Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2017
Ms.Aban Pestonjee
Chairperson, Abans Group of Companies

The Abans Group, a prestigious conglomerate of over 30 independent companies, began as the vision of a simple housewife in the 1970’s. At the time she started her business, Sri Lanka was a closed economy. Being a homemaker and a mother of three children, she languished under cumbersome load of household chores which required manual labour. This inspired her to ease the burden of other housewives like herself. That was when she got the idea to purchase quality home appliances which were put out for sale at several auctions, especially conducted by embassies and resell them with a guarantee at a little store in Bambalapitiya. For example, she used to buy about 20 washing machines, and retain approximately two for spare parts.

In 1978, Sri Lanka emerged into an open economy. Several international brands became highly popular in the country during this period. The large British companies who distributed these brands were reluctant to assign agencies to a small business like her’s. However, she began writing regular letters to these companies to be allowed to import their respective white goods. Her strong persistence led to Electrolux representatives visiting her store and service centre, which was then located in her home garage. Deeply impressed, Electrolux became the first brand to join hands with Abans to enter the Sri Lankan market. Other famous British brands including Hoover, Pyrex and Russell Hobbs soon started knocking on her door.

Her ingenious entrepreneurial vision has led to Abans becoming a trusted household name in Sri Lanka and agents for world-renowned brands namely LG, Apple, Hoover, Haier, SKECHERS and many others. Under her leadership, the Abans Group have steadily redefined the retail space within Sri Lanka throughout its 50-year history. Her incredible perseverance and dedication has left an indelible mark in the male-dominated field of business with her legacy continuing to inspire generations of female entrepreneurs across Sri Lanka.

Even now her reputation still commands powerful acclaim from her contemporaries in the field. She was also recently interviewed by Prof. Geoffrey Jones of Harvard Business School on the topic of “Creating Emerging Markets.” Her many accolades include the coveted, “Sri Lanka’s Entrepreneur of the Year” award at Derana Sri Lankan of the Year Awards 2017; “Leading Woman Entrepreneur of the World” award which presented by the princess of Thailand in Bangkok, Thailand on 22nd March 2006; and the KOTRA Plaque of Appreciation 2005 for forging strategic foreign economic ties between South Korea and Sri Lanka, presented by Mr. Young-Kyo Oh, President and CEO of Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).
Extra Large Category – SILVER AWARD
Manel Gertrude Rajkumar
Chairman, D & R Exports Pvt. Ltd

Following the loss of her father at a young age she was entrusted with the responsibility of becoming her family’s breadwinner. She learned to adopt, and to persevere.

When crisis struck her household again in 1999, she decided to trial exporting bottled and canned Sri Lankan food items, grains, traditional confectioneries and spices to Sri Lankans around the globe - often made from her own home recipes.

Her strong drive, perseverance, and passion is a testament to the growth and scale of the business today; she now exports to several foreign and international markets including Australia, the United States of America, Canada, and Switzerland.
Extra Large category – BRONZE AWARD
D. Chitra Ranjani Boteju
Managing Director/ Executive Engineer, Oceanica Group (Pvt) Ltd., Oceanica International (Pvt) Ltd., Ice Cubes (Pvt) Ltd.

Engineer by profession She was the first Lady Electrical Superintendent of Sri Lanka and was attached to the State Engineering Corporation. She was also the first Lady Maintenance Engineer in Sri Lanka she was attached to the People’s Bank Head Office which was the first high rise building in Sri Lanka back in 1977.Aditionally she was the former Director of Production and Executive Engineer of Tradika Industries in Malaysia. Currently she is the Founder and Managing Director of Oceanica Group (Pvt) Ltd, Oceanica International (Pvt) Ltd and Ice Cubes (Pvt) Ltd.

As an Entrepreneur and a social worker she has received a number of awards including the Entrepreneur of the Year 2001 Medium Category Industry Award of the Central Province Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 Merit Award of Federation of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka, the Welfare of Children award 2008 of theProgramme of Development of Child Capabilities Organization, “NawaliyaVendol” Award 2008 of most Popular Female Social Worker & most Popular Lady in Every Aspect as well as the Women Entrepreneur of the Year Large Category 2013 Bronze Award of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce & Industries.

Furthermore she was awarded the Peak Achievers Award at the Golden Jubilee Celebration of her school Devi Balika Vidyalaya for bringing honour to her school as well as the Devi Abimani Award in 2014.

