Sri Lankan Entrepreneurs: Daughter Nicla, Grandmother Mercy, Dishna who has established two enterprises

Perera Family What a wonderful opportunity to meet this maternal lineage of women during our visit to Sri Lanka in May. Our National Tourist Guide Lecturer, Oscar Perera and I were having a conversation and found ourselves discussing my work in Nepal around Microcredit projects. One thing led to another and just before our departure an opportunity arose to meet Oscar's wife Dishna, his daughter Nicla and Mother-in-law Mercy.

Since 2003, I have spent considerable time in the company of Women in Enterprise at a local level, regionally, nationally and internationally undertaking research.

This connection and interest is ongoing. Dishna, with the support of her family, has established two businesses. One offers tourists the opportunity to be part of their Cooking Classes they operate at Green Green Garden, Negombo, Sri Lanka - Email: was with us for four weeks.

What you can expect with their hospitality is a visit to the local vegetable or fish market with them in a tuk tuk and pick the best produce for cooking. These will be used in the demonstration, provided by Chef Dishna as she produces a traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry dishes. It is a beautiful setting which is at the entrance of their home.

The 2nd enterprise that has been established by Dishna and a small group of women with local government support assistance, secured access to a permanent 'Pop Up' site, on the side of a busy road. They operate their floristry services five (5) consective days a month.

Erin Pope - Moorine Rock, Eastern Wheatbelt. Completed Bachelor of Agribusiness (Hons) at Curtin University in 2017

"I recently completed a 2 month internship in Sustainable Agriculture with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies on Kibbutz Ketura, Israel.

This was my first introduction to desert agriculture and the challenges facing food production in an extremely low rainfall part of the world. In the southern Arava region, I saw that there was a large reliance on the production of dates as an agricultural enterprise.

Micro-algae production is an enterprise that could potentially help to diversify local farming systems and provide alternative income generation

Planting I think micro-algae has a huge role to play in our food system with its ability to reproduce quickly and utilise minimal inputs, but more research is needed to fine tune and adapt the system to suit different farming regions.

The Arava R&D Centre holds an important role, both locally and globally, in exploring different agricultural enterprises that can be established in dryland and desert areas without putting additional pressure on the environment.

Algae farming is gaining a lot of interest in Australia as a future industry due to its use as human and animal food, pollution control and in the pharmaceutical/health industry.

I am particularly interested in this research area as it is an agriculture system that is transferable back to my local area in Western Australia."

April 2018 - Mai and other Scholarship holders being welcomed to the Australia Scholarship Club of the University of Melbourne.

2018 Cohort I received an update from Mai, who I worked with on an ABV assignment at REACH (NGO) in Hanoi City, Vietnam in 2017.

Back then her dream was to obtain a scholarship and study her Masters in Development at an Australian University. She applied for this while I was with the organisation.

That dream became a reality and this is her response.

"For me, being in Australia is about exploring and reconnecting. I've learnt so much about Australian nature, culture and people. More than everything else, it has been such a heart-warming experience seeing again Australian friends whom I met in Vietnam, meet new ones and I felt so welcome by their hospitality.

I am lucky to have an opportunity to study at the University of Melbourne, one of the best universities of Australia. Here they create an encouraging environment and provide every support that needed for students to grow in their academic knowledge and social skills.

It's also a plus that the university is close to the city center so it is quite convenient if you want to keep up with cutural vibrancy happening in Melbourne." (Email 5th April 2018).

Mai is on the far right with her traditonal big smile - Students come from: Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Papua New Guinea.

[Once], Em Hair Salon had a manager [it} started to run better. There are two [classes] completed with 6 students. Two (2 ) of them are people living with disability. Both of them got job now [in their] hometown.

We have 3 stylists, one of them is female as Viti's suggest[ed]. They provide service to customers and train students. Each student has a training plan to follow. And the quality is checked regularly.

English for hairdressers have been applied for both salon and hair dressing class at REACH.

We have more customers who are foreigners. Many of them know about EM by googling "hair salon in Hanoi" - EM is listed on the first page with lots of good reviews.

We are planning to expand the training and promotion for more customers in the [future].

[Viti] You are always in our memory as a guider, a [teacher] who helped lots from the beginning. Your documents still be our guideline for developing step by step.

Nguyen Ngoc HANG (Ms.) Training Coordinator cum Business to Youth (6th December 2017).

Viti with staff at EM Hair Salon with Ms. Dzung EM Business Manager - standing far right.

Group of Afghanistan Women attending the English Conversation Classes at Sudbury House. Their teacher on the right is Hadia Masud who speaks five languages.


Once a week these Afghan women and other women from Asia meet at Sudbury Community House to build upon their capacity to speak Englisg through conversational classes.

