DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY To Make a Difference

From Good to Great!

Mr. E. M. C. K. Ekanayake

Location: Ipologama, Anuradhapura

A native of Ipologama, E.M.C.K. Ekanayaka (36 years) is a master of carpentry works. Married to Priyadarshini (32 Years) who is herself an entrepreneur with many skills and hopes, the couple has a son and 2 daughters who are still schooling.

Like many in the carpentry trade, Ekanayaka and his wife faced many challenges in developing their lifestyles and income generation activities. Life was not a bed of roses for them, as they had a small house which had one room and a kitchen made out of clay walls in the land belonging to his uncle. Ekanayaka didn't have money to purchase and store much needed timber and other materials related to his profession.

The winds of change came in the form of BMIC which started its operations in Ipalogama. Ekanayaka became a client of BMIC in 2011 and went for his first loan of LKR 30,000 which he invested in purchasing timber needed for his carpentry work. This was a good investment which yielded him enough profits to save money. He went for his second loan of LKR 50,000 in 2013 and invested it along with his savings to purchase a machine related to his profession as well as more timber. Based on his continuous successes, he went for his third loan of LKR 50,000 to buy 3 more machines for his profession. His fourth loan of LKR 75,000 in 2017 was utilized to buy a bulk stock of timber. This move protected him from paying extra money for raw materials when there was unexpected demand. He started to generate enough profits and accumulated a good customer base. He went for his fifth loan of LKR 100,000 which he invested in developing his business further. He also employed 3 persons to work full time at the carpentry shop as many new customers started buying his products. His sixth loan was LKR 250,000 in 2021 which he utilized to further develop the business and the number of permanent staff in his venture increased to 3 with 2 other part-time workers.

Meanwhile, Ekanayaka also participated in various trainings including Success in Money management, SIYB, as well as ginger cultivation conducted by BMIC Enterprise Development Services. These trainings greatly benefitted him in managing all his finances leading him to save more money from substantial profits. His wife started to operate a salon and a readymade garment shop as well. Life changed to better prospects for the couple due to their hard work and never give up attitude. At present, they earn a monthly income of LKR 200,000 through their multiple business activities with a net profit of LKR 110,000.

“It was a big challenge in the past,” says Ekanayake who further elaborated “though we were living in a small house in a land that belonged to my uncle, we have now shifted to our own 2 story house built in our own land with all facilities. We also bought ¼ acre land. We also put up a 2-storeyed building consisting of 3 shops. All the stocks for the wood work are purchased in bulk and stored for big orders. We have enough staff to undertake big orders. We have 2 motorbikes for our transport needs. All this was made possible by the timely support of BMIC and its productive trainings. We shall always be thankful to them.”

Hard Work Pays Off!

Mrs. Ganapathippillai Santha

Location: Chenkalady, Batticaloa

Ganapathipillai Santha (50 Years) from Chenkalady and her husband Thamodaram (57 Years) had been involved in paddy cultivation and home garden activities for many years. Hailing from traditional farmer families, the couple is hardworking and eagerly expecting prosperity through agriculture related activities. They have 5 children of whom 3 are already married and living separately. Their 20-year-old daughter is presently studying in the G.C.E. (A/L) Arts stream while their son, the youngest in the family, is in Grade 10.

It was a challenging life for Santha and her husband before they engaged with BMIC. Though they had 10 acres of land for paddy cultivation and home gardening activities, their financial background was not so strong to purchase the seed, raw material and other items needed for cultivation activities on their own. They bought seed and other material on credit which made them pay back a large amount and lose substantial profit. Their monthly profit stood between LKR 20,000 to LKR 25,000 which was a challenge compared with the rising cost of living. The couple always thought this was not a good idea and it will put them in the debt trap with village loan sharks.