Every year since 2004, she had been awarded a Special Award of Appreciation in recognition of her Service rendered to the Institution of Incorporated Engineers, Sri Lanka.
Large Category - GOLD AWARD
Judy De Silva Wikkramatillaka
Joint Managing Director, Rocco’

Passion for great food, particularly great Italian food, was the spark that galvanized a hobby of home cooking into a successful and largescale enterprise.

"Rocco", now an Italian restaurant, was originally started up as a pizza delivering service by Judy with the support of her friend and fellow business Partner, Krishanti. At Rocco's the emphasis is on providing authentic and delicious Italian food with a Sri Lankan twist, served with warmth and hospitality.
Large Category – SILVER AWARD
M.S.S.M. Achala Kumari Samaradivakara
Co-Founder/Managing Director -The Good Market (Pvt) Ltd

She is a co-founder and director of the Good Market, comprised of a carefully created collection of socially conscious and local small businesses and vendors. The Good Market priorities both people and the planet, seeking to find a sustainable balance between the two. The weekly open-air market place now supports over 60 stalls which promote a range of wares including organic produce, home-made treats, ethical clothing and natural personal care products.

She has a Bachelor degree in Management from the University of Colombo, a Certificate in Human Resource Management, a Diploma in Rural Development and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Cardiff.
Large Category – BRONZE AWARD
Director, Cinnamon Care Services (Pvt) Ltd.

Having left Sri Lanka in her twenties to build a career in the medical and healthcare industries, her return to the Island has brought a new hope to the elderly including those with dementia. Provision of care and services for the elderly are much needed, particularly given the increase of an ageing population.

With over 35 years' worth of experience in caring for people with dementia, her knowledge and expertise are invaluable and have been the cornerstone of Cinnamon Care’s success story.

Established only five years ago in 2013 in partnership with her son and daughter-in-law, Cinnamon Grove operates according to guidelines outlined by the UK’s Care Quality Commission.

The facility's high service standards have been praised in both local and International articles truly commendable for a family run business.
Medium Category – Joint Gold Award
Jenika Senani Warushavithana
Proprietor, Senani Products

After a lifetime in her hometown in Hikkaduwa, Shemoved to Japan with her husband who was working at a cake factory. Unfortunately, her husband fell ill resulting in their return to Sri Lanka. This led to severe financial difficulty due to diminishing savings and the cost of her husband’s medical treatment.

Determined and resourceful, it was during this period of hardship that she remembered her grandmother's goraka paste recipe and decided to commercialise it.

Initially she struggled to sell her goraka paste as this was a relatively now and untried venture. However her ongoing dedication and persistence has transformed her once small-scale home business into a successful and timing enterprise – expanding to involve further employees and a small factory.
Medium Category – JOINT GOLD AWARD
C. Chandrani Janaki Amarasinghe
Proprietor, DJ Products

As the proprietor of an evolving company targeting emerging demands in the local market, Chandrani Janaki has overcome a number of obstacles in her journey as a female entrepreneur.

Through determination, courage and commitment to lead as a woman, she has served the community and become the sole bread winner of her family. Besides being a dedicated business woman, she also devotes her time advocating on behalf of children at risk in abusive households.
Medium Category – JOINT SILVER AWARD
Malarvili Anton
Proprietor - V & Eye Opticians

She is an optometrist and an acupuncturist by profession, is the proprietor of V & EYE Opticians andpartner of V & EYE Vision center, located in Hospital Road,Dehiwela with a branch in Wellawatta. In 1995 she joined Eric Rajapakse Opticians as a trainee optometrist and was appointed as a manageress in 1999. As a result of her achievements, commitment, dedication and inspiration she was appointed as a director to the company in 2001.

It was thereafter in 2005 that she started her own company under the name V& Eye Opticians. She is a Member of the Sri Lanka optometrist association and a Member of the Lions club International district 306C2 for which she won the most outstanding club president in 2004, along with several other international & local awards for lionistic services.

