Jan 18, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Dr. Yesu Persaud, who for decades of public life was revered as the nation’s top businessman and philanthropist and whose advocacy for a vibrant private sector and respect for rule of law helped shape this country, died on Monday after a period of illness. He was 93.
Persaud played a leading a role in the business community here and has also left his mark in the social and political spheres of this country.
DEMERARA DISTILLERS LIMITED
Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) – one of Dr. Persaud’s company said in a statement that he lived a life which brought to the fore, the best possibilities which often were invisible to others. “His revolutionary initiatives quite often challenged convention but were extraordinarily successful as is evidenced by what DDL is today. The DDL we know today owes a great debt of gratitude to Yesu Persaud, for his bold and imaginative leadership for over four decades,” the statement read.
According to DDL, present and future generations of employees are and will be thankful for the strong foundation that he has built to make our company succeed. “We will forever be appreciative for the career opportunities we enjoy today, which are all possible because of the carefully constructed foundation designed by a master architect, the late Dr. Yesu Persaud.” During his years at DDL, Dr. Persaud was at the forefront of innovation, modernisation, and diversification. “He was a champion for causes of our employees, customers, and shareholders. He always displayed abiding humility and understanding, while at the same time promoting the highest levels of discipline, honesty, and productivity.”
DDL said one of the things “we will always remember about Dr. Persaud is his unending philanthropy. DDL’s journey over the years was not without its challenges, particularly in its early years. However, Dr. Persaud’s leadership was robust and exemplary. As we mourn Dr. Persaud’s passing, DDL will continue to draw on the life of this national treasure; his unmatched approach to governance, and his staunch commitment to doing what is right. The Board of Directors, Management, and staff at DDL extend to his bereaved wife and children and all his loved ones, our sincerest condolences on this great loss. We hope you can find comfort in the extraordinary achievements of his lifetime and the very impactful contribution which he made,” the statement concluded.
President Irfaan Ali led tributes for the businessman on Monday, noting in a Facebook message that: “Guyana has lost an outstanding soul in Dr. Yesu Persaud, a true son of the soil. It is with great sadness I learnt, moments ago, about his passing. To his family, friends, management and staff of DDL and Demerara Bank, and the wider private sector, I join with you in prayers at this time. May his soul find eternal peace.”
For its part, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) said it is deeply saddened and shaken at the passing of its Founding Chairman. “The late Dr. Persaud was the architect of the rebirth of the private sector after decades of state-control and state-monopoly of business in Guyana,” the PSC said. “The business community will forever be grateful for the astute and wise leadership he provided in the early days during the return of democracy to Guyana and particularly his role in the birth of the Private Sector Commission. Dr. Persaud’s role in the restoration of democracy in Guyana, in 1992 is legendary. His forging of the Philosophy of Private Public Partnership became the foundation and principle of the PSC and will forever be etched in our own relationship with Government. The PSC remembers him for standing firm in his beliefs and always playing his part with dignity.” According to the PSC, Dr. Persaud, who died early Monday, January 17 at the age of 93, was an astute businessman who held several positions of business and innovation including Executive Chairman of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) and founder of the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED). “The PSC expresses condolences to Persaud’s family, friends, staff of DDL and the entire business community on the passing of this business icon. We shall be forever grateful for his contribution towards the development of Guyana.”
Mentor, guide and friend
The Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED), one of many organisations, which Dr. Persaud established, in a statement said the entire IPED family is mourning his passing. IPED described their founder who is also a Cacique Crown of Honour (CCH) recipient as a leader, mentor, guide and friend. “While Dr. Persaud’s achievements as a business executive, and as a person, make for an astonishing list, in the IPED family, he will be mostly remembered for his vision that led to the direct transformation of thousands of families all across Guyana,” IPED said. “In the most difficult of times, Dr. Persaud understood that it was necessary to find ways to recreate and nurture small and micro businesses in the country. While his business acumen is unchallenged, Dr. Persaud’s greatest desire was to help people to help themselves,” IPED underscored.
