Sunday, 26 May 2024
World Bank IFC supports Sri Lanka's SME, women biz rollout

World Bank IFC supports Sri Lanka's SME, women biz rollout

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has readily extended its support to women business and SME initiatives by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce thus boosting Ministry’s blueprints on Lankan SME development.

Praising Minister Rishad Bathiudeen for his ‘holistic approach to Lankan entrepreneurship’, a high profile IFC official said that IFC is ready for a pioneering, four year-long intervention in Sri Lankan women business–and to directly partner with 15 Lankan firms to enlist more women in corporate decision making.

IFC shall collaborate in Sri Lanka's projects, the Head of IFC’s Gender Secretariat Henriette Kolb said in Colombo recently. IFC’s high profile Henriette, who was a former member of Democratic Party nominee for President of US Hillary Clinton's ‘International Council on Women's Business Leadership’ and a former CEO of ‘Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’ was meeting Minister Bathiudeen