The ‘Genesis’ space of Dilmah tea Company, Maligawatte, Colombo saw one of the busiest days it would get in the time to come, on 28 April 2023, as it hosted the grand finale of a laborious journey of 11 months; The Lost Ingredients Lab. The six companies shared their success stories with the audience who had gathered at Genesis.

About the Lost Ingredients Lab

Lost Ingredients Lab is a collaboration between Dilmah and Good Life X which was launched with the aim to bring a platform for Sri Lankan organic and regenerative agriculture and food sectors to integrate their value chains through innovation and collaboration for meaningful growth.

It is funded as an initiative under the Multi-Donor Action (MDA), ‘Support to Small and Medium Enterprises in the Organic Agriculture Sector’ Programme jointly co-financed by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The programme aims at creating investment opportunities in the domestic agri-food sector, emphasising the growing importance of digitalising the domestic organic food sector and supporting organic food producers in Sri Lanka to access new markets, particularly in the EU.

“In speaking about the Lost Ingredients Lab, it basically runs two programmes in parallel, Garage programme and Accelerator programme. Each category has three companies which were selected through a rigorous process, from around 600 applications which were originally received for the project,” shared Founder and CEO of GoodLife X Randhula De Silva, at the beginning of the programme. “Through the Garage programme, three identified manufacturing companies working with green jackfruit, seaweed, and gotukola (Centella asiatica) will be empowered to reach international markets. Through the Accelerator programme, three agri/food related tech startups will be on-boarded to create innovative and smart solutions for the food and agri sector. This is a step to bridge the long-lasted gap in the agriculture and nature-based solutions manufacturing industry. The six companies worked hand-in-hand as three pairs empowering each other.”

Addressing to the global market

In fact, this is a novel experience to the global market as well. As De Silva mentioned, even the global giants have been amazed at the hearing of this initiative. “For an instance, the world had no idea of putting a sea weed company and a block chain technology company together. Nevertheless, we did it through the Lost Ingredients Lab project, and it worked!” she said. On a further note she shared that through this programme, they are creating entrepreneurs who are globally minded, thus globally fit. They have the potential to serve for the changed interests of the world that demand a more organic, more sustainable shift in the food manufacturing industry, as well.

“There are lot of positive outcomes of this initiative which we can see and table. Nonetheless, there’s an intangible part as well. With this new road that we have taken, we are changing the perspectives, and the mindsets of the entrepreneurs. And we are creating new partnerships, matchmakings, and discovering new markets. This will expand the horizon of our agri and nature-based solutions industry further and further in no time,” De Silva added moreover.

Success stories

The programme featured the authentic success stories of the six companies that have been working with the Lost Ingredients Lab during this exhausting but rewarding journey. The founders of the amazing start-ups demonstrated using visual aid as well, their journey from the beginning to the point that they are at now. It is really amazing how the mutual relationship between the garage companies and the accelerator companies have enabled the growth of all companies.

They, proving the proverb ‘nothing is impossible’, showcased how they had turned out the ingredients – perhaps overlooked, perhaps lost – into value added products that would conquer the international market. The other thing about these businesses is that they have generated a plethora of direct and indirect job opportunities for the locals who now highly benefit from the businesses. Especially, the women folk in the areas where the project was launched, have been economically empowered thanks to the Lost Ingredients Lab project.

One message that all their voices resonated in unison was that the Lost Ingredients Lab programme has opened portals for them to be innovative and successful as entrepreneurs in ways which they had not even given a thought about before.

This is, in fact, how we should connect with nature, utilise it while conserving it for the future generations who are yet to come, while adding value to whatever that we obtain from nature to get recognition in the global market. It is a classic way to mark the island’s name in this vast world of commerce. Ceylon Today wishes courage and good luck to the Lost Ingredients Lab and the new agripreneurs to grow bigger and better, so that their message would be cloud and clear for the future entrepreneurs of the country too!

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