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More than half of the population in Sri Lanka are women. Their participation in economic
actives has been limited to several job sectors such as apparel industry and foreign labour.
Encouraging women to engage in entrepreneurial activity is one good way to increase their
participation in economic activities and will result in the improvement in their standard of
living. Women Entrepreneurs has become a hot topic in the country at present. Therefore,
understanding the problems women entrepreneurs face, factors that limit their contribution
towards the economy of the country and factors contributing to the success of women
entrepreneurs is of utmost importance. The easiest way to do this task is by studying on
practical cases, life work of Sri Lankan women entrepreneurs. This article is a comprehensive
study of a Sri Lankan woman entrepreneur.

Passion, innovation and thinking out of the box could change a persons fate. Janet Balasuriya
is a well-known woman entrepreneur in Sri Lanka. She has earned her a unique place in Sri
Lankan beauty-care industry and cosmetic production industry. The pioneering efforts of Janet
Balasuriya at a time when hair and beauty care industry was not famous in Sri Lanka were
Janet was a self-made business entrepreneur. She had never studied in a university or in an
institute of higher education just to add a few credentials to her CV and gain recognition as a
qualified professional in fields like engineering, business management, sales, marketing or
advertising. By using only her born talent of business, she ventured into the business world
where bribery and corruption, political patronage ruled. Playing by ear and facing numerous
challenges she made her mark in the domain of Beauty Culture and to become a celebrity,
winning awards like the best Female Entrepreneur of the year The popular brand- name
"Janet" became a household word in the field of herbal cosmetics throughout the length and
breadth of Sri Lanka. Janet products are making headway export market.
She was courageous enough to storm into a male dominated entrepreneurial sector and also to
the Sri Lankan beauty culture industry which was not an organized industry when she entered.
Many have followed her footsteps and her name was placed over vast number of significant
hair dressers and beauticians across the country. She had been in this industry for a very long
time and it is more than 50 years. She made Janet a world famous brand-name in beauty-care
and cosmetics through her endless efforts. She passed away in 2014.

Early Life
Janet Balasuriya was born to a catholic family at Koralawella, Moratuwa. She was the daughter
of Moses Silva who was a well-known social worker. She had been passionate about beauty
care when she was a little girl. She tried out various beauty and fashion tips on her sisters. This
got her to dress-up her elder sister on her wedding day with the help of other sisters.
She met a beautician named Vidya Kanagatungam at a function, Vidya was into beauty-care
and she owned a beauty salon and a beauty academy. Vidya took Janet under her wings. This
was a major turning point of Janets life. Janet studied and practiced beauty care for two years.
Later Vidya left the country and her salon and beauty academy was handed over to her best
student; Janet.

Personal life
Janet was a mother of five children. When her five children were small she dedicated time for
them personally attending to their needs. Her mother helped her immensely and this gave her
the opportunity to improve the business. She was a great-grandmother when she passed away
and she was happy that she was able to enjoy life to the fullest. Her sons are taking care of the
business now. Also one of her granddaughters has become an international award winning hair
dresser. She prioritized her work and allocate time accordingly. She had been in the business
for the more than past 50 years and had ensured that balance is maintained between work and
personal life.

Life as a Beautician
She worked in her salon from 1961. She would usually put make-up on her customers and dress
their hair. Also she spent her time training girls who wanted to be beauticians. While working
she had to use various beauty-care and cosmetic products from various countries. Some of the
products were quite expensive. This was when she got an idea to produce her own beauty-care
products. So, she started looking into natural plants which were used in beauty-care in old days.
Also within this time she understood that if she could market the herbal products with a
reference to Ayurveda she could succeed.

Line of Business
Janet has become a household name today synonymous with beauty-care and beauty products.
The business grew with the passion she had to dress well and also make others beautiful. This
proves to be a turning point in her life. She furthered her knowledge by going to England to
study hair dressing and beauty culture and also to India for further training. On her return she
started manufacturing her own brand after intense experiment. She started a factory at Panadura
and it was the production base and from there onwards her venture progressed rapidly. The
products became popular in international markets too and she first launched in Kuwait followed
by Dubai and Bombay. She also ventured into colour cosmetic production.

