“I want to see young people who don’t have the opportunity to go to a university on a full time basis or go after any other studies on a full time basis, to always have that chance like I did, and that is exactly what I have been helping to do for over the past 30 years and I will forever be committed to doing that.”
By Sharmain Grainger
“The person who receives the most favours is the one who knows how to return them,” is an adage that best encapsulates the person Fazal Bacchus is. Over the course of his life, he has been extended many a helping hand, and these have helped him to recognise and accept that his mission in life is to do the same – help others.
Bacchus has been doing this without fail with the hope that he can continue a cycle that started some 30 years ago.
Bacchus is today a very distinguished Chartered Accountant, but remains a teacher by heart, who has helped many young people, and even some older ones, gain needed qualifications to become productive individuals in society.
This might seem a regular feat to some, but when people understand the circumstances that led to the path he has chosen, it quickly becomes clear that Bacchus is a giant of a man who deserves to be recognised for his unwavering support to help many deprived persons.
As the elder of two children, he was born on September 10, 1968, to parents Sonny and Nearjahan Bacchus. His father, now deceased, was a carpenter and his mother was a housewife and stallholder at both the Bourda and Stabroek Markets.
During his young days he remembers that it was always a struggle to make ends meet for the family, but his parents always did their best to provide.
Reflecting on his upbringing in Georgetown, Bacchus recalled that he grew up between Albouystown, at his maternal grandmother, and with his parents in West Ruimveldt. He attended West Ruimveldt Primary and there he wrote the Common Entrance examination before moving on to the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School. He was an excellent student and it certainly showed in his performance.
However, by the time he reached Third Form, making money to help the family survive became more crucial than his education.
“The focus was on getting money and not on getting an education, because we needed money to survive, so even though I was doing well in school from First through Third Forms, I had to drop out of school,” Bacchus recalled.
Needless to say, he was a natural in making sales, which helped to ensure that the family always had enough to get what was needed each day. In fact, he was so good at vending that he became quite conspicuous, even to a senior master of The Bishops’ High School named Krishna Ramdaney. “He came up to me one day and enquired why I was on the market every day and not at school…of course I told him I really wanted to study, but we didn’t have the money for that,” Bacchus shared.
EDUCATION IS KEY
Not willing to see the young Bacchus forfeit his education, ‘Sir’ Ramdaney came up with an idea that would not only ensure he continued to help the family generate an income, but one where he could also become qualified academically.
At the time ‘Sir’ Ramdaney also taught part-time at a school he’d opened called Krishna’s College of Business. There he invited the young Fazal Bacchus to come and attend evening classes after his day of vending ended.
With the blessings of his mother, Bacchus was back in school and before long ‘Sir’ Ramdaney’s tutelage saw him being capable enough to acquire some CXC subjects.
So outstanding was his performance, that ‘Sir’ Ramdaney wasn’t willing to simply see Bacchus merely return to his vending life when it was evident he had the potential to do so much more.
As such, ‘Sir’ Ramdaney started to encourage Bacchus to pursue some subjects at the GCE O’ Level. He was accepted at Queen’s College and as expected, yielded outstanding performance.
“I was doing pretty well academically,” Bacchus noted, as he recalled the day ‘Sir’ Ramdaney invited him to start teaching on a part-time basis at Krishna’s College.
“I thought about it and I realised that education was carrying me somewhere. People started to recognise me as a person…before that I was just a vendor selling on the market and people placed me in a certain category; there was no respect and you couldn’t get what you want out of life as a vendor, but education was taking me places.
I was meeting people from different strata of society,” Bacchus shared.
Recognising that education had the potential to expand his horizon immensely, Bacchus decided he too wanted to help other disadvantaged persons be able to achieve their dreams, since he was very aware that evening classes was indeed the only way for some, much like himself, to achieve this.
