In a world where the journey towards gender equality is still a steep climb, the MJF Charitable Foundation aims to serve as a ladder for many women, offering them the tools, skills, and confidence to ascend. The Small Entrepreneurs Program and Women's Development Program (WDP), organised by the MJF Foundation, are about sowing the seeds of self-reliance and awareness that flourish into the well-being of entire families.

Fostering Female Entrepreneurship

The SEP supports ambitious individuals, from rural areas and low income families, in their entrepreneurial journey, providing them with grants or the equipment they need to operate.

This way, MJF Foundation plays a pivotal role in kindling the entrepreneurial spirit among women facing diverse challenges. We visited some of the women, who live around Kalkudah, on the East coast of Sri Lanka, that have been supported in starting or improving their business through the Small Entrepreneurs Program (SEP).

Sarojini Devi

Sarojini Devi is a testament to how small-scale entrepreneurship can blossom with a bit of help. She's been given a chili powder grinder by the MJF Foundation, a tool that has significantly enhanced her food production business. Sarojini specializes in making three different types of chili powders, which she also uses to add a unique flavour to her homemade potato chips, her other business. The provision of this grinder isn't just about the equipment; it's a gateway for Sarojini to explore and expand her business and independence. IMG_3784.jpg


Suhanthini's story is one of resilience and determination. As a single mother of two, and the head of her family, she faces her challenges head-on with support from the MJF Foundation. The foundation provided her with a coconut grater and equipment to make string hoppers, a traditional Sri Lankan dish, essentials that have enabled her to run a small food business. Selling string hoppers, pittu, and other typical dishes, she manages to support her family and dreams of one day owning a shop on her property. Suhanthini, along with her mother's support, wakes us at 01:00am every morning to be ready to sell her food in the neighbour’s little shop by 6 a.m.. Her hard work and early mornings underscore the strength and dedication of women who are determined to secure a better future for their families. IMG_3850.jpg


Uthayasanthini, a widow with a daughter, is another inspiring figure whose entrepreneurial spirit is nurtured by the MJF Foundation. The foundation's support, in the form of a chili powder grinder, has enabled her to tap into the local demand for homemade evening snacks and chili powder. Besides this, Uthayasanthini's venture into rearing chickens, reselling clothes, making rice flour, and distributing tea powder showcases her versatility and determination to provide for her family under challenging circumstances. Uthayasanthini smiling with her chili powder


Tharshini's resilience in the face of adversity is truly inspiring. Running a small catering business in the local school, she supports her family despite her husband's disability. The assistance from the MJF Foundation, including a blender and string hopper equipment, has been instrumental in her ability to serve her community and sustain her family. Tharshini's commitment to her children's education and her entrepreneurial spirit is a testament to the strength and determination of women who, against all odds, strive to make a positive impact on their families and communities. IMG_3927.jpg

Nirosha Perera

Nirosha dreamt of being an ice cream maker like her father, but traditional gender roles restricted her from taking over his business. As a recipient of our Small Entrepreneur Program, we supported her with a freezer. Today her delicious fruit popsicles are a hit at the MJF People’s Markets, the Moratuwa Centre Cafe and Cafeteria at the Dilmah Head Office.

The Essence of the Women's Development Program

At the heart of the MJF Charitable Foundation's efforts, the WDP emerges as a cornerstone for female empowerment. We met up with Aranthi, the Head Coordinator of the WDP, who told us, with eyes full of pride an joy, what the program is all about. It transcends conventional training by weaving together a tapestry of skills ranging from sustainable gardening and culinary arts to health and safety training, all designed to foster self-reliance, nutritional awareness, and economic independence. Moreover, the program extends its care to psychosocial support, offering a holistic approach to empowerment that nourishes the mind, body, and spirit of its participants. WDP's cookery instructor smiling at the camera

This initiative stands as a testament to the power of thoughtful support, enabling women from marginalised communities and low income families to overcome obstacles and flourish in their personal and professional lives.

Cultivating Success Through Diverse Initiatives

Let’s explore together the initiatives of the WDP, providing women of all ages with either skills to gain financial indepencence, or giving them a place where to connect, grow, and empower each other.

Local Agriculture and Home Gardens:

Empowering women to connect with the land, ensuring food security and instilling a sense of accomplishment. The ladies in the program, are given young plants, from the plant nursery at the MJF Centre, that they can plant in their garden, and home grown vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants and chili. They can then eat them, or build a business around selling them. Additionally, the Centre offers new ways for entrepreneurship with practical training in mushroom cultivation, happening at the MJF Centre in East. baby plants from the plant nursery, placed in lines

Cookery Classes:

Transforming cooking from a daily chore into an opportunity for business creation and community bonding. After following the course, if interested, the ladies can join the WDP production team. In this way, they can be appointed to work within the MJF Centre, and sell their food to the Centre’s community, or use the Centre’s facilities to sell their food to outside customers. lady cooking at the MJF Centre

Sewing, Patchwork, and Crochet Classes:

Providing ladies with different sewing skills, to give them the opportunity to start a business or find a job in the industry. After following the course, if interested, also the sewers can join the WDP production team, and use the MJF Centre as a platform to sell their creations.

lady sewing a carpet at MJF centre

Safety and Health Trainings:

Equipping women with essential knowledge to safeguard their families' well-being, and their own, and providing them with a safe space to open up about their personal and family issues. They can get emotional and psychological support at the centre. Additionally, different yoga classes are hosted weekly to maintain physical wellbeing too.

Engaging with the Community:

Fostering inter-generational connections and reinforcing the community fabric. The ladies from the close-by Elders Home are invited to the centre for several activities and social gatherings, happening every Thursday, and an extra date once a month, to keep them engaged and help them fight loneliness. Three older ladies spending time at the MJF Centre

A Toast to Female Empowerment

As we reflect on the achievements and ongoing challenges in the journey toward gender equality, the initiatives from the WDP and the stories of these female entrepreneurs remind us of the profound impact of empowerment programs.


This International Women’s Day the world unites to #CountHerIn under the universal theme "Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress”. At Dilmah, this has been a driving factor of our family business under our Founder’s vision to make the world a better tea. This March, we will celebrate and facilitate local female small entrepreneurs in achieving their dreams through an exciting initiative together with our Genesis Centre. Stay tuned to see their stories grow, and their dreams prosper.