The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, lies just north of the equator, to the south east of its nearest neighbour, India. Despite its size, the tropical isle boasts an incredible diversity of geography and landscapes – from cooler hill climes and tea plantations, to arid lowlands, and wide sandy beaches fringed by lush vegetation.
For many years its pivotal location in the Indian Ocean along ancient trade routes, and its wealth of spices and other specialty items, attracted visitors, traders and invaders from India, Asia and the Middle East. Their influences are still felt today in the island’s food, architecture, cultures and traditions. In more recent centuries, the Portuguese and Dutch traders left their mark, along with British colonisation from 1802.
Whilst the island gained independence in 1948, and continues to grow and develop, it has not always had an easy time. It is a nation that has been through many an adversity – including a fierce civil war, the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and the Easter bombings of 2019.
Throughout it all, the indomitable spirit of the Sri Lankan people continues to thrive. Nowhere is this more evident than in the island’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.
With its wealth of traditional arts and crafts, a new generation of entrepreneurs and creators are seeking to use time-honoured methods and materials to address modern day problems, ensuring a sustainable future for all.
Stories on this page represent the passionate spirit of our island nation
In 2019, Sharuja recognised that many orphanages and homes for the elders on the East coast of Sri Lanka received very little financial support – and she wanted to do something about it. With commitment and enthusiasm, teaching herself using online videos and resources, she started making jewellery using thread and up-cycled fabrics. Although an accountant by training, she now works full time in her own business creating a stunning range of jewellery. Part of the proceeds continue to support the homes and projects that she is so passionate about.
Chitra Lane Sheltered Workshop
Founded in 1967, the Chitra Lane School supports children and young adults with special needs who otherwise would be at risk of not attending school and not receiving the support they deserve to thrive in their own ways. Unique for its time, and still a model today, the school provides a comprehensive special education programme with students coming from a range of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. As the children grow into young adults, they receive training and learn vocational skills at the Sheltered Workshop. They are proud to share their handmade products, including recycled paper items, screen-printed bags, and up-cycled fabric pouches with intricate embroidery work.
The Vedda people, also known as Vadda, are recognised as the indigenous people of Sri Lanka. With their distinct language and culture, they were primarily hunter-gatherers, with a strong sense of stewardship for the land and animals of Sri Lanka. Whilst the traditional lifestyle of the Vedda has been disrupted by modern development, the value of their culture and traditions, particularly their connection with nature, is now more widely recognised and valued. We are pleased to be able to offer a range of traditionally crafted items such as jewellery and ornaments made with Kirindhi seeds from the jungle, ornamental weapons from wood, and coconut shell cups.