics, GL Sportsmaxx and several sophisticated food courts.
Even though it has moved to a location a little further away from Central Georgetown, Giftland which offers over 2000 opportunities for direct job employment, has not missed a single step when it comes to maintaining its customer base. In fact, it has seen a major spike in its followers across the country.
Even though there is now an expansive road which leads to the mall, customers have no need to worry as they are provided transportation services to the mall for free. The comfortable ride has received high praises from customers who prefer not to take the four to five minute walk-in. The Giftland Mall also provides one of the largest parking facilities in the country as it can accommodate 800 vehicles and will soon be expanded to accommodate 900 more for a total parking of 1700 cars.
The mall’s impressive shopping department with its classy collection of furniture, clothing, cosmetics, stationery and a plethora of other consumer goods remain a hit with locals. Among the 100 plus different concession stores are Kings Jewelry, Royal Castle, Churches Chicken, Dairy Queen, GTT Communications Inc., ENetworks, Giftland, Guy America and City Pharmacy.
Despite the store’s apparent extravagance, customers are always pleased to learn that the inexpensive pricing Giftland has been synonymous with will remain.
Also available at the Giftland Mall is the country’s most spacious theatre. With over 1300 seats, Caribbean Cinemas Multiplex is a popular attraction since the opening of the mall.
The Puerto Rican theatre company has over 480 screens across the Caribbean region, including Trinidad and Tobago. Its location at the Giftland Mall actually represents its first mainland operations in South America.
Beepat however did not hide the fact that he, like every businessman, faced challenges even as he sought to take his biggest leap in the retail trading. He noted that securing access to financing from financial institutions was difficult at the time but it did not discourage his spirit for a moment. And throughout the struggle, he said that he is forever grateful for the support and love he has received from his family, Board of Directors and Team.
He said, “In everything you must have a balance. Fortunately, I have been able to manage both business and family with much success. But I must note that this year has been a trying one, in terms of meeting certain deadlines and getting everything on stream for the opening of the mall.”
“I have invested so much of my time into the Mall that my daily routine for my personal life just went out the window. But these were necessary sacrifices I had to make. Once I get this whole complex into a routine, which I am going to by the end of December, from January I will start back into my routine which includes going to the gym.”
The business mogul continued, “We have actually taken a quantum leap from what Giftland was in the beginning to where we are today. And in the process, we ensured we took the time to build the infrastructure and the systems needed so that everything runs smoothly. Our staff in almost every department has doubled. So we have new administrators and new managers in the departments.”
Beepat stressed that regardless of the size of his expansion, consumer service remains key.
He said, “Every time I move, I always try to ensure that customer service is handled in an efficient manner. Wherever I go, that will remain a key factor for me. They must enjoy our service. I take pride in ensuring everything is just right for my customers and those little things we take for granted, like spotless floors or perfectly working air conditions, trust me, they make a difference. They set you apart. All those little background details are important.”
As for earning the title as Guyana’s leading contemporary trader, Beepat says that he is not in it for the laurels or labels but to do his job until it becomes second nature.
“Yes, by now, Giftland is a household name. But we are not interested in labels; we just do what we have to do. But the title just means that we are doing a good job,” he added.
While many would easily say that the position Beepat holds in Guyana is his greatest accomplishment, the versatile entrepreneur says otherwise. He believes that his bond with his wife and daughters who work with him in the business, is his greatest accomplishment. He noted too, that the three daughters working with him in the Giftland franchise are Crystal Ramdeo who is married along with Jade and Meghan. Crystal is in charge of stores operations, while Jade is tasked with Human Resources. Meghan single-handedly manages the Strip Restaurant and Hookah Lounge on the Entertainment Strip. His son-in-law, Ian Ramdeo, is the CEO of the Giftland Group and has run the Giftland Company for three years while Beepat was building the Mall. His other two daughters, Gabriella and Chelsea are at School and university respectively.
“I am most proud to be a father, to have a family by my side to share this success with. We have gone through some very hard times but in the end it only served to bring us together, closer as a family and I am proud of that. I am proud of my family, I love them dearly. Having such an unshakable bond with the ones you love is priceless.”
“That I believe is my greatest accomplishment. And believe me that is not mere talk. Try to imagine yourself with all the success in the world and no one to share those happy moments with, try to imagine your life without any loved one at your side and you would soon come to the sobering realization that material things are not so fulfilling if you don’t have that family you love and nurtured to pass it on to. Indeed what I have built is good, I have a legacy to pass on to my daughters, (Chelsea, Jade, Meghan, Crystal, Gabriela) but my role as a father, as a husband, that is what I am most proud of.”
The experienced businessman advises that young entrepreneurs, who seek his level of success and beyond, first try to have a sense of the market they are venturing into.
He said, “They must be able to think everything through from start to finish, from the conception of the idea to its success. Also, they need to understand

