As Sri Lanka faces its worst economic crisis in history due to the acute dollar shortage, a fashion designer-turned entrepreneur called on the Diaspora and migrant workers to purchase Sri Lankan products online.

GFlock Founder and CEO Ranil Willadarage, speaking to the Media in Colombo on Friday (1), highlighted that the fashion industry, particularly his company, was ready to compete with international brands and bring in foreign exchange.

At present, GFlock foreign sales amount to less than 10 per cent of its overall sales, according to him.

Pointing out that Sri Lanka has no proper mechanism to earn more foreign exchange in the near future, and that the country was working on obtaining credit lines which too are drying up, he said online sales of Sri Lankan goods could be a remedy to address the issue. According to him, the mechanisms to enable online purchases using dollars are already in place and it just needed some exposure to capture the proper audience. Urging the Diaspora and migrant workers to purchase their clothing needs online through Sri Lankan companies, he said he was willing to commit that the proceeds would go to the citizens.

“I am ready to give away 51 per cent of the shares in GFlock to the community, not as a sale, but as a donation,” he said.

Eying to list GFlock in the Colombo Stock Exchange in 2024, he said the company had the potential to compete with international brands in both quality and quantity, given that sales were available.

Responding to queries of how he planned to encourage the Diaspora and migrant workers to purchase Sri Lankan products, he said there was a need to change the mentality of all Sri Lankans living abroad and in the country.

When it comes to fashion, most Sri Lankans prefer international brands, and many retail outlets offer these products at a premium price.

However, according to Willadarage, Sri Lanka has the capacity to produce products which are much superior in quality to those brands and sell at a lower price, providing entrepreneurs more room to innovate and add value. 

By Mario Andree