Risk and Glory

"I was walking a fine line between creativity and craziness"

In modern day Mauritius, Shidan Ragavoodoo runs a successful geopark deep in the island. Yet this venture was born of a life of poverty and struggle. Lean days when he was reduced to stealing candles from churches. This is his story.

I dropped out of school at the age of sixteen for insubordination. I came from a fractured family where I was an only child.

I had to take the crucial decision to either live with my mother in France, or my father on Rodrigues Island. This is where I believe that my journey of self-discovery and survival started.

At that time, I had no clue what to do. In an ocean of confusion, the best way out was to let myself drown, hit the seafloor and gather enough strength to bounce back.

I decided, rather than a comfortable life with one of my parents, to take the risk and go live in my grandfather’s abandoned house in a small village of planters. I had no furniture, no electricity, no water supply, and no money. I remember only a couch and an old gas cooker. I understood the importance of things, which I always took for granted, like water, food, and candles, which I stole from churches.

I started small jobs, here and there, which made me realize that academic education in Mauritius is a must for a stable, albeit humble, living and it was an expensive privilege.

In 2008, at 19, I founded an NGO to foster education for underprivileged children: the Bring a Smile Link. I helped out in various NGOs around the island; from there I started a diploma in Social Work with Law at the Charles Telfair Institute, with the firm objective to doing something with my life as well as for others in need.

I went through an interesting life experience: the struggle of a student to access quality education, end up being a dropout again, in the second year, but this time because of financial constraint.

Being involved in social work made me more politically conscious, leading me on the environmental activism path. At that time, I was working for an organization focused on research in economic, social, and environmental alternatives, which was also a leftist political movement in the making.

I was helping out trade unions to bring a little bit of fairness in this cruel world of corporate slavery. In my search for understanding human behaviour in working environments, as individuals and in groups across a variety of sectors and industries, I started an online degree in Occupational Psychology at Arden University in England. With now a modestly renovated house with electricity, water, and food on the table, I felt I had enough to move forward.

"I started small jobs, here and there, which made me realize that academic education in Mauritius is a must for a stable, albeit humble, living and it was an expensive privilege."

In 2014, I was a candidate in the general elections in Mauritius and quickly understood that social causes were commodities used by politicians for fame and money. Being expelled from the national committee of the party, for insubordination in 2016, brought me to the same crossroads I stood at when I was sixteen; alone again, but this time with more experience.

After 10 years of struggle, I pondered on what to do next; restless brainstorming sessions were powered by the funds drained by my everyday living. Despite trying several small businesses, I struggled to pull through and the situation was becoming critical.

I took my camping gear and went to the Mare Longue forest, in the center of the island part of the 1% of endemic forest remaining; to resource myself, I took an amazing book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It left me contemplating the wonders of nature, musing my mind to building benefit corporations using the Mare Longue location as a prototype for the betterment of the environment and the people within a circular economy of fairness and justice. I was walking a fine line between creativity and craziness in that forest.

Wild as it may seem, I decided to continue the entrepreneurship path and go forward with the idea of putting in my last cents and convince investors and financiers to build the Tomorrowland Cooperative Society Ltd; focusing on sustainable events with giant Nordic Tipis from Sweden under the brand name Les Tipis De Mare Longue.

Through permaculture, we wanted to provide small planters the framework for transition from traditional cultivation to a more responsible and pesticide-free one, and Plant B, a pioneer plant-based food chain in Mauritius. We wanted all this in a flat organization, where each member has an equal voting right and shares in the organisation.

Tackling the issue of depleting endemic forests gave birth to an amazing initiative: Project Cybele – an Integrated Geopark. Partnering with other entrepreneurs and organisations, it is a discovery of the island’s geological, ecological and cultural heritage; a space for preserving biodiversity, an educational approach on our endemic ecosystems, the microbial energy revolution, and the concept of Glamping – a fusion of glamour and camping – aiming to be the 62nd National Geographic Unique Lodges of the world. An experience in an award-winning tent structure in stunning surroundings, broadening our horizons.

A journey of struggle, risk, choices, seeing opportunities and persistence gave birth to a winning formula that created two successful multi-million corporations. I feel I now have some additional privilege, more experience, and great partnerships to move forward in this wonderful adventure of life.

"RISK AND GLORY!  (What’s your story?)"

Billionaire Tomorrow launches a new section capturing the sacrifice, spirit and splendour of the African entrepreneur.

This is a section written by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Each piece is a snapshot in the struggles and triumphs of those who swim against the tide to risk their own money for uncertain reward. The thoughts of an entrepreneur who fights his, or her, way past the naysayers, sceptics and reluctant lenders to stake their claim.

The way to reward and glory? All too often, this is a rocky road, fringed with thorns, with slithering snakes in the shady undergrowth.

You can earn from telling these stories too. If you write for Risk and Glory you get a chance to earn our new token – The Bil. The more people who read your story, the more tokens you earn. Send me 800 words of your story to me at Chris@billionairetomorrow.com.

Check it out.

The Bil

Read, learn, think, discuss and change for the better. Reading Risk and Glory could change your story– enjoy!


Chris Bishop, Founding Editor, Billionaire Tomorrow.


Shidan Ragavoodoo (@shidan_ragavoodoo) • Instagram photos and videos_files


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