Renowned social entrepreneur at Architect 2013 National Conference

Tuesday, 26 March 2013 00:06 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Dr. Darin Gunesekera is a renowned social entrepreneur and is known for taking prominence in setting up the Colombo Stock Exchange during the 1980s. Dr. Gunesekera completed his PhD in economics at Yale University in the USA after which he returned to Sri Lanka and commenced work as Secretary General of the Colombo Stock Exchange.

His extensive work experience includes working as Advisor for Capital Markets Authority of Kenya (1991-1995) and Advisor for the Ministry of Finance Uganda (1996-1998). Currently, he holds the position of Chairman of Wiros Lokh Institute, Capital Markets for the Marginalized Inc and Capital for the Marginalized Ltd.

Dr. Gunesekera’s involvement in architecture stems from his participation in pioneering the concept of sustainable slum and shanty dweller re-housing, using land that people were residing on at the time. He advised a project in Colombo and the completed building was named Sahaspura, which was known as the largest apartment complex in Sri Lanka during the time.

Dr. Gunesekera also developed a special stock exchange tool named REEL (Real Estate Exchange) for the Sahaspura project, which he further expanded in recent years to encompass a concept called SREIT – Social Real Estate Investment Trust. This was awarded as one of the Five Best practices in the World for Affordable Housing by UN-HABITAT in its Business Awards held in 2009. Dr. Gunesekera is also known for his work involving affordable housing projects in what UN-HABITAT calls the largest slum in the world, Kibera in Nairobi, and also in Varanasi in India.

Dr. Gunesekera said: “Being a social entrepreneur is difficult because people misunderstand your role. Every social entrepreneur project has this difficulty in it, in that people like to be authoritarian. But a social entrepreneur is a facilitator and he or she must bring out people from their shell to act.”

Presenting his views on ‘Architect 2013’, where he was a speaker at the National Conference, Dr. Gunesekera further said: “I was very pleased with the National Conference as the speakers emphasised the social aspect of architecture. I would call the 2013 meeting a great breakthrough for the field and I would encourage SLIA to follow it up, without waiting for another year, so that the theme is retained.”

Architect 2013, The 31st Annual Session of SLIA took place from 20 to 24 February 2013 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) and included a line of events that centred on the theme ‘Think Smart – Innovative Enterprise Architecture’.