Léo Moret and Dilsiri Welikala, the owners of Kitesurfing Lanka talk about how KSL started and how the whole community behind KSL changed their life and motivation to keep going forward.
Some further thoughts from Dilsiri Welikala:
When Leo and myself started Kitesurfing Lanka, we did a one page Word document. It spoke about the values we would like to inculcate through our business. One of the key aspects was COMMUNITY. We started the business as ordinary individuals. We had no big savings or financial backing. What we did have, was people who believed in us. Friends and families who through our association believed in helping us achieve our wild dream of creating a kitesurfing community in Sri Lanka.
I remember our long term kitesurfing family friends who live in Sri Lanka offering us a loan to start our business. I remember the Sri Lankan gentlemen, who I got to know through my work, that offered a part of his life savings as a loan. I remember our families giving their savings and trust in 2 ordinary individuals with the belief that we could do something extraordinary. We fast forward to the present.
Many people who experienced Kitesurfing Lanka are amazed at the hospitality and kindness of our team.
Some even ask me why. All I say is I am very grateful. There were people who supported us in a time of need and in their name we carry this legacy of hospitality and kindness. Our lives are too short to amass wealth and status – rather let’s lift each other up and give self-worth to those who need it.
The time of COVID really was a time where everything was questioned.
I even questioned if I was a good businessman as we had just a few months left of reserves to pay our staff before we would run out of money. It was then, that with our team, we reached out to our community for help by means of a fundraiser. We calculated that the repercussions would be for the entire summer season. So based on that, taking into consideration we take a pay cut but retain all staff, we figured out how much funds would be needed. We ran the campaign and the response blew me away. We were amazed at how many people contributed, shared and spread the post around. People contacted me personally, some did not have money but they assured me with their thoughts and prayers which were a strength in itself. Around two and a half weeks later we exceeded the campaign goal which was mind-blowing!
Social Capital was a term I got interested in after this.
When we think about the future. KSL never will be Leo’s or Dil’s. It will be ours. Ours meaning YOU who have supported us by sharing in our experience. I am more motivated to continue to be a blessing to others – people and community – in the name of you who supported and kept KSL afloat during the hardest years of our existence.
My life will never be the same.
As I write this, I work on a proposal to grow more mangroves and create an educational center, regrow more trees on our beach property, talk about potential waste management apps and solutions and say yes to talk to Management Trainees in the Corporate Sector via Zoom. I am encouraged by the goodness in people and now more than ever before, on a mission to use the tool of KSL to make a positive change in our community, country and world.