Dr. Yesu Persaud, one of the most influential people in the Caribbean rum industry over the past 60 years, has died at the age of 93.
Dr. Persaud made an indelible impact on both Guyana’s rum industry and the Caribbean rum industry, as a whole. In 1975, he became the Executive Chairman of Diamond Liquors Limited, and served in that capacity for over four decades. During that time, he led the Guyanese rum industry through many changes, including combining Diamond Liquors and Guyana Distillers Limited into a single company under state control – Demerara Distillers Ltd. – and the subsequent divestment of Demerara Distillers as it returned to be a publicly traded company with thousands of shareholders.
As the Chairman of Demerara Distillers, Dr. Persaud oversaw its expansion into wide international distribution with its El Dorado rum brand. The 1992 launch of El Dorado 15 is widely seen as a pivotal moment in rum’s transition to a premium spirit.
Dr. Persaud served as the Chairman of the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers’ Association (WIRSPA) from 1990-1992. Together with Jamaica’s Evon Brown and Patrick Mayers of Barbados, Dr. Persaud played a pivotal role in obtaining funding for the Caribbean Rum Sector Programme. This program allowed many CARIFORUM rum producers to substantially benefit from upgrades to their facilities, training and marketing, to transition from low-margin bulk rum to high-value branded products.
Komal Samaroo, Chairman of WIRSPA and now head of the regional conglomerate Demerara Distillers said, “Yesu was a mentor, friend and distinguished gentleman. Under his Chairmanship, El Dorado rums became a popular, national brand. With his people-focused style of management, the company was restructured, and this pioneered us in the right direction. His role in WIRSPA, as a former Chairman, led at that time, to the significant improvement of the regional rum industry, through the benefits reaped from the Caribbean Rum Sector Programme, which saw producers from across the region significantly developing their infrastructure and staff. Guyana has lost a true statesman.”
In the late 60s, Dr. Persaud conceived the idea of a private sector bank. This idea was held in abeyance but reactivated in 1991 and the Demerara Bank was officially incorporated on 20th January 1992. Some of his regional achievements include him becoming a Trustee of the Caribbean Latin American Action (CLAA). Yesu’s successes in business and in the field of wealth creation are legendary but equally so are his accomplishments in many other fields.
“On behalf of the board of directors and all WIRSPA member-producers, we offer our deepest condolences to the Persaud family and to the nation of Guyana on the loss of a true son of the soil,” Samaroo added.