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Nishani Fernando Empowering Communities through Sustainable Agricultural Products and International Trade

2 April 2024 10:58 am

Nishani Fernando is a dynamic leader in international trade related to sustainable agricultural products, and Managing Director of Manisha Exports (Pvt) Ltd. With a rich background in international trade and a passion for sustainability, Nishani Fernando has spearheaded the company’s success in exporting coconut fiber products and substrates for sustainable agriculture. Her journey from joining her family’s business to founding her own export company showcases her expertise in navigating the complexities of the global market. Nishani Fernando’s commitment to quality, innovation, and eco-friendly practices has positioned her company as a frontrunner in the industry. Beyond business, she actively empowers women in the industry through various initiatives, emphasizing inclusivity and community development. With a vision for a greener future and dedication to excellence, Nishani Fernando continues to inspire and drive positive change in the world of agricultural exports.

Words - Sachini Perera

Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Nishani Fernando and I hold the position of Managing Director at Manisha Exports (Pvt) Ltd. I am also the sole shareholder of the company. In addition, I hold the position of President at Manisha Canada Trading Inc., which is based in Canada. Beyond my professional roles, I take pride in being a devoted mother to my teenage son, Romaan, and a supportive wife to my husband, Kapila Ariyaratne.

Can you tell us about your journey in the coconut industry, from your early career to founding your export company?

After completing my Advanced Level exam at Colombo International School, I pursued a Law degree at the University of East Anglia, UK. Initially, I hadn’t planned on joining the family business. But upon returning to Sri Lanka, circumstances shifted. In 2004, I started working for my father’s company, Manisha (Pvt) Ltd. While my degree taught me vital skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, negotiation, and understanding regulations and contracts, working in the family business was like earning a master’s degree in itself. 
My father’s constant challenges encouraged independence and improved my risk management skills, pushing me to think strategically and stay ahead. Treated equally with other employees, I took charge of the fibre supply chain, which was a pivotal role. By 2007, I was leading international sales and marketing, gradually gaining control over coconut fibre exports and its value additions. Over time, I delved into various aspects of the business, overseeing subsidiaries and learning about manufacturing processes and marketing strategies. This included ventures into virgin coconut oil and coconut activated carbon industries, as well as importing non-edible and edible oils to the Sri Lankan market. In 2017, armed with the knowledge and experience from working in my family’s business, I decided to pursue my own path. With a capable management team by my side, I founded the export company, marking the beginning of a new career chapter. As the Managing Director and sole shareholder, I’ve applied the lessons learned to drive the company towards success in the  global coconut industry.

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