As a rural teacher, Ladushan saw the lack of opportunities he had struggled with repeatedly in his students’ lives. With BOOKBRIDGE support he is opening a community training and co-working centre to give them new space to follow their dreams.
“I aim to develop the people’s skills and knowledge in their chosen fields to become entrepreneurs, rather than employees.” This is Ladushan’s vision.
Ladushan’s journey hasn’t been effortless. He sacrificed his higher education by choosing to stay in Nuwara Eliya, where he had limited opportunities to develop personally or professionally. However, Ladushan joined the Bridgebuilder Family when he participated in the BOOKBRIDGE Startup Camp organized by BOOKBRIDGE Sri Lanka, and is now making his dream a reality. His project Grow is a major step for BOOKBRIDGE Sri Lanka towards strengthening entrepreneurship among young adults.
“This region is known in Sri Lanka for agriculture and tourism. Locals are losing out to outsiders on job opportunities because they lack the skills needed in these sectors. It is time for us to support this community to flourish.” – Sujitha Miranda, Country Manager, Sri Lanka
Ladushan is only 26 years old and has big plans for himself and his community. Together with a team of professionals, he founded Grow, a hub for future entrepreneurs in his home town of Nuwara Eliya. Grow’s mission is to build a better, more sustainable future for youth through social involvement and entrepreneurial development.
Before becoming a social entrepreneur, Ladushan was a high school teacher in a well-respected international NGO that supports rural communities in developing English language skills. Working here, Ladushan gained deeper insight into the region’s challenges. He sees his own struggles being repeated in his students. They face difficulties in getting education, and often have to give up their dreams for low-wage jobs that offer few prospects. “Coming from the Nuwara Eliya community, I have faced many challenges to achieve my dreams,” he says. “I didn't have opportunities to develop my skills or continue my studies. I envision myself supporting future generations to live inclusively in our community and improve their quality of life.”
Ladushan, share three things people should know about you.
I was a principal and an English teacher with big entrepreneurial dreams!
I consider myself to be someone who knows how to set priorities to meet the deadline with excellent outcomes.
A good cup of tea helps me to overcome my stress.
Why did you decide to apply as a social entrepreneur for BOOKBRIDGE’s Capability Program?
I was so inspired by the mission and the achievements of BOOKBRIDGE. My goal is to make a positive impact in my community, my wish is to help others to accomplish their aspirations.
What challenges would you like to tackle in your community?
In Nuwara Eliya, young people find it difficult to continue their studies. There is no higher institution that can solve this problem. So I would like to provide an opportunity for them to continue their studies and pursue career aspirations, as well as helping them to become entrepreneurs.
The students who finish Ordinary Levels and Advanced Levels, at 16-20 years old, have few opportunities to continue studying and to achieve their professional goals. Their only option is traveling to Kandy, 35km away.
Nuwara Eliya is well known for welcoming national and international tourists, but locals have few chances to develop themselves in tourism. Employers argue that they lack the relevant qualifications to work as front office staff, guest relations staff or managers. As a result, most of the highly qualified workforce in tourism comes from Colombo.
My vision is to offer growth and career opportunities by providing vocational training and a well-equipped community workspace, enabling young people here to build their futures.
You started a six-month learning journey with a team of professionals and local counterparts; now your vision has turned into a reality. How has this program changed you professionally and personally?
I have benefited from the collaboration with 13 amazing international team members. I am also able to improve further professionally by attending coaching sessions with them, which has helped me to improve my skills for day-to-day operations. I’ve learned so much about marketing and finance. Personally, I am very proud of my team. They have been supportive, friendly and open-minded. During our learning experience, I was exposed to different types of personalities and working styles, and encouraged to strive for excellence. I am learning how to work in an international context; for example, punctuality plays an important role – this is a good habit I am learning from my team.
Where do you see yourself and your social enterprise in one year?
Grow will be promoted well among the community, with a well established reputation. We will be familiar with the dynamic situation of entrepreneurial life. We will make progress in our course offering and the co-working space, so that after a year, Grow will be an open venue for our young people.
Thank you Ladushan for sharing your story with us. We are proud that you are part of our BOOKBRIDGE Family!