Bamber Watson Associates imports ethically-produced products.
The company is the brainchild of founder Garry Stiven, who visited Sri Lanka in the immediate aftermath of the 2004 tsunami to help with emergency relief work.
When Garry, a former field director for Save the Children who has spent many years living abroad, saw the extent of the devastation, he knew it would take many years for the worst-hit areas to recover.
Garry used his experience from previous events, such as Hurricane Fifi and the Guatemalan earthquake to help with a number of immediate relief projects. But he wanted to find a way to help the Sri Lanka people in the longer term and he turned his attention to finding an export market for the country to bring in new revenue and boost the economy.
Reading a lifestyle magazine one evening Garry chanced upon an article about the health benefits of coconut oil and its increasing popularity in California and an idea was born.
Garry researched coconut oil production in Sri Lanka, discovering that most of the country’s exported oil was processed and sold to major food manufacturers. The virgin coconut oil had a limited market for cosmetic production in Italy and was not available in the UK.
Garry found a supplier, returned to the UK and, together with a colleague , has become the only importer to the UK of Sri Lanka virgin coconut oil, under the brand name Coconoil.
Garry Stiven continues to fundraise for Sri Lanka on a personal basis, raising money to help replace the school for the villages of Mawella and Hanwella, both of which were destroyed by the tsunami. Children from the villages lost their families and their homes and the creation of a new school will go some way to helping them to rebuild their lives.