After getting to know about the activities of BMIC in Chenkalady, Santha decided to become a client of BMIC and go for a loan that would support her and her husband in their agricultural activities. She took her first loan of LKR 30,000 in 2015 and invested it in cultivation activities. She went for her second loan of LKR 60,000 in 2017 and commenced a successful home gardening activity by commencing black gram and green gram cultivation along with the traditional paddy cultivation that her husband is fully engaged in. These investments reaped more profit for the couple which eventually made them go for the third loan of LKR 60,000 in 2019 which they invested in expanding their cultivation activities. In 2020, Santha took the fourth loan from BMIC amounting to LKR 120,000 and invested it in further expanding their paddy cultivation and home gardening activities.

In 2018, Santha participated at the Financial Literacy workshop conducted by BMIC Enterprise Development Services (EDS) which led her to focus on managing her income and expenses and venture into savings. This enabled the couple to purchase 4 more acres of land of their own for cultivation activities along with another 10 acres of land for paddy cultivation on lease. Santha is now studying the possibilities of transforming her home gardening activities to organic cultivation.

During the COVID-19 pandemic situation, Santha received 400 cassava stems from Berendina under “Sahana / Nivaranam” initiative and she cultivated these in her land. She earned around LKR50,000 from the harvest and cultivated again for this season using the stems already harvested. She also cultivated spine gourd and is expecting a good income. She is also registered as a groundnut seed supplier at the regional office of the Ministry of Agriculture.
“I’m very happy now,” says Santha, further stating, “now I earn a monthly profit of LKR 60,000 in cultivation and home gardening activities. Now I don’t have to wait until the paddy is harvested, because other crops are harvested year round. I don’t buy any seed or fertilizer on credit as in the past. It saves a lot of money. This enabled us to spend nearly 2 million for my daughter’s wedding. This successful transformation took place after I joined BMIC which helped me to direct my journey towards success along the right path.”

Stepping Towards the Path to Success!

Mrs. Sasikaran Siyamala

Location: Maritimepattu DS Division, Mullaitivu

Sasikaran Siyamala (35 years) and her husband (35 years) lives at Maritimepattu DS division in Mullaitivu. The couple has a school going son and a baby daughter and presently running a successful cement block production factory.

Siyamala and her family had faced uncountable challenges in the past including the separatist war that made them get displaced from Mullaitivu to Vavuniya. Before moving away from Mullaitivu, Siyamala's husband was engaged in fisheries and was making a substantial income. After the end of the war, the family moved back to Mullaitivu in 2010. The couple ventured into a new income generation activity by setting up a retail shop. Unfortunately, it was not a success and day by day, they had to struggle to manage the overheads.

While wondering what they could do next to come out of all these financial setbacks, Siyamala came to know of BMIC operations in the area and how it supports entrepreneurs through loans. The couple saw this as a good opportunity to start something new and decided to start a cement block production business at their home premises which has a good demand. She eventually became a client of BMIC in June 2017 and took her first loan of LKR 30,000 to purchase much needed machineries for the cement block production activity. With ongoing success, Siyamala took her second and third loans of LKR 60,000 and LKR 150,000, respectively, and invested in buying more machineries and material related to the production work and became one of the most successful entrepreneurs of BMIC.

While her husband is directly involved in the production work and looking after the workers, Siyamala manages the finances of her business. Her participation in Success in Money Management (SIM) training conducted by BMIC Enterprise Development Services (EDS) helped her to become versatile in managing the day-to-day expenses wisely and manage the profits gained by the business activity.

“Thanks to BMIC, I'm having a successful business activity and having a peaceful life”, says Siyamala. “At present, we have 5 fulltime workers at our cement block production factory. We have a good reputation in the market leading us to secure continuous orders. We earn an average monthly profit of LKR 60,000 after all expenses related to production work are met,” exclaims Siyamala happily.

Realizing the Dream of having a Peaceful Dwelling

Mrs. Somalatha Samaraweera

Location: Katupoththa, Thirappane

Success is accomplished with hard work and dedication if one is patient enough to face all challenges that comes along the path. The story of Somalatha Samaraweera from Katupoththa, Thirappane is a fine example of it. Her husband is a mason by profession and the couple has 2 sons. Her elder son is currently following an IT course at the Vocational Training Center while the youngest is in Grade 8.

