Craftsman – Monaragala
I thank Merrill J. Fernando for tapping into the growth potential of craftsmen like me through the Small Entrepreneurs Programme.
I used to be a driver by profession. In 2001, I met with an unfortunate accident and became wheelchair-bound. I did multiple jobs from home to earn a living but I eventually got bored and tired of doing monotonous work.
Since I have a knack for making things, I always wanted to do a job that would allow me to experiment with my creativity. That’s how I got into crafting coconut shell ornaments. The oil lamp is my best creation so far. It took me more than 3 months to complete this piece of art entirely out of coconut shells. I carefully source the natural materials we need from our Province. The coconuts I purchase from go into oil production and we use the remaining shells for crafts. This way, I get the maximum yield from coconuts and generate more profit. When I work, I always strive to minimise waste while maintaining an approach to sustainability. The add-ons I use for my crafts are mostly made with waste-wood. I have won multiple awards for my creations. In 2016, The MJF Foundation’s Small Entrepreneurs Programme recognised my talent and offered me a grant to purchase a lathe machine for my workshop. The new addition allowed me to create more intricate designs with wood and shells. I also received a slipper strap moulding machine to branch out my businesses further. I am constructing a separate unit next to my house that will serve as a workshop and boutique. I do all my manufacturing and take bespoke requests. Currently, I have 150 coconut shell crafts that I regularly supply to the local market. I have
4 men in my workshop and my wife supports me in many ways to market and sell my products at exhibitions.
I put a lot of discipline, dedication into my craft and always try to use elements in the most unexpected ways to create something new and different. I thank Merrill J. Fernando for tapping into the growth potential of craftsmen like me through the Small Entrepreneurs Programme. The support I received from SEP enabled me to channel my artistic sensibilities into a product that is valued and appreciated in the market.
"I thank Merrill J. Fernando for tapping into the growth potential of craftsmen like me through the Small Entrepreneurs Programme."