Sri Lanka Women’s business chamber calls for awards applications

June 16, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Women’s Chamber of Industry & Commerce (WCIC) has called for applications for the ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.’

In its 9th year, the awards will recognize high flyers in micro, small, medium and large industry categories, as well as new categories: Woman Exporter of the Year, Most Promising Young Entrepreneur, and the Best Female Start-Up Enterprise.

Business owners with a minimum of three years experience and start-up founders, who have been in business for a year, are eligible to apply. The closing date for applications is June 20th.

“Our previous winners have gone on to become successful business leaders. And we believe that the visibility they gained on this stage played a role in their respective success stories. We urge enterprising women to apply for this year’s Entrepreneur Awards and gain the recognition that they well-deserve for their hard work and unbridled spirit,” Rifa Musthapaha, chairperson WCIC, said.

The award ceremony will take place on 5th August this year with President Maithripala Sirisena as the chief guest at the event.

“Women make up 52 percent of Sri Lanka’s population and it is imperative that as a country we encourage women to become business leaders in their own right and become an integral part of the business landscape and foster sustainable economic growth,” Musthapha added.

During the past few years, WCIC has taken an active role in shaping the Sri Lankan business landscape to be more inclusive of women.

One such attempt was successful as the budget proposal of 2015-16 introduced a step to direct banks to lend 5 percent of their total loan portfolio to women Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

Musthapha notes that 80 percent of Sri Lanka’s economy is supported by SME’s, of which only 10 percent are women SME’s. “There is potential for growth here. Especially as we’ve found out, women are better paymasters when compared to their male counterparts.”

Some of the past winners include Yolanda Aluwihare, owner and head designer of internationally acclaimed ‘Yoland Collection’, Janaki Davi Kathriarachchi, proprietor of Three Star Organic Farms and Orency Siriwardhene, founder of Sugar Frill Cakes.

The Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC) was started in 1985, essentially to bring women entrepreneurs into the mainstream of business activity in the Country, the Chamber notes.

WCIC has been the platform and catalyst for women in business, facilitating participation at international trade events, developing policies that are favourable and playing an active role in raising the profile of its membership for exposure and recognition.