She has also served in several district cabinets as district chairman, Zone chairman, governess program coordinator and sight first chairman whilst also providing her professional input towards many lionistic projects consistently and passionately working towards serving the needy.
Medium category – JOINT SILVER AWARD
Subathra Ramamoorthy
Founder, Sindhu Garments

She is the founder and proprietress of Sindhu Garments, renowned infant shoe and clothing manufacturer who has served the local and international markets for the past 3 decades. Currently selling their products to over 3000 retail outlets island-wide, Suba claims her success in business is due core values of;
- Promoting wellness, hygiene and longstanding health
- Honesty and reliability
- Genuine concern about the welfare of its young customers
- Equality in terms of gender and economic class

Her business success is demonstrated in the many awards received over the years such as gold award at the National Business Excellence awards in 2007 and a Silver award at the Women Entrepreneur of the Year awards by the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce in 2015. Shedoes not focus solely on profit, but instead desires to give back to her community of women in Sri Lanka through seminars, workshops, and mentoring programs.
Small category – GOLD AWARD
Rohanthi N.A. Wijewickrema
Founder / CEO, Quebee Den (Private) Limited

Born and raised in Sri Lanka, she is an author and published 8 children’s books, winning the Editor’s Choice Award and becoming the Poetry Ambassador for theUnited States in 2007. She developed a CSR publication for MAS Holdings during her employment; it is now available around the world and accredited by Incead and the world UN Global Compact.

She has a Master's degree in Business Management from Australia, a BSc. In Business from the University of Minnesota – USA and is a JASTECA Scholarship winner in Leadership and Innovation from Japan.

In 2010 she moved to Canada, where she developed a system to eliminate waste from vendors that benefited millions of dollars to hercompany. It was in Canada that, she began to do her research, product testing and testing in her own kitchen.

After moving back to Sri Lanka in 2013, with the help of her father (Founder of SMAK Drinks) she started developing a ready- to - eat infant puree able to fulfill the needs of her own child. This is when she realized the importance and need for a nutritional infant product in Sri Lanka. It was then that the company "Queebee Den (Pvt) Ltd." was established and the brand, BELLYBEES was born.

She quickly identified a need for her product and capitalized on a new industry, single handedly revolutionizing the infant food industry of Sri Lanka. Now, four years later, a company that started off with one product for her own child is becoming one of the most recognized infant food brands. It is the only company in Sri Lanka to manufacture 100% natural infant safe food products with 02 manufacturing facilities and alsocaters to 4 countries.

Her efforts to reinvent the future with healthy and safe products that will uplift the sustainability of the country have seen her recognized as JCI’s Top 10 Outstanding Young Persons of Sri Lanka 2016, National Business Excellence Awards Winner 2017, Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014 and 2016and International Women CEO in 2016. She attracted investors from around the world when she became the 2nd best start up in Sri Lanka through Venture Engine in 2016, and also represented Sri Lanka at the Global Entrepreneurship summit 2017.

As a mother of two, she continuously reminds the community that "it is our duty to ensure the environment our children grow up in is safe…that is why Queebee Den exists, because preserving our future is the right thing to do."
Small category – SILVER AWARD
M. H. PriyankaPradeepa Kumari
Proprietor, Priyanka Natural Foods and Priyanka Sauce Products

She founded her company in 2009with the goal of ensuring that all the raw materials used in her products would be 100% organic and contain medicinal value to the consumer. Originating with one product, the company now has up to 70 products on their portfolio- ranging from pepper and garlic sauces to spices claimed to available various health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol.

Through herbusiness, model and process, small scale farmers are benefited. Moreover, she continuously involves towards supporting and empowering underprivileged school children by providing them with necessary essentials for learning.

Over the years, she has won a number of awards recognizing her work – in fact she was an award winner at the Women Entrepreneur Awards in 2009. Her vision is to expand and grow her business further through the introduction of more fruit and vegetable sauces with strong and medicinal value.
Small Category – BRONZE AWARD
Ms. Thushani Dinusha Rodrigo
Proprietor – TODOS

Born with a profound hearing impedimentshe has faced and overcome many challenges since childhood. Her tenacity and drive resulted in the formation of TODOS, a reflection of her interests and r passion.

Established in 2013, TODOS now operates from its factory in Rajagiriyawhich also serves as a design studio for the development team and an outlet. TODOS producespersonalized clothing as well as bulk garments for business to business (B2B) customers.

Catering to over 200 customers with custom-made clothing, she also focuses on innovation in her products. One such example is of a reversible bomber jacket with Sri Lankan batik art.

Committed to creating opportunities for other women through Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, TODOS collaborates with young mothers seeking part-time employment to support their families. They creatively reuse batik scrap material to produce waist coats, travel pouches and head bands that are exported to Germany.
Small Category – Certificate of Merit
Ms. G.K. Nilakshi H. Gunasinghe
Proprietor, Nilakshi Greetings

Despite several hardships and challenging life circumstances such as struggling to make ends meet while caving for an infant, she refused to give up. With only a sheet of Bristol board and a pair of nail scissors, she began creating greeting cards, gradually progressing to make decorations as well. Her resilience upon which business has been built.

