© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Occupations Food Production Market Small Business Building Other Occupations

Small Businesses

There is a very wide variety of small businesses. These are just a very few examples

The coir rope seller - buys from local producers & sells to small shops

Plastic Flower seller - buys from wholesalers & distributes to shops. Flowers used in e.g. bridal bouquets, arrangements in homes etc. Fresh flowers wilt quickly in the tropical heat

Ice cream man.

Sea shell ornaments. These shell ornaments are mainly made from shells washed up on the each & sold mainly to local tourists.

Sadly there was a lucrative trade in seashells collected from the open sea by local divers & fishermen to supply a mainly ready market overseas for aquaria etc. The rare & beautiful shells taken, left the sea bed & rocky reefs decimated. There was a similar trade in the beautiful coral reef fish that could be collected by snorkellers that has led to the stripping of the coastal coral reefs. (Whilst snorkelling on a coastal reef, I witnessed a lorry load of snorkellers delivered to the reef who then subsequently “scooped up everything into plastic bags that were then transferred to sea water tanks on the lorry. Apparently they were destined for aquaria, many overseas. The snorkellers were paid according to the rarity of what they caught & the amounts. Sadly many of these fish died in transit as well as horrible  business decimating the beautiful coral reefs.)


Fortunately this type of trade in shells & coral reef fish is now strongly discouraged & outlawed by the Government who are encouraging the poor fishermen to see the tourist potential for these reefs e.g. working as snorkelling or diving guides etc around the coral reefs and marine environment.

Small Shops and Roadside stalls

Small shops are often home made “kiosks” at the end of a compound. They flourish particularly in rural villages and paddy field areas. The owners typically buy their stock at wholesale prices from larger shops in the towns. These are household goods - soap, kerosene, matches, candles dry goods (rice, dried fish, curry powders, cooking oil  tea, sugar, milk powder etc.). They serve their local area who are thus saved the often long and arduous journeys into town. These shops are often a social centre where friends meet in the evening to play the popular board game. Others provide light refreshments to travellers , fishermen or people return from work.

Growing and Selling Plants

This is a popular occupation as Sri Lankan housewives love the adorn their  gardens with potted plants. Houses along the main roads have a ready market from passing travellers. Others sell from market stalls or as they become well-known from their gardens.

See also seb-sections  “Miscellaneous” under “Other”

You Tube Video Links

Micro Credit & Janashakthi Development Bank


Sri Lanka: Roadside Blacksmith


This man pushes his hand cart with basic essentials along the main road and along lanes .