In Sri Lanka’s Northern Jaffna District, a region ravaged by 30 years of war and unrest, Prinson Thuraiaiya’s unique brass foundry business (producing castings from waste metal) encompasses entrepreneurial spirit, sustainability and a positive social mission.
This is Prinson’s story….
I was born into a poor family. I keenly engaged in school education hoping to one day enter a position in government. However, unfortunately due to the desperate state of my family, I had to give up my studies when I was 16, and I found work in a foundry close to my house as an Assistant.
I am not quite sure if it is a gift from God, but I could learn and master the techniques of foundry technology within a very short period of time, and I acquired the skills of designing moulds for several kinds of products.
This experience, combined with my abilities, awakened in me a real desire to start up my own foundry. But when I expressed my idea to my family, their response was not very motivating. However, a close friend gave me great encouragement and confidence. He used to say, “Prinson, start a foundry. I will be helping you always.”
This is how I came to start a small brass foundry in my house. I worked hard and strived to expand my business. I approached many banks for funding but no banks were prepared to grant me a loan.
At this point I came to know about Youth Business International member, Youth Business Sri Lanka (YBSL). I received a $500-loan from YBSL and I gained access to key markets – I was therefore able to grow and expand my business.
I also received immense mentoring support that cannot be found anywhere else. I had discussions with my mentor every week and it helped me very much to move my business along the correct path. I would like to give important advice to young entrepreneurs from my own experience: good mentoring support is essential for success in business ventures.
Today I produce between 200 and 250 brass items per month using waste metal (around 1,000kg per month is collected and recycled) and discarded engine oil – thus avoiding environmental pollution. My foundry – which employs 5 full-time employees and supports around 20 others – supplies the Jaffna peninsula and its suburbs with products.
I never miss an opportunity to take part in workshops, seminars and training programmes organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Yarlpanam of which I am now a member. I also exhibit my products in exhibitions organized at district and national levels.
I always highly value the opinions and expectations of my customers. They help me to improve the quality of my products. I am planning to expand my foundry business even further and start producing cast-iron and aluminium products. Thus I am willing to contribute my share to the Gross Domestic Product of my country.
Prinson Thuraiaiya is a Finalist for Youth Business International’s overall title of “Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013”. He will be arriving in London next week and will participate in the YBI Global Summit (9th – 12th September) which culminates in the Young Entrepreneur Awards. Read more about Prinson’s enterprise journey here: http://www.youthbusiness.org/case-studies/prinson-thuraiaiya/