With the profits from her business, shesupports children in low income families with their educational needs such as books, stationery and uniforms. Her vision is to setup a one- stop shop containing the raw materials and tools to create cards as well as have ready-made greeting cards available for purchase.
Micro category – GOLD AWARD
W.P. Somawathie
Proprietor - 'Ran Rasa' Dried Jackfruit products

The nation of dehydrating and drying jackfruit, breadfruit, manioc and sweet potato is an innovative and environmentally conscious approach to preserve excess fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be wasted.

Besides her successful business endeavors, which have been recognized by several national awards, She also serves as a Sunday schoolteacher and inspection officer for the MahilaSamathi.
Micro Category – SILVER AWARD
A.G. ThanujaDarshaneeGunarathna
Proprietor - 'Thanuja Lace & Patchwork'

Her passion and expertise in the art of beeralu lace is what drives the success of her business. She currently designs and creates clothing for women and children incorporating beeralu lace and her skills in crochet.

Having won several awards in recognition of her talents and business acumen, her vision is to eventually export her products to the international market.
Micro category – BRONZE AWARD
Padma Wellawagedera
Proprietor, 'AthkamRoo'

She focuses on manufacturing product using traditional natural materials such as ekel and Palmyra.

One example of her work is an ekel handbag that was designed and developed as an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to the use of plastic bags. She has won several accolades and awards for her products, including from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

Between being a mother of two children and a vendor at the Good Market, Padma also dedicates her time to training and encouraging women from low-income families to pursue entrepreneurship.

Her goal is to expand her business to reach a global market and export her products internationally.
Most Innovative Entrepreneur of the Year 2017
Shianthi Ashwini Aiyar
Proprietor, Aiyar Enterprises

Her journey began in 2012 with Haven, Sri Lanka's first-ever dog boarding and dog daycare facility. She is Sri Lanka's first UK-certified canine behaviorist, and the only international member of a leading US-based network of licensed trainers.

She has built an industry encompassing dog boarding facilities, behavioral therapy and training programmes, pet relocation services, retail and apparel, and, most recently, pet cremation and memorial services. By building a diversified company, which currently comprises four distinct brands, she has cultivated a reputation in corporate social responsibility by offering numerous services free of charge, including: animal rescues, sterilization drives, and canine emotional support services for adults and children with disabilities.

She has also setup a pet retail store in Sri Lanka to offer high end custom jewelry which is the only one of its kind in the country. The proceeds from one line of jewelry go directly to charity.

Goes to the winner of Large Category Silver Award

M.S.S.M. Achala Kumari Samaradivakara
Co-Founder/Managing Director, The Good Market (Pvt) Ltd.

Is the Winner of the Extra Large Category Gold Award

Start-up Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2017
M. Pradeepa Fernando
Proprietor, Ama Products

Commencing her start – up business in 2017, her first sale was five cups of fruit salad in her neighbourhood in an effort to support her family. Introducing a sample of her product to an Army Engineering Unit situated near her residence led to the sale of ten cups of fruit salad per day. Initially she would use the profit from a day’s sales to purchase ingredients for the following day.

In a short period of time, she has gradually expanded her business into the packaging and sale of other products such as chilli paste, jelly and curry powder.
Most Positively Able Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2017
M. Thanuja Dayadaree Navaratne
Proprietor & Senior Partner - Gruvyinno Consultancy Services

Born with multiple disabilities in her hands, legs and hips, she has overcome many challenges and drawbacks to achieve much. These challenges included being refused admission into the government school system and later the law college hostel due to her physical disabilities, as well as surviving and escaping from an abusive marriage. Resilient and determined to pursue her dreams.

She went on to complete her higher studies in the field of law. Today she dedicates her time and effort to serve vulnerable individuals as a rights lawyer. She has also spearheaded projects with the United Nations and Save the Children.

After entering the Development Sector, she led the campaign in Sri Lanka for disability movement with INGOs, UN and Government Institutions from 2005-2006 which established accessibility regulations on physical accessibility for people with disabilities through the Parliament.

Rising above her difficult circumstances, she continues to devote her skills and expertise into enlightening and empowering the lives of others.
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