Getting stuck in

I’ve already been put to work which is great, nothing like getting stuck in.

The first of many business partners I will be working with is a social enterprise spawned by a young and energetic Sri Lankan who was awarded the Stanford Social Innovation Fellowship in the late 2000s.  The award provided much needed seed capital to get his business off the ground and since then, has shown steady growth with the help of a young and dedicated team of professionals.

The business produces and distributes a range of heirloom rice indigenous to Sri Lanka for both the domestic and export markets.  The seed for a variety of rice is provided by the company and is grown by smallholder farmers struggling to make a living in these post-conflict times.  The complete crop is bought by this company who then mill and package the rice, and distribute to individuals, supermarkets and institutional customers (schools, workplace canteens etc).  Any profits made from this endeavour are for the benefit of farmers, with a portion of the funds held back to operate and grow the company.

I must admit to being rather impressed with this young group of professionals, they are smart, very sharp and hugely dedicated to making this work.  They could be off earning far larger sums of money in the corporate world, but instead they have chosen to use their skills, education and experience for the greater good.  Admirable for sure.

To be honest, this young team of educated guys know exactly what they need to do, I think I can help them with putting a little discipline around their planning process and implementation of the many initiatives they have on their plate.  Interesting times (for me) ahead.

The team are based in Colombo but the rice is grown and milled in the North, and packaged further south of Colombo.  Supporting this young team will require a little travel.    Suits me!

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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3 Responses to Getting stuck in

  1. Mick Canning says:

    They sound like just what Sri Lanka needs!

  2. Looks like it’s a win-win. For all

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