Hadia Masud (far right) an Afghan woman is the teacher and is supported by volunteers. Hadia speaks five languages and my time with the group has provided an insight into the importance such classes provide to migrants who are now living in Australia.

Kas Jason Hohneck

Kasper Jason Hohneck (1984 - 2007)


Dedicated to our gifted and loved brother

Nicky, Amanda and Rachel November 2017.

"A beautiful free spirit cheerish and loved by all who knew him."

3-month assignment in Hanoi completed (10 June 2017)

Em Hair Salon TEAM June 2017

What a privledge it was to gain an insight into an NGO's approach to establish a Hair Salon as one of two projects they are working towards building sustainability.

Australian Business Volunteers (ABV) is the organisation who supported my assignment and Bob Waite from Australian International Volunteer Development (AVID on a longer assignment were at REACH at the same time. Therefore, it made sense - that to a degree - these two assignments would merge as Bob's role is around Governance and Business Structure linked to Social Enterprises.

Em Hair Salon targets local and foreign customers and working towards being a Top End Hair Salon. During my assignment REACH identified and appointed a former REACH graduate as Business Manager of Em Hair Salon and this enbaled progress towards setting up the foundations: procedures, regulations and policies and models. Ms Dung Nguyen also has a marketing and hairdressing owner/operator background so it was a great 'fit' for the role. She was a joy to work with and lstening to her develop her English Language skills will remain.


"To address the ongoing needs of the most disadvantaged youth across Vietnam and empower them by:

  1. Becoming a leading provider of innovative, practical and demand-driven skills training;
  2. Equipping our students with the confidence, belief and self-respect needed to grasp new opportunities;
  3. Providing solid employment opportunities while also providing workforce solutions for our business networks;
  4. Providing support and encouragement for our graduates' future development;
  5. Contributing to the national strategy for social & economic development."

Hands with Hands update post Earthquake Appeal, 2 years on - Author Kira Kay sourced 27th May 2017

Education tools and sponsorship"Close to 9,000 people died this day under collapsed buildings, and many thousands more suffered injuries. Even though the intitial emergency has passed the post-disaster situation is a complex environment to work in. I wish to give some insights here from my own experience, to help my friends and donors have a glimpse of our work in the field.

Having now spent the past several weeks here in Nepal, visiting the different projects... I am feeling thankful for what we have achieved together...

Despite the complicated challenges, Hands with Hands has been part of the positive impact:

  • Navigating the various government offices to gain the full approvals for our preferred safe eco building materials methods...
  • Rebuilding 8 permanent classrooms, with 4 more under construction;
  • Helping relocate temporary school buildings so that permanent rebuilding can get under way...
  • Moving house in our Annapurna Childrens Home and completing full child welfare audits to prove that our care of children meets the highest standards;
  • Successfully negotiating with a bullying group which was determined to take funds from our womens cooperatives, and ending the year with positive financial outcomes and expanded program;
  • Expanding and continuing the development of our organic agriculture that directly create food security for our CHildrens Home as well as providing life skills education..."

Building earthquake safe schools

" Many villagers do not have the resources or knoweldge to rebuild safely. This inspires our intiation to provide training and technology in the hands of villagers so they can rebuild one school house at a time. This is a long term initiative.... Through my years (17 now!) of working with my Nepali friends in various projects in education, children's and women's welfare, and organic agriculture, I have learned many good lessons. The most important is to respect the local knowledge and support empowerment of local people through education and skills development.."

Hanoi in Vietnam on a 3-month assignment

With REACH Staff at an event they hosted

Arrived early March and spent the first week settling into the hussel and bussel of what is Hanoi. My first time here and once settled into my accommodation then met staff at REACH, who have been so welcoming and supportive. Within the first week I felt very much at home and are looking forward to the challenges and development of the desired outcomes with this project.

The opportunity to see, work with and contribute to this organisation's services is a privledge. Changing the lives of disadvantaged youth (16-30 year olds) by providing access to formal education and training. With a staff of over thirty (including volunteers like myself) REACH provides training in various fields including: Web & Graphic Design, Hospitality, Hair Dressing, Food & Beverage, Housekeeping and Cooking.

After they graduate REACH provide their students with job placement support over six months. This is supported by strong businesses networks developed over many years. For some cooking students, this has included the opportunity to gain experience overseas in Japan as part of their training.

I am based at REACH's Head Office who also have 4 Outreach Centres located across Vietnam.

Travelling around Hanoi where the majority of people with their children get around on motorbikes is in stark contrast to Perth Western Australia - read more

I was invited to join a group of international network of researchers collaborating on the question, Is there a Global Living Wage that enables people, organisations and communities to prosper and thrive... read more about this new initiative