“The small and micro businesses that needed financing and guidance were mostly in families and so his understanding at the business level and the passion in his heart for people were combined into the Institute of Private Enterprise Development Limited that is still thriving and helping people today. Dr. Yesu Persaud has left the IPED family with a sustainable organisation and with a network of almost 5,000 small and micro enterprises that are themselves sustainable. Many of these businesses are fulfilling his vision every day as they take advantage of every new opportunity to grow. As we extend our sincerest heartfelt condolences to his immediate family, they can be assured that Dr. Yesu Persaud will forever be alive in businesses across the length and breadth of Guyana, with future generations paying tribute to him long after this generation, like him, falls silent.”
The Staff and Students of the University of Guyana School of Medicine (UGSM) also expressed deep sadness of the passing of Dr. Persaud. UGSM said Dr. Persaud was not only an inspirational and iconic figure in Guyana’s business community and Guyanese society, but he was also one of the School’s greatest benefactors. “His passing is a great loss to the people of Guyana, but his legacy will live on in the achievements of those whose lives he touched…”
According to political party, the Alliance For Change, Dr. Persaud was an outstanding man whose footprint can be found in every continent – embodied in the work and lives of the thousands who were fortunate to benefit from his generosity, mentoring, and the various programmes, causes and initiatives he championed such as in education and health services.
“Apart from being the driving force and business tycoon behind Demerara Distilleries Ltd (DDL), and its world renowned El Dorado rum, the Institute for Private Enterprise Development (IPED), the Demerara Bank and the Diamond Fire and Life Insurance Co., Dr. Persaud used his quiet influence and diplomacy to promote and foster good governance, stronger democratic principles and social cohesion here in his beloved Guyana.”
“On an individual level, he offered himself as a mentor to anyone willing to take time to learn from his many struggles and achievements that were endured and earned through many decades of experienced life. Not many Guyanese can claim to possess the qualities and achievements of a man who we call a National Hero. Quiet, humble, confident and unassuming, Yesu Persaud was a true giant among men. The AFC salutes the passing of a true hero and once again calls on the government to formulate strict and transparent guidelines for the awarding of National Hero status on deserving sons as daughters such as Dr. Yesu Persaud.”
Support for sugar industry
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) in paying tribute said the union and Dr. Persaud’s relations span several decades and started during his stint in the sugar industry. As one of the bargaining agents of the DDL, “our relations were consolidated and undoubtedly his involvement led to several improvements to the workers conditions-of-work. We have always admired his humility and his desire to ensure that workers were treated fairly. We believe this must have been influenced by his own life on the sugar plantation. The GAWU sees this as one of the many outstanding qualities of the late Dr. Persaud.”
The GAWU recollecting his support to the sugar industry said, “He was among those who brought the industry into the hands of the State. Later, he denounced efforts to privatise it during the Hoyte Administration. His contribution to the restoration of democracy is also remembered at this time. Indeed, this was yet one of his many contributions to the Guyanese people. At this time, the GAWU extends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Yesu Persaud. We also send our sympathies to the Management and Staff of the DDL and the other organisations to which he was affiliated. Certainly, our country has lost another outstanding son of the soil.”
Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon described Dr. Persaud as
a true icon and son of the soil. “Dr. Persaud was a businessman who always distinguished himself with his successful business ventures and highly impactful civic and philanthropic works; he was celebrated for his outstanding contributions to business and philanthropy, in Guyana and abroad. Dr. Persaud, a Golden Arrow of Achievement recipient for his works in developing and expanding the Distilling Industry in Guyana and the Cacique Crown of Honour recipient for development of new industries has truly left his mark on the landscape of this country, and Guyanese will always remember him as an innovator and one that gave selflessly to his country. The APNU+AFC would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Family and friends of Dr. Yesu Persaud during what must be a difficult time,’ Harmon said in a message.
