Hemraj Ramdath launches ‘Beyond Indentureship, Indo-Trinidadian Entrepreneurs’ in NY

Book cover of “Beyond Indentureship, Indo-Trinidadian Entrepreneurs” by Hemraj Raamdath.
Cover designed by Trinidadian Jason Windsor

Hemraj Ramdath, a Trinidadian-born, Canadian-based, business consultant and researcher, is launching in New York a seminal book that he says pays “tribute to the unwavering determination and entrepreneurial spirit of Indo-Trinidadian families.”

Ramdath, an Ottawa, Canada resident, told Caribbean Life on Friday that “Beyond Indentureship, Indo-Trinidadian Entrepreneurs” chronicles 33 family-owned businesses that have “overcome extreme poverty and transformed not only their own lives but also the socio-economic landscape of Trinidad and Tobago.

“These businesses have ignited economic activities, established thriving communities, and turned rural villages into sustainable commercial and industrial canters,” said Ramdath, who has spent the past four decades working globally in the energy and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors.

“From being brought as labourers to work on agricultural estates, they have now become one of the largest employers in the service sector and have grown into profitable, sustainable multinationals that operate across various sectors and build global brands,” added Ramdath, who began his career with the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLA) and, thereafter, held executive positions with several multinational and regional corporations with responsibility for strategy, branding, global entry, innovation and business development. These included the position of Barbados Country Manager with Shell Oil Company; VP Global Business with S.M. Jaleel & Co Ltd.; and VP Strategy and Business Development at Petrotrin, the Trinidad and Tobago oil company.

Ramdath, who is currently engaged in the management of a Miami-based distribution center supporting Caribbean brands into the North American market, said “Beyond Indentureship, Indo-Trinidadian entrepreneurs” is “an inspirational snapshot of a group of migrants who emerged from denigration and poverty to leave lasting legacies for their families and communities.

“Their significant contribution to the growth and development of Trinidad and Tobago is undeniable, and their achievements are worthy of celebrating,” said Ramdath, a charter member of the Rotary Club of Barbados South; a former member of the Rotary Club Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; and a life member of the National Council of Indian Culture, Trinidad and Tobago (NCIC).

He said indentureship was “the replacement system for freed slaves following emancipation,” stating that about 1.5 million Indians were sent by British-controlled India to more than 35 European colonies “to provide cheap, reliable labour on the plantations, most of which were in the West Indies.

“They lived and toiled under similar conditions to slavery, as labour was the only commodity that had value,” said Ramdath, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honours in political science and economics; an Executive Masters of Business (EMBA); and is a 2023 recipient of an Honorary Doctors of Humane letters.

He said more than 75 percent of indentured Indians made the region their home and “have contributed immensely to the economic, political, cultural, culinary and social developments of their new home.

“Their business acumen, innovation, grit, cultural grounding and creativity have helped to generate wealth and national development,” said Ramdath, who, over the past three years, has presented papers on indentureship and entrepreneurship at several global Indian Diaspora Conferences, and spends most of his time mentoring business students globally.

“I am delighted that the Trinidad & Tobago Consulate in New York has undertaken to launch this book, ‘Beyond Indentureship, Indo-Trinidadian Entrepreneurs,’ given the make-up of the area,” added the first-time author. “It is more relevant now, given that children and grandchildren of these very Indian indentured workers from Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Barbados, St. Vincent (and the Grenadines), St. Lucia, Jamaica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, South Africa, etc. are integral parts of the melting pot, and their new home, that is New York.

“They can easily relate to this, and, by their own entrepreneurial drive and advocacy, continue the proud traditions and contributions of their ancestors by making their new home a better place,” continued Ramdath, who is married to Sherry and has two daughters, Ramona and Rehanna, and a 10-year-old granddaughter, Sarina.

“This book is a must-read for students of business and young entrepreneurs, as it documents the journey of transformation from ‘Indentureship to Entrepreneurship’ by 33 Indo-Trinidadian families in business,” he stressed.

“Beyond Indentureship, Indo-Trinidadian Entrepreneurs” is available on Amazon, as well as with major booksellers in Trinidad and Tobago.