Beauty Culture Academy

The Janet Academy of Beauty Culture and Hair Dressing can be considered as a is a result of
interest shown by women of various age groups to gather a good knowledge on the subject of
beauty-care, cosmetic product development and beauty-care treatment. Janets academy has
become a provider of high level training for hair dressers and beauticians. Many courses are
offered at Janets academy. Diplomas and Certificates on various aspects of beauty care
industry are offered to students in-order to provide opportunities for a long term professional
path in the beauty care field.
Classes are conducted in both English and Sinhala medium at the academy which is situated at
Ward Place, Colombo 7. Several study options are provided for students, so that they can
choose their courses according to their preference and availability of time. These options
include the two semester Diploma in Hair Dressing and the Diploma in Beauty Culture. Also

these two areas of study may be done simultaneously as well. This enables the students to
complete their courses in a very short period of time where they can master all the necessary
The basic courses offer cover all theoretical and practical aspects, including salon fundamentals
and salon management. Hair Dressing Diploma is consisted with various modern techniques
of hair care including hair treatments, styling hair for both long hair and short hair, creative
design, straightening, colouring, cutting, perming, etc. Beauty Culture covers various theory
and practical aspects regarding skin and beauty care. This includes skin analysis, make-up
techniques, hair-removal techniques, manicure & pedicure, corrective make up, product
knowledge, facial treatments. A special feature of these courses is that only Janet products are
used in practical cases.

Some western cosmetic brands do refine herbal extracts, which may make them more pleasant
to use, but some essential properties are stripped away in the process. Janets products only use
fresh extracts straight from the plant. The percentage of herbal content is thus much higher than
in western cosmetics. Janet products contain no synthetic colours, animal fats or alcohol. Janet
products are sold in Australia, Canada, Dubai, The Maldives, Pakistan, India, China and
France. She had sold more in India than anywhere else. So it is good to say that Janets products
have been penetrating the Indian market.
It is evident that all her work has paid off well nourishing the needs of local women by
presenting a wide range of products which can be used without any side effects, a fact that her
range of products have proved over the long years.
In addition to her highly successful endeavour in Sri Lanka Janet Balasuriya has promoted
internationally, the concept of traditional ayurvedic and herbal beauty care, making
presentations at numerous conferences, trade fairs, on television shows and through the print
media globally. As a result, the lady is one of the most sought after speakers on the subject and
is invited to do so at various functions both here and abroad.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Janet had higher concerns on her responsibility towards the society. She held many workshops
for Sri Lankan women in all most all the district. She also held workshops for the dealers and
other sales personnel. Also through her academy she has produced more than 6000 beauticians.
She always gave away free scholarships for young, energetic girls who are interested in beauty
care industry. There are more than 300 employees in her companies.
Also all the plant matter needed for the production purposes are obtained locally. This has
indirectly created many job opportunities for the people.


She was awarded the much coveted Priyadharshini award for ayurvedic and herbal care
in the year 2000.
She became the 'WCIC Women Entrepreneur of the Year' Overall Gold Award in the
year 2000 presented by Women's Chamber of Industries and Commerce of Sri Lanka,
She got 'Wella Award 2000' which was a tribute for her 40 years of serving the Hair
and Beauty Culture industry,
'Achievers Award 2002' presented by the Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs of
India. She was one of the two Sri Lankans to receive this this award.
The Star Group Award of USA for the 'Leading Women Entrepreneur' of the World in
2003 as one of the 40 leading woman entrepreneurs in the world. This was presented
by the Prime Minister of Bermuda.
The Prodat Golden award for women in business in 2003 in Geneva.
The 'International Quality Crown' award in London in 2006.

Above given is a small portion of a very long list of awards. Though she is not here
anymore, her company is still in the run for numerous awards.

