Krishna Persaud: Businessman, Entrepreneur, and Owner of the Jamaica Tallawahs

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Kris Persaud: businessman, entrepreneur and owner of the Jamaica Tallawahs

PROFILE OF THE YEAR
By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

He is a proven leader that can run organizations. He is an entrepreneur and a businessman. He is smart and bright, a mechanical and civil engineer and he is the owner of the Jamaica Tallawahs, one of the biggest franchises in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). Krishna (Kris) Persaud is a young man with an aptitude for business, a person that is not afraid to take risks and to venture into new territories.

Kris was born at Windsor Forest on the West Coast of Demerara in Guyana. He is the youngest of seven children. Kris attended Windsor Forest Government School and did his Common Entrance exam at Leonora Government School after which he went to Indian Education Trust College where he completed his Advanced Levels. Kris would like to thank all his teachers, and especially Jagdish Ramkirat, who made math and calculus fun.
Kris emigrated to the United States in 1981. He spent a semester at Iowa State University before articulating to City College (CUNY) in New York to study engineering. He graduated in 1986 and landed a job at the Department of Environmental Protection as a Project Engineer. He then acquired his professional engineering license, after which he went back to City College to do his Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering. In 1995, Kris moved to Florida.

Apart from his impressive qualifications, Kris is known for his involvement in cricket, as the owner of the Jamaica Tallawahs. How did this happen? According to Kris, ‘it has to do with my personality. I have a curious and enquiring mind. I am willing to try new and innovative things. I was an engineer in Tampa. I became a swing trader in the nineties and captured quick and large profits. I then repositioned my profits just before interest rates came down and multi-family real estate boomed in Florida. Now, I invest in ways similar to institutions and my world has changed. That created a base for me try different things.” One of these things was cricket.

Kris did his homework. He saw that the stadium in Ft. Lauderdale was the only place that was qualified at the ICC level to hold international games. He thought that it would be a great idea if cricket could be played there. The City Government wanted to repurpose the ground for track and field. Kris approached the Broward County Commission and pledged a guaranteed income to them, and improvement to the facility, in exchange for all the commercial rights. One of the conditions was for Kris to bring international tournaments to Ft. Lauderdale.

Once the agreement was in place, Kris created another understanding with Cricket West Indies to bring international games to Ft. Lauderdale. The result was that India and Bangladesh were able to play international cricket in Florida. The opportunity to own a team came about in 2017. Kris followed the progress of the Jamaica Tallawahs, and when the owners wanted to move on to other things, Kris made an offer that was accepted. He ended up as the owner of the Tallawahs. Did he foresee that the CPL would become so big?
Kris says that the CPL has grown from around 80 million in viewership to an audience of about 500 million persons worldwide. This says a lot of the branding power and reach of the CPL. This five-fold growth could not have been predicted in five short years. The growth was catapulted during Covid-19 when the team chose to play in a bubble. Media houses were looking for content and the CPL was able to fit right in their programs. The result was tremendous and it grew from there. Kris is optimistic that this will grow. As fans will know, the Jamaica Tallawahs won the 2022 CPL at Providence Stadium in Guyana. Two familiar faces in the Tallawahs corner were Sir Curtly Ambrose and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Kris said that the Tallawahs needed to make changes and he brought in professionalism to harness the talents of the players. Chanderpaul and Ambrose have instilled in the players the motivation to win and it was evident in the Guyana leg of the tournament.

Kris is proud of the fact that the Tallawahs has been able to make stars out of some of the players. Glenn Phillips from New Zealand played in the recent T20 World Cup, as did Rovman Powell and Oshane Thomas. The Guyana Amazon Warriors did not win the 2022 tournament but all was not lost. The owner and coach of the winning Tallawahs were Guyanese. Kris thanks the Guyanese fans and says that the ‘crowd involvement in Guyana is probably more intense than anywhere else.’ It has to do with many factors, including the support of President Irfaan Ali and his administration.
Kris is optim

istic about the future of the Tallawahs. He thinks the team will be much bigger and with a greater following. The CPL is second only to the Indian Premier League (IPL) and this is even more remarkable when one considers that the cricketing public in the Caribbean is smaller than in India. There are many T20 tournaments but quality and economics will drive survivability. This concept also applies to Test and 50-over cricket. But there is no denying that today’s technology with its capacity for ‘instant’ T20 results is more preferable to the fans.

Apart from cricket, Kris is well positioned to play an important role in the development of Guyana as a businessman. He is big in the world of philanthropy, having donated to many charitable causes, and without seeking publicity. Kris has been inspired by many persons and he thanks them. He says, ‘my mother Dhantu taught me how to develop inner strength and belief in myself despite what the crowd is doing. My sister Bharti Ramsamooj taught me the power of selfless love and how to build trust and empathy for others and also not to be judgmental. My friend Minesh Patel opened my mind to entrepreneurship and how institutional and financial systems work.’

Kris has come a far way. He is a changemaker whose impact will be felt in a profound way in the coming years. He is an extraordinary businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist that has redrawn the boundaries of cricket. We wish Krishna Persaud and his family well and are delighted to name him as our PROFILE OF THE YEAR 2022.

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