“I realised like myself there were others out there who didn’t have the opportunity to go to full time classes during the day, especially at secondary level, but they wanted that opportunity, and through Krishna’s College they were given that opportunity to capture the qualifications they would have missed, so they can still aim for a better life,” Bacchus added.
He started off teaching CXC Principles of Accounts and Principles of Business and, according to Bacchus, “after a while I really fell in love with teaching.” He later started teaching Mathematics and English too. He continued to vend during the day.
But as he evolved as a teacher, Bacchus’ passion for vending started to diminish. He started to develop a desire to delve into the corporate world.
With qualifications in hand and a passion to expand his horizon, Bacchus was able to land a job as a messenger with the Demerara Shipping Terminal which was a branch of the Guyana Sugar Corporation [GuySuCo]. He was very proactive and productive. Although he was putting his all into his work there, Bacchus allocated time to continue part-time teaching and vending as well.
At his full-time job, Bacchus’ superior certainly took notice of his efficiency and ability to lead, and was soon recommending that he be offered a scholarship to further his studies at the University of Guyana. With full sponsorship, he was able to complete a diploma in Marketing and then a degree in Management.
With the higher level of qualifications, Bacchus became eligible to become a management trainee and before long was practically running the Demerara Sugar Terminal’s office. As he continued to be elevated, he was transferred to the Wales Estate as a trainee understudying the Finance Manager. He was later moved to the GuySuCo’s Marketing Division in Georgetown where he quickly rose to the position of Assistant Marketing Manager with responsibility for dealing with exports to the Caribbean region. In fact, he was behind several innovative moves the sugar company implemented.
“I helped to pioneer packet sugar in Guyana, which is the Demerara Gold, under the slang ‘create a stir’ and the sachet sugar…prior to that, GuySuCo was only doing bulk sugar and bag sugar,” Bacchus revealed.
However, after spending quite a few years in marketing, Bacchus wanted to do even more. “I realised I liked the figures, the profitability aspect of business…I wanted to deal with the financial part of things,” Bacchus shared, as he recalled making the move to become qualified as an accountant.
As his aspiration grew, he was selected by the company to undergo the Association of Accounting Technicians programme [AAT], which is said to be the leading professional body for Accounting Technicians. After completing this programme successfully within 18 months, Bacchus was able to easily transition to the Finance Department. But there was more work needed to be done for him to become an Accountant, and this he did not hesitate to pursue.
He pursued and succeeded at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants [ACCA] which is the global professional accounting body offering the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification. Currently Bacchus is qualified as a Fellow Member of the Association of Chartered Accountants [FCCA], which essentially means he is recognised as a senior Chartered Accountant.
Bacchus makes no bones to highlight to anyone that it was through education that he was able to move from the lowly position of a messenger at GuySuCo, up the ranks to Group Chief Financial Accountant, a position he held when he parted ways with the company in 2009.
Still teeming with ambition when he left, Bacchus went on to work at Demerara Distillers Limited, and there he became the Group Inventory Controller in 2010. Two years later, he was named Group Chief Internal Auditor for DDL and its subsidiaries, a position he retains to date.
But what is interesting to note is that despite excelling in the corporate world, Bacchus has not failed to continue to avail himself to teaching. Even when this was no longer through the Krishna College, which had expanded to include the City College [and he taught at them both], Bacchus found another institution, The Academy of Higher Learning, to share his abundance of knowledge.
In addition to his many commitments, including being a husband to his ever supportive wife Susan and father to his two children – Shahid and Savianah, Bacchus sits at the helm of Cacique Accounting College, an institution through which he is able to impart his vast accounting knowledge, during evening classes, to many individuals who otherwise would not have had such an opportunity.
“I want to see young people who don’t have the opportunity to go to a university on a full time basis or go after any other studies on a full time basis, to always have that chance like I did, and that is exactly what I have been helping to do for over the past 30 years, and I will forever be committed to doing that,” said a passionate Bacchus, who is duly named today as our ‘Special Person’ of the week.
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