Mr. Beepat’s daughter, Jade ( HR Director) with his grandson Dylan

Mr. Beepat’s daughter, Jade ( HR Director) with his grandson Dylan

that there is no such thing as a bad business idea. If you plan properly, and infuse creativity as well as good market research then you can make it. Follow your dreams but please, do your research and learn your field by heart. For example, if you are interested in selling computers then think about what the consumer is looking for, do your research on what is available, work at the leading company in this field and gain experience before venturing out, profit from the experience of others. Don’t just buy any set of computers from anywhere and think you’re ready for the world of business. Be smart, be aggressive and let nothing daunt your spirit.”
Beepat asserted that the desire to push on even in the face of adversity is the hallmark of any successful businessman. “Understand that you will face challenges and when you try the first time, and you don’t get it right, don’t waste a second in despair. Keep moving.”

While the Giftland Mall is a full time job for the time being, Beepat enjoys playing Bridge, a popular card game. He was the Captain of the only Guyanese team that has won a Inter Guianas Tournament.
The lover of soccer noted that he enjoys watching his favourite teams; Barcelona and Arsenal play in annual tournaments. Beepat disclosed that in the in the next five years, he will be involved in different business ventures. He revealed that they will include financial services, real estate and food processing and maybe a few others fields. For him, the sky really is the limit and at this point in his life, he has just warmed up for the journey to endless prosperity.

The Robert Badal Story

December 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

From the sugar cane fields to The Helm of Guyana’s Leading Hotel…

For every young aspiring entrepreneur I would ask that you never underestimate your talent or capability. Believe that anything is possible, set realistic goals and work hard towards their achievement. It is rare that success would come right away, therefore be persistent and patient. At times, you may not have all the answers to immediate problems, seek advice and reach out to a mentor. Remember that success breeds success, but such would be short lived if you spend your gains unwisely.”

The achievements of Robert Badal, in 20 years of prudent business activities, have placed him among the leading entrepreneurs in Guyana. In a country known for its rich agriculture lands and mineral wealth, he has built a business empire comprising of agro-processing and Guyana’s leading International Hotel.
Robert Badal’s story is one of true entrepreneurship, described best by the words perseverance, determination and commitment. From spending his early years as a water boy in the sugar cane fields, to now being a successful business tycoon, Badal has used the last two decades to develop a portfolio of profitable businesses by his very grit and willingness to explore new territories.
The business mogul has always been focused, disciplined and motivated, even as a little lad, so it is no surprise that Badal now stands at the helm of two of the most lucrative businesses in Guyana.
He has defied the odds and today, his flagship company, Guyana Stockfeeds Inc., is the leading producer of animal feeds with 70% of the local market. Its high quality, high-value parboiled rice, marketed under the “Angel” Brand, dominates supermarkets in Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica.
In 2009, Badal acquired the prestigious Pegasus Hotel, located on the tip of Georgetown’s Atlantic Coast, and made his mark on the local hospitality landscape.

