She received the 'Zonta Woman of Achievement' Award
Sri Lankan entrepreneurs have amassed incredible wealth and success through their various business ventures.
These individuals have not only made their mark in Sri Lanka’s economy but have also become some of the richest people in the world.
Their stories of perseverance, hard work, and entrepreneurship are truly inspiring, and they serve as role models for aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders.
We will take a closer look at some of the richest Sri Lankans and their journeys to success.
Dhammika Perera, a well-known businessman, investor, and philanthropist, has become one of Sri Lanka’s most successful entrepreneurs.
He started his career in the 90s by establishing a small business selling machinery spare parts, which he expanded by investing in various sectors and acquiring other small companies.
In 2002, he founded Vallibel One, which has grown to become one of Sri Lanka’s largest companies under his leadership.
In addition to his business ventures, Perera is also known for his philanthropic activities, which have earned him numerous accolades and awards.
He has established several charitable foundations, including the Dhammika Perera Foundation, which supports various educational and healthcare initiatives.
Moreover, Perera is also actively involved in promoting sports, including football, rugby, and cricket, of which he is currently the President in Sri Lanka.
All in all, Perera has made significant contributions to the growth and development of Sri Lanka’s economy, and his philanthropic efforts have helped to improve the lives of many people in the country.
Approximate net worth: £3.6 billion
Harry Jayawardena, one of Sri Lanka’s wealthiest individuals and an industrialist, was born in Ja-Ela, Sri Lanka on August 17, 1942.
He serves as the chairman of Melstacorp PLC, a prominent conglomerate in Sri Lanka, and as the Honorary Consul General for Denmark in Sri Lanka.
Jayawardena founded Stassen Exports Limited in 1977 to export Ceylon tea.
It eventually became a significant shareholder in Hatton National Bank, the country’s largest private commercial bank, in 1988.
In 1992, his business empire acquired a controlling interest in the Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka PLC (DCSL), which was the biggest transaction on the Colombo Stock Exchange at the time.
As Chairman, DCSL rose to the top of the Business Today Top 10 rankings in 2007.
Jayawardena is the largest shareholder and Chairman of numerous publicly traded companies on the Colombo Stock Exchange.
These include Lanka Milk Foods, Madulsima Plantations, Balangoda Plantations, Browns Beach Hotels, and Melstacorp.
He is also involved in privately held companies, including Pattipola Livestock Company, Lanka Bell, and Continental Insurance Lanka.
Jayawardena was awarded the title of Deshamanya by the President of Sri Lanka in 2005 for his services to the industry.
Approximate net worth: £2.4 billion
Nanayakkara is a businessman and entrepreneur who currently holds the position of deputy group chairman of LOLC Holdings.
He has been appointed as the chairman of LOLC in 2018. Before being appointed as chairman, he was a board member of LOLC from 2002 to 2018.
Nanayakkara began his career in financial services and invested in finance companies like LOLC.
He joined the Board of Directors of LOLC in 2002 and served as deputy chairman of Lanka Orix Finance from 2011 to 2018.
In 2013, he was appointed chairman of Browns Investments.
His father, Rajah, was an entrepreneur and founded the pioneering automobile industry Ishara Traders, which began importing repaired vehicles from Japan to Sri Lanka in 1973.
Nanayakkara received secondary education at Royal College and then went to Japan for extensive training as a teenager.
He holds a diploma in Business Accounting from Australia’s Dandenong College and received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards in 2012.
Currently, he serves as the chairman of the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology.
Approximate net worth: £485 million
Nimal Perera is a Sri Lankan business magnate, investor and stock market trader, who has garnered recognition for his professional success.
Beyond his career, he has an eclectic range of interests such as horology and world travel.
Perera established NP Capital Group, a private equity and venture capital firm in the early 2000s.
The company concentrates on acquisitions, real estate investment, portfolio management and trading.
Perera has an exceptional track record in the Sri Lankan business landscape, having executed the highest number of acquisition deals in the country’s history.
Before founding NP Capital Group, Perera had worked in numerous companies including Tudor V Perera & Company, and Bartleet Electronics Limited.
Additionally, he held treasurer positions in the Sri Lanka Cricket Board, Sri Lanka Athletic Association and Colombo Gymkhana Club.
He also held director positions in several companies such as Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC, Royal Ceramics Lanka PLC, and Vallibel One PLC.
Perera’s most notable role was as the Deputy Chairman of Vallibel One Group until 2017.
During his tenure, the group made significant acquisitions that led to its transformation into the largest conglomerate in Sri Lanka.
Moreover, he was an Alternate Director of Vallibel Power Erathna PLC and The Fortress Resorts PLC until 2017.
Approximate net worth: £483 million
Otara Gunewardene – 50m
One of the most inspiring Sri Lankan entrepreneurs is Otara Gunewardene.
She is a Sri Lankan businesswoman, animal rights activist, environmentalist, and philanthropist.
In 1989, she started selling factory surplus garments and apparel from her car trunk to family and friends.
In 1990, she opened her first store, ODEL, on Dickmans Road in Colombo.
By 2010, she had expanded to 18 stores throughout Colombo.
In February 2010, Otara converted ODEL into a public limited liability company, making it the first fashion retail business listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange.
On September 11, 2014, Otara sold all her shares in ODEL PLC to Softlogic Group and focused on Embark, a fashion brand that she launched in 2007.
Embark donates a portion of its profits towards the eradication of rabies, canine vaccinations, sterilisation surgeries, puppy adoptions, and the care of injured street dogs.
In 2015, Embark opened its first standalone store in Galle, followed by three more stores, and also started a campaign calling on the government to implement the proposed Animal Welfare Bill.
She continues to push for the revival and swift enactment of the Animal Welfare Bill, which is currently stagnant.
Furthermore, in 2016, she launched a campaign against the Dehiwala zoo, resulting in the zoo improving the living conditions for its wild animals.
In 2020, Otara launched Who We Are, an online platform that supports Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and small businesses selling eco-friendly, ethically sourced, cruelty-free, and sustainable products.
Otara’s accomplishments have earned her widespread recognition in Sri Lanka and abroad.
She was named Jaycees ‘Most Outstanding Young Person’ in Sri Lanka in 2000, and in 2001, she received the ‘Zonta Woman of Achievement’ Award.
In 2010, the Horticultural and Flora Conservation Society of Sri Lanka named an orchid after her.
One of her most significant feats was being selected and recognised as one of the ‘Prominent Women of the Country’ by the Women’s Parliamentarians’ Caucus in 2014.
She was also featured in LMD’s 2018 A-List of Sri Lankan Top 50 Business People.
Approximate net worth: £40 million
In conclusion, the success stories of these Sri Lankan entrepreneurs serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Through their perseverance, hard work, and determination, they have not only achieved financial success but have also created employment opportunities and contributed to the growth of the Sri Lankan economy.
Their stories are a testament to the fact that with the right mindset, skills, and strategies, anyone can achieve their dreams and become successful in their chosen fields.