Woman in Innovation: Nip Wijewickrema
"One step at a time and slowly it'll become second nature."

Each Wednesday we interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries everyday!

What are you working on?
For the last five years, I’ve run GG’s Flowers & Hampers which is a social enterprise florist and gift hamper business that provides meaningful employment for people with special needs. I started this because of my beautiful sister who has Down Syndrome – and over the last five years, we’ve had over 20 people with special needs work with us. We proudly pay our employees award wages – the same rate you or I would be paid, and we provide a safe, compassionate and caring workplace where they can truly flourish.

Why is innovation important to you?
When I think of myself, the first word I think of certainly isn’t innovation. Often, social enterprises aren’t necessarily deemed as innovative as they’re often simple concepts that are tweaked to be inclusive and directed towards having a social purpose. But the real innovative hack is how to have social purpose but also profitability to have sustainability. Being innovative is incredibly important – in a world where our technology is booming and our people are getting smarter and smarter. I don’t think as a society we’ve hacked how to be innovative and inclusive…watch this space though!

What drives you to make a difference?
My sister – she’s this incredible 19-year-old young woman…that just happens to have Down Syndrome. She faces a lot of adversity but naturally just seizes every day (and every opportunity to have frozen yoghurt).
The world isn’t super kind to people with special needs – but what I love about her is that she’s super kind to everyone else. Anyone that’s ever met a person with Down Syndrome will know that their love is infectious – and I love watching her interact with everyone and leaving them a little softer than before.

Do you have any advice for getting more women into the innovation ecosystem?
I remember the start of my journey involved so much faking it until I made it (and I’m not entirely sure I’ve made it yet!). I knew nothing and spent every second googling what on earth I was meant to do. But I just kind of did it and fumbled my way through… Failed so many times, I can’t even count. But once I got comfortable with risk-taking and failing…it just drove me to do better every day and soon those failures turned into successes.
My advice for anyone (but especially women) is to just start doing it. One step at a time and slowly it’ll become second nature.

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