Formative Years

Badal spent his early childhood in a tiny village on the East Bank of Berbice. The eldest of three children, he lived with his father Robert Badal Sr., a farmer, while his brother and sister lived with his aunt nearby. The business mogul’s mother died before he started pre-school, and being the eldest, he had the responsibility of helping his dad on the farm on weekends and holidays.
“I really did not have much playtime. During the week I attended school, and weekends I assisted on the farm. At first, I thought it was unfair because my cousins had the entire weekend for themselves while I had to be on a farm but I quickly got into it. Initially I believed that it was the company my dad needed, but as I grew older I started to help paddle our boat on the five mile trip to our farm and then assisted with the weeding, cutting bushes, and harvesting plantains, pumpkins, cucumbers, and papayas, and so. It was hard work to leave early in the morning and returning after dark,” Badal related.
Continuing, he told Guyana Inc. “What I particularly liked was traveling with my dad to New Amsterdam, the nearest town 25 miles away, to sell our produce. After a few trips, I was convinced that I was a better salesman than my dad.”
After graduating from primary school, Badal got a break away from the farm to attend secondary school in New Amsterdam. He boarded with an aunt and rode five miles every morning on weekdays to attend the Berbice High School. “My bicycle was my tool of trade as I couldn’t afford the fare by bus or car,” Badal shared.
Badal enjoyed his high school days, but tragedy soon struck; halfway through high school, his dad passed on. Despite the setback, he managed to complete high school, graduating top of his class.
This opened doors to many opportunities for Badal but finding a job to assist his aunt to support her five children and sister became his immediate priority. Though he had an offer to teach at a nearby primary school, Badal chose to work in the sugar cane fields as a water boy. He had already considered that he could earn a higher pay when overtime was taken into account.
“I was only 17 years old but I would be on GuySuCo’s truck at 5AM each day with the cane cutters. I would not return until around 7PM: my skin and clothing all blackened from the burnt sugar cane dust. I would be the first to arrive at the worksite and the last to leave the cane fields, Sunday to Sunday. Even though I wanted to further my studies at the University level, I needed the money,” Badal confided.
“It was unusual at the time to find anyone with seven subjects GCE O’ Levels in the cane fields. Everyone aspired to have a well-dressed, fancy job in an office or to be a teacher but my responsibility was my drive and motivation,” the businessman added.
Fortune favoured Badal. After a few years in the sugar cane fields, someone “spotted him” and offered him a GuySuCo (Guyana Sugar Corporation) cadetship to study for a Diploma in Agriculture at the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA). Two years later, he graduated with distinction.
Badal continued in GuySuCo as a field supervisor. In fact, he was the youngest at the time. Badal quickly realized, however, that he needed a career much more exciting and he started preliminary accounting studies in the evenings after work. It was two years after Badal registered with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the prestigious London based professional accounting body, that he completed the entire program, a record even up to today.
“The rest was history. There was some degree of restlessness in me throughout my working career. I was quick to get settled in a new job because I am a quick learner, highly motivated and disciplined. I would work on multiple assignments at the same time and get a lot done in a given day. I was never the one to walk around, chatting or being distracted in anyway and there was no social media at the time. All social activities were after work,” the hotelier reflected.
It was no surprise that having the qualifications of a certified accountant provided many opportunities. After a few senior executive posts, locally and overseas, the restlessness returned. Badal needed a greater challenge. “This time I was ready and eager to be my own boss. The active field of entrepreneurship provided the answer to my lingering restlessness,” the businessman said.

Rice Trading

It was 1994 that he found his first business calling. At the time, Badal had started studies for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in Jamaica. It was there that the idea of trading rice between Guyana, an efficient producer, and Jamaica, a large consumer of white rice, emerged.
A number of conditions in both markets facilitated his easy entry. Guyanese rice millers had a poor reputation in the Jamaican market, in terms of quality and reliability. Even though Guyana was a CARICOM member state with tariff protection of 25%, most of the rice entering Jamaica annually came from American producers. Additionally, the large Guyanese producers preferred the lucrative European markets that sported duty-free access via the OCT (Other Countries and Territories) route for semi-milled cargo rice. But, this route was then coming to an end with the global review of preferential access.
“My strategy was to take the first-mover advantage in developing a brand of rice in advance and marketing this to distributors in containerized shipments instead of shiploads. I identified a number of rice millers willing to work with me, negotiated forward contracts in return for providing financing. Consistent quality was demanded,” the businessman shared.
He said progress was slow at first but word of great quality, lower prices and reliability of smaller shipments soon spread and his market share gradually accelerated. Within four years, Badal’s “SUPA” brand had wedged its way to securing 30% of the Jamaican market.
During the out-of-crop season when, at times, supply from Guyana was low, he would co-share a vessel with a grain company and ship his supply from the USA.
His business model was a resounding success but was it sustainable? Even at the height of strong market position, Badal was aware that the almost perfect market conditions he created and enjoyed would attract other players, even some of his own suppliers. The OCT route to Europe ended and it was only a matter of time that the floodgates of suppliers and supply would open, depressing both prices and margins.

