Written by Tharushan Fernando
25 Dec, 2016 | 10:01 am
Ms. Nilushika Jayaweera came to Singapore in 2001 to work as a maid.And 15 years later, she has made her mark as an entrepreneur.
The 36-year-old buys tea leaves from gardens in Sri Lanka and boxes them for sale to around 500 international customers. She returned to Singapore recently to join a growing list of inspirational speakers on the TED Talks circuit. Other speakers have included tech giant Bill Gates, former United States vice-president Al Gore and researcher Jane Goodall.
Ms. Nilushika, who was invited to speak at TEDxSingapore on Oct. 29 this year at Capital Tower, was an orphan and was forced to leave her four siblings in order to find work to support them. Ms. Nilushika highlighted the work of Aidha, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Singapore that mainly teaches maids how to manage their money and start businesses. The money generated from the tea business helped her start her own NGO a few months ago and she is now teaching women in her village how to start small businesses such as pig farming, dressmaking and spice-packing so as to lead independent lives.
“Learning the skills from the courses created more choices and possibilities for me. I began to realise that education and empowerment are key to a brighter future for women,” Ms Nilushika said in her speech.
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