The six founders showcased on Demo Day included Ba.La.Mu Founder Shenuka Umagiliya, Leo the Label Founder Sashini Jinasena, BlueFish Founder Bhagya Sandakalum, Miris by IslandMom Founder Shivani Tyronne, Lactoboost by Spice Carriage Founder Lasni Silva and True by Tina Founder Tina Lobo
Sri Lanka’s first accelerator program tailored for the country’s female founders, AccelerateHER, recently held its finale event ‘Demo Day’.
The program’s six recent graduates presented their products and services and pitched for the opportunity to receive investment and support from partners in Sri Lanka, USA and other parts of the world in effectively taking their business towards global markets.
The event last week featured female founders in industries that included tourism, baby and mother care, sustainable fashion and food. These six founders spent the last three months going through a rapid and immersive business acceleration program, working with industry mentors, business advisors and subject matter experts.
When Hatch launched ‘AccelerateHER’ in collaboration with the US Department of State in November 2021, it was intended as an accelerator and gender-based awareness-raising initiative, aimed at developing women entrepreneurs within the country.
“When the US began this partnership with Hatch to start the AccelerateHER program last year, we envisioned that women entrepreneurs would reap the benefits. Their success is now our success, and I can’t think of a better investment,” said US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie J. Chung, on Demo Day.
Aside from the US Department of State, the program was supported by outreach partners, including the Daily FT, Diversity collective, Youlead, WEconnect International, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, TNL, and Arteculate.
The six founders showcased on Demo Day included Ba.La.Mu Founder Shenuka Umagiliya, Leo the Label Founder Sashini Jinasena, BlueFish Founder Bhagya Sandakalum, Miris by IslandMom Founder Shivani Tyronne, Lactoboost by Spice Carriage Founder Lasni Silva and True by Tina Founder Tina Lobo. Hatch provided each of these female founders a platform to access the skills and resources needed to scale their businesses.
AccelerateHER’s women entrepreneurs benefited from Hatch’s mentors and experts who have deep industry, investment, and entrepreneurship knowledge from having worked across all stages of a startup.
This collective experience, together with that of Hatch’s growing list of female alumni, is aimed at helping these female founders overcome gender-specific nuances that prevent women from succeeding in business through peer-to-peer learning, to become investor-ready.
The program allows a selected number of women entrepreneurs and their startups to take part in the three-month initiative, giving them the opportunity to collaborate and co-create together with the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem while also enhancing their knowledge and uplifting their businesses.
Hatch Co-Founder/CEO Brindha Selvadurai said: “Global studies show that businesses with women founders raise more money and build better results. Yet, women often dismiss entrepreneurship as an option due to its impact on their family lives and its high risk.
“However, these six talented women entrepreneurs have demonstrated that despite harsh economic conditions, with hard work and creativity you can exceed your wildest expectations for yourself. We hope that AccelerateHER continues to be an important catalyst for higher female labour force participation in Sri Lanka.”
According to the Program Director for the accelerator program, Minuri Adasuriya, these female founders are a great example of what is possible with a true entrepreneurial mindset, being agile, pivoting and resilience to overcome the challenges we have today.
“In three short months, our AccelerateHER female founders secured 17 partnerships both strategic and retail partnerships worth well over 20 million rupees. Five out of the six teams doubled their product lines and increased quantities by 100%. 70% of teams doubled their sales and revenue and 90% expanded their teams, making them employers for the first time ever and creating jobs in the economy,” said Adasuriya at the event.
The event also confirmed that Hatch will further conduct island-wide boot camps in 2022, from August to November. These boot camps will be an extension of the two-year AccelerateHER programs, with modules covering key stages of business development and empowering female entrepreneurs.
A major focus of these bootcamps will be placed on supporting women-owned businesses that are economically and sustainably viable. The boot camps will take place in areas such as Colombo, Galle, Kandy, Kurunegala, Batticaloa, and Jaffna.
For more information about the program and upcoming boot camps, visit accelerateher.asia/accelerateher-bootcamp.
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