Strategic Diversification and Expansion

The Guyanese Government, under its privatization agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had placed a number of state entities up for sale. These included the country’s leading livestock feed manufacturer, Guyana Stockfeeds Inc., and the adjacent edible oil producer, National Edible Oil Company.
“My thinking was that these two companies provided an attractive vehicle in building an integrated industrial complex whereby my rice business would provide needed cash flows and raw materials for livestock feed production. The by-product of the edible oils operations would also provide essential raw materials, further expanding total synergies,” the renowned entrepreneur shared.
It was not long after that Badal emerged the successful bidder for both companies, having offered the highest prices and the best business plans. And so, the curtains were drawn for large industrial expansion in the livestock feed business.

Building Core Competence

Most companies under government control are weak. Guyana Stockfeeds, on acquisition, was weak strategically with a low production capacity, poor product quality and high unit cost. Faced with the scenario of increasing imports with the opening of the economy, the company needed to strengthen its core competence, capacity, reliability, competitive price, integration with sources of raw materials, and strong brand support among customers, inter alia.
Financing was obtained locally as well as from the USA Exim Bank insured facilities. Storage capacity for corn, rice byproducts, and soya meal were doubled. The feed production processes were automated; pelleting technologies were installed to enhanced quality and give farmers better feed conversion into meats; staffers were trained in the new technologies; energy management and production were enhanced; and strong linkages were forged with farmers around the country with an attractive incentive scheme. A hatchery – the missing link to supply day old chicks – was built. All profits were reinvested and dividends minimized during this period of expansion.
As a result, feed production went from 15,000mt in 1998 to 55,000mt where it presently stands, as local poultry production expanded.

Transition to Parboiled Rice Production

As predicted, the margins on trading white rice were gradually declining. With the acquisition of Guyana Stockfeeds Inc., a strategic decision was taken to introduce a higher value, higher priced rice with higher margins; one that is least affected by market conditions.
Unlike white rice, parboiled rice is pre-cooked to retain its B vitamins. It attracts higher prices but require large investments in specialized parboiling technologies.
In 2007, the company opened its state-of-the-art, computer controlled parboiled rice mill. Its “Uncle Bens” quality marketed under its brand “Angel” distinguished it from other brands produced locally. Within a short time, Angel Parboiled Rice made itself a favorite in supermarkets in Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada and Jamaica. Today, this brand is marketed in retail sizes and holds a dominant share in those markets.

Business Diversification – Acquisition of Pegasus Hotel

The opening of the parboiled rice plant immediately preceded the global financial turmoil of 2008. Although it had no impact on its exports and even helped its entry into overseas markets (because of its strategic advantages in relation to suppliers from US), Badal recognized the need for further diversification of his group’s overall business risk. Soon, he was on the lookout for attractive opportunities.
He didn’t have to look too far. Conveniently, that opportunity presented itself in Guyana’s most prestigious hotel, the then Le Meridian Pegasus, which sits on the tip of Georgetown’s Atlantic Coast.
A part of the then Le Meridian Group, the hotel was internationally renowned and it boasted of high repeat customers, among them diplomats, heads of state, business executives and the English Royalty.
“It never crossed my mind that one day I would be having an interest in this prestigious national treasure. Then, one evening while have a drink at its famous Poolside Bar, an executive from Pegasus’s London Office approached and said that the hotel is on the market,” the businessman recalled.
“I took a few extra drinks at the idea of this prospect, but by morning my regained soberness had me asking ‘Why? Can I afford it? Where would the money come from?’”
Within a month of reviewing the financials and other information he received, Badal made an offer. “I questioned my offer because I thought it was on the low side but it was configured on the basis of the amount of financing I believed I could raise on an optimistic basis.” Much to his surprise, the seller’s agent’s – Merrill Lynch, the reputable wall street firm – response was that his proposal was among their two most favored proposals and that the final decision would be based on each bidder‘s ability to immediately pay the deposit and raise the financing subject to contract.
Badal wasted no time in requesting the draft contract and quickly reviewed it with legal advice. He requested a number of changes and within a month signed a legally binding agreement to buy the hotel. The deposit was paid the same day. “I could not believe it, even shortly after I signed,” the hotelier admitted.
“Confident of my credit worthiness and my previous successes in business deals, little did I anticipate the problems in concluding financial closure and the political obstacles and abuse of power I was about to confront,” Badal shared.
He related that it took him eight months to conclude this deal. During this time, Badal faced interferences from political quarters which he believed were intended to frustrate his legally binding contract.
This is what he said: “It was almost a drama that would make a best-selling movie, but on April 9, 2009, I walked into the lobby of Pegasus Hotel with my attorney, took the seal of the company, the minute book, the share certificate and share register from its General Manager. I was now the first local owner of the Pegasus Hotel. I had defeated the odds,” Badal recalled.
The next day, the local media went wild with the news.

