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our story

To everyone employed by Lanka Kade our work is about more than just toys. It is about giving real opportunities to real people to enable their independence and give them the ability to provide for themselves and their families with pride.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time, little did we know how much Lanka Kade would become our lives!”

Having left Sri Lanka in 1995, neither Diane (resident for 5 years) nor native Sri Lankan, Upul, wanted to lose contact with the country and people they both loved. Therefore, they set up a small import business to maintain links with Sri Lanka and provide employment for Upul in the UK.

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“We chose the name Lanka Kade which translates as ‘the Sri Lankan shop’”.

Their ability to speak directly to the people in their native language enabled them both to understand in detail, all issues a producer might experience. Not just those concerning supply, production, employment and pricing. Their extensive experience of living and working with Sri Lankans provides an essential insight and understanding of the culture, plus a love and respect for the people there.

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“This was a defining moment; it dictated the business ethic of Lanka Kade.”

Whilst in Sri Lanka, the couple met some locals outside a toy factory, only to discover they were ex-employees, chasing payment for work completed three months earlier.

So incensed at this injustice, they decided there and then that they would only buy from people who cared about their workforce.

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“Lanka Kade began with a few boxes stored in our front room.”

Starting out was incredibly tough, Diane was a full-time teacher, whilst Upul travelled extensively in the UK searching for potential producers and markets for their products. Upul had a lot to learn, including the language, the culture, and the geography. Neither of them had previous experience or knowledge of running any business. But they did know Sri Lanka.

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“Lanka Kade provides continual orders that in turn provides regular incomes to more than 200 Sri Lankan families!”

To offer stability to their Sri Lankan producers they first had to build a strong, healthy business in the UK. As sales grew steadily, all profits were reinvested back into the company. As their relationship with their producers strengthened, so did the weight of their responsibility...

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“Lanka Kade is the UK’s biggest supplier of fair trade toys made by family enterprises in Sri Lanka."

Everyone, friends and family included, has worked incredibly hard to establish Lanka Kade as the efficient and principled business it is today, operating from their custom-built storage and distribution warehouse in Leicestershire.

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contact us

tel: +44 (0) 1858 463850

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our fair trade recognition

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