Interview project:Nelaka-san

We interviewed Nelaka-san from Sri Lanka, a dear colleague of BlueCompass!


1. Please give short introduction about yourself and what brought you to Japan.

I am Nelaka Haturusinha who is currently working at Striders Corporation, Japan. I am currently in charge of the overseas operations of Striders. I am originally from Sri Lanka and came to Japan in 2013 to do my bachelor’s degree at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Oita. When I was around 5 years old, I watched “Oshin” teledrama in Sri Lanka and Since then I always wanted to come to Japan as I love the Japanese culture and the Japanese people. This dream became a reality when I was offered a scholarship from Ritsumeikan APU. This is how I ended up in Japan.


2. What do you miss most about your home country and how often do you get to head back?

What I most miss about my country is my family and travelling to tea gardens. I am the middle child of my family with an elder brother and a younger brother along with my parents. So I really miss spending time with them. We usually travel within Sri Lanka quite often. The central part of Sri Lanka is mountainous and is the home for Ceylon Tea. So that area has plenty of tea gardens and the bungalows from the colonial era (Sri Lanka was a colony of Portuguese, Dutch & British from 1505 to 1948). I miss those misty mornings very much. Since the company I work for has some investments in Sri Lanka, I usually travel to Sri Lanka at least thrice a year.


3. How did you choose your current role and career?

My life purpose is to bridge the gap between developing and developed countries. As a person from a developing country living in a developed country, I have experienced a big gap between these two. So I want to bridge this gap in 3 ways using my knowhow.

a. Supporting (providing capital & opportunities) entrepreneurs in developing countries to develop technologies / startups that will provide solutions to problems faced by developing countries.
b. Encouraging foreign companies to invest & conduct businesses in developing countries which will help to boost the local GDP.
c. Supporting the companies in developed countries who have the knowhow and capabilities (deeptech) to provide solutions to the problems mainly faced by developing countries.

So, I thought, Striders would be the ideal place for me to execute this as I could work as a bridge (“Kakehashi”) that connects the developing & developed countries while working in the finance sector. Also I plan to start a venture capital fund of my own in the coming years. Therefore, I think the experiences from my current job will bring much value.


a. 途上国が直面する問題の解決策となるテクノロジー/スタートアップを開発するために、途上国の起業家を支援する(資本と機会を提供する)。
b. 発展途上国に投資しビジネスを行う外国企業を奨励し、現地のGDPを押し上げる。
c. 主に発展途上国が直面する問題の解決策を提供するノウハウと能力(ディープテック)を持つ先進国の企業を支援する。


4. What are your key interests outside the workplace / in your free time?

I like to spend my free time cooking and hanging out with my friends mostly. Cooking gives me an opportunity to distract myself from work and concentrate on cooking. This is something like meditation also. So I like cooking tasty food (still work-in-progress) which will help to please myself and to calm myself. Also friends play a big part in my life. So I like to spend some time hanging out and drinking with them.


5. What volunteer and charity initiatives are you involved in?

Currently, I am the President of Sri Lankan Professionals Association in Japan (“SLPAJ”). SLPAJ is a voluntary not-for-profit organization that is comprised of the Sri Lankan professionals living and working in Japan. Our aim is to create value and increase the QOL of the Sri Lanka professionals in Japan, connect the Sri Lankan community in Japan with other communities and to act as a bridge connecting Japan and Sri Lanka. We conduct networking events, workshops to gain new skills, charity projects, mentoring Sri Lankan startups, etc. So I would like to make this an opportunity to invite you all for our future events.


6. How can we as Blue Compass help out in any way?

As explained above, my life purpose is to bridge the gap between Developing and developed countries. So I think, BlueCompass could support me and SLPAJ in conducting collaborative events to expand the network and thereby increase our well-wishers. In 2022 also BlueCompass helped SLPAJ in providing lunch for more than 1000 students in Sri Lanka for a period of 3 months. We could do similar projects in the future as well. But rather than giving one time donations, I am now planning to provide more sustainable solutions such as the improvement of entrepreneurship. Given the quality of network of BlueComopass, I think could be a great value addition.