Since the conception of Miss Global International Beauty Pageant in 2004, the franchise has been operated successfully by the company’s Chairman Mr. Lachu Ramchandani, OD, JP. However, like many businesses, the pageant was severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in the cancellation of the show for two consecutive years.
However, in a Mckoy’s News exclusive interview, Mr. Ramchandani assured the public that, with Covid-19 cases under control, the next scheduled show is slated for September 2022.
“In regards to the Covid we had lost a lot of calls. We had like 14 countries that were ready to come but most of the countries last year that wanted to come were from Africa…China, Malaysia, Vietnam and those places. But with the virus just coming into the picture last year, we were reluctant about bring anything into the country so we decided to postpone it for this year. Even though we had [two hotels] on board and the date was finalized for September last year , we had to cancel it…”
“…So the next date is slated for September 2022 but we are going to start working on it by end of the year when we know everything has come to normal…then we are gonna’ go as far as 50 countries and we are going to go very big!” Ramchandani stated.
The Chairman further explained that with an increase in the Covid cases in several countries, including countries in which contestants were expected to arrive from, he did not want to put other contestants’ health at risk while simultaneously placing the pageant in a negative light.
“This year again we decided to go through it with the same month… same sponsorship was on board…but because it takes [some] months to prepare an international show, when we decided in April/May when we saw that things are looking a little better that if we [should] do it, we can’t do it before November/December…and when I look at the number of countries [that want to participate] and are still going through this virus, I was reluctant… So I said it’s best to take a break again for this year  and wait until next year when everything is back to normal then we do it with a big bang;” stated Mr. Lachu.
With the pageant’s theme “Uniting the World through Beauty and Tourism,” Mr. Ramchandani explained that the month of September is always strategically chosen to help fulfill the aim of such theme.
“We always try to do it in the slowest time of the year when hotel industries are very slow because for all hotels in Jamaica, in September is the slowest month. So it’s the best time to bring in like 500-600 tourists from abroad and fill up these hotels…in that area and bring some excitement into the town for tourism and so on. They also bring in a lot of internationally media as well so that’s also selling [Jamaica] and that’s our theme “Uniting the World through Beauty and Tourism;” he explained.
However, with the recent ‘take over’ as Managing Director by Ramchandani’s well-trained daughter, Neelam Ramchandani who has been assisting with the company for years, the pageant has showcased what Mr. Ramchandani described as one of the greatest production in 2019.
“She’s doing a fantastic job! She has bypass my expectations because I have succeeded to a level where I have taken it to a very high level but she has beaten me to it, she has taken it to the highest level. The 2019 show that was produced by her is one of the best show in Jamaica’s history;” the proud father boasted.
With the young, vibrant and creative Nelaam Ramchandani taking over from her dad, postponing the competition for the first time in 2018 not only allowed the team to ‘wow’ Jamaica and the world in 2019 with the grand spectacle that was promised and delivered but it also facilitated a smooth change over for the new Managing Director, Neelam.
“What it did is…it gave my daughter enough time to take over from me…in 2016 and 2017 she was assisting me as a Director but in 2018, I initially decided to give her the franchise completely. So she got a chance to start preparing from [September 2018]…and she brought the show to the highest level, she brought in the best production team you can think of…she did most of the work and my son assisted her in terms of MC;” the excited Ramchandani stated.
When our news team asked about some of the significant changes that were made to the pageant to create the grand spectacle in 2019, Mr. Lachu was more than please to share the details and extra plans put in place.
“We doubled up the quantity of the girls, we doubled up the standards in terms of the hotels…[we got] Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) to come on board as a sponsor…so she increased the sponsorships and promotions and got couple of the former queens [of Miss Global International] to work with her. [As a result,] we got about 28 girls in 2019 and it was a marvelous show [because] we went and get girls from places that Jamaica has never experienced tourist from;” he pointed out.
“We also had Minister Babsy Grange as one of our judges…all the dignitaries were there…and it was aired live on TV at the Montego Bay Convention Centre;” the Chairman added.
In looking towards the future, the proud father believes Ramchandani’s business legacy is expected to rise to its fullest potential, with its latest business venture being the construction of a massive complex in Montego Bay by his son, Manoj Ramchandani, which Mr. Lachu says should have a great impact on the country’s economy.
According to Mr. Lachu, the complex is currently being developed and is expected to be completed by next month.
