Entrepreneurs are born or made 0 3442

By : Chantal D

Entrepreneurs are born or made?

Simon Arthur Wickramasinghe would have been a successful lawyer, had he continued to practice.  Although this was not what he had in the back of his mind?

If he was the ordinary, the Ceylon Biscuits Limited (CBL) would not have flagged its way to become the Sri Lanka’s largest confectionary manufacturer, producing and marketing 11 categories of branded food products catering to the diverse palates.

In 1939, Simon W. dropped out from the law college and bought over William biscuit factory from the owner. The lawyer capitalized in it and renamed the factory which came to be known as Williams Confectionary Limited. After relocating the location from Kolonnawa to Dehiwalaand then to Akuressa during the war.

Ceylon Biscuits - Meeting

The biscuits were handmade and baked in a long-fired oven. The dough was mixed by hand,rolled out and cut into shape and placed on trays. These were then baked and cooled. They were packed into gallon tins with a round lid for sale. It was sold locally.

Simon and his wife Enid had four children, sons.

Paul was their firstborn. He was in the first batch of graduates from the University of Peradeniya. He went on to setup Ceylon Essences. Ranjith, their second son excelled in the field of Engineering. Mineka, the third, also known as Micky was the first to follow in his father’s footsteps. Ramya was the youngest. His interests lay in food Science and Technology.

Simon W. was keen to expand the production of this non-traditional snack called a biscuit. A snack introduced by the British. He wanted to find new ways to make better biscuits, a greater variability and make all this easily available. He did this by introducing high-tech manufacturing machinery to the country.

Ceylon Biscuits - Chairman

During this period Mr. S W R D Bandaranayake was the Prime Minister of the country. Due to the mishandling of the economy imports were becoming challenging. Imports of biscuits were banned. It was up to Williams and Maliban which was opened in 1954, to meet the demand and satisfy the market.

Realize this in 1957, the biscuit production line was mechanized with the introduction of Baker Parkins lines from the UK. The then Governor General of Ceylon Sir Oliver Goonethilake declared open the new building which housed the factory.

As the company grew the ‘Williams’ brand packed biscuits in branded tins called ‘Orchid Assorted’ and ‘Cheese Cuts’ with advertising taglines that said ‘Pick the Best’. Simon W. even had many British nationals working for him at his factory.

The products made were Cream Crackers, Marie, Arrowroot, Tea Ginger Nuts, Nice, Custard Cream, Bourbon and Assorted.

In 1960 Simon W. installed an automatic wafer ovenwith 12 plates for better production. It also came with cream spread attached to a cooling conveyor. After cooling, it went to a cutting machine. The packing was done manually into 4 oz. packs and bulk pack into tins.

Munchee LogoTo Simon W. and his family this was a momentous and a historical venture. It was the birth of “Munchee”. The wafer manufactured were branded as Munchee. The name Munchee was given by Mr. Edger Corray.

Simon W. and his sons Mineka and Ramya realized that new machinery with high capacity was the need of the day. To expand, the Ministry of Industries approval had to be obtained. But, the ministry was not keen as private sector industry was not encouraged. Finally the Ministry wanted Williams Confectionary Limited to show exports to grant approval

With much difficulty an export order was obtained from Saudi Arabia. With this in hand approval for expansion was gained by Simon W. At that time William Confectionary Limited did not have land for expansion. This was the next obstacle faced by Simon and his sons. Finally land was bought at Pannipitiya.

Ceylon Biscuits Limited was incorporated in 1968 as a new company under the leadership of Simon Wickramasinghe’s son Mineka Wickramasinghe.

Simon Arthur (Artie) Wickramasinghe renamed Chairman of Ceylon Biscuits Limited until August 1984 when he passed away leaving behind a legacy of fair play, both by the worker and the consumer.

Today CBL offers diversity of captivating tastes to International consumers, stormed export market gaining acceptance in 52 countries and counting.

Winning Export Awards since the year 2003, having won recognition by awarding bodies including National Chamber of Exports and Presidential Exports Awards.

When it came to Simon W. a self-made Entrepreneur, the sky was not the limit.

Entrepreneurs aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.