Somalatha’s husband Samaraweera earns a monthly income of LKR 30,000 through his masonry works and this income depends on the requirement for his service. Somalatha is involved in small scale paddy cultivation and home gardening along with dairy activities with the support of her husband earning a monthly average of LKR 10,000 as an additional income. Due to the nature of their unstable income they had to live in a small incomplete old house and had faced many challenges. But Somalatha always had a dream of having a safe dwelling for her family and always looked out for opportunities to realize her dream.

The winds of change started to blow towards Somalatha’s family after she joined Berendina in 2012. She received her first loan of LKR 30,000 in the same year and started clay brick production as a business. She used her loan money to purchase raw materials and firewood for the furnace. Being an enterprising lady, she had a plan to build her own house, and thus used the profits earned from this business to buy cement and concrete blocks for her new house. Since the foundation for a new house had already been laid a few years ago next to the old incomplete house, she just needed to commence work on the construction of her new house which she always dreamt of.

Subsequently, Somalatha used her second loan of LKR 50,000 she received in 2014 to build the walls of the new house. Her third loan of LKR 75,000 which she received in 2016 was used for roofing work and buying roofing sheets of the new house. She started plastering the newly built walls with the fourth loan amounting to LKR 100,000 which she received in 2018. The family wanted to move to the new house as soon as possible. Somalatha received her fifth loan of LKR 125,000 in 2020 and used it to complete the plastering of walls and laying floor tiles. She hopes to receive her sixth loan soon in future to build attached toilets for the new house.

“I’m happy and my family too,” exclaims Somalatha who continues saying “it was a hard time for our family to live in the old house. We were not safe in it and were so worried about our security. Thanks to Berendina now we have a new house, and it also made my dream of a safe dwelling come true”.

Multitude Facilities bring Multitude Prosperity!

Mrs. K. Kohilavani

Location: Thambalagamam, Trincomalee

Timely support and right guidance can bring prosperity into anyone’s life. The story of K. Kohilavani (44 years) of Thambalagamam, Trincomalee is one fine example of it. Happily married to M. Kavimar (48 years) who is involved in welding work, Kohilavani has one son and 2 daughters. Her son Mithursan works as a driver after completing his O/L studies. Her second daughter Nitharja has received monetary support under Bright Students Scholarships program from Berendina to complete her G. C. E. (A/L) studies in Bio Stream. Her third daughter Pirinthija is studying in Grade 10.

Life was so challenging financially for Kohilavani as her husband’s monthly average income was LKR 25,000. Besides, he didn’t have all equipment and material needed for his work, having to face daily challenges in hiring equipment or buying material from outside. This situation also put a barrier on home improvement.

Kohilavani became a client of BMIC in 2012. Her first and second loans were utilized to complete pending house improvements such as fixing windows and iron grills as well as the main entrance and veranda. She utilized her third loan to purchase a cow which became a productive asset to the family. Her next objective was to support her husband’s income generation activity using her fourth loan to buy much needed equipment and material related to his welding work.

Being an active client of BMIC, Kohilavani regularly participated in various training workshops such as yogurt making, handicrafts as well as paper crafts conducted by BMIC Enterprise Development Services (EDS). This brought new encouragement to her to venture into her own income generation activity making various Palmyra products. She utilized her 5th and 6th loans for purchasing raw material much needed for her work as well as for business expansion.

BMIC helped Kohilavani to register herself at the Palmyra Board as a Palmyra product supplier. This enabled her to secure continuous orders from various parties. Due to her strong enthusiasm in her business activity, Berendina also provided her a Palmyra leaf cutting and polishing machine which was a much needed equipment in her trade. To promote and sell her products to online customers, she was also connected to the ekade.lk web portal which is run by Enterprise Development Services (EDS) of BMIC in order to promote rural entrepreneurs and promote their products online. “I’m so happy to be a client of BMIC,” Says Kohilavani and further elaborates “I utilized my loans with a plan and now I am reaping multiple benefits. Now my husband has all equipment and material needed for his profession. Our house looks much better and I also contribute towards home expenses. I’m glad I earn an average monthly income of LKR 20,000 through selling Palmyra products. BMIC inspired my creativity through various EDS trainings and I’m using that knowledge and skills to the maximum.”

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