THE STRUGGLES HE FACED TO BECOME A ‘SELF-MADE’ SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMAN
Following his recent celebration of 53 years of contributing to Jamaica’s business and tourism sectors, the well-respect businessman and senior Justice of the Peace, reminisced nostalgically on his growth from a 15-year-old ‘hustler,’ lifting and closing shutters for his uncle to now opening and closing the doors of his own business- the Blue Diamond Shopping Mall in Iron Shore, Montego Bay.
Not forgetting his past, Mr. Ramchandani walked our news team through a vivid description of his struggling growth from being forced to flee his homeland, through to trying out several business ventures, before landing a successful business which occupies a landmark location in the budding ‘tourist capital’ of Jamaica.
“It started from when I was 15 years old when I came to Jamaica, almost 55 years now. So I’ve been here since 1967 when you could walk on Princess Street…and eat ice-cream any hours and there were no problems. I was born in Myanmar and my father…struggled very hard then India and Pakistan were divided so people were migrating to different countries. So my father left at that time and started working in Burma…and he became one of the most successful businessman in the late 50s;” he recollected.
Ramchandani further outlined that, “So when I was born in 1951, [it was said] that ‘I was born in the golden spoon’ because my father had money and he sent us to good schools…then when I was just 15 years old, Myanmar became communist so we had to leave…as a refugee. Then when I came to India, it was struggling…I had to go to my aunt to live where you had about 15 people living in one room, so it was a tough time;” his voice subtly lowered as he described his past living conditions.
However, things were about to change for the young lad as he explained that his father’s good deeds in the past landed him an opportunity to leave India and started working with his uncle in Jamaica.
“My uncle [in Jamaica] wanted some people to work with him…and my aunt who wanted to return a favour to my dad for helping her, said ‘send one of your sons to come work with us’ and that’s when I came here as a young boy. I went and did a part time studies in Durham College at South Camp Road in Kingston [while simultaneously] working, so I never see sunshine in Jamaica for almost six (6) years…. I was like a [mobile] Manager as a little kid lifting shutters and working as a Salesman;” the now successful businessman recalled.
WHAT KEPT RAMCHANDANI SO MOTIVATED?
Being the hardworking and dedicated family man he is, Mr. Lachu told Mckoy’s News that his greatest motivation was his family and the ambitious desire he had to assist and fend for them while simultaneously achieving independence.
“Looking at it from that angle where I see that I had to struggle, coming from a very rich family, to a refugee in India then having to come and work with my uncle in Jamaica, then the ambition was there to work very hard to reach somewhere like where my father had reach. So I [increased] my struggles and my boss was very pleased with my work and I managed to bring my two other brothers to Jamaica…[later] got married here to my wife who has Jamaican citizenship so I got my work permit…then started doing my own business by selling a variety of items on the road;” expressed Ramchandani.
“I was trying to stand up on my feet without depending on my dad and to help my brothers and my family as much as I can because at that time my dad was of an old age and my mom passed away…so it was my ambition to bring my brothers…to Jamaica and support them. Then they got married and started supporting their wives and I got married, got children and started supporting my wife. That’s where the whole ambition came up to continue growing my business;” he further highlighted.
That growth manifested, saw Mr. Ramchandani’s business evolving from a roadside hustle, to a wholesale then from a local to an international business.
“When I was in Manhattan, I [operated] a local business and then I went into tourism where I saw a good combination of both. I came down and went to Ocho Rios, Negril and Montego Bay to sell most of the tourists products…I sold basically everything you can think of, to make a little money [in order] to make a living;” he stated.
THE MASSIVE GROWTH FROM ‘NIK-NAK WHOLESALE’ TO THE LANDMARK BUSINESS- BLUE DIAMOND SHOPPING MALL
With a light chuckle which signified a sign of Mr. Ramchandani being proud of his accomplishments, he recalled the transition from his first officially-named business, ‘Nik-Nak Wholesale Distributors’ to the well-established “Blue Diamond Shopping Mall.’
“Blue Diamond Shopping Mall was built in 1992 and was named after my daughter Neelam; she was born in 1989 and Neelam actually means ‘blue diamond.’
“…Nik-Nak shop was my renter’s shop initially but I started to grow very big into a wholesale [and] started selling to Woolworth…so I became the international king for souvenirs and watersports as [these] were a part of tourism…where I became big in watersports and started supplying sandals, Holiday-Inn [which] was the largest hotel in Jamaica in the 70s. Then I became the king of wholesale distributors, so it was known as ‘Nik-Nak Wholesale Distributors.’ I used to go to Taiwan…and bring back containers load of souvenirs…over 600 different items…everything that Jamaica was marked on;” the proud businessman told Mckoy’s News.