Refurbishment Works

The hotel was built in 1969 and it was always profitable but little was spent on refurbishment over the years. With no experience in hotel management or interior designs, Badal’s priority was to upgrade its facilities and enhance guest experience.
“I learned quickly with a few consultants but added my own touch to what is today a great hotel to stay at with continued repeat customers,” Badal said.
All of its 130 rooms are now completely redone with a clean cut contemporary decor, a sprawling, defined Pool Bar and Grill, a lobby wine bar, two restaurants and an executive Bar and Lounge on the roof with stunning views of the city and Atlantic Ocean that caters to the entertainment needs of local and overseas customers.

Secrets to His Success

In every industry, there are some factors that are fundamental to the success of any business within it. It is important to identify these from the onset for initial and continued growth, Badal said, as he added that every industry changes over time as it matures and the competition increases.
He told Guyana Inc. that more qualitative factors define continued success since one’s competitive advantages are eroded by other players.
“Successful businessmen identify these factors driving changes within an industry and ensure that their human resources and company as a whole are equipped to take advantage of the opportunities emerging from these changes. Hard work, careful and strategic planning, innovation and creativity, empowerment of staff are all hallmarks of a strong, stable and competitive business,” the tycoon divulged.
He added “Personally, I have competent leadership in all my businesses. My job is to steer the ship, motivate the crew and allow them to do their job and express their own creativity and innovation needed to deliver consistently good results. This is what I refer to as management by exception. I receive one-page reports every morning from each business via email. This guides any intervention I may decide to make.”
This leading entrepreneur is of the view that success in business comes not by looking at the bottom line, as important as this is, but by focusing on and expanding the top line. “There could be no healthy bottom line if the top line is unhealthy or unstable,” Badal told Guyana Inc.
“Looking back at where I started and where I am today, there was never any doubt in my mind that I would get somewhere significant but I believe that, to some extent, I have surprised myself,” he said.
After spending more than 20 years building his empire, Badal shares “For every young aspiring entrepreneur I would ask that you never underestimate your talent or capability, believe that anything is possible, and set realistic goals and work hard towards their achievement. It is rare that success would come right away, therefore be persistent and patient. At times, you may not have all the answers to immediate problems, seek advice and reach out to a mentor. Remember that success breeds success but such would be short lived if you spend your gains unwisely.”

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo: A true Guyanese patriot and fearless politician

