Empowering aspiring entrepreneurs 

  • Creative Isle’s CAN Weekend Market Phase II launches at One Galle Face Mall 

The Creative Isle CAN Market Phase II just launched at One Galle Face (OGF) on Saturday (23) after one year of successfully promoting and creating new opportunities for small business owners across the island. The past year provided opportunities for many entrepreneurs and the standing success stories of such vendors are many. Phase II of the same initiative has now been launched at the OGFl, facilitating more small business owners to grow their ventures in the urban market. This is a golden opportunity created for yet another 60-plus vendors at the OGF, every weekend. 

Colombo Mayoress Rosy Senanayake presented with a bouquet of flowers 

The launch of Phase II of the CAN Market at the OGF was patronised by many iconic personalities such as Colombo Mayoress Rosy Senanayake, who viewed the vendor displays spread across three levels in the mall. 

Artisans and micro businesses are the backbone of Sri Lanka’s rural economy. This segment contributes to the national economy through exports and tourism-related urban buying trends. Yet, as the world faces unprecedented times, most small business owners are fast losing hope and sidelining their visionary ideas; for most of them, remaining above waters amid this catastrophe appears an inconceivable assignment. 

The CAN Weekend Market provides a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs, thus creating business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) opportunities so these small businesses can grow their businesses at lucrative venues. Creative Isle’s main goal is to empower partner vendors with opportunities to take their products and ideas to the next level, through various partnership collaborations with corporate bodies and institutions, providing access to industry expertise and related services. Their hope is to push great products and services to the forefront of helping Sri Lanka revive its economy. 

Vendors at CAN Market 

Speaking to Creative Isle Initiative and CAN Market Founder Keshini Ann Suraweera, she commented that the CAN Market works with some of the most resilient artisans and entrepreneurs from around Sri Lanka. “As our initiative grows, we hope to feature as many home-grown talent, products, and ideas as we possibly can! We believe these products are worthy not just of local attention but of international recognition and we’ve set our sights on making that happen,” she added. 

The CAN Market is a multi-partner drive that upholds small businesses across the island, bringing small entrepreneurs from across the country to a solitary stage. Suraweera also added that they focus on sustainable and community-driven businesses so the market features products of home and lifestyle, fashion accessories, food products, herbal products, cosmetics, soaps, and fragrances.

Vendors at CAN Market 

Commenting on why OGF was chosen for Phase II of their initiative, Suraweera commented that since OGF offers a larger space, more footfall, and a safe environment in compliance with all the necessary health guidelines to help create a comfortable environment for the entrepreneurs, they can provide a more comprehensive shopping experience for their customers. 

Speaking on their collaboration with the CAN Market, OGF Country Manager Timothy Wright expressed: “We believe that this is a timely effort taken by Keshini together with the Foundation of Goodness to support budding entrepreneurs from rural areas that might not have the platform necessary to showcase their products to an international audience.” 

Vendors at CAN Market 

He also noted that helping small businesses grow is a cause that is in line with their core values and beliefs, and they look forward to a long-term continuous partnership, through which they hope to extend a helping hand to the CAN Market entrepreneurs, providing them the opportunity to grow with us. 

The Foundation of Goodness too has been with the Creative Isle’s CAN Market initiative since their inception. In conversation with Foundation of Goodness Founder/Chief Trustee Kushil Gunasekera, he told us that he was inspired to get involved in this initiative upon hearing about Suraweera’s dream of bringing aspiring entrepreneurs from all over the country to one location and helping them grow their brand. “When I saw this entrepreneurial spirit, I had no hesitation in helping her by encouraging and motivating her passions,” he said. 

The Foundation of Goodness has over 20 years of experience working with the rural sector and they know better than anyone about the resourceful talent and skills our people possess islandwide. Gunesekara also stated that these entrepreneurs need opportunities, training, exposure, and guidance to fine-tune their products for greater appeal, which is what they aspire to do. 

He also commended the support that cricketer, businessman, and philanthropist Muttiah Muralidaran has given to the CAN Market initiative through the Foundation of Goodness. “Murali is not just a cricket icon but a smart, astute businessman whose innovative creations are second to none. His trademark is ‘Yes I can and never give up!’. These credentials are a rare combination and not only does his presence lift the stature of a worthy programme like this, it also enhances the prospects of these enterprising vendors being able to attract greater appeal for more visibility, to help them at a time when it’s needed the most,” he added. 

Suraweera urged Sri Lankans to join them in building and sustaining creative communities and creating products that could stand their ground in global markets. 

“Together with our esteemed partners, Foundation of Goodness, Sri Lanka CAN Foundation; Derana, Wijeya Newspapers, ANTYRA our creative partners; and One Galle Face our venue partners, let’s strive to position Sri Lanka as a truly creative isle enriched with creative people and products,” she concluded.

The CAN Market together with OGF invites everyone to come and experience the plethora of innovative products that these talented Sri Lankan entrepreneurs have to offer. The market will be open every weekend from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.