Ramola Motwani, Chairwoman of South Florida-Based Merrimac Ventures, to Receive 2024 Horatio Alger Award

The Horatio Alger Association names 11 outstanding individuals, each of whom has overcome adversity to achieve professional and personal success, to its Member Class of 2024 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 6, 2024) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that Ramola R. Motwani, chairwoman of Merrimac Ventures, a South Florida-based real estate development and investment firm, has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization. Ms. Motwani joins 10 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2024 honors. For more than 75 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their communities.  

Ms. Motwani was born in undivided India as one of seven children. When she was young, India gained independence from Great Britain and Ms. Motwani’s home state became a part of Pakistan. Due to differing politics, her parents were forced to move their family to new India, leaving everything they had built behind. Despite challenging times, Ms. Motwani’s parents encouraged her to pursue higher education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Jai Hind College in Mumbai, and then a law degree from Government Law College, also in Mumbai. In 1969, Ms. Motwani’s then future husband, Ramesh “Bob” Motwani, immigrated to the United States to complete his MBA. She joined him six years later, and the couple soon married and moved to Missouri where they launched Sona Enterprises, a retail and wholesale import business. They later relocated to Florida and bought Merrimac Hotel. Together they worked tirelessly to purchase and manage several other inns and resorts. Sadly, in 1994, Bob passed away suddenly at the age of 47, leaving Ms. Motwani to raise their teenage sons and manage their growing business on her own. Determined to succeed, she was able to hold onto their portfolio and continued to expand it significantly by acquiring additional properties. Ms. Motwani led the initiative to rezone Fort Lauderdale Beach for high-rise luxury development, paving the way for the neighborhood’s first luxury hotel – the Conrad Fort Lauderdale. Today, as chairwoman of Merrimac Ventures, Ms. Motwani’s family-owned and operated real estate management, investment and development company, she has successfully completed more than $3 billion in various projects with another $3.7 billion in the works for the near future.  

“A generous philanthropist whose giving centers around education, Ramola Motwani embodies the characteristics shared amongst Members of the Association,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “Hard working, compassionate and resilient, Ms. Motwani grew the business she started with her late husband into a leading hotel management and development company. She’s a strong female leader and we’re proud to welcome her to the Association and look forward to the impact she will surely make.” 

Ms. Motwani’s philanthropic giving centers around education. In 2019, she and her two sons launched the R. Motwani Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, which is the first-named academy at Broward College to encourage local young people to pursue a career in the hospitality field, many of whom are first-generation college students. She is involved in many community organizations including the United Way of Broward County, the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County and the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. Ms. Motwani was inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame, the Nova Southeast University Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame and has received dozens of awards for her inspirational leadership. She was honored by the United States House of Representatives for excellence in developing the City of Fort Lauderdale, received the Founder’s Award from the City of Fort Lauderdale and received a tribute from the Florida House of Representatives for her community involvement and business success. 

“I’ve faced challenging times throughout my life, but I’ve always pushed myself to never give up hope,” said Ms. Motwani. “It’s when things get tough that it is most important to stay positive and keep going. That is a message I hope to share with Horatio Alger Scholars, and I look forward to working with my fellow Members to ensure the young people who are a part of this Association feel supported as they continue on their own individual paths to college and beyond.” 

2024 marks the 40th year that the Association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives.  The Association, which aims to preserve and protect the American Dream for future generations, also seeks to educate young people about the endless opportunities available by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. The scholarships are made possible thanks to the generosity of Horatio Alger Members, who will have collectively provided more than $245 million to over 35,000 students. 

“It is our utmost honor to present the Horatio Alger Award to these 11 outstanding leaders who have exemplified perseverance, passion and a deep appreciation for higher education,” said James F. Dicke II, chairman, Horatio Alger Association and 2015 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “These influential leaders not only spearhead their own endeavors, but they give generously to causes, organizations and communities in need. Our 2024 awardees embody the Association’s mission and are proof that the American Dream is within reach for anyone who seeks it.”  

Ms. Motwani and the Member Class of 2024 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 4-6, 2024, during the Association’s annual Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The three-day event is an annual ceremony to honor both the achievements of Members and National Scholars, who will have multiple opportunities to meet, interact and exchange stories of perseverance.  


For more information about Horatio Alger Association and its Member Class of 2024, please visit www.horatioalger.organdfollow the organization on Facebook, X, LinkedIn and Instagram.  




About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans:  

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, in 2023, the Association awarded more than $18 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships to 1,800 students across the United States and Canada, and provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Over the past 40 years, more than $245 million has been awarded in undergraduate, graduate, military veteran and career and technical education scholarships to more than 35,000 deserving students. For more information, please visit www.horatioalger.org.