2019 Mar 22
We’re delving into the stories behind five Lankan founders and their one of a kind start-ups; five very unique women-led start-up businesses!
Here are their tales – articulated as they weave an inspiring tapestry of vision and challenges, motivation and inventiveness, obstacles and rewards – all of which have paved the way for entrepreneurial journeys.
In the right creative hands, embroidery thread, cord and yarn can be used to create incredible masterpieces. Today, string art is utilized not only for artistic DIY projects, but has also evolved into a contemporary art form. 23 year old Naduni is the owner of StringArt.lk – she is the perfect example of a hobby turned business. Her true passion is making her customers happy although challenges do abound – whether it’s having supplies arrive on time or timely delivery and ensuring that her product retains quality. She strives to deliver the best.
As a young girl, Naduni had to face challenges. She remembers not being taken seriously by the carpenter when she asked for wood for her work, primarily because she was young and she was a girl. Juggling studies and doing business was a challenge too but with time, she mastered the skill and garnered enough experience to deliver her product faster. Her vision is to have diverse varieties of string art, add more collections and have a faster delivery mechanism.
2. Katto Mitto Achcharu
Exotic achcharu; aromatic and spicy, embracing the tropical flavours of exotic fruit, all part of the Sri Lankan heritage. Amna Ashraff is the founder of KattoMittoAchcharu Hut, specializing in traditional Sri Lankan Achcharu with the freshest of fruit that have not been touched by any preservatives or additives. It’s pure, it’s fresh, it’s delicious. For Amna, it’s all about hard work, whether visiting the market each day to purchase fresh fruit at a reasonable price, ensuring proper food safety standards and giving value for money for her customers. Her yummy treat is packed in clear plastic boxes instead of polythene bags. A mother of two, Amna was initially discouraged from going into business, which she began after giving up her teaching job. However, her husband’s support and encouragement gave her the trusses she needed and she was well on her way to building a business build on a vision of adding more flavours, adding to her customer portfolio, improving her levels of service and expanding her brand into leading supermarkets.
3. Candle House Ceylon
Candles are all about that added vignette for some great R&R. Candle House Ceylon is all about enhancing that experience. Specialising in exclusive container candles, each hand-poured, easily refilled or repurposed to suit whatever need, Bhagya, the Founder of Candle House Ceylon, was inspired by those who harness creativity and convert them into products others can enjoy. She today does what she loves and enjoys the whole process of bringing relaxation joy to others. While the fear of failing was her greatest hurdle, Bhagya’s support system helped her overcome that fear. Her two immediate goals are to open an exclusive candle store in Colombo and to go completely environmentally friendly.
There’s always something totally unique about a Sri Lankan rice and curry, primarily due to the delicious tropical curries that form an integral part of the meal. Janaki Kattriarachi is the Managing Director of Ranbath Organic Food Pvt Ltd, which specializes in organic food productions – traditional rice and green leaf curries being amongst them.
With the growing trend of fast food, Janaki is adamant to promote healthy meals made to true Sri Lankan flavours, where quality is paramount and food preservatives are not tolerated. She reminisces that her biggest challenge was facing the naysayers, who when she first introduced her readymade packaged green leaves six years ago stated that there was no market for her products. When she subsequently began her organic food farm Janaki had to face another hurdle when wanting to grow her food without the use of urea, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. Setting up a food outlet at Diyatha Uyana too was not the easiest. However, with the support of her three children, friends and the farming community, she has overcome her challenges and is now well on her way to realizing her vision of expanding to other regions of the country.
5. Cally Reusable Bag
A true inspiration, Vraie Cally Balthazaar’s passion for preserving the environment drove her to seek solutions to the everyday use of polythene. She came up with Cally Reusable Bags, a set of bags that are the perfect alternative for polythene bags. The inspiration for her business became even stronger after the Meethotamulla garbage debacle, which gave her a strong reminder that environmental preservation is an imperative rather than a choice. Vraie also had an idea to initiate dialogue on environmental issues including waste and encouraging pathways to move to eco-friendly lifestyles. Her biggest hurdle was self-doubt asking herself questions on whether this was a productive use of her resources, time, money and energy. Due to the lack of a team, this young mother however took the plunge and decided to singlehandedly face the challenges that ensued. Her support system came out strongly to her aid and today she proudly says she is where she aspired to be.
Her vision is to expand her product line, creating a story that impacts society to help end the massive waste problem, which she hopes to spread the word and inspire others to participate in.
Here’s to strong women – defying the odds and reaching for their goals.
All these strong women-led start-up businesses have been featured on CDB SMB Friday; a platform promoting small businesses digitally to empower, encourage and spread the word about their work! Join them every Friday to show your support and nominate a business that deserves to be featured via www.cdb.lk/cdbsmbfriday.
Sponsored by: CDB – SMB Friday – #Girlboss campaign, commemorating the International Women’s Day.