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Entrepreneurship can be defined as a dynamic process of vision, change and creation that requires an application of energy and passion toward the creation and implementation of new ideas and creative solutions. This process of innovation and new venture creation is accomplished through four major dimensions individual, organizational, environmental, and process and is aided by collaborative networks in government, education and institutions. All of the macro and micro positions of entrepreneurial thought must be considered while recognizing and seizing opportunities that can be converted into marketable ideas capable of competing for implementation in today's economy.
Mr. Chandra Wijenaike is the founder chairman of the largest and strongest non-bank institution in Sri Lanka at the moment. He nurtured and guided Central Finance Company PLC to its current state. Mr. Wijenaike was clearly a risk taker as we can see that he formed the company in 1957 which was an era where both the investors and creditors could not be trusted. But he took confidence in all of them and continued to build the finance institute in the hill capital of Sri Lanka, which was the first of its kind. He got into University of Ceylon but he had to drop out due to the illness of his father. Although he was not sorry about leaving the university, if he was able to finish studying he would have been just another civil servant. He was not born as an entrepreneur but he started training as a planter and got a thorough training.
Sri Lanka's business world was quick to recognize the wide and varied knowledge he possessed in the plantation and financial services sectors and his being invited to serve on 49 Boards, serves as ample testimony to the respect and regard which he was held.
2.0 Forming the Company
Mr. Wijenaike admired motor cars. He had a friend who owned a motor showroom in Kandy and often visited him to have a chat about the new cars he bought. There his friend told him that to finance his cars he had to go to Colombo every week which was about full four day's journey from Kandy to Colombo at that time. Therefore Mr. Wijenaike got the idea of forming a financial institute in the hill capital of Sri Lanka which was also the hub of commercial operations in the Central Province to offer hire perches services to customers. He had no idea how a hire purchase works and he was humble enough to get some sort of details from his friend. No feasibility study was done and the company was started with a capital of Rs. 170,000/= in 1957. It started its operations in a rented room at the Kandy Planters Club. Progress of Central Finance was slow in the initial days. But with the change of government and the open economy policy coming into play finance institutes were expected to provide hire purchase facilities to the public.
By the 1980's Central Finance has provided the financing for almost 30% of the private transport fleet operating on the road network throughout Sri Lanka. With that Mr. Wijenaike realized that no organization can be successful unless there was a strong personnel structure which can provide for future planning strategies and quick implementation in a rapidly changing and highly competitive economic scenario. Therefore Mr. Wijenaike started to expand the business and the management was strengthened.
As the business was growing Central Finance PLC moved onto different areas of businesses. Such as asset leasing, deposit mobilization, share portfolio management, bill discounting, real estate development, housing and insurance broking etc. Central Finance has now about 55 Branches Island wide which is the largest financial institute is functioning in Sri Lanka at the moment. Central Finance has achieved the rating of 'A+ (lka) awarded by Fitch Ratings Sri Lanka which is a higher rating than some of the commercial banks in Sri Lanka. Therefore as we can see Mr. Wijenaike got a new idea of starting a financial institute and making lives easy for people living in Kandy at that time. But he did not merely start this new venture to help the people only in Kandy; he developed his company and offered services around the country.
3.0 Attributes of the Entrepreneur
There are myths about entrepreneurs within Sri Lanka as well; Mr. Wijenaike has demolished all those. Main myth is that entrepreneurs are born not made. As we can see from the above given explanation Mr. Wijenaike was not born an entrepreneur his father was just a mere planter in a tea estate which in the early days Mr. Wijenaike himself followed, but he was born to a wealthy family. Therefore he had some sort of a help from his family but the idea of bring the financial service to the hill capital of the country is solely his innovation. He acquired knowledge from the help of his friends and family about the finance service.
Mr. Wijenaike also possessed entrepreneurial attributes such as commitment and determination, need for achievement, internal locus of control and opportunity orientation. His commitment and determination to improve the status of the company and to have a profit through it is highly appreciated within the business world in Sri Lanka. He was also driven by a strong need to achieve goals which he himself has imposed upon him. Mr. Wijenaike has actively looked for opportunities in the market by himself without relying in others therefore resulting in diversifying the company. He was also goal oriented and looking for ways to accumulate money and resources resulting in going for an initial public offer for the company in 1969.
4.0 Approaches towards Innovation
Mr. Wijenaike took the service of hire purchasing which was already done by banks in the capital of Sri Lanka and re invented that same concept in the hill country of Sri Lanka. This type of innovation is known as duplication, which is the replication of an already existing product, service or process. The duplication effort, however, is not simply copying bit by adding the entrepreneur's own creative touch to enhance or improve the concept and beat the competition. Therefore we can see from above Mr. Wijenaike managed to offer a similar service that the competitors are offering but at a place where the competitors are unable to reach at that time. Mr. Wijenaike offered it at a convenience place to the people who were residing in Central Province.
His source of innovation has been the trend of the economy at that time in Sri Lanka. It was after the independence in Sri Lanka; he has observed the society and its needs and identified the particular service for his home town. Also another source with regard to his innovation has been the industry and market changes. Mr. Wijenaike has been alert to the above given sources and has identified opportunities.
5.0 Innovator Actions Relating to Success
Mr. Wijenaike has been an action oriented person. If he has not been such a person who searches for new ideas and opportunities he wouldn't have found the opportunity to establish a financial institute. Also he has diversified into many areas presently where he found the opportunities for serve the people of the country as well as to spread his branch network.
He has also been customer oriented where he has provided the customers with a very competitive hire purchase rates.
He has started small in a rented room with a staff of only six. But after the initiation he has aimed high and we now can see the results of his success.
Mr. Wijenaike has also followed a milestone schedule where he has accomplished various things along the 50 years of the company history. He has not expected it all to happen at once and to grow the business step by step.
6.0 Dark side, Limitations of the Entrepreneur
Although Mr. Wijenaike succeeded in building his empire of a business he did have a dark side to it together with limitations and pitfalls.
The most significant dark side trait was the risk Mr. Wijenaike faced when he started this new venture. In that whole venture Mr. Wijenaike has the financial risk, which is most common to new ventures as well as the risk of his career since he attempting something that no other party in his home town has attempted, since he also dropped out of university and he didn't pursue much about the plantation field his career risk was very high.
A limitation with regard him would be the stress he encountered in immersion in business and people problems. Immersion in business would be that he had only six staff members initially and he had the highest responsibility then. Therefore he cannot just go on vacations with his family and leave his business to run itself. And the people problem would be that the staff he had was not much experienced and he was stressed out getting them into coming up to the expected standards of Mr. Wijenaike.
7.0 Future Challenges
Central Finance having passed the 50 years landmark in business have succeeded many mile stones in its journey. There has been an unbroken record of dividend payments to its shareholders within the 25 years of the company after starting to trade in the stock market. Central Finance has challenges ahead. Such as new financial institutes have come up and the commercial banks in Sri Lanka are matching the interest rates of Central Finance. The cost of expansion is going up and opportunities have risen in north and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka to expand the business. Now Mr. Wijenaike has stepped down from the chairmanship role and he is grooming his son to take the next chairman's role. So the son should be able to meet the expectations of the shareholders as well as the expectations of the customers in the future.
We can see that Mr. Wijenaike has been an unmatched entrepreneur in his time and identified the opportunity for a new venture creation and implemented his idea creation to a successful business. Mr. Wijenaike has achieved the status of a successful businessman due to the commitment, confidence, creativity, intelligence he had within himself.