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Huge demand for moonstones in Australia and the Czech Republic – Dr. Indunil

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Dr. V. T. N. Indunil. Picture by  Wimal Karunathilake.
Dr. V. T. N. Indunil. Picture by Wimal Karunathilake.

Sri Lanka is yet to tap the huge export potential of some of its rich minerals to increase the present gem and jewellery export revenue (around USD 500), said one of the young gem exporters and diversified businessmen Dr. V. T. N. Indunil.

He also said that Sri Lanka exports are still concentrating on the traditional export markets with almost the same product line he added.

“For example, the limestone deposits (Sanda Kan Pashana) found in Meetiyagoda are a huge US dollar-generating income earner but are not being exploited to their true potential. “Here again exports are limited to traditional markets.”

Ceylon moonstones are positioned among the highest-quality moonstones found all around the world. He said that there is huge untapped demand for these moonstones, especially in Australia and the Czech Republic. “However this market is underutilized and if properly focused could muster around USD 200 additional annual revenue to the local gem exports.”

Indunil said that similarly the Chinese export market too could be increased as they are one of the top gem buyers in the world. “It was my businesses with China that helped me to become a leading gem exporter.”

Indunil having started work at a hardware shop in Weligama during the break from GCE O/L to A/L then became a Hutch Mobile Business Development officer in Kuliyapitiya and due to his persevering marketing skills won the Best Hutch Sales Regional BDO award for three successive years.

He then moved to Pan Asia Bank and here too he was awarded a top performer Gold Award for three successive years and also received RS. 100,000 award, Gold Pin from the bank’s elite CEO’s club.

Indunil then flew to Singapore to gain ‘international work experience’ for a few months and from his savings acquired Sri Wing Lanka Hotel in Ethukala Negombo to be a part of the huge tourism boom in the 1980s. “I did not have any experience in the leisure industry but managed to turn this six-room hotel into a profit-making entity in less than nine months.”

During this time, he then met one of his most influential business mentors, Mohamed Raheem Rushdy who helped Indunil to move aggressively in the transport and inbound and outbound segments of the leisure industry and emerge as a formidable entrepreneur in the tourism sector.

“I expanded my business by opening my second tourism office in Colombo 3, increasing my workforce to nearly 200 and having a fleet of over 100 vehicles which included luxury, cars, vans, buses and jeeps as well.”

In a bid to promote tourism, he was to host Sri Lankans first ever “Globe two-day Travel carnival ‘Win 2020’ involving the Ministry of Tourism, Embassies in Sri Lanka, foreign media and several hospitality sector stakeholders at Race Course Colombo end of April 2020 but was forced to cancel it due to Easter Sunday blasts.

Easter Sunday and the C-19 pandemic like for many other tourism stakeholders created a major blow to Indunil’s leisure businesses forcing him to drastically downsize his operations.

Finding it difficult to make ends meet, he wanted to go back to the mercantile sector when one of his Chinese friends, Y. Yang, advised him to move into the gem business. “I then visited several gem exhibitions and cities in China and then made contact with another mentor of my life, gemologist Carl Westman from Galle, to diversify the gem export business.

“This was a huge success and I even exported gems during the COVID pandemic. The Chinese market is a sitting gold mine for local gem exporters to increase revenue and authorities must look at this segment in a more focused manner,” he said.

Monday, January 2, 2023 – 01:00

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