 

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“Made in Sri Lanka” 0 1441

Ever watch the movie, Rocky? I mean, any of those would suffice. But mainly, the original. In fact, if you know anything about Stallone’s life itself, you’ll know that he’s probably one of the biggest success stories in history. Now, there are plenty of famous people who failed but never gave up on their dreams. You can find them all throughout history. There sagas are powerful enough to make you second guess ever giving up in life.

Does the common idea of geniuses having an eccentric ideas and behaviors bear any truth? Here is a story of eccentric entrepreneur for you to decide.

People waste searching endlessly for magic, whereas to Lawrence Perera life itself is a magic. “I didn’t grow up around incredible cars or at a time where there was luxury. Few of my earliest and fondest memories involve automobiles. My story begins as kid who broke every toy car received just so that I could see how it was made. My mother noticed my passion for cars and decided that I should get into automobile engineering field and made me enter the German tech without waiting to go to the university, she was keen to see me making a career in the automobile industry’’ says Dr. Lawrence with a sense of gratitude, by starting his conversation with BiZnomics. “Just as we have moments in time crystallized by places, music or movies that imprint upon us, the automobile left an indelible impression on my experience and who I became”.

Now an Automobile Engineer by profession with over 40 years’ experience in the Automobile Engineering Industry both locally and overseas, Dr.Perera is a diploma holder in Automobile Engineering at the CGTTI, and Institute of Motor Industry of UK. He is also a certified automobile engineer in the Institute of Motor Industry and a fellow member of the Institute of Motor Industry – UK (FIMI).

‘’I know from very hard won experience that start-ups are enormously difficult and risky and chances are you might not succeed” says Dr. Lawrence Perera, Leading entrepreneur, Chairman and CEO of Micro Holdings and Micro Cars Ltd. Dr. Lawrence’s “ hard won experience’’ is based on manufacturing the car “Micro” the first designed , developed and manufactured car in Sri Lanka.

He has received extensive training with BMW, Volkswagen – Germany and Peugeot – France. Dr. Perera described his daily sightings of stranded people on the roads due to the chaotic situation of public transport and realized the crying need for a reliable alternative. ‘’I thought that if people had a reliable, economical, decent, comfortable and affordable car that would take them to the place they want to go, the problem would be solved and many man-hours would be saved. I then set to design and develop a small car with every household in mind – and that’s where MICRO started’’ he said.

Describing his product further he states: ‘’It was the tuk-tuk that influenced me to create a small car. The Morris Minor was the smallest at the time and the dimensions of my drawing were smaller. My product which was patented in 1999 was an 80% local manufacture. As far the brand name, I decided on micro mini and finally named it MICRO’’.

Dr. Lawrence Perera had been skeptical of the success of his product at the time it was launched at the price of LKR 300,000. ‘’ At that time local products were thought to be inferior but MICRO turned out to be acceptable and most bought it because it was economically priced’’. Marketing local brands had been very competitive as it was difficult to challenge and compete with international giants in the market.

The Micro was fitted with safety standards such as air bags and seat belts. Yet, Lawrence had to stop production mainly due to complicated manufacturing process and cost of production increasing.

The garment industry in Sri Lanka has made a big contribution to change people’s mentality in buying ‘made in Sri Lanka goods’. Garments sewn in Sri Lanka have earned in international reputation and Sri Lankan consumers are well aware of this fact. The government should encourage local products, and especially an industry such as automobile requires a certain tax relief for composite material used for making cars. Adding to this, He criticizes the industrial policy and taxation systems prevailing as not being friendly and conducive to local industrialist and manufactures. The Micro brand of which Sri Lanka could be proud of became well known the world over, even in countries such as Germany, China and Korea. But I could not develop Micro because support for the automobile industry is almost zero. For one thing vehicle importers were against local manufacture since their imports business would take a downward turn. And next, the industrial policy of the country and the taxation system does not provide any impetus at all. Although a normal car is not a luxury, but a necessity”. He claims that during the last four years, the company run with losses, and that the financing aspect has been terrible. The bank loan interest rate has shot up from 6.5% to 14.5%. p.a. “Business has been thrown into a quagmire”, he says and adds, “We have to pay much more than we earn”

Dr. Lawrence opines, that Sri Lanka has been in a miasma of uncertainty for a while, and that the combined effects of numerous policy changes have thrown many enterprises including the motor vehicle industry into turmoil, insists that the country should have strong decision-taking and unwavering leaders who will dispel personal gains and crack the whip to drive away corruption while instilling discipline in all sectors, in order that the country could emerge from one of its lowest phases in recent history with a record decline in business.