The business pioneer continued to explain how this wonderful venture came into existence.
“So when I realized I was renting the place for a period and it was getting a little smaller (even though I had one of the largest shop at Holiday Village-‘Nik-Nak’) and the rent was getting higher and I had to pay it, that is where the idea was born; I said I want to build my own warehouse. So I bought this piece of land in Iron Shore…and myself and Jimmy Cliff went into partnership…[later] he asked his brother Victor to form a partnership with me because he [Jimmy Cliff] travels a lot…and his brother and I formed a company called ‘Lacvic Limited.’ We wanted to build together a complex…but I wanted to do a warehouse and he wanted to do a townhouse…so we came to an agreement and I bought his shares…the company remains and that’s how ‘Blue Diamond’ started;” Lachu stated.
He also shared that next year will be 30 years since his pioneer business, ‘Blue Diamond Shopping Mall’ was built. The highly-driven businessman also explored other business ventures such as a food court and a theatre called ‘Diamond Cinema,’ which was in operation for six (6) years.
CURRENT STATE OF BUSINESSES IN MOBAY
Following the recent announcement by the government to gradually reopen the country, Mckoy’s News had to put the question to the experienced business guru about his thoughts on this announcement and the impact it has been making on the current state of businesses in the parish.
“I think we are blessed. I think at this time we got a lot to be thankful for because I was recently talking to some hoteliers and I [was informed] that the hotels are running at 90% and two (2) of the hotels are at 100% [capacity]…we have nothing to complain about because it means that tourism is booming now. Just last week we had two flights landed in Montego Bay-one from Canada and one from Switzerland. So with the reopening, I think our Prime Minister is doing a fantastic job in terms of getting the economy into good shape and I also think it’s the best tourism minister we ever had;” he passionately responded.
With Ramchandani’s tremendous years of experience and his fair share of success and failures, he also had this piece of expert advice for young entrepreneurs who recently started his/her company or only have a business idea but is affected by this pandemic and are seeking empowerment.
“Work hard, work honestly and be ambitious. Don’t expect immediate results, better must come one day…It won’t happen overnight…think of it from a real estate [perspective], whatever you are working on or doing, don’t think it’s a waste of time or energy. Once you give up on something that you have started, that’s where you break down. Whatever you’ve done is a part of your experience that is going to build you…Don’t be disheartened, whatever you do will be a stepping stone, that is what is going to teach you to reach where you want in life;” he sternly recommended.
The legendary business guru also extended his advice to the entire Jamaican population to always remain thankful as “we are a blessed nation” and things are looking really hopeful for the business community.
“I just to say to everybody in Montego bay and Jamaica that we should be thankful because we are very blessed that Jamaica has not only gone through struggles and turmoil but Jamaica has been very blessed…we have to think on the positive and grow because the economy is bouncing back again, employment is coming back to normal, the environment is coming back, our call centres are opening up, Amazon has just taken over in Jamaica;” he pointed out.
Mr. Lachu also highlighted some of the positive ways in which Covid-19 has impacted the business landscape and in turn, impacting Jamaica’s economy.
“You have a lot of new developments that are happening now… I was surprised to see the number of new restaurants that are opening in Kingston because of Covid and [customers] are going there because the places are full and I see the bike men more than the cars on the road, they are doing a lot of deliveries all over the place. Things are not bad and I think this winter we are going to have the best winter-tourism in Jamaica if all goes well;” he optimistically concluded.
GET TO KNOW HIS FUN SIDE!
One would think that a combination of such interactive personality while being the face and vibrant force behind the Miss Global International Pageant, Mr. Ramchandani would be all for the frolicking and excitement but during a Mckoy’s News exclusive round-up question, it was revealed that he is the total opposite.
“I like to have a very quiet company with couple friends, I don’t like excitement but I like to socialize. I do a lot of social gatherings where I invite ministers, business people and couple friends…basically every week I have something but because of Covid I’ve taken a little back seat. But I enjoy talking in a small group or having a quiet drink three or four times a week with my really good friend Godfery Dyer;” the business legend shared in closing the interview.
Natasha Williams- Mckoy’s News Senior Writer