Wijayangani and her husband Saman Bandara make a great team running a woodwork business in Sri Lanka. Saman is a carpenter and creates windows, doors and furniture and Wijayangani manages the creative side of it; carefully carving out intricate floral designs.
They started the business in 2012 with the help of a microfinance loan from VisionFund. The first loan was about US $140 and it helped them purchase basic tools like chisels and handsaws and set up a small work space at the back of their home. Another loan of US $560 helped purchase machinery to cut, drill and sand the wood. As the business grew, they were able to slowly build a house of their own.
Wijayangani wants to purchase a machine to help her carve the wood, since she currently does this by hand. It takes her nearly four hours to carve a single panel of wood. “I used to do art in school,” she says, and she has now found a way to transfer that passion to help the family earn a living.
Their daughter Dilmi is 12. She is not interested in drawing but loves to dance. Their son Sajith is 19 and has just finished school; he hopes to continue his education and achieve a degree in Commerce.
The family is always busy and has a photocopy and laminating machine to cater to the needs of school children; and they own an acre of land where they grow coconuts to sell. They are also involved in a lot of village charity work; everything from canine vaccination programmes to village meetings/programmes take place at their house.
With the help of microfinance loans, hardworking small-business owners like Wijayangani and her husband have the financial support needed to create livelihoods using their talents to provide income.
Written by Megali Nanayakkara, Network Communications & Social Media Manager, VisionFund International