Inspire Me: Spreading stories of success

“Inspire Me” is the latest entrepreneurship programme introduced to create the ultimate support system for emerging female entrepreneurs across Sri Lanka who demonstrate commendable resilience under pressure.

The initiative is a YouTube channel that was launched in July 2020 by Inspire Me Founder/CEO Nayanika Wijekoon, to bring emerging female entrepreneurs into the spotlight and echo their story to inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs. The programme interviews female entrepreneurs with home-based businesses to discuss how their ventures were nurtured to the current state.

Inspire Me has been gaining momentum on YouTube since its launch, and the Inspire Me team envisions to feature/interview more female entrepreneurs in the future from across Sri Lanka, and potentially even invite male entrepreneurs to join.

Brunch had a chat with Nayanika Wijekoon to learn more about this programme.

Wijekoon did her research on what it would take to start up a business and the challenges that come along with it, and eventually began working on her dream. Wijekoon explained that she has always been good at talking, so she thought that conducting these videos would be the perfect job for her. “In this day and age, video technology is not that hard to understand, so I never faced any challenges with that. Everything was easily accessible.”

Inspire Me began on 26 June last year, mid-pandemic, and in just a few days, Wijekoon will have successfully concluded a year of being her own boss. We asked her if she faced any obstacles because of the pandemic, to which she said that she did it because people were so keen to have their stories out, and she never faced a lack in interviewees. She found entrepreneurs mainly through social media, and even word of mouth. 

“After conducting an interview with one business, their friends who also wanted to share their inspirational stories contacted me, so it was very easy to find female entrepreneurs,” she shared. Her programme is essentially a free marketing platform for all entrepreneurs looking to find a stepping stone to elevate their brand or business.

Talking to us about what the interviews entail, Wijekoon explained that the interview shed the spotlight on challenges faced by these entrepreneurs, and more importantly, how they drove their way towards success. “The stories and advice shared by these entrepreneurs at the interviews become a true inspiration to local women to kick-off their own business by converting their business idea into a venture.”

We asked her which of her interviews was the most memorable for her, to which she responded that it was an interview with The Hunger Squad, an instagram-based home cooking business. “The entrepreneur behind Hunger Squad – Dilukshi Dalpethado – has gone through many hardships and bitter experiences throughout her life that one single interview was certainly not sufficient to discuss how much of an inspiration she is to the world. She was such an inspiration to me, and her interview will resonate within me for the rest of my life,” expressed Wijekoon. 

Any female home-based business owner is now welcome to reach out to the Inspire Me team to request to feature their venture and gain brand visibility, talk about their product and story on a public forum, and enable the entrepreneurship ecosystem of Sri Lanka.

In very exciting news, Wijekoon revealed to us that she is working on a TV channel for Inspire Me, saying: “On Inspire TV, we will conduct workshops and have daily programmes that are specially made to promote local entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka.” Besides this, they are also working on the Inspire Entrepreneurial Academy, which will reach out to young people in rural areas of Colombo and offer them scholarships and help them turn their special talents into thriving businesses.