Lachu Ramchandani living to serve others
Several leading members of the Jamaican business community are among this year's list of persons who made the National Honours and Awards list.
They have sacrificed blood, sweat and even tears in their quest to contribute to the growth and development of Jamaica in its 54 years of independence. As we eagerly anticipate the upcoming ceremony on National Heroes Day in October, we will bring you features on some of these illustrious sons' achievements.
Today, we feature Lachu Ramchandani who will receive the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer for outstanding service in tourism, business and community development.
Montego Bay businessman Lachu Ramchandani's face is among the most recognisable in the western region. His contribution to business development and entertainment have had a nationwide appeal.
Ramchandani has been a fixture at beauty contests over the past two decades; he has played significant roles in different pageants over the years including Miss Jamaica World, Miss City of Montego Bay, Miss St James Festival Queen, Miss Universe, and Miss Caribbean Queen International.
He is also the franchise holder of the Miss Global World International beauty pageant, founded in 2004.
"I wanted to do something for Jamaica's many of young women out of jobs," said the man dubbed the pageant ambassador. "Teaching them important skills in grooming, poise and etiquette can certainly carry them a far way in their lives, and that is what we have been doing."
Born in the south-east Asian state of Myanmar, formerly Burma, Ramchandani arrived in Jamaica from India 50 years ago, three years after his family was forced to flee their homeland after it became communist. His focus back then was for a better life, and Jamaica provided an opportunity for him to get beyond the disappointment of his early years.
"My father was a wealthy man, and to see him lose all he had worked so hard for was very disappointing," Ramchandani recalled. "All of my family's assets were seized by the communist government. We were left with nothing."
After three years in India as a refugee, young Lachu was sent to his aunt, who operated a business in Jamaica. He started out wrapping purchased items for customers, while going to school part-time. Within a few years, he was in charge of all of their five locations across the island.
But Ramchandani wanted more, especially after meeting his wife, Bina, and after leaving his very secured job, he purchased a Toyota Corolla Hatchback motor car and began travelling throughout Jamaica selling a variety of items.
"The car was my only asset, but I was determined, and I knew I could do well as a salesman," Ramchandani continued, "You name it, I would have it ... food items, clothing, books, and appliances ... simply everything."
His customer base in the western region grew, and very soon, he was operating a souvenir gift shop in the Rose Hall area, then upgrading to a major importer of souvenirs from Hong Kong and Taiwan to satisfy an ever-increasing demand.
Ramchandani established businesses in Montego Bay and began plans to construct the Blue Diamond Shopping Mall in the Ironshore community, now a landmark in Montego Bay.
"It is an honour to get such a recognition. my motto in life is to live for others." Ramchandani said, "This is not only for me, but for every individual who might be struggling, but is determined to succeed."