Current Status
The venture has grown into a group of companies as at today under the names of

Janet Ayurvedic (Pvt) Ltd

Janet Aromatique (Pvt) Ltd
Janet Salons and Spa (Pvt) Ltd
Janet Cosmetics (Pvt) Ltd
Janet Academy of Hair and Beauty
Janet Institute of Ayurveda

All her companies develop with the growing technology. They use the latest technology in
extracting the necessary ingredients from the plant matter while preventing any possibilities of
contamination. Janets products can be bought from pharmacies in every nook and corner in
the country. Other than the typical beauty care products and treatments her companies are doing
ayurvedic treatments with the help of ayurvedic professionals. Her company has prepared an
ointment which repels mosquitos.
She had many competitors in business. Nature secrets,4ever, Vendol, Siddhalepa brands were
main competitors. She never envied her competitors. Below given was her comment on the
competitors in an interview.
I get on very well with others in the same business and am not jealous of anyone. I would
advise aspiring young beauticians to love people, give to people only what is good and
necessary for them, for their different skin types. Money should never be the prime concern.
You must develop your own personality and help others to do so too. Be truthful and honest
with everyone and stick to the straight path"

Contributory Factors for A Woman Entrepreneur to Be Successful

Contributory factors for a woman entrepreneur is represented by the below given diagram.

Let us discuss each of the factors one by one related to our case.
Early childhood experiences
A common characteristic of women who have made it to the top in corporate, professional and
public life and how they achieved their success is backed up by their early childhood
experiences. It is a revealed fact that early experience of coping independently with the
environment generates a strong sense of competence and self-confidence in the successful
women. When referring to Janets interviews with various media persons it was a clear fact
that he spent a happy childhood exploring the world of beauty which she was passionate about.
Psychological Characteristics
Successful female entrepreneurs exhibit psychological characteristics such as: high level of
self-confidence, passion about work, determination, smart work, hard work, creating a position
for themselves, superior quality output and the love for their work. Janet had displayed most
of the above mentioned characteristics. She also exhibited psychological characteristics such
as strong attitudinal and personal skills. She was very ambitious to succeed conquering all
difficulties that came in her way and also was very deterministic in achieving goals and targets
she set for herself.
Janet has been found to exhibit entrepreneurial competencies such as: strong communication
skills with her proficiency in the core business of beauty care, attributed her success to the
quality of her output which was rated better than her competitors, conditioned by her hard work
and dedication to achieve success, strong managerial capabilities which she gained through
teaching in a academy and working at her own salon over the early years, ability to pursue
opportunities through mobilization of resources.

Formal and Informal learning

Janet had a formal learning about the industry by her mentor Vidya, from England and India.
She also had a fair share of informal learning through dealing with society. We know society
itself is a great educational institute as mentioned by the late President Mr. Ranasinghe
External Support
Janet received her first support from her mentor Vidya. She got a salon and an academy. Also
when Janet improved little by little media supported her. I remember that she conducted many
of her programs on Rupavahini in mornings. Sufficient information was not found on how she
collected money to start her business, but it is all right to think that she had support from her
family since she was from a wealthy family.
Also it is good to analyze this case study with the common women. This will hopefully give us
an idea about the reasons for lack of women in business and economic activities and even if
they are in business but not successful. When we consider the above mention contributory facts
that a woman entrepreneurs have in-order to become successful following facts were found to
be true.
Most of women in rural areas does not have a good family background. They spend harsh
childhoods. Most of them suffer from poverty which hinder their education and hinder their
ability to improve their thinking ability. However, Sri Lankan women do possess strong
psychological characteristics. Sri Lankan women are energetic. They lack competencies due to
the lack of education. Also they are exploited in many ways since the society is a male dominant
one. Also typical Sri Lankan women lack guidance and external support to enhance their
entrepreneurial skills.

Her Advice for women entrepreneurs

This advice was given by her in one of her interviews to a paper.
Womanhood is not a drawback. Have courage to venture into different fields. There is
untapped potential in abundance. Identify them and unleash them for the countrys benefit.
Provide solid education to your children as education is the gateway for a bright future. They
should be brought up to respect values and culture. Have faith in God and you will never fail.

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