Apr 21 2015. views 3195
Harshala De Silva: A momtrepreneur advocating the importance on Buying Sri Lankan
Momtrepreneur is how Harshala De Silva best describes herself. Bucking the usual trend of handing over the family business to the son, Harshala’s dad Ranil De Silva instead wanted Harshala to take over the reins of his business which she did and admirably manages to juggle the hectic demands of a young family and a growing business with equal aplomb. Harshala relates her story on how she advocates locally sourced products for her business and promotes “Buy Sri Lankan.
Most family business are handed over to the male heir in your case you are leading the business. How did that happen?
I was the best fit to steer the company at the time and the family decided on this. I do have a brother who is a non-executive board member. I would say my family has very liberal ideologies when running our business and don’t think in a patriarchal mentality.
What does your business involve?
We operate under the name of Ranyan Industries/ Ranali Marketing (PVT) Ltd. We manufacture hotel room amenities such as, small shampoo bottles, soap, toothpaste toothbrush, shaving kits under the Amami brand name. We also manufacture cleaning products and detergents for domestic and industrial use.
How did the business evolve?
My father Ranil De Silva was a corporate trained individual with a marketing background handling FMCG also he was exposed to the leisure industry at an early stage in his career. He and my mum Dr. Priyani De Silva started this business as a cottage industry producing air fresheners 30 years ago. Today we are proud to be classified under the SME classification and have an extensive product range.
Where do you source all your products from?
We source all our products locally, and only a very few items that are unable to be sourced locally are imported. We are proud to be a 100% local manufacturing company as all our products are manufactured with locally extracted oils and we do not endorse harmful preservatives or chemicals. We strive to be a company with sustainable development.
How important is it for you to” buy Sri Lankan”?
We should be proud of who we are and of our local products. If we think our local products are inferior how can we expect overseas clients to think our products as any better? I do not advocate importing any item that can be locally sourced. To buy Sri Lanka is a core objective of our company. I think policy makers should encourage more local producers with more investments in production, not just processing intermediary goods such as break bulk packing so Sri Lanka can be even more competitive in the international arena.
As a female entrepreneur how would you encourage other females to take to business?
Love what you do, be yourself, and have confidence in yourself. Build strong business relationships, this will lead to your business success. I believe in more female participation in the business circle in Sri Lanka. We have smart, dynamic, innovative ladies out there who have made a huge impact in the Sri Lankan business circuit. Sri Lanka compared to our regional peers has a better environment for business women. Therefore we should encourage young women to strive to be business leaders in Sri Lanka.
What are your top three tips to balance work and your role as a mum to two kids?
3) Follow through
Fundamental rules to live by?
I try very hard not to miss any special moments in their lives. When I’m with my kids they get my fullest attention. During work I would make time to call or do a surprise pick up at school. It’s not easy but you have to be able to make the time.
By Tina Edward Gunawardhana
Photographs by Kithsiri De Mel
Location: OZO Colombo