An Echelon Media Company
Sunday December 3rd, 2023

Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka celebrates young movers & shakers in 35 Under 35 list

Cosmo introduced its first special edition for the year: The 35 Under 35 Issue, featuring a list of 35 incredible young women, under the age of 35. They are movers and shakers in their own right in various industries, from entrepreneurs to eco-warriors to creative pioneers to activists and more.

Azara Jaleel, Anya Ratnayaka, Anuki Premachandra, Achala Samaradiwakara and Aarthy Arun

Rathnakala Kumaragurunathan, Sabrina Esufally, Shalindri Malawana, Shana Dandeniya and Dr Shanika Arsecularatne

The goal of the list was to put the next generation of trailblazers front and centre with the intention to celebrate these women doing their thing and inspire everyone to not let fear hold them back from reaching their full potential. Cosmo’s cover stars are an epitome of these qualities. RukshikaSeneviratne, Sharanya Sekeram and Shana Dandeniya also feature in the 35 Under 35 list and are the brand’s first trio on the cover!

Anoka Abeyrathne, Anitra Perera, Stephanie Siriwardhana, Nadiya Fernando, Shiandra Gooneratne

Rukshika Seneviratne, Shehani Rasaputra, Savera Weerasinghe, Selyna Peiris and Sharanya Sekaram

Despite a lot of uncertainty, we hope that the stories of these dynamic women will offer inspiration, propel readers forward, push them out of comfort zones, encourage them to stand their ground and help ask the difficult questions.

Melissa Dharmadasa, Iromi Perera, Lakshini Fernando, Lonali Rodrigo and Bimanee Meepagala

Nabeela Yaseen, Bhoomi Harendra, Randhula De Silva, Niyoshala Kumar and Nishelli Perera

We approached compiling this edition to refute the notion that women can only be deemed “successful” in her profession over a particular age—20- and 30-something-year-olds rarely making the cut. But, we constantly see young women stepping up and taking the reins. As such, the objective of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka’s 35 Under 35 list was to identify a group of young women under the age of 35 who are influential and leading the charge in exciting ways. We split the women into four main groups—builders, innovators, activists and rulebreakers.

Shifani Reffai, Tanaz Pestonjee, Thajithangani “Thaji” Dias, Yusra Aziz and Thyagi Ruwanpathirana

Here are the women who made into the 35 Under 35 list:


[Lankan women creating a name for themselves, scaling a business, non-profit or idea, and making an impact locally and/or internationally.]

Dr Shanika Arsecularatne, Director at Christell Skin Clinic

Randhula De Silva, CEO of Hatch and Director of GoodLife Accelerator

Shalindri Malawana, General Manager of Liquid Island

Tanaz Pestonjee, Head of Lifestyle Brands at Abans PLC

Niyoshala Kumar, Director of Beverly Street and Founder of Ayana Apparel

Melissa Dharmadasa, Owner of Bakes By Bella

Lakshini Fernando, Economist at Asia Securities

Nishelli Perera, Co-Founder and Director of Yeti Isotonic Drinks

Aarthy Arun, Employment Lead of the Women in Work programme at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Bimanee Meepagala, Vice President at NDB Wealth Management

Rathnakala Kumaragurunathan, Associate Director at Acuity Knowledge Partners

Nadiya Fernando, Founder/Director of You by The Wax Museum



[They’re introducing new things in Sri Lanka making their brand, business or industry better than it ever was.]

Lonali Rodrigo, Founder and Lead Designer of House of Lonali

Azara Jaleel, Editor of ARTRA

Rukshika Seneviratne, Co-Founder and Lead Designer of RUMPUNCH

Shana Dandeniya, Founder/Director of Café Kumbuk, Plus Nine Four and Quality Control

Anuki Premachandra, Former Communications Manager at the Advocata Institute

Shifani Reffai, Co-Founder of White Noise Media and Co-Producer of Shh The Talkshow

Shehani Rasaputra, Founder and CEO of Just Goodness

Savera Weerasinghe, CEO of Ananta Sustainables

Yusra Aziz, Founder of Podi Jobs and Co-Founder of WERK

Selyna Peiris, Head of Business Development at Selyn



[They’re the voices of change, bringing about social and political transformation against the odds.]

Sharanya Sekaram, Feminist Activist, Researcher and Writer

Bhoomi Harendra, Activist at National Transgender Network

Iromi Perera, Activist and Researcher at Law & Society Trust

Shiandra Gooneratne, Founder of Concrete Angels

Anya Ratnayaka, Wildlife Biologist

Nabeela Yaseen, Founder of Not Your Nangi



[They’re breaking down barriers, and tossing out the traditional in favour of the new and effective.]

Stephanie Siriwardhana, Activist, Singer and Entertainer

Thajithangani “Thaji” Dias, Principal Dancer at Chitrasena Dance Company

Anitra Perera, Managing Director/Coordinating Principal of Alethea International School & Alethea School

Achala Samaradiwakara, Co-Founder of the Good Market

Sabrina Esufally, Director Business Development and Innovation at Hemas Manufacturing Pvt Ltd

Anoka Abeyrathne, Founder of Sustain Solutions

Thyagi Ruwanpathirana, Sri Lanka/ South Asia Regional Researcher Amnesty International


Download a free copy of the magazine here and visit for more on the list.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

UAE investors express interest in Sri Lanka’s energy, tourism, ports, real estate: Ali Sabry

ECONOMYNEXT – A group of investors based in the United Arab Emirates have expressed their interest in renewable energy, tourism, ports, and real estates, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told Economy Next.

