MAS Holdings changing lives in post conflict Killinochchi
By Srimal Fernando, Global Editor
In many developing countries in Asia, the apparel industry is the largest employer in manufacturing. Given the enormous export potential of Sri Lanka, the apparel industry sector grew from a cottage industry to machine-operated large factories during the past twenty years. Today the apparel industry in the country is the second largest export commodity group with over US$4 billion (Estimates 2013) in exports annually.
MAS Holdings, one of Sri Lanka’s largest apparel conglomerates, founded by Mahesh Amalean, Ajay Amalean and Sharad Amalean with more than 28 factories and design studios, employs over 58,000 people across five countries. The Sri Lankan apparel giant MAS Holdings has established two massive factories in Killinochchi in the former war-torn district in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.
The MAS Holdings large garment factory “Vaanavil” at Ariviyal Nagar is built on the side of the newly constructed Colombo – Kilinochchi rail road that links the North and South of Sri Lanka. The MAS Active (Pvt) Ltd started its operations in Killinochchi in mid last year, three year after the Sri Lankan conflict ended. In September 2013 the “ Vaanavil” factory was opened with nearly 450 employees and will expand up to 1800 employees by the end of 2015. 90 percent of “Vaanavil” factory workers are women from Killinochchi. In addition, thirty employees with technical skills are from the South of the country.
The Global Editor for Foreign Exchange Diplomatic Society (FETDS), on a visit to the Killinochchi “Vaanavil” factory operated under MAS Active (Pvt) Ltd met Ms Shyamali Liyanage, Manager Human Resources and Administration. Ms Liyanage, a NDT graduate from the University of Moratuwa in Textile Clothing Engineering, has been working with MAS Holdings at various locations in Sri Lanka for more than ten years. In an exclusive interview with the Global Editor, Ms Liyanage said, “Most of the girls in the age group of 18 to 30 years who are working here were affected by the conflict. Among the total workforce there are some ex combatants too.”
“Some of the girls are the sole earners and have started to rebuild their lives. “They have started to construct their own houses and help their other family members,” said the Manager for Human Resources at MAS Active “Vaanavil” factory.
Taking the lessons from the other MAS holdings factories located in Sri Lanka and in other countries MAS Active “ Vaanavil” factory promotes workplace ethics through its “ Go Beyond Program” to empower women . The various projects and activities implemented by the “ Vaanavil” factory located in Killinochchi has provided further means of fostering understanding and will pave the way to achieve higher standards of sustainable development for the people of Kilinochchi in a post conflict situation.