Business flourishes down the line
When an industry passes from one generation to another it develops
with innovative ideas and advanced technology, creating new brands.
It also gives a sense of pride to the entrepreneur encouraging him to
Managing Director, Genelle, Sheran Wickramasekera, was fortunate to
inherit a cottage industry manufacturing shoes under the name Sinindu,
from his in-laws many years ago. However, this little cottage industry
showcased the elegant footwear branded as Genelle in the export market
later on. He was interviewed by Daily News Business.
Wickramasekara was the youngest in a family of eight children He had
his education at Thurstan College, Colombo and continued his higher
studies in the field of Accountancy. In the meantime, he joined the
private sector and obtained experience for a few years. In 1982 he took
up a position as an Accountant, which he held for four years.
On his return to Sri Lanka his in-laws requested him to take over
this business. He said, “It was a huge challenge because I did not know
anything about shoe making. At the same time I did not want to let that
industry, close down which had been carried forward with much care and
effort over a long period of time,” he said. My in-laws had only seven
employees and they supplied shoes to the Bata Shoe Company. Initially I
faced much difficulties as the samples I prepared were repeatedly
However, I continued without getting discouraged, he said.
Wickramasekara invested about Rs. 3 million to develop the business at
the beginning and finally succeeded.
He was one step ahead than several other shoe manufacturing companies
at that time and his products were in high demand at several leading
fashion boutiques in Colombo. He then realized the importance of
developing a brand of his own and Genelle emerged as a result. His first
three containers of shoes were exported to UK in 2006 under the new
A shop in Mount Lavinia, Lakmal Arcade was also opened to make
available the Genelle branded products to the local market.
Lakmal Arcade is a fashion store for ladies and children’s footwear
of high quality coupled with comfort, elegance and affordability to our
customers in keeping with our motto - ‘Treat for your feet’,
Wickramasekara said. He has provided about fifty direct jobs for young
men and women in the factory. The company manufactures five- thousand to
seven-thousand pairs of shoes for ladies, gents and children per month.
work in the factory Pix. by Sumanachandra Ariyawansa
The product range covers fashionable evening wear to casual sandals
and slippers and the styles cater to different age groups. The Kiddos by
Genelle in the children’s range at Lakmal Arcade reflects the playful
nature of childhood in its host of attractive colours and designs. All
his footwear is manufactured locally using raw material and accessories
imported from Thailand.
Another significant milestone of the company was the setting up of
the heels manufacturing plant which saves a lot of foreign currency. One
of the most costly items we imported was the moulds. I recently imported
a injection moulding machine plant from Taiwan at a cost of Rs. 3.5
million for the purpose. It is necessary to have separate moulds for
various designs requiring a considerable investment.
The raw material we use is the plastic waste such as discarded
computers and typewriter ribbons. We recycle them and use them again to
manufacture a range of shoe moulds.
Now we undertake orders to manufacture heels for other shoe
manufacturing companies as well. If we get support from the government
to develop this industry it will be another profitable venture and we
could provide more employment opportunities to poor people in this area.
Developing an industry of this nature in our country at a time we are
facing a global crisis will greatly benefit the people, he said.
Elaborating on the statistics of footwear requirement in the country, he
said that our country needs about three million pairs of heels per year
based on our population which costs 30-40 dollar cents each. All this
money could be saved if the industry is protected.
Asked about the challenges he faced at present, he said that the
cheap imported footwear coming to the market illegally is the main
Despite all these challenges, he is determined to make his brand
Genelle the best known in Sri Lanka and abroad.
IT/BPO industry to support ‘Year of English and ICT’
The Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies, SLASSCOM
the unified national IT/BPO industry association will support the
presidential initiative to enhance the IT and English literacy in the
country by providing computer facilities to one-hundred rural schools, a
media release from SLASSCOM said.
The ‘Year of English and IT’ has been launched as a major initiative
of the Government to help Sri Lanka meet the demands of the 21st century
in skills and capacity, making the availability as a life skill for the
President Mahinda Rajapaksa said his Government lays emphasis on the
unmistakable need to urgently equip the people, especially the youth,
with proficiency in the English language on the one side and to provide
them with access to computers and internet facilities, through the rapid
development of use of information technology, on the other.
“I pledge the total commitment of my Government to accelerated action
to widen the knowledge of English and IT in Sri Lanka, and look to this
Year of English and IT to lay the groundwork for tangible success in
these vital fields for the progress of Sri Lanka,” the President told
the event organized to launch the Year of English and IT.
Chairman SLASSCOM Ranjit Fernando said, “The presidential initiative
is a very timely and absolutely crucial initiative to lead the country
towards a knowledge driven society.
IT literacy and English language competence are essential for success
in the future. We are delighted to be part of this initiative and pledge
to support the national objective of 50% IT literacy in the country”.
Fernando coordinates the IT initiative of the Presidential Task Force
set up to drive the “Year of English and IT” initiative of the
Leading IT/BPO companies such as Intel, Virtusa, Microsoft, Dialog,
JKCS, hSenid, Amba Research, Eurocenter, IFS, WNS and many SLASSCOM
member companies have proactively initiated diverse Corporate Social
Responsibility programs giving impetus to the rural schools and the
educational system to support an IT literate future.
SLASSCOM acts as a catalyst of growth of the Sri Lankan IT and BPO
industry by facilitating trade and business, propagation of education
and employment, encouragement of research and innovation, and by
supporting the creation of a progressive national policy framework, the
AP Enterprise Software Market to reach $30b by 2012
The Enterprise Software market in Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ)
is estimated to grow from US$18.2 Billion in 2008 to US$30 Billion in
This represents a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.1%
during this period, says the latest research report titled “Different
Hues of Growth: Enterprise Software Market and Forecast 2007-2012 by
Springboard Research, a leading innovator in the IT Market Research
Key findings from the report released put China and Australia as the
largest software markets in the region with China the fastest growing at
a CAGR of 17.7%, nearly double of Australia’s rate of 9.1%.
India will surpass South Korea by 2011 to become the third largest
Enterprise Software market; ultimately representing 15.6% of total APEJ
market spending by 2012.
A shortage of IT skills, insufficient local vendor presence and
software piracy are among the leading market inhibitors.
The report adds that because of the ongoing financial crisis, there
will be a slowdown in infrastructure projects involving large middleware
licence sales over the next two to three years. However, Springboard
does not expect dramatic drops in IT spending, particularly ongoing
Enterprise Software-related spending linked to multi-year
“Enterprise-wide SOA initiatives that are not directly linked to
well-defined, measurable business imperatives will be far tougher to
justify in the current economic climate,” Barnes said.
India eases restrictions on import of toys from China
Within less than six weeks of banning the entry of Chinese toys into
India, the government eased restrictions on their imports, a decision
the Indian toy industry said will not have impact on the domestic
According to a Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT)
notification, toys conforming to international health safety standards
can be imported from China.
The government on January 23 banned the import of toys from China on
According to the notification, the import of toys from China will be
allowed if they conform to the standards prescribed in “ASTM F963” or
“ISO 8124 (parts I-III) or IS 9873 (parts I-III)”. These regulations
deal primarily with safety and health hazards.
Beijing had expressed its concern to Indian authorities over the ban.
Chinese officials could not be immediately contacted for their
comments on the government’s decision to ease import restrictions. A
response to a fax to the Chinese embassy in the capital is still
Toys Association of India President Raj Kumar said, “They (the
government) lifted the ban but it is conditional. It will have no effect
on the Indian industry”.