A Sri Lankan delegation led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe is in Dubai to take part in the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).

Sabry said a group of large investors met the President on Friday and discussed possible opportunities in Sri Lanka.

“We met big investors here particularly on renewable energy, tourism, port development and also infrastructure development and real estate. That’s where they are doing very well,” Foreign Minister told Economy Next.

“Our embassy will organize a higher-level business delegation to visit Sri Lanka to look at the available opportunities.”

“There is a lot of traction and interest in Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka has been exploring to attract investors to crisis hit Sri Lanka which declared bankruptcy in April last year with sovereign debt default.

Since then, most investors have taken a step back from investing in the island nation due to its inability to serve debts and uncertainty over such investments.

Several government officials said investors may start pouring dollars into Sri Lanka very carefully after they see some certainty of debt repayments. (Dubai/Dec 3/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka to push for green initiative investment “after OCC finalizing” debt deals – President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will push for investment into green initiatives globally after the Official Creditor Committee (OCC) finalizing on the island nation’s debt restructuring, President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Economy Next at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).

President Wickremesinghe along with local and global advisors has inaugurated three ambitious projects to convert climate change-led disaster funding, which is mostly seen as donations, into viable commercial enterprises involving private sector investments.

The idea is to rally all the global nations in the Tropical Belt threatened by disasters related to climate change and bargain collectively with advanced economies which emit more greenhouse gases into the environment resulting in global warming for more green initiatives like renewable energy projects.

Wickremesinghe initiated a Climate Justice Forum (CJF), Tropical Belt Initiative (TBI), and called on the world to help establish the International Climate Change University in Sri Lanka.

His moves have been welcomed by global leaders, though analysts said an initiative like TBI is a “bold and imaginary” step.

“This is the first step. We have now put forward the proposal,” Wickremesinghe told Economy Next on Sunday on the sideline of the COP28 in Dubai’s EXPO 2020.

“There is an interest. We have to wait for OCC finalizing (debt restructuring) before pushing for investments.”


Global investors are hesitant to invest in Sri Lanka due to its bankruptcy and sovereign debt default.

Sri Lanka is still recovering from an unprecedented economic crisis which has compelled the island nation to declare bankruptcy with sovereign debt default.

President Wickremesinhe during a forum on Saturday said his initiatives would help government in advanced countries not to use tax money of its own people for climate related disasters in other countries and instead, private sector investors could help by investing in renewable energy initiatives.

President Wickremesinghe’s government has been in the process of implementing some tough policies it committed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stabilize the country and ensure sustainability in its borrowing.

Sri Lanka is yet to finalize the debt restructuring fully as it still has to negotiate on repayment schedule of commercial and sovereign bond borrowing.

The OCC and Sri Lanka had agreed on the main parameters of a debt treatment consistent with those of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement between Sri Lanka and the IMF.

The members of the Paris Club which are part of the Official Creditor Committee are representatives of countries with eligible claims on Sri Lanka: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States of America.

The OCC has said it was expecting other bilateral creditors to consent to sharing, in a transparent manner, the information necessary for the OCC to evaluate comparability of treatment regarding their own bilateral agreement.

The OCC also has said it expects that the Sri Lankan authorities will continue to engage with their private creditors to find as soon as possible an agreement on terms at least as favourable as the terms offered by the OCC. (DUBAI/Dec 3/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka alcohol regulations may be spurring moonshine: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s alcohol regulations may be reducing access to legal products and driving illegal moonshine sector, State Minister for Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said amid plans to change opening times of retail outlets.

Sri Lanka is currently discussing changing the opening times of bars (retail alcohol outlets), he said.

Sri Lanka’s excise laws may be contributing to the growth of illegal products, Minister Siyambalapitiya was quoted as saying at the annual meeting of Sri Lanka’s excise officers.

Over 20 years legal alcohol sales have grown 50 percent but illegal products are estimated to have grown 500 percent, he said.

It is not clear where the 500 percent estimate came from.

In Kandy there was a bar for every 6,000 persons but in Mullativu there was one for only 990,000 persons and people had to travel 80 kilometres to get to a legal outlet, Minister Siyambalapitiya had said.

However Sri Lanka has a widespread moonshine or ‘kasippu’ industry driven by high taxes on legal products.

The widely used ‘gal’ or special arrack is now around 3,500 rupees and may go up further with a hike in value added tax. About 2000 rupees of the sale price is taxes.

After a currency collapse and tax hikes legal alcohol sales have fallen, leading to local sugar companies burying ethanol, according to statements made in parliament.

An uneven distribution of bars may also be driving people towards alcohol.

Alcohol sales is controlled on the grounds that it is an addictive product which can lead to poverty, ill-health, bad behaviour and criminal activities, though advocates of high taxes ignore the poverty angle.

High taxes are promoted by temperance movements some of whom have called for outright prohibition in the last century.

Temperance movements spread among evangelical groups in the West and were also embraced by nationalists/moralists and independence movements in colonial authorities.

Prohibition in the US however led to more criminal activity as an organized crime took to bootlegging. (Colombo/Dec03/2023)

Continue Reading