Maneesha Wijesinghe-Nelken

I was born and raised in Sri Lanka. After high school, I moved to the USA for my undergraduate studies. After graduating with a degree in Physics, I decided to work in technical solutions at tech startups. After working in the industry for about five years, I realized my true passion lay elsewhere.

The world’s waste crisis affected me from a young age. I used to drive to school past a mountain of waste that was right in the middle of Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Years and years of lack of proper waste management and growing waste generation rates accumulated into a massive garbage dump. I remember asking myself as I drove past it every day, “What went wrong here?”. A few years ago, this mountain collapsed, killing many people and damaging houses around it.


The waste crisis is no simple matter because it continues to grow, every second. That is why I decided to start Kola Project, introducing a zero-waste retail supply chain to retail businesses and consumers.