These young women decided to pursue
their own interests rather than wait for handouts. Priyanwada Ranawaka
meets three award winning young entrepreneurs
Unable to continue
her higher studies, Nandani Ajantha of Kegalle began a small enterprise
of ready-made garments. Her little shop was called ‘Susinidu
manufactured women’s and children’s’ garments
and this proved quite profitable till largescale readymade garment
companies opened up in the town. The industry became far too competitive
and money became tight.
Having the machines
and a trained staff at hand, Nandani decided to bring in some innovation
to her work. She started to make cloth bags. Today, she holds in
her hands the impressive award for Women’s Entrepreneurship
for the Year 2002.
one of the three young entrepreneurs who have been recognized for
their strength and resilience by the annual Shell LiveWIRE ‘Young
Business Start-up Award’ competition. The Shell LiveWIRE programme,
active in over 15 countries including Sri Lanka, is part of the
company’s commitment to encourage young Sri Lankans to operate
a business of their own. Launched in Sri Lanka in 1999, as a social
investment in the community, this programme aims to encourage and
assist young people between the ages of 16 and 32 who want to start
a business of their own.
my own solution for the unemployment problem!” exclaims 29-year-old
Samantha Kumari Senerath who has a degree from the University of
Peradeniya. Samantha was unemployed for a long time and so preferred
to capitalize on her own labour and talent rather than sell it to
someone else. “I had a passion for pottery from childhood
and simply pursued my dream to start my own business,” she
Neo Lanka Potters, her company situated in Moronthota, was begun
as a small-scale business. She now produces exquisite wedding cake
boxes, teapots, tea sets, vases, flowerpots and other earthenware.
have been possible for me to climb the ladder of success without
the support of my family and neighbours,” Samantha says. She
is also thankful to the Shell LiveWIRE programme. The happy winner
of the Silver award in the micro category for 2002, she plans to
expand exports to Japan, the US and the UK with the prize money
A.A. Thushara Nilmini of Hambanthota, the bronze award winner for
2002, is in the ornamental fish industry. Amarasinghe Aquarium breeds
many varieties of fish including Goldfish and Calffish. “I
started as an amateur but after following several Aquaculture courses,
I decided to take it up as a trade. Now I export fish through the
Piliyandala Angel Aquarium,” she says. She has even found
employment for four of her friends who help her out in the business.
kind of recognition not only gives them strength, it also helps
them to find their own way,” says one of the judges of the
competition, Mrs. Daya Jayaratne, representing the Women’s
Chamber. “This programme recognizes the achievements of young
people who have been in the business for less than two years. We
take into account the quality of the products, the increase in their
income, and how they expand their trade further,” she explains.
I started my industry, I never thought I could bring it up to this
level. I had very little funds. The Shell LiveWIRE increased my
personal strength and determination and also publicized my business,
which I could not have afforded to do on my own,” recalls
this award I have had many big companies offering me help. I can
look to the future confidently,” says Nilmini with optimism.
“I am happy that I did not go on ‘strike’ because
I was unemployed. Because where there is a will, there is always
a way,” says Samantha Kumari.