November 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

“It is not about the next election, but the progression of our next generation.” This has always been the mantra of a determined young man who grew up in the bountiful lands of Whim Village, Corentyne Berbice. Today, Moses Veerasammy Nagamootoo stands as Guyana’s Prime Minister and the reality of his motto could not be more alive.
During the 2015 General and Regional Election campaign, Nagamootoo travelled all across the nation, inspiring as many as he could to embrace a new era, a new time, a new breed of politicians. He invited the nation to welcome a new type of politics: the kind that despises self-aggrandizement and rewards those caught in corruption with deserving penalties.
Politics, for this feisty and well-respected orator, is not a one way ticket to wealth but a platform for transforming lives, making a real difference and fostering national unity. Nagamootoo has fought untiringly for the place he stands in today. And if one were to trace back to when he was 14, the time when he first entered politics, every decision he has made since then would prove that he was not only preparing for this post all his life but was perhaps, destined for it.
Nagamootoo was born on November 30, 1947, to Gangama (Chunoo) and Nagamootoo Ramaswamy (Mootoo), both of whom are deceased.
He recalled his parents to be amorous, humble and dedicated workers.
“I always found my mother’s name to be beautiful because it means, “Mother of the Sea.” She was a strong woman and always supportive of my father. My parents were in the fishing business. My father had some fishing boats and the day’s catch was what my mother sold at her stall. My parents worked really hard to ensure that we had food on the table and clothes on our backs and while they exhibited a great deal of contentment and happiness, they always pushed me to dream big and to know that anything is possible.”
“Yes, we grew up poor but they gave me rich lessons about life. I am grateful for the lessons they passed on to me especially the importance of valuing the little things in life and being humble no matter what you do, or where you end up in life. They taught me the importance of discipline and that it is key to anything you want to be successful in. If you don’t have that, then regardless of how talented you are, your success if or when it comes would be short-lived because you need discipline to maintain it. So, my mom and dad passed on some principles of life, which are responsible for where I am today,” expressed the Prime Minister.
Leading a humble life back then, Nagamootoo’s parents enrolled him at Auchlyne Scots School, located in Corentyne, Berbice. It was there, that this aspiring politician first laid his eyes on his, “Juliet”.
“Of course, I enjoyed my primary school days, for I love learning new things each day, but boy was I awe-struck when I first saw this pretty, little girl –Sita. I remember just staring at her because she was so beautiful. I knew at that moment that she would have my heart forever. There was no doubt about that. At that time I was perhaps 11-years old and she was nine. She didn’t live far from my village too. ”
The young “Romeo” was convinced that he had found his soulmate but he hadn’t seen much of her after he had moved on to Rose Hall and Corentyne Comprehensive High Schools. After high school, Nagamootoo reconnected with Sita and even then, he was still honing his talents in the political sphere.
He was a member of the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) and later joined the “big boys” in the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) where he made sterling contributions. He did this while juggling the demands of a teaching career from 1964 at the Corentyne Comprehensive High School. But he was fired in 1967 for giving a lesson on Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Nagamootoo decided to go on his own and co-founded D’Edwards High in Rosignol but soon left after a disagreement with the principal where it ended in a physical altercation.
“Yes, I had to give him some lashes with a wild cane because he misappropriated school funds and that didn’t go down well in my book. Even from then I detested any form of corruption, and I just couldn’t stay there anymore so I took the students to a Hindu temple and I taught them there. It was a private school and I called it the Zeezight Secondary School. It was good for some time but I left there after giving it a few years,” the Prime Minister stated.
Leaving the teaching career behind, Nagamootoo in 1970 made a few attempts to join Guyana’s military force but this was not realized.
“I tried to join the army and they threw me out the first day because I was a rebel. I had a smart mouth I guess and in the army that was not tolerated so I tried joining the police force and they told me twice that I was just too short. They told me I was short by quarter inch so it was clear that that path was not for me. It was really hard trying to make a living,” said Nagamootoo.
But the power of love would soon determine that it was time he tied the nuptial knot with his life partner, Sita and he did so on May 23, 1971. Behind the scenes, the politician enjoys a rich and supportive marriage with his wife, Sita Nagamootoo, of over 40 years, and the overwhelming love and appreciation from their four children: Angela, Maria, Adela and Moses Ernesto and, of course, their five grandchildren.
