A success story
Stabroek News
July 11, 2003

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At a dinner to celebrate the award of the International Gold Star by the European business group Business Initiative Directions to L. Seepersaud Maraj and Sons, the well known firm of jewellers. Mr Yesu Persaud noted that the founder, the late L. Seepersaud Maraj, had started his working life from the humblest position as a mule boy on a sugar estate. Mr Persaud clarified that the mule boy, who looked after the mule, would run behind the overseer when he went aback on the mule in the morning, a distance of as much as 4 miles, look after the mule, run back at lunch time and repeat the effort after lunch. It was, by any standards, an arduous job. Mr Maraj then started selling jewellery door to door, walking miles up and down the coast. Eventually, he opened a shop at Stabroek Market in 1935 which is there to this day and which was the foundation of the family business now run by his children and grandchildren. The family expressed the hope that the award will help to create linkages with the European market and bolster partnerships that already exist in the Caribbean and North America.

This is a genuine Guyanese success story of a business family that has managed to withstand all the difficulties that have faced entrepreneurs here since the fifties. It is a tribute to the good relations they have maintained with their many customers over the years and the quality of service. It proves, if proof were needed, that Guyanese have the inventiveness and staying power to build something lasting. It is a model for the kind of rags to riches story that one would like to see so much more of. Indeed, with hundreds or thousands of such examples in Guyana the kind of vibrant, free enterprise society that our politicians now advocate would become a reality. The Maraj family had no special advantages. They had to save and develop gradually, as entrepreneurs do everywhere, dealing with various problems as they arose. Inevitably, many of their counterparts fell by the wayside, especially during that long drought when businesses were being miniaturised as an act of political policy.

There have, of course, been other success stories despite all the odds. It is good to take note of them as it shows what can be, and has been, done. There are institutions now like the Institute for Private Enterprise Development that make loans to small entrepreneurs and offers advice and guidance. The response has been good and many have embarked on the long and difficult road of building a business. They are to be admired and encouraged. Though the eventual rewards can be substantial that is not always the case. Often, all can be lost. At best, the hours are gruelling, mistakes are inevitable and fortitude and perseverance are prime requirements.

With stability and confidence there could be less nervous breakdowns and more success stories like this.