AccelerateHER, a meaningful catalyst for innovation and higher female labour force participation in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s first accelerator program tailored for the country’s female
founders, AccelerateHER, which recently held its finale event ‘Demo Day’. The
program’s six recent graduates presented their products and services and pitched for
the opportunity to receive investment and support from partners in Sri Lanka, USA and
other parts of the world in effectively taking their business towards global markets.
The event which took place on 23 June 2022, was held at the Hatch premises and
featured female founders in industries that included tourism, baby and mother care,
sustainable fashion and food. These six founders spent the last three months going
through a rapid and immersive business acceleration program, working with industry
mentors, business advisors, and subject matter experts.
When Hatch launched ‘AccelerateHER’ in collaboration with the US Department of
State in November 2021, it was intended as an accelerator and gender-based
awareness-raising initiative, aimed at developing women entrepreneurs within the
“When the US began this partnership with Hatch to start the AccelerateHER program
last year, we envisioned that women entrepreneurs would reap the benefits. Their
success is now our success, and I can’t think of a better investment”, said US
Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie J. Chung, on Demo Day.
Aside from the US Department of State, the program was supported by outreach partners, including Diversity collective, Youlead, WEconnect International, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Daily FT, TNL, Arteculate, Echelon, and Chokolaate.
The six founders showcased on Demo Day included Shenuka Umagiliya, Founder of
Ba.La.Mu, Sashini Jinasena, Founder of Leo the Label, Bhagya Sandakalum Founder of BlueFish, Shivani Tyronne, Founder of Miris by IslandMom, Lasni Silva, Founder of
Lactoboost by Spice Carriage and Tina Lobo, Founder of True by Tina. Hatch provided
each of these female founders a platform to access the skills and resources needed to scale their business.
AccelerateHER’s women entrepreneurs benefited from Hatch’s mentors and experts
who have deep industry, investment, and entrepreneurship knowledge from having
worked across all stages of a startup. This collective experience, together with that of
Hatch’s growing list of female alumni, is aimed at helping these female founders overcome gender-specific nuances that prevent women from succeeding in business
through peer-to-peer learning, to become investor-ready.
The program allows a selected number of women entrepreneurs and their startups to
take part in the three-month initiative, giving them the opportunity to collaborate and
co-create together with the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem while also enhancing their knowledge and uplifting their businesses.
“Global studies show that businesses with women founders raise more money and build
better results. Yet, women often dismiss entrepreneurship as an option due to its impact on
their family lives and its high risk. However, these six talented women entrepreneurs have
demonstrated that despite harsh economic conditions, with hard work and creativity you can
exceed your wildest expectations for yourself. We hope that AccelerateHer continues to be
an important catalyst for higher female labour force participation in Sri Lanka” – Brindha
Selvadurai, CEO and Co-Founder of Hatch.
According to the Program Director for the accelerator program, Minuri Adasuriya, these
female founders are a great example of what is possible with a true entrepreneurial
mindset, being agile, pivoting and resilience to overcome the challenges we have today.
“In three short months, our AccelerateHER female founders secured 17 partnerships
both strategic and retail partnerships worth well over 20 million Rupees. 5 out of the 6
teams doubled their product lines and increased quantities by 100%. 70% of teams
doubled their sales and revenue and 90% expanded their teams, making them
employers for the first time ever and creating jobs in the economy,” said Adasuriya at
The event also confirmed that Hatch will further conduct island-wide boot camps in
2022, from August to November. These boot camps will be an extension of the 2 year
AccelerateHER programs, with modules covering key stages of business development
and empowering female entrepreneurs.
A major focus of these bootcamps will be placed on supporting women-owned
businesses that are economically and sustainably viable. The boot camps will take
place in areas such as Colombo, Galle, Kandy, Kurunegala, Batticaloa, and Jaffna.
For more information about the program and upcoming boot camps, visit
Photo Caption- AccelerateHer entrepreneurs with Hatch Programs Team