Dr. Lawrence Perera’s view is that gasoline engines will gradually go out of the market. He states that with the introduction of hybrid vehicles, gasoline engines changed, but that hybrids will survive only with combustion engines. ‘’whereas Japan went for the hybrid, China jumped into electric engines which will last for another 100 years. We should also adopt the electric car. With sunshine around all throughout the year, car solar batteries fitted to electric engines can be charged at no cost and what a saving on fuel that will be! Anyway, gasoline engines will gradually make its way out of the market, in not too distant future.

With the influx of hybrid and electronic cars an eco-environment challenge will be the lack of adequate provisions to dispose of used bittern such vehicles in the future. The lack of regulators for strict recycling and safe disposal of batteries will lead to them ending in garbage dumps. Another area that needs attention to curb pollution and improve and conserve of quantity is to adopt a long-term vision or polices of emission standards. The lack of the stable policy outlook may associate Sri Lanka with volatility and high risk.

Adding to his many innovative ‘firsts’, Dr. Lawrence Perera was the first to design an economical rail solution for the Sri Lanka Railway, in 2004, the first in Sri Lanka to assemble 4×4 SUVs under the technology transfer agreement with the Korean Ssang Yong motor company, with Mercedes technology in 2006, and the first to manufacture a luxury double decker bus with the latest technology complete with fully aluminium low floor monocaqne design for public transport in 2007. Commenting on his economical rail solution Dr. Perera says: “In 2004 I designed an economical rail solution termed ‘Lanka Econo Rail’ for mass transport to replace the car in the megapolis. My proposal was to build carriages using scrapped steel, with automatic doors, good seating and all comfort. My proposal envisaged buses at relevant stations to transport the passengers to their destination like the monorail or metro in foreign countries. It was a light-rail concept place of the heavy locomotive system which has been in operation for the past 164 years. However, this was blocked by railway officers who want the steel to be sold at dirt price by the kilo, as obsolete.

Dr.Perera attributes his success to his family – wife and two daughters who had been very supportive, without their support he wouldn’t have achieved so much. Dr.Perera is determined to showcase Sri Lanka’s potential in the international car industry.

By : T V Perera

Image Curtsey : Eranga Pilimatalawwe

Sri Lanka Strawberries 0 1548

Strawberries in Sri Lanka-BiZnomics-Business

By: Savannah Audrey

Source: Jagrofresh website.

The Agricultural Research Institute has described strawberries as a fruit that is difficult to grow, as it needs to be continually monitored for protection from diseases.

Strawberry-BiZnomics-Business-1

Although the main planting season for strawberries begins in September, the nursery preparation process begins well ahead with the planting of mother stock. Tended with the utmost care, a few weeks after planting these mother plants start shooting runners, which are then cut and potted in preparation for bed planting.

 

 

Greenhouse construction includes the careful laying of gradients for proper drainage, much for proper weed/pest cover and dipper systems for fertigation – a few of the myriad aspects covered meticulously in this phase. Land and bed preparation, as we call the preparation of the lay of the soil and land, is an arduous task requiring much precision and once the beds and irrigation systems are ready, planting begins in earnest. Each potted plant is carefully removed and planted in neatly aligned beds, angled just right to absorb as many nutrients as are required for the months of work ahead.

strawberry-BiZnomics-Business-3

 

From this point on, care is a mix of diligent tending of the plant, weeding and providing the optimum support, in the form of bees for pollination, plant analyses for ensuring the maximum possible nutrients are absorbed, and warding off of pests.

 

strawberry-BiZnomics-Business-4Harvesting of strawberries starts two months after planting, when fruit is at its biggest, tastiest and juiciest. The first fruit from each plant is always the biggest and often the most off-shaped, although extremely tasty! From this point on, harvesting takes place daily, although quantities and sizes vary based on the plant life-cycle and the stage of planting in the staggered planting system.

Cont..

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