Plasticcycle, the social entrepreneurship project of the John Keells Group, concluded its inaugural Start-Up-Cycle initiative, with the Demo Day on 28th November 2023. ‘Start-Up-Cycle’, is the challenge platform of Plasticcycle, launched in collaboration with John Keells X, the Group’s start-up accelerator, and John Keells Research, the Group’s R&D and Innovation arm, with the objective of empowering Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and innovators to address the plastic usage and waste challenges through innovative and implementable long-term solutions.
With over 100 applications received by the end of September 2023, an Open Day was facilitated between solution providers and problem statement owners from John Keells Group businesses in Leisure, Consumer Foods, and Retail. The six-week programme, which commenced in October 2023 provided the applicants the opportunity to fine-tune their skills with the John Keells Group team members on essential areas such as Minimum Viable Products (MVP), Intellectual Property (IP), Financial Management, and Legislative processes.
Suresh Rajendra – President of the John Keells Group Leisure sector and Social Entrepreneurship, said “The John Keells Group launched Plasticcycle with the vision to be a catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka. Through strategic partnerships, Plasticcycle has taken its focus areas of encouraging the reduction of single-use plastics, supporting responsible disposal, and promoting recycling initiatives and innovation, outside of the Group, now making this social entrepreneurship project an integral part of the circular economy of the waste management industry. We are committed to consistently seeking the best solutions to ensure a greener future.”
8 applicants were shortlisted to pitch their business plans to the judges – Ajit Gunewardene – Founder & CEO of Bluestone Capital Private Limited, Sarojini Jayasekara – Director, Solid Waste Management of CEA, and Sharmini Ratwatte – Non-Executive Director of Ceylon Cold Stores PLC, on Demo Day. The judging criteria encompassed Impact on the given Problem Statement, Cost-Effectiveness, Market and Customer Knowledge, Entrepreneurial Mindset, Competitive Advantage, Execution, and Financial Strategy. The judges selected 3 winners – Tashini Vithanage (product: a compostable alternative for plastic cling wrap used in the hotel sector) Padmashantha Fonseka (product: a compostable alternative for plastic bento box used in the hotel sector) and Rashmi Mohotti (product: a compostable alternative for plastic take away fruit juice cup used in supermarkets), to receive the start-up funding of a collective RS. 10 million to support the further development of their proposed business ideas while working closely with the respective John Keells Group Businesses.
Ajit Gunewardene stated “At a time when environmental challenges are pressing, initiatives like this provide a platform for passionate entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas and drive positive change. The commitment of John Keells to fund such endeavours aligns seamlessly with the growing importance of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations. Supporting and nurturing these startups not only fosters disruptive innovation but also contributes to a sustainable future which exemplifies the synergies between corporate citizenship and entrepreneurial spirit.”
John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), is the largest conglomerate listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, operating with over 70 companies in 7 diverse industry sectors. With a history of over 150 years, John Keells Group provides employment to over 14,000 persons and has been ranked as Sri Lanka’s ‘Most Respected Entity’ for the last 18 Years by LMD magazine. John Keells Holdings PLC was ranked first for the third consecutive year in the ‘Transparency in Corporate Reporting Assessment’ by Transparency International Sri Lanka. Whilst being a full member of the World Economic Forum and a participant of the UN Global Compact, JKH drives its CSR vision of “Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow” through John Keells Foundation and through the social entrepreneurship initiative, ‘Plasticcycle’, which is a catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.