The EthicalX Accelerator and Incubator programme, held under the aegis of SLYCAN Trust, conducted the first meeting of the EthicalX Food Systems Cell on 18 May at the Cinnamon Grand, Colombo.The inaugural meeting discussed the potential for scaling-up climate-friendly, ethical, and sustainable practices in food systems, including options such as plant-based food production and consumption among the participants were entrepreneurs whose entities focused on food-related entrepreneurship, with certain aspects such as being ethical, sustainable, climate friendly, or offering plant-based food options to consumers.The meeting also identified several important support needs to strengthen Sri Lanka’s start-up ecosystem.
Among the entrepreneurs joining the inaugural discussion were:
Rajitha Ariyaratne – Aayu Goodness Products
Aayu Goodness Products is a food manufacturer from the rural village of Rikillagaskada. The business aims to provide healthy, natural, and nutritious processed foods in partnership with rural farming communities in Sri Lanka. Aayu’s product range includes aromatic spices and dehydrated fruits and vegetables and pharmaceutical crops as well. Aayu Goodness Products joined the EthicalX Accelerator programme to build brand awareness and learn more about sustainable aspects of the business in order to implement climate best practices
Dinali Dandeniya – Cafe Kumbuk and Mama D’s Artisan Vegan Range
Cafe Kumbuk is a cafe-space located in the centre of Colombo and offers food and drink options that promote a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. Dandeniya launched a vegan artisanal range called Mama D’s to encourage vegan and plant-based food options made from locally-sourced ingredients. Cafe Kumbuk also promotes the ethical aspects of climate-friendly entrepreneurship by engaging in practices such as recycling and giving back to farming communities, among various other CSR events.
Chamini Udupihilla – Cham’s goodies
Cham’s Goodies is a vegan and gluten free brand specialising in desserts such as brownies and cookies. Cham’s Goodies can also be found at the Colombo Good Market. All the raw materials used by this entity are purchased from ethical sources and the desserts do not contain any artificial colouring or refined sugar. The brand aspires to provide healthy dessert options for people of all ages.
Florence Gambarota – Dolce Italia
Dolce Italia is a restaurant which takes pride in sourcing locally-grown produce and ingredients for its food products. Its menu includes a variety of vegan dishes which are healthy and high in nutritional value, while also serving up authentic Italian and Italian-Sri Lankan fusion cuisine. Dolce Italia joined the EthicalX Accelerator to make the entity more sustainable and climate friendly, with ethical elements such as engagement in fair trade, including enhancing its supply chain to buy directly from producers or small-holder farmers.
Gihani Gunatilaka – Dulmé Health Food
Dulmé Health Food is a vegan food manufacturer which specialises in cereal mixtures and chocolate-coated cereal truffles using 100% ethical and sustainable ingredients such as red rice, green gram, corn, and sesame without importing ingredients or using genetically-modified organisms. The entity is focused on providing healthy food products for children with special needs and people who want healthy food with high nutritional value. The entity’s ethos is to promote healthy and sustainable living while contributing to a social cause.
Dushyanth Weeraman – Mango Friends
Mango Friends is a food brand which exports and also locally sells fruits which are grown in Sri Lanka such as TJC mangoes, rambutan, mangosteen, avocado, dragon fruit, and soursop. The main focus of the brand is to promote Sri Lanka’s local produce and make healthy products such as juices and fruit pulp in a sustainable, climate friendly, and ethical manner. The entity also takes an interest in agricultural farming and developing rural farming communities in Sri Lanka by implementing fair trade practices
Ronali Perera – Raw Sri Lanka
Raw Sri Lanka specialises in making juices and detox cleansers from Ayurvedic green leaves, fruits, and vegetables with no sugar or added preservatives. This entity sources most of its ingredients domestically from the available local produce and thrives on being a 100% organic material-based business. The entity actively promotes the concept of healthy living and lifestyle choices such as awareness of nutrition and the daily recommended minimum intake of fruits and vegetables.
Ruwani and Mudhitha Perera – Super Creamy
Super Creamy is a brand of natural and vegan ice-cream and yogurt made from local fruits such as jackfruit, soursop, mango, and coconut, without any added preservatives. The entity also uses compostable and reusable materials for its packaging. The brand was launched during the pandemic period as a family business. The long-term goal is to scale up the business by diversifying the product range and selling in potential export markets.
Nilakshi and Anushka Kahawela – Veganly Life
Veganly Life is a 100% vegan and 100% cruelty-free brand, which consists of handmade, homemade, artisan, made-to-order, and free-from-refined-sugar products. The brand is a family business and their products are prepared in a kitchen with no cross-contamination to non-veg food. To ensure sustainable practices in the production cycle, all the items made to order are presented and delivered to customers in eco-friendly and sustainable packaging.
Challenges and support needs identified
During the group discussion and the opening plenary, most of the participants expressed the common challenges of navigating Sri Lanka’s current economic crisis with the fuel and gas shortage and decline in agricultural produce, which has resulted in price hikes across the supply chain. A platform sharing the experiences, gaps, support needs, and potential solutions in a collective manner was seen as a key priority for most participants.
SLYCAN Trust’s work on food systems through the EthicalX Climate & Innovation Hub aims to further engage with the participants of the inaugural meeting and other entities interested in joining the Ethical Food Systems Cohort to build on the identified gaps and collectively explore practical solutions in the journey towards a transformation of the food systems to be more ethical, sustainable, and climate friendly.