Kimbula Kithul founder wins Entrepreneurship Award at WIM’s Women Top 50

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Founder of agri-food start-up Kimbula Kithul Chanchala Gunewardena presented her award by Singer Sri Lanka Director - Marketing Kumar Samarasinghe 

Chanchala Gunewardena, founder of agri-food start-up Kimbula Kithul, was recognised as an Upcoming Woman Entrepreneur of the Year at the recently-held WIM Top 50 Professional & Career Women awards 2019, hosted by Women In Management (WIM) and supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of World Bank Group and Australian Aid on 6 September at the Shangri-La Hotel. 

The awards, now in their ninth year, is a highlight event in WIM’s robust calendar of efforts that look to promote and support women’s multi-industry and entrepreneurial contributions to inclusive economic growth and is helmed by WIM’s founder Dr. Sulochana Segara. 

An esteemed and representative judging panel, this year chaired by the Hemas Group MD of Pharmaceuticals Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson and including IFC Country Manager Amena Arif, Clootrack CEO Dr. Rohantha Athukorala, Singer Sri Lanka Director of Marketing Kumar Samarasinghe; Daily FT Editor Nisthar Cassim, HNB Director Rose Cooray and Hayleys Agriculture Managing Director Jayanthi Dharmasena selected its final winners from over 382 nominations received from across the country.

Kimbula Kithul’s selection was very well aligned with this year’s theme of ‘Empowered Women for Sustainable Growth’ as it looks to reimagine Sri Lanka’s kithul syrup industry for taste, health, community and sustainability conscious future markets.

Founded in December 2017 via the Good Market, Kimbula Kithul is inspired by the unsung potential of what it considers a national food treasure and the often overlooked heroes of Sri Lanka’s globally unique kithul tapping community who have preserved this heritage product for generations. 

Kimbula is currently in select partner stores in Colombo and Galle and is much loved by customers for its wildcrafted smoky-sweetness and championed locally and internationally by leading chefs and mixologists including Asia’s Top 50 Best Restaurants winner Dharshan Munidasa, Best Bar and Bartender in the World winner Lyan (aka Ryan Chetiyawardana) in UK and Amsterdam, Michelin-starred Rishi Naleendra of Cloudstreet & Cheek Bistro Singapore, Chef, Restaurateur and TV Host Peter Kuruvita, Masterchef third place finalist Khanh Ong, and Toronto top chef Jacob Pearce.

Kimbula Kithul’s singular industry vision aligning the business good with social good was recognised at accelerator Venture Engine 2019 where it was awarded the Aavishkaar Social Impact Award and placed as 4th place finalist, being the only non-tech and female-founder led start-up to make the final. Currently it is also receiving further business development advisory and export market preparation as part of the GIZ supported Good Life X Accelerator as it looks to scale with investment and team growth.

Chanchala created Kimbula with support from family, friends, mentors and colleagues, particularly the brand’s lead designer Gimhani Galagedera, while concurrently a consulting as a Creative and PR specialist with NGage Strategic Alliance, and in 2018 was selected to compete in the Young Lions Competition at the Cannes Festival of Creativity (France) at Young Spikes for Spikes Asia Festival (Singapore) – the latter for which her team received a special commendation. She was also a 2019 Young Lotus finalist in Sri Lanka. 

Previously, Chanchala served as the Director of Career Development at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh for 2013-2015 and continues to support its efforts from a local standpoint. She has also worked as an Events Team member and Sri Lanka campaigner at Amnesty International HQ in NY USA, and with Trail SL, and UNDP Sri Lanka.

For more on Kimbula Kithul visit its newly launched website or Instagram and Facebook @kimbulakithul.