I had a garage that undertook motor bicycle repairs and provided motor bicycles for hire. Life went on each day, but it was disheartening to want to do more in life so keenly but not have the means to achieve more. Then I heard about Gami Pubuduwa through a friend and I thought why not? What have I got to lose?
I had a chat with the Bankuwe Mahattaya (gentleman from the bank) and was amazed to know that the bank was willing to give me the financial assistance I needed to expand my garage. The Rs. 120,000 loan obtained through Gami Pubuduwa in the year 2000 turned my world around. Through the loan, I was able to expand my business and convert it into a service center for motor bicycles and three-wheelers.
What was to be repaid in 3 years, due to the success of the business, was paid off in just one year and I obtained another loan of Rs. 400,000 to expand my enterprise further, moving on to servicing other vehicles as well. That too was paid back in 2004, after which I obtained another loan of Rs. 600,000 which has also been paid back.
Now my business is named Saman Service Center and is the leading vehicle maintenance center in all of Tissamaharama. I'm also the proud authorized dealer of up-market brands such as Dimo, Maruti, BMW and Caltex. Why stop here, I thought. So I then took the chance and launched a bus service from Kataragama to Mahanuwara, which proved to be a success as well, and I am thankful to the bank for helping me make the right decisions when it came to investing the money that they had helped me make. Mine is the leading service center around town, but why stop here? I'll be refurbishing my business by setting up a new office with the latest in technology very soon, with the help of HNB of course.
Looking at me today, at what I have today, one wouldn't think that I started out with practically nothing. When I approached the Gami Pubuduwa Bankuwe Mahattaya (gentleman from the bank), all I had was the will to succeed. I lived in Kantale then, in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. When I heard about the Gami Pubuduwa scheme I knew that there is a higher power out there, listening to our every prayer. I got my father, two brothers and brother-in-law to listen to my plans of trying to get a loan through this scheme and starting our own business. I knew that I could make it out there, and I was going to make it.
The Bankuwe Mahattaya too shared our enthusiasm. Not at all like the uptight fellows one usually comes across in banks. So that is how we obtained a Rs. 150,000 loan and purchased a stock of paddy. We had it pounded at various mills and then distributed throughout the area of Maharagama through hired lorries. Seeking our fortune in the Western Province was a big step for us. That was in 1999.
The step proved to be a successful one, and soon the bank helped us to purchase a lorry for our business through a long-term loan. We also took an initial loan of Rs. 10,000 as an agricultural loan and set up a small mill the very next year, developing our business by continuing to distribute rice in Maharagama. In 2002, in order to develop our business further, HNB provided us a loan of Rs. 350,000 and, as a result, we were soon able to raise our daily output of rice to 3000kg. Today we produce 10,000-15,000kg for daily distribution.
Our business has flourished, and Hatton National Bank has been there every step of the way as we continue to make progress with our dream. I now have 20 employees working under me.
The purchase of paddy and the milling process take place in Kantale under the supervision of my brother, while sales-related transactions in our warehouse in Mattegoda are handled by me. Our warehouse is currently on rent, but in 2006, we bought a 15 perch piece of land in Mattegoda itself and hope to build our own new warehouse there and reach greater heights in our business. We are planning to name it 'Siyasa Sahal Sala'.