Later, he was then requested by former President Janet Jagan, the late wife of former President Dr. Cheddi Jagan, to join the Mirror Newspaper. There, he enjoyed a rich career in journalism but still refined himself in various academic fields.
During that time, the “Lover of Fine Art” became the founder of the National Union of Students, and functioned as the first Organising Secretary. He was also recognized as the leading activist for restoration of democracy, press freedom and human rights.
He was also the student of the Accabre College of Social Sciences and even became a student of the Venezuela Spanish Language Institute.
Given his exceptional journalistic skills and literary talents, he was invited to the Allen White School of Journalism, University of Kansas in the United States of America (USA). There, he worked as a visiting journalist and it was sponsored by US Information Services.
Commenting on that period of his life the Prime Minister said, “I loved writing and I was a journalist at some of the news outlets we had in those days. Going to the USA as a visiting journalist was just an incredible experience. It was not a degree programme but it was part of a fellowship programme and it gave me the opportunity to learn how to write editorials and how to budget stories for the newspaper, that is to say you choose based on priority. It deepened my love for Literature and writing. Literature is the foundation of life and because of how much I care for journalism it is one of those programmes which I want to reintegrate into our system because it is very beneficial.”
The First Vice President continued, “When I was there I worked with so many persons and wrote for so many newspapers, the top ones too. So I enjoyed my days as being a journalist because it not only sharpens your oral and writing skills but deepens your appreciation for the power of words. I knew that this would be extremely beneficial to me if I wanted to become a politician. You cannot run from the fact that how you say something and what you say can inspire your fellow man to be better or make him work a little harder to be the best he can be. Those years were, perhaps my most enjoyable during my working life because it helped me to document the events of the day; it helped me to keep a critical and objective eye and most of all it taught me to see all sides of the coin before making a pronouncement.”
So successful was he in this field that he was awarded the International Organisation of Journalists (IOJ) Scroll of Honour for Journalism from Vietnam and the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) Press Week Award. He was also recognized as a Harvard University Guest Author and Allen White University Fellow (USA).
As a thriving journalist of his time, Nagamootoo held several posts which included: General Secretary of the Union of Guyanese Journalists (UGJ) between 1970 and 1992; Founder/Executive Member of Caribbean Association of Media Workers from 1986 to 1992; Executive Member of the Federation of Latin American Journalists (FELAP); as well as Vice-President of the IOJ during the years 1990 and 1996.
He said that his 20 years in journalism was truly an enriching part of his life.
But adoration for a new field, that being Law, would soon sprout, and of course, every academic area for Nagamootoo had to be refined. As such, he moved on to the University of Guyana (UG) to read for his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. Unfortunately, he did not have the funds to move immediately on to the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad for his Legal Education Certificate (LEC) so his aspirations in this area were placed on pause but only for a short while.
The General and Regional Elections which were held in 1992 and would see the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic ousting the People’s National Congress (PNC).
Although he was a successful journalist, Nagamootoo still maintained a firm grip on his political aspirations and had already proven by the 1970’s that he was a rising force to be reckoned with in the local world of politics.
“In those days, the leaders of politics gave you a feeling that anything was possible, that it was an honour to serve your country and a privilege once given the position to do so. So, in my teens, I was involved in politics and knew that that was where I belong, that is where I feel at home. Politics is never self-serving and it is disheartening when I see others falling into that poisonous trap. For me, it is about making a real difference in the lives of my fellow Guyanese. One of my greatest accomplishments is being able to say ‘Yes, I contributed to the foundation that will enable the generation to survive and to do so successfully.’ And when you lead with honour and integrity, you also leave behind a great example for your young ones to follow and that is another important aspect of politics for me,” intimated the Prime Minister.
It came as no surprise that in 1992, Nagamootoo was called upon to serve as Senior Minister of Local Government and Regional Development with responsibilities for Information and Amerindian Affairs.
To this, Nagamootoo said, “Politics is a rough and tumble world but in every way I was ready for it. I was ready for this since I was a teenager. As I have said before, this is my calling and I have no regrets about taking this path. Indeed, it is not always hugs and kisses among politicians. It can get heated and dirty but I’ve got the skin to deal with it. Mentally I was always ready and nothing was going to stop me from making my mark in this arena.”
