Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka – Pradeepa Nilanthi's story

Video | 12 May 2020

Pradeepa Nilanthi started her bag business in 2014 in Monaragala district, South Eastern Sri Lanka. She supplies bags to shops in the sacred city where demand is high from pilgrims. Pradeepa expanded her business to meet demand and was supported by ADB’s Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Line of Credit project and by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).

Transcript

I started my business in 2014 on my own, spending Rs.3,900 for raw materials.

Initially I found it difficult to sell my bags, but gradually the demand for my bags increased.

Monaragala district, South Eastern Sri Lanka

Only 37.2% of women are employed in the district.

To address this, the government is encouraging female entrepreneurship

But start up and business expansion require capital and know-how

ADB is providing support for both

under its Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Line of Credit project

working alongside the government and 10 commercial banks

and supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).

Woman Entrepreneur tells her story

Nilanthi decided to expand the business to meet demand and took a course in stitching bags.

She supplies bags to the shops in the sacred city that are patronized by pilgrims.

Competing with other bag manufacturers in the village and imported bags is a challenge.

The lag in payments makes it difficult for us to purchase more raw materials for production. Capital is my biggest need.

Nilanthi obtained a loan and grant under the ADB project through the Bank of Ceylon.

I received a loan of Rs.750,000/-, and a grant of Rs.250,000/-.

Initially I had 10 employees. Now I have 14.

Production increased from 2,500 to 5,000 bags per month.

I am glad that I am reducing the amount of foreign exchange flowing out of our country.

Every woman has the ability to engage in business. It will help them to be independent.

With We-Fi support, the ADB project aims to foster a more supportive environment for women entrepreneurs

and generate more opportunities for women in Sri Lanka.