With an aim of ensuring economic empowerment for women and youth, and supporting them to transform into successful entrepreneurs, the British Council in Sri Lanka through its Enterprise Programme has engaged in a series of initiatives to provide vital skills and knowledge needed to affect social change in their communities.
The Enterprise programme, funded by the European Union and implemented in partnership with CARE Deutschland-Luxemburg (CARE DL) and Chrysalis, provided skills development, mentoring and training, to women and youth in the Uva and Central Province.
The British Council’s role is specifically to develop and create awareness regarding the social enterprise sector with expertise from the UK and to nurture social entrepreneurs in marginalised and impoverished districts of Badulla, Monaragala, Matale and Nuwara Eliya.
Among the initiatives undertaken was the conducting of an Active Citizens Social Enterprise Leadership programme. The programme promoted intercultural dialogue and community-led social development by providing mentoring in social leadership skills. During a period of 12-months, an impressive 24, five-day capacity building workshops were held with 628 participants being trained.
Upon completion of this stage, the British Council selected 188 participants for Phase 1 of its Business and Investment Readiness programme (BiR). The nascent or aspiring social entrepreneurs selected were provided coaching and mentoring opportunities to enhance and scale up the impact of their work and develop leadership strengths to take their organisations forward.
Expressing her opinion on the benefits of the programme S.M. Premadasa, a participant from Yalkumbura, Bibila said, “Though I have been in the business more than 11 years, I did not have clear understanding of serving society. The training supported me to serve the community and create a community-based mission for my organization.”
During Phase 2 of the BiR programme, 55 potential social entrepreneurs were chosen from the four districts and provided mentoring with the development of a one-year social action plan, to transform into social entrepreneurs with a clear, social vision and mission. Sanjeevani Munasinghe, Head of Programmes, British Council said, “Both the women and youth in SMEs have a common problem of being marginalized and impoverished. Our work through this programme will support women and youth entrepreneurs from a variety of enterprises to increase their effectiveness and impact in the work environment and create social entrepreneurs who effect tangible change.”