Promoting small and micro businesses among the poor has been Berendina Microfinance Institute’s (BMI) mission. 30 small micro-scale businesses, which have been contributing to generate employment to rural poor, were awarded by BMI at the BEST ENTREPRENEUR CONTEST 2012 held on 3rd April 2012. This was the second time that BMI held such an event from its inception in 2007.

Considering, genuine development of enterprise and business by BMI interventions and through Enterprise Development Services, 30 clients from each BMI branch were given an opportunity to be a candidate in the Best Entrepreneur Contest 2012. Other than the newly established branches, 10 branches were able to include their clients in the contest. All 300 participants underwent a selection process which was composed of three steps as follows:

1) Branch level evaluation by Branch Manager and Enterprise Development Officer, who selects the best 10 enterprises

2) Branch level evaluation by an external Evaluator, who selects the best 3 enterprises

3) National level evaluation by Enterprise Development Manager and National Consultant, who selects the most outstanding 3 enterprises. 


In the evaluation, following areas of businesses were considered and assessed accordingly.

1. Presentation of the business

2. Age of the business

3. Profitability and growth of the Business

4. Number of employments created  

5. Marketing skills and used strategies

6. Use of Technology in the business 

7. Resource Management skills

8. Liquidity and Sustainability of Business

9. Credit utilization and management

It was interesting and commendable that all three National Award Winning Entrepreneurs were women and whose details are as follows.


National Award Winners 

1st Place – Ms. A.V Lalitha Jayawardana from Ginigathhena


 Ms. Lalitha and her family came and resettled in Norton-bridge, located in Central region of Sri Lanka, after being affected by landslides in 1995. In 1996, she started a small confectionary in savory biscuits under the brand name of “Dilnuwan Products” and distributed her products to a nearby retail shop by herself. She traveled to remote areas by bus and at times even by foot when transportation was not available. She had a very good demand for her products and little by little she expanded her business. In 2008, she joined with Ginigathhena BMI Branch and further expanded her business with BMI’s income generation loan. Additionally, she received food processing technology and business development service from Enterprise Development Service (EDS) of BMI to enhance her business.

After repayment of BMI first loan assistance, she was able receive a second and third loan for business expansion. She bought a three-wheel and a small truck respectively to improve her distribution using the money. Today, “Dilnuwan Products” earns more than Rs. 6 million as an annual turn-over and earn Rs. 1.2 million as annual profit. She has provided eight employment opportunities for poor women who live in her neighborhood. Additionally, Lalitha was able to give two employment opportunities for her two sons who work as drivers of the three-wheeler and the small truck. So far her business and her effort was recognized by various institutes including District Chamber of Commerce and awarded as Best Women Entrepreneur in the area.


2nd Place – Ms. V. L. Sujeewa Priyanthi from Dehiovita

Ms. Sujeewa and her husband had to leave their jobs in the company they worked due to family issue.This resulted in a situation that they could hardly manage their daily expenditure with their two children. In 2009, BMI came to Sujeewa’s village and she joined with BMI Dehiovita branch. They obtained a first BMI income generation loan and used that money to cultivate Tea. Sujeewa and her husband wanted to start a business with the small amount of money that was obtained from tea harvesting. They acquired technical training for food processing and Jose sticks (Scented Sticks) production. In 2010, they started a small Jose sticks and Wicks production business under the brand name of “Samara Products.” Then, based on the market demand they started to produce a diverse range of products which go along with Jose Sticks and Wicks and establish a good market for their products. The business is still using simple technologies but efficient.  After repayment of the first loan, they obtained a second loan from BMI to improve their business. They also obtained business management skills under “Improve Your Business” (ILO Certified Training) training. They compiled a business plan on their own, which was remarkable. The business records have been maintained well and were used as information in their business plan. Further, they diversified the business by starting a Bee Keeping business, which helped reduced their business risk.

Today, though Samara Products still remains as family business, the annual turn-over is Rs. 420,000 and received Rs. 210,000 as profit. 


3rd Place - R.K.Y.M.C. Kumarihami from Ipalogama

Ms. Kumarihami started her bag production business in 2008 as self-employment after working in a garment factory. She received technical training from Small Business Development division of Divisional Secretariat of Ipalogama. Gradually, harnessing the knowledge, she started to produce various types of bags including traveling and school bags. When Kumarihami came to face a working capital problem, she joined with BMI Ipalogama branch in 2011. She was unable to receive financial support from commercial banks in the area.  At BMI, an income generation loan was obtained and used to improve her business. Kumarihami who started her business with one machine, has eventually expanded and owns 6 machines. She provided five full-time and two part-time jobs for young women in her neighborhood. Recognizing her technical competencies and quality of her products, a certification to produce standard school bag was granted by Department of National Education. Today, Kumarihami’s business earns Rs. 550,000 as annual turn-over and has Rs. 192,500 as annual profit.