Fathuma Nisreen, owner of a bag and garment making business in Sri Lanka, has been named the winner of an international competition for young entrepreneurs, organised by Youth Business International (YBI).
The Sri Lanka business woman was announced as the YBI Entrepreneur of the Year last night at a prestigious awards ceremony in Mexico City, after being interviewed by a judging panel of experts on business and entrepreneurship.
The award reflects the challenges that Fathuma has overcome as well as the huge potential that she has to act as a role model for other Muslims in her community and inspire other women around the world.
In a joint statement, the panel said:
"We chose Fathuma because the award will have the biggest impact on her, her family, her community and send a strong message to the world that women are able to start a business while remaining true to their family values. We thought it was remarkable that she was able to start up her business without having to give up her religious and cultural identity.
The YBI Entrepreneur of the Year competition celebrates the achievement of young entrepreneurs around the world in building a better world for themselves and others. The competition is supported by Barclays Capital and is now in its fourth year.
Fathuma Nisreen has become a role model in her community for her successes in overcoming the restrictions facing Muslim women entering into business, by setting up a design and manufacturing enterprise specialising in traditional outfits and bags. She was able to start up her business with the support of Youth Business Sri Lanka, an accredited member of the YBI network.
Fathuma was competing against three other young entrepreneurs in the competition:
1. Colin Davison from Canada: Stealth Acoustical Control & Emission Inc
Colin's business enables industrial businesses to reduce noise pollution and employs around 60 other people.
2.Alex Tam and Felix Chung from Hong Kong: Ecosage Ltd
Alex and Felix are helping to tackle the waste crisis in Hong Kong with their recycling business, as well as creating employment for many of the city's ragpickers.
3. Shriram Kaluke from India: Shri Ganesh Enterprises
Overcoming a difficult background, Shriram has grown a business providing cleaning services for water tanks, employing 14 people and servicing 1500 clients.
The judging panel comprised of:
Guillermo Baeza, co-founder of Mexican food company Grupo Bafar
Pedro Tejero, Managing Director of Barclays Capital Mexico
Stuart Macdonald, founder of Seric Systems in Scotland and ambassador for YBI
Laura Suarez, Editorial Director of Entrepreneur magazine in Mexico.
Fathuma will receive prize money of US$5,000 from Youth Business International, as well as an invitation to travel to London for a dinner at St James's Palace, which last year was hosted by The Prince of Wales.