He continued, “Politics is a life changing arena and it isn’t for the faint hearted. I knew that I had certain things to accomplish and I had something meaningful to bring to the table and I believed in myself and the policies I had. This has been a truly remarkable journey for me and I think that I could safely say that I have no regrets because every decision has led me to where I was destined to be and I am thankful all the opportunities which came my way.”
Describing himself as a person who always finishes what he started, Nagamootoo said that he eventually saved up enough money and completed his legal studies. He graduated in 2002 and soon established himself as a true legal warrior in the courtroom.
“Being able to practice law while dedicating myself fully to the world of politics was a great accomplishment for me. The two fields really married well: the skills I employed for Law enhanced my performance in the political arena and vice versa. Both were demanding fields but fulfilling in various ways. For me, it was the ultimate win-win situation because I was making a difference in the world of politics and also in the world of law where people often needed your help.”
Nagamootoo served as a member of Cabinet under four Presidents of Guyana and as their Chief Speech Writer as well. For 11 years after, he was a Member of Parliament (MP) and there he served as a Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Reform from 1996 to 2001 and as Chairman of the Oversight Committee on Constitutional Reform from 1999 to 2001.
From 2006 to 2009, Nagamootoo was a Member of the Foreign Relations, Standing Orders and Constitutional Reform Committees in addition to the Committees on Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill and Legal Practitioners Bill.
Nagamootoo’s relationship with the PPP came to an end in 2011 as he left that camp for a robust and aggressive party, the Alliance For Change (AFC), with which he similarly served as Member of Parliament.
The AFC then joined forces with a then five-party coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) in February 2015, in the lead up to the May 2015 General and Regional Elections where they returned victorious.
Their win, which ended a 23-year rule by the PPP, saw Nagamootoo being sworn in as Prime Minister and First Vice-President on May 20, 2015 under the leadership of David Arthur Granger, the country’s eight Executive President.
Reflecting on the lead up to their triumph, the Prime Minister admitted that the elections campaigns were indeed grueling. Even though he is known for the ‘blows’ he delivered, Nagamootoo confessed that he held back on some of his witty and ingenious slurs he could have shared. He noted that this was so because he had his harshest critic by his side: his faithful wife Sita who is known for the years she spent serving as an exceptional educator, moulding many young minds.
“She has been my harshest critic on the campaign and it is because of her that I held back on the full force of my jabs during the elections time. But I am grateful for her: she is supportive and loving and has never once faltered. Throughout this turbulent journey she has been true. I am indebted to her for her unconditional love in every way,” the Prime Minister expressed.
To date, Nagamootoo says he is proud of his literary accomplishments which include his two novels: Hendree’s Cure, published by the Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom, as well as Fragments from Memory which was published this year. The former book was a Nominee in 2001 for the Guyana Literature Prize for First Novel.
Nagamotoo is also known for editing For the Fighting Front: An Anthology of Revolutionary Poems which was a Special Edition for the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) Festival Congress in 1794.
His critically acclaimed publications include: Three Trials of Arnold Rampersaud; Towards a Peaceful Solution: a Commentary on the Guyana-Venezuela Border Issue; Fraud: a Synopsis of Guyana’s Rigged 1980 Elections; The State of the Free Press in Guyana (with former President Dr. Cheddi Jagan), Race, Class and Nationhood (with Dr. Cheddi Jagan) and Party Paramountcy over the Guyana Media.
His prized manuscripts to this date remain; Caribbean Perspective of Suriname’s 1980 Coup, Origins of Mass-Based Parties in the Caribbean, the Grenada Grundnorm and Revolutionary Legality as well as NAFTA – Implications for the Caribbean.
The First Vice President of Guyana is also the recipient of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) Community Service Award from India, the PPP Meritorious Member Award and the Distinguished Service Plaque from the PPP/NY Support Group.
“My life has indeed been a fulfilling one and I know that my party, the APNU+AFC will deliver on all its promises and even more for the people. I assure you that we will deliver the good life for the people.”
“The important lesson I think to be learned from all that I have been through is to believe in yourself. Your circumstances do not define the destination. Look at where I started out and I didn’t allow the lack of resources to daunt my will power of getting to where I needed to be. And that is what I hope to continue to inspire the other young leaders of this nation to do and to understand. Once you have that discipline, the dedication and determination to achieve your goal, nothing, and I mean nothing is impossible.”
This accomplished son of the soil said that he will continue to fearlessly pursue the enrichment and survival of the citizens of his dear land. For him, this remains an honour.

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