Illanga Karunaratne

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Words : Indika Madapatha Sellahewa
Photos : Nirmala Dhananjaya

A woman entrepreneur with vision and drive, who encouraged her husband to start a now multi-million rupee business with no financial resources to startup a business and no financial support. Her perseverance and hard work paid off. Now Impra Teas is one of the largest tea exporters in the country, among their other businesses.

Mrs. Karunaratne, please tell Lanka Woman readers about your start in career as a management trainee and then moving up the ladder of the corporate world.

Immediately after my studies, I was very keen to start work. I got an opportunity to work in a company, which was at that time one with outstanding performance in the export trade. I was asked to work in the accounts division and instantly I felt that was my most suited career path and was very keen to work in that environment. At the same time, I started learning to become a professional in that area. I got married in 1981 and my frist son was born in 1983. I was able to continue working because of the strong support from my parents in taking care of him, but after my second son was born in 1989, I stopped working to lessen the burden on my parents and also because I wanted to spend more time with my sons, supporting their education and school activities etc.
In 1994, my husband Jayantha had an idea to set up a company to process, manufacture and export tea. Personally, I believe I’m someone with a strong drive so I encouraged him to start this operation and volunteered to look after the accounts of the company. Initially we had very little to almost no finances to start the business, but after approaching a number of avenues we were lucky enough to obtain a loan from a finance company to start purchasing tea and materials for packing. It was a very challenging period as we only had a few people working with us. So with very limited resources we began our journey by packing and shipping tea in bulk and packet forms and before we knew it, our company began to grow rapidly and within a short span Imperial Teas (Pvt) Ltd. became ranked among the Top 10 Largest Exporters of Tea in Sri Lanka. To this day, I believe that the positivity and futuristic thinking of us and our people despite the many challenges faced is what drives the business to its success. We are now a group of companies and I continue to look after the finances of the current group.

Please click on the link below to read full article.,

https://www.magzter.com/LK/Wijeya-Newspapers-Ltd./Lanka-Woman/Women’s-Interest/

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