Thursday, 3 October 2013

A Sri Lankan leadership story

The distance between who you are and who you want to be is separated only by your aspirations and actions.” (Brian Solis, “See the world in 3-D: Dream. Do. Deserve”)

Yesterday I read a news story on BBC News Business, 'Young woman breaks through in Sri Lankan business world'.

It is a story of leadership, ambition and courage of a 25-year-old girl called Nimali Gunawardana who comes from impoverished background in agricultural Sri Lanka.

With determination and vision, Nimali has been able to turn herself into one of her country's most promising young businesswomen, and last month she won the Prince of Wales’s Youth Business International (YBI) Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 award*.

Since she was a child, Nimali was determined to overcome the traditional ideas about women at work embedded in Sri Lanka's society. At the same time she wanted to overcome poverty and achieve her dream of being independent by opening a sustainable business.

Last year, after a series of setbacks, Nimali became the boss (and founder) of Nimali Chips and Fibre Mill, a small company that turns coconut shells into useful materials. Today, the business employs thirteen staffers, eleven women and two man.

Nimali's story can be also read on Daily FT which reports on the award given her some weeks ago: “YBSL has praised Nimali’s determination and courage. “A woman running this type of business in Sri Lanka is pioneering,” said the YBI member. “She is a businesswoman with a future. The amount she has achieved within an eight-month period and her dedication and sacrifice is inspirational. She has overcome many traditional and gender barriers and she has grasped this business opportunity with both hands and run with it.”

I wanted to write these marginalia on Nimali's leadership story, for not forgetting it. It is inspiring. I like to think of it as the Sri Lankan materialisation of the 3-D's concept by Brian Solis, 'Dream. Do. Deserve.'

Well done Nimali.

* The award recognises the hard work and determination of young, underserved entrepreneurs who have created exceptional and sustainable businesses. Source