Krishnaveni Jeganathan is 23 years old and manages an innovative, multi-faceted business. Based on her creativity and enthusiasm, the success of her business is not unexpected, but the location of the business comes as a bit of a surprise. Krishnaveni’s lives and works on Abbotsleigh Estate, a tea plantation community in central Sri Lanka. Not the usual location for a dynamic young female entrepreneur. Many people living in and around plantations live in isolation and do not have access to needed financial services including opening bank accounts, applying for credit or taking out loans. Women especially are unaware of how to earn and save money for themselves and their families.
But this young entrepreneur has been able to capitalize on business training and has seen the economic opportunities in complementary enterprises thanks to WUSC’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment program. Krishnaveni grew up on a tea plantation. Her mother gave up her work as a tea plucker due to ill health. Krishnaveni’s father drives a three wheeler at night, taking plantation residents to the nearby town of Hatton. Krishnaveni seemed destined for the low wage, physically demanding work of a tea plucker.
Krishnaveni started to blossom when she discovered her interest in floraculture and business. WUSC and its local partner, Sevalanka, were offering entrepreneurial training to women living on the plantation. Krishnaveni had studied floraculture previously and Through WUSC’s program, she was able to couple her technical expertise with business training. The WUSC training taught her how to develop a business plan, a marketing strategy and identify potential clients.
WUSC’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment program, funded by British Asian Trust, also provided Krishnaveni with financial literacy and enhanced her leadership and communication skills. Word of mouth quickly spread and Krishnaveni’s small home-based business started to grow. She engaged her family in the work, with her father picking up supplies and her mother caring for the seedlings.
Krishnaveni’s marketing strategy was creative. She understood the needs of the community, providing garlands for ceremonies, meeting with young women planning weddings and delivering flowers to the local crèche. Through word of mouth advertising, Krishnaveni became the preferred local flower supplier for weddings on Abbotsleigh Estate.
Beautiful brides need more than flowers on their special day. Recognizing that fact, Krishnaveni also took beauty culture and photography training. She has an inventory of wedding jewelry that can also be rented for pictures or the actual ceremony. A visit to Krishnaveni’s business is one stop shopping for make-up, flowers, jewelry and pictures to capture the beauty of the bride-to-be.
Profits are small for now, but growing. Krishnaveni’s best month so far brought in Rs. 25,000 /$453 CAD, which is more than twice the wage of an experienced tea plucker.