A Chinese female entrepreneur in Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

A Chinese female entrepreneur in Sri Lanka

Huang Huayan is the founder of an interior decoration company in Sri Lanka, and badminton is her hobby.In 2018, she came to Sri Lanka as a traveller, then realised it is a good place to invest. In the past two years, she went through the Easter Sunday tragedy and Covid-19. Despite business difficulties, she is still optimistic about Sri Lanka’s economic prospects. Recently, I interviewed her. This is her story.

“I have a good friend who works in a travel agency in Sri Lanka. Five years ago, through her, I started to get to know this country. It gave me impressions of pure Buddhism, wild beauty and opportunities.

May 15, 2018 was my first trip abroad in my life. I came to this beautiful island, Sri Lanka. After travelling to Colombo, Kandy and other central cities, I felt that the previous impression is appropriate.

At the end of the trip and two days before returning home, I returned to Colombo. My friend took me to visit the prosperous Galle Road in the city, introduced me to One Galle Face Shopping Mall, and mentioned Port City Colombo. At that time, the grand scale and future vision of the Port City left a very deep impression on me.

I have experienced the construction of the Port of Shekou in Shenzhen and Zhujiang New Town in Guangzhou. I have witnessed the earth-shaking changes in these two areas in China. As a businesswoman, I saw opportunities and possibilities at this time.

That night, I searched for information on Sri Lanka’s development plan. The Port City, Colombo is the future financial centre of South Asia and will attract a large number of tourists. After the completion of the infrastructure, there will be financial institutions and tourism supporting hotels, office buildings, and housing construction. Interior decoration is just what these projects need, and it is also my field. I can’t help thinking that if I enter the Sri Lankan decoration market at this time and lay a foundation, three to five years later, there will be broad demands for decoration in Port City, Colombo.

After doing my research, I decided to “just do it!” When I returned to China, I didn’t even take my luggage back. With longing, a series of preparations for the next Sri Lanka journey began.

Someone asked me why I fear nothing of the unknown country? I said: “my motherland China makes the decision to invest in Sri Lanka, why don’t I?”

“Then why do you have to take risks at this age, as a woman?” Perhaps after adulthood, the first 10 years of life is the period to understand and know society; the second 10 years is the period when we create our future.

I like this quote: ‘Life is all about tossing’.We are in an era of rapid development and change. There are rare opportunities. When you fully realised, You have missed a good opportunity. And when you realise it you are too late. This time, I did not hesitate and quickly made up my mind.

I entered the decoration industry in 2005 and started a wonderful journey in Guangzhou city, and I have been enjoying it all the time.

The decoration industry is like girls’ makeup, it is delicate work. Although this is a traditional industry, the material and process update and iterate very quickly and require rich experience, from design, material selection to construction…The final work will be different with different details. Although I can’t make it 100 per cent perfect, they will always have a different taste. This is like our life: there are joys, sorrows, and regrets, and we have to accept everything we get on the journey of life.

Sri Lanka’s interior decoration technology is relatively backward, and the choice of materials is quite limited. When I come to Sri Lanka, I also have a small target: to bring China’s advanced technology and ideas here, and to contribute a little bit to this beautiful country.

On July 11, 2018, I took a flight back to Sri Lanka, started to register a company, learn about laws and regulations, and import materials and plans to develop business.

In an unfamiliar foreign country, everything needs to start from scratch. It is really difficult. Much help from Sri Lankan friends allowed us to start the company smoothly. In 2018, the new company was established in Sri Lanka.

I am lucky. In a relatively short period, we signed contracts with some clients. Although these projects are not big, it is very important for us to work with local staff, accumulate operating experience, and adapt to this county.

Over the past two years in Lanka, we have experienced the Easter Sunday attacks and Covid-19, and all kinds of unimaginable difficulties, but we have survived. Life in Sri Lanka is simple, but I enjoy it. When stressed OR unhappy, there is nothing that cannot be solved by playing badminton. This year’s Covid-19 has had a profound impact. As a private enterprise, we face great challenges, but I believe that finding the opportunities in the crisis is our way of survival. Under the positive environment of the new Sri Lankan government, various policies are beneficial for economic development. I am optimistic about the future economy of Sri Lanka. Even though the road ahead is difficult, there will be more potential in the future. “Flowers and thorns are always accompanied, and there is hope if you persist.”