The Lankan Angel Network (LAN) recently hosted a Mentor Networking Night at Colombo’s
newest hotel, Courtyard by Marriott, for the Sri Lankan leg of WeScale, a USAID-led program for
Women Entrepreneurs (WEs) in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Designed to support Women Entrepreneurs in scaling their tech-focused and -enabled businesses to
the next level, WeScale is coordinated by the South Asia Regional Digital Initiative (SARDI),
which is a part of USAID’s Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership (DCCP). Its
partners include DAI and Accelerating Asia, along with LAN, Bangladesh Angels, India
Accelerator and SAFAL.
According to LAN Chairperson Chandi Dharmaratne, “Now is the time for Sri Lanka’s Women
Entrepreneurs to take charge and help steer our economy to a brighter tomorrow. It is widely
believed that, by increasing women’s economic participation in the workplace, Sri Lanka could
potentially add up to US$ 20 billion to its GDP by 2025. So, in celebration of International
Women’s Day, we as mentors plan to support the efforts of Sri Lanka’s WeScale participants at next
month’s WeScale+ regional program. We also expect that LAN’s partnership in WeScale, and other,
similar programs, will lead to a significant growth in job creation for our country.”
Comprising an overall 12-week virtual program for women entrepreneurs, WeScale in Sri Lanka
also features a 4-week intensive session where its Sri Lankan founders can take advantage of
multiple opportunities to interact with budding and established investors.
Participating in WeScale Sri Lanka are: Ruwini Jayarathne, from Ruwini Jayarathne
Jewelry (Jewelry); Dhanushka Karunarathne, from Ceylon Dhee Ayurveda Pvt Ltd (Beauty Care);
Achinthya Neligama, from INGROW Holdings Pvt Ltd (Food Manufacturing); Draupadie
Wickramasinghe, from Maja, a New Story (Fashion); Upeka Premathilaka, from Ample (Fashion);
Dinu Kadahetti, from Enhanzer Pvt Ltd (ERP Solutions); Thanuki Idangodage, from Body Doc
Fitness & Wellness Pavilion (Fitness); Nabeela Yaseen, from Stoned Jewelry (Jewelry); Shanika
Sandeepani, from AGC Innovate Pvt Ltd (Construction); Pulani Ranasinghe, from Loons Lab
(Software); Afrah Saldin, from The Saree Library (Fashion); Safiya Sideek, from Elements by
Safiya (Gifting); Nishu Gunawardana, from Nehemiah Consultants (PR); and Tharini Dasanayaka,
from Cesova Pvt Ltd (Software).
The most recent activity in this program was the Mentor Networking Night, which was held at the
end of February 2023. This event entailed an evening of connecting and networking between
WeScale participants and the program’s local mentors; affording the mentees the chance to ask
specific questions related to scaling up their businesses, so that they could work towards becoming
pitch- and investor-ready.
Next, WeScale mentees have the opportunity to participate in the Investor Night, which will be
hosted by LAN and is scheduled for March 20, 2023. During this upcoming forum, Women
Entrepreneurs will benefit from direct access to a number of decision-makers in the Angel Investor
and Venture Capital space, with the chance to pitch their business ideas and future plans to this
highly sought after group.
Comprising a cohort of 16 Women Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka, WeScale’s Sri Lankan leg, which is
overseen by LAN, is expected to be completed by the end of April 2023. This will be followed by a
contingent of local finalists proceeding to the WeScale+ regional program for an additional 4-week
stint of intensive learning and connecting. Regionally, 100 Women Entrepreneurs are in the initial
stages of the program, with its final phase zeroing in on the program’s top 20 Women
Entrepreneurs, overall, across all represented countries, with a mission to make them investment-
WeScale’s Sri Lankan mentors support mentees in areas as diverse as HR (Virtusa’s Vice President
for HR, Chandi Dharmaratne), Finance (AICPA & CIMA Sri Lanka Country Manager Zahara
Ansary), Global Expansion (Hatch Co-Founder Nathan Sivagananathan), Logistics (Mountain
Hawk Express CEO Chamila Bandara), Branding and Social Media, and Legal Advisory. Mentors
include:; Anarkali Moonesinghe, LAN Board Director, and former CEO for Sri Lanka at CIMB;
Lahiru Pathmalal, LAN Board Director, and Director for e-Commerce at KOMAR; Adil Mansoor,
LAN Board Director, and CEO at PromoLanka Holdings; Kishan Nadarajah, CEO at LAN, and
Principal at BOV Capital; Balathasan Sayanthan, Founding Member of the Yarl IT Hub, and former
Director – Operations at Applova Inc; Heminda Jayaweera, Serial Innovator and Entrepreneur, and
Director Planning and Operations at SLTC; and Randhula de Silva, Founder/CEO at Goodlife X.