A Sri Lankan Woman’s Story on Conquering the Local Market Share Fashionably

Speeches Shim

Thursday, March 12, 2020
Local women busy at work in Rajika Priyangani’s apparel factory in Sri Lanka.
Credit: USAID

The social impact beyond the big bucks

With less than $3, a passion for sewing, and a childhood dream, 44-year-old Rajika Priyangani from southern Sri Lanka embarked on a journey to earn a little extra money for her family. That was in 2000. Today, she is the owner of an ISO-certified apparel business called Hiru Fashion, producing more than 55,000 pieces per month for the domestic market and employing more than 175 from the local community.

In 2018, Rajika’s business was awarded third place at the National Productivity Awards, and in 2019 Rajika won the best entrepreneur award. Hiru Fashion also received international certification from Great Place to Work Institute™, a global authority on workplace culture. Rajika’s successful business, and the awards, are a huge achievement for a business that started from scratch.

It all started when Rajika decided to try out what she knew best — sewing — to supplement her household’s income and help out her husband, Indunil Ruwanpathirana. She designed the clothes, shopped for fabric, cut the fabric, and sewed shorts. Her husband sold the clothing at the weekly village fair.

Soon demand for Rajika’s creations started growing. As time passed, she had to seek help from her extended family to meet demand. Then, as business continued to grow, she hired people from her neighborhood. Within a few years, every spare inch in her home was part of the sewing business. This is how Hiru Fashion was born.

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