Samanthi Ratnayake: Samanthi loves being involved with creative and innovative processes that benefit communities–especially women from marginalized households. Ratnayake began her career as a women-entrepreneur after PUM Netherlands gave her the opportunity to study dairying at the Practical Training Center. After earning the First Runner-Up award at the National Best Start-Up Entrepreneur competition in 2005, she won a grant from the BiD Network Challenge for her business proposal. In 2007, Samanthi established a “milk ring” for women in her area to collect milk and produce cheese more efficiently. Her organization, Lili Dairy, pays the highest farm rate price and puts cash directly into the hands of rural women. In recognition of her accomplishments, Samanthi was invited to present her success story at the National Livestock Convention in 2011.
Lili Dairy: Lili Dairy exists to help women in rural Sri Lanka generate their own income and move out of poverty. Our goal is to get a milk cow, along with veterinary and support services, to women in 50 rural villages across the country. A village with 500 cows can produce 8.6 metric tons of cheese annually and create an extra $500,000 in income. By organizing and training women, Lili Dairy helps build self-confidence in women and provides income for rural families in a sustainable and scalable way.
UPDATE: Since attending the Unreasonable Institute, Lili Dairy has converted their business into a limited liability company with another two share holders from Srilanka and an investment of LKR 6 million that paved the way to start cheddar cheese production and expand their marketing network by appointing a distributor. They are looking forward to establishing their brand LILI as a prominent cheese supplier in Srilanka with the help and support of their board of directors:
- Chairman- Mr Sunil Rodrigo
- Managing Director- Samanthi Ratnayake
- Director- Ms Natalie Cooray
- Director- Mr Tilak Cooray
For more information visit Lili Dairy‘s website. Congratulations Samanthi & the team at Lili Dairy!