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The Success Story of Sri Lanka’s Richest Man

We have published an article about “Past and present wealthiest of Sri Lanka” couple of months ago, where we have listed the top 20 billionaires as per the Sri Lanka’s stock market. Recently the Forbes magazine have hinted the most likely four wealthiest Sri Lankans. The names are given in the alphabetical order as they couldn’t rank them due to most of their wealth is held in private assets. The four wealthiest Sri Lankans are namely; Dhammika Perera, Sohil & Rusi Captain, Harry Jayawardene and Hari & Mano Selvanathan. Although Forbes has not ranked them, Dhammika Perera is the name given by 99% of people who will answer the question of who’s the richest person in Sri Lanka. This man will enter to the world’s rich list within next couple of years and below you find the success story of this great achiever.

According to Dhammika it was his mother who was a school teacher who has given him the first lessons of cash management. She used to give him an allowance of Rs.500 a month at age 11, and for eight years he had to stretch that money to pay for drinks, food and school fees. The Young investor Dhammika’s first investment was putting money into a street hawker’s business in front of his uncle’s café and eventually rented slot machines and installed them inside the café. He managed to enter to the University of Moratuwa but left it in 1987 to took a three months of technical training in Taiwan, then returned home and started a business making slot machines under the name of ‘Tito Electronics’, instead of just renting them.

Dammika Perera - The richest Person in Sri LankaIn 1992-93 he ventured into gaming by starting casinos. The ownership was him but the management was a different company. Dhammika’s working strategy is owning the business not operations, not running the business. He always stress this point that his interest lies only in owning the business not running it. “The professionals will run the business. When you take my business models only professionals can run the business. If there are any shortcomings in those who manage the business then I will step in and rectify it”.

In 1996 Dhamiika Perea entered to the Colombo Stock Exchange by investing Rs.300,000. He took three years to watch and learn how this system works. During that time he became well versed in how the stock market works and started purchasing stocks from the entire stock market, about 100-200 at once and to analyze whether the stocks could be sold or not and thereby able to gained knowledge. That is how he became the invisible driving force in CSE and the richest in term of CSE.

Dhammika Perera’s net worth is assumed to be around $550 million. His achievement of becoming the richest in the country is not merely a luck or inherited fortune. Dhammika developed a 20-year plan for his fledgling businesses to become the country’s leader in each of 12 sectors by 2019, with the help of a mentor at the age of 32 in 1999. Nadeem ul Haque, the senior resident representative of the International Monetary Fund in Sri Lanka was this mentor who encouraged him on how to behave, how aggressive to be. In the same year he started meditating and continued two years and stopped it as he felt that the experience was becoming too intense.

“It was through hard work not necessarily physical work but mentally where I was able to analyze and develop successful business models. From the beginning I worked only according to a mathematical structure or model. Through that I know the quickest and best path to take and as such make decisions quickly. At that moment I am 100% sure that my decisions are correct. When I input the required data into the business model and if it fits then I know that the decision is correct. Therefore it is not difficult to move from one place to another”.

As of today Dhammika succeeded becoming the leader in 9 of the sectors, building best-in-class companies in tourism, banking, apparel and other industries. His Royal Ceramics Lanka appeared in 2010 and last year on FORBES ASIA’s list of the best 200 listed Asia-Pacific companies with under $1 billion in annual sales. Today his empire boasts 23 listed companies–that’s 8% of all companies traded on the Colombo Stock Exchange–and dozens of private ones. His reach extends to Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, the U.K. and elsewhere, and those outfits employ some 62,000 people. He supplies Walmart in Canada, makes blue jeans for Levi’s and produces tea that’s shipped worldwide. He says his companies pay 5% of all corporate taxes in Sri Lanka, and his goal is to raise that number to 10% because “more taxes mean companies are getting] more business and a bigger market share.”

“What I can tell everyone is that if you have a life that is focused and if you are committed then anyone can achieve greatness. The country has reached that stage where there are opportunities for everyone”.

Sandun W

Sandun joined Lanka Help Magazine as a contributor in June, 2011. He has been consistently writing articles to our magazine. Many useful articles of this site are under Sandun's name.

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