The High Commission of India, which Dr. Persaud collaborated with on numerous occasions for cultural projects, said he was an illustrious son and an outstanding businessman of Guyana. “The High Commission also conveys condolences to his family, friends and all Guyanese citizens in Guyana and abroad on this great loss to Guyana as a nation and to the society.”
High Commissioner of India, H.E. Dr. K.J. Srinivasa, fondly recalled that Dr. Persaud was a well known and a distinguished personality in Guyana. “His life is the best example and a model to follow, how a person from humble beginnings could make phenomenal rise and become Guyana’s leading businessmen and a highly respected individual, solely through his hard work. “A true testimony of the heights to which determination can propel humans, the Dr. Yesu Persaud story is nothing short of impressing with him being honoured for his outstanding contributions, business and philanthropy, in Guyana and abroad.” Dr. Yesu Persaud, popularly known as the “El Dorado Man” was also the force behind the creation of the Institute for Private Enterprise Development and founder of Guyana’s first indigenous bank, Demerara Bank Limited. He is described as an innovative leader and results focused person. His work spans many continents, two centuries and several successful business ventures, while his civic and philanthropic work has been and continues to be highly impactful.”
High Commissioner Dr. Srinivasa also reminisced that in 2006, the Government of India honoured him with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman for his outstanding contributions to business and Indian history and culture. Dr. Persaud is a founding member of the Indian Arrival Committee. “He is one of the main persons responsible for creating the Monument Garden which marks the arrival of the first batch of Indian indentured labourers to Guyana in 1838. He is one of the founder members and life member of the Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). The Indian diaspora in Guyana has been playing a crucial role in the economic, political and social development of the country,” the statement read.
The Indian Commemorative Trust led by Dr. Persaud has been contributing immensely to the welfare and wellbeing of the Indian Diaspora community in Guyana. “India is very proud of the achievements by the Indo-Guyanese Diaspora and their role in the development of Guyana. While India is celebrating its 75th Independence Anniversary [email protected] from March 2021 to August 2023 as Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Government of India greatly values and recognises the contribution of distinguished personalities like Dr. Yesu Persaud for his outstanding role in the development of the Indian diaspora and Indian culture in Guyana.”
Also, the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) expressed its deepest condolences on the passing of Dr. Persaud, a true visionary and an ardent humanitarian. The GMSA noted, “Indeed, Guyana has lost a great soul. Dr. Yesu Persaud has contributed immeasurably to the growth and reputation of his nation. His life and legacy is as inspiring as it is decorated. Dr. Persaud had forged the company of Demerara Distillers Ltd. (DDL) into a Guyanese institution with products of international recognition and praise, he envisaged and founded Guyana’s first indigenous bank, Demerara Bank Ltd. and was the architect of the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED), an organisation that supported the development of thousands of small businesses across Guyana. Moreover, his philanthropic legacy extends far and wide, even beyond the reaches of the land in which he was born.”
Dr. Yesu Persaud served as president of the GMSA, then known as the Guyana Manufacturers Association (GMA) in 1992 where he brought his skills and experience and worked tirelessly for Guyanese manufacturers. “He was also one of the initial conceivers of a single Private Sector Commission that would represent and further the interests of local private sector and function as the interface with the Government and International Funding agencies,” the statement added.
His work for Private Sector development was instrumental and his contributions to the development of Guyanese society remains unparalleled, GMSA added.
“He truly led a life worthy of emulation, one that will inspire many for generations to come. In his memory, we wish to echo some words that he had shared with the GMSA a few years ago: ‘Whatever you do must be done well or don’t do it at all.’ – This was his mantra. ‘I am my own person. I think I know what is good for the development of my country and I will pursue it to my end’.”
Moreover, the GMSA expressed deepest sympathies to Dr. Persaud’s family, friends, co-workers and all others whom he would have touched over the span of his long and fruitful life.
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