Dr. Yesu Persaud: A giant in business and philanthropy
By Kurt Campbell
Mere days after celebrating his 90th birthday, Dr Yesu Persaud is being celebrated by Guyanese academics and businesspersons for his audacious authenticity in business, social entrepreneurship and civic life.
A true testimony of the heights to which determination can propel humans, the Dr Yesu Persaud story is nothing short of impressive with the Guyanese businessman now being celebrated for his outstanding contributions to business and philanthropy, in Guyana and abroad.
Dr Persaud arrived at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown on Tuesday to hugs and kisses in a room filled with family, friends and colleagues where a lecture series was launched by the University of Guyana in his name to mark his seminal contributions.
These contributions were not limited and fell into the broad categories of local and international, business and politics, civic and philanthropy, religion and culture.
The morning proceedings were filled with reflections on the life of Dr Persaud where glowing tributes filled the room as a humbled Dr Persaud himself reflected on a life well lived.
Dr Persaud has a long and distinguished career which spans many continents, two centuries and several successful business ventures and highly impactful civic and philanthropic works.
Several key persons in the life of his career were chosen to give reflections and overview of Dr Persaud’s lifespan, many of whom were handpicked by the gentleman himself.
One of those persons were former Barbadian Senator, Maxine Mclean who spoke to Persaud’s international impact.
“I must admit that I couldn’t find a term that adequately describes your contributions Sir,” Ms Mclean said as she pointed to his service in banking and finance across the region and further afield.
Some of his regional achievements include him becoming a Trustee of the Caribbean Latin American Action (CLAA) that looks after the interest of the Caribbean and Latin American countries and he is past President and Executive Member of this institute, which includes all CARICOM countries and is one of the most influential business organizations in the region.
Dr Persaud is also a past Chairman and Current Vice Chair of the West Indies Spirits Producers Association which is one of the oldest and most respected organizations in the region.
“We need to utilize the full essence and wealth of information that lies in Dr Persaud’s contribution,” Ms Mclean added.
Dr Persaud’s colleague, Mr Komal Samaroo, serving CEO of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) recalled how two companies came together to form this national brand, popularly known for its Eldorado rums, under the Chairmanship of Dr Persaud.
He was hailed by Mr Samaroo for his corporate restructuring and people focused style of management which pioneered the company in the right direction in a business environment which Mr Samaroo recalls having been challenging.
He recalled how bold Dr Persaud was at times when it was necessary to stand up to politicians and challenged them when many others feared to do so.
Meanwhile, Mr Ramesh Persaud, the current Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED), an organization founded by Dr Persaud to provide loans and training to entrepreneurs, reflected on his impact and influence in business which is now being regarded as pure heroism.
Summarizing his principles of guidance for the not-for-profit organization, Mr Persaud pointed to principles founded on integrity, good governance, selfless service and accountability.
Dr Persaud is particularly known for his many wise and profitable investments and for conceptualizing and building of key institutions that now serve Guyana’s banking and financial sectors well.
Some highlights include his service as Executive Chairman of Diamond Liquors Limited and the Managing Director of Demerara Sugar Company. He is being credited with achieving a business miracle with regards to Demerara Distillers Limited which stands out in the economic history of Guyana.
Nationally, he has been awarded the Golden Arrow of Achievement for his works in developing and expanding the Distilling Industry in Guyana and the Cacique Crown of Honour for development of new industries.
Internationally, Dr Persaud has also received several awards including the Pepsi Cola International-Slice, the Gandhi Organization Plaque, the inaugural Indo Male Lifetime Award and the Glory of India Award and Certificate of Excellence.
Described as an innovative leader and results focused person, the University of Guyana launched an inaugural lecture series to mark Dr Persaud’s influential contributions to Guyana.