Sri Lanka like all other countries has its own natural resources. The Nation has made an efficient use of resources available and has risen above many of the problems from the day it attained independence. Some of the problems though, remain to be worked out.
For instance, Sri Lankan women have yet to explore their true limits which lie beyond their homes. The fact that majority of Sri Lankan women contribute little despite being the numerically dominant gender has stacked up some problems for the country’s economy. High female participation is a determinant of individual and collective prosperity and is also a contributor in elevating living standard.
Dawn of Female Entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka
But the new trend of Female Entrepreneurship development programme in Sri Lanka, which encourages women to partake in the success of Sri Lankan economy and improve their standard of living along the way. The path Sri Lankan women are setting out for is challenging, but women in trades can take inspiration from some of leading female entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka. Insights can be gathered from some of Sri Lankan women in international business as every one of these women is a unique phenomenon in herself.
Ranee is a known woman in trade. She is an entrepreneur, and has been for more than 20 years now. She is the founder and the MD at A and A International, a company producing and selling Rx lenses to 7 of the most dominant optical houses and 15 other optical stores in the country. Not only is she a woman in international trade, she has a big list of achievements under her belt.
Ranee Ratenayke has been an excellent achiever since start. Her accomplishments began from her early days when she became the first woman to win National Sri Lanka JAYCEE Award back in 1971. She then went on to found A and A Opticians 23 years later. She became the President of OPTOMETRIC Association soon after and has never looked back. Ranee is also the first woman in trade to win National award for entrepreneurship.
Her excellence goes beyond borders as she has also received ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award’ at the Global Conference of Women Entrepreneurs in India. Her career as an entrepreneur has flourished much since she completed her MBA from Warnborough University, U.K.
Ranee also promotes women in international business and women in trade as she has been a president of Sri Lanka Women’s Conference.
Otara Gunawardene is one of the most successful Sri Lankan women in international business. A role model for many Sri Lankans to come, Otara began her life like any other girl in Sri Lanka. Her exceptional talents made her a good athlete and a glamorous model in her early days. Otara was soon asked to help in dispose an assortment of export surplus garments. This led her to realize the segment’s potential laying the foundation for ODEL, her first retail outlet.
With the grand success of ODEL, she began to have a better awareness of her skills and opened outlets in other parts of the nation. ODEL now sells across more than 42 countries and has a leading share of market in Sri Lanka. Some of her achievements include Jaycee’s Most Outstanding Person in Sri Lanka, Zonta woman of the year, Echelon Magazine's Most Powerful Woman in Sri Lanka, SAARC Woman of Achievement and FCCISL Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2001). Otara is also involved in other businesses including fashion designing and VIP-class jewelry.
Founder of the business Nimali Chips and Fibre Mill, Nimali Gunawardana is a booming female entrepreneur in her mid 20s. Her achievement of being a leading woman in trade with her age makes her a perfect role model for the coming generation of Sri Lankan women. Nimali’s business operations include manufacturing and selling of coir, coir pith and husk chips from coconuts. The business is very potent and rewarding as realized by Nimali, but the reward and success have a story behind them.
Nimali comes from an impoverished background. The family’s financial condition led her to work in a garment factory where she was able to save the money despite all the internal politics in the workplace. With the saved money and some investment from her friends, Nimali was able to start her own business, buying a coir-producing factory in 2010.
But she soon found out that the business already had a pile of outstanding loans and had to close her dream losing Rs. 300,000. The failure resulted in no bank offering Nimali a loan, save the global charity of the Welsh Prince.
With small amount of loan, Nimali was able to bring back her dreams to life. Today, Nimali’s business yields revenue of 5.1 million Sri Lankan Rupees. She has recently won the global title of ‘Start-up Entrepreneur of the Year 2013’ and now aims to take her business into the next level by making it a stable enterprise where Nimali would not have to seek other companies to export her goods.
Success despite the Differences
As evident from Sri Lankan women in international trade; their childhood experiences, personality traits, competencies, financing, culture and learning all vary drastically. But despite these differences, these women are able to enjoy success in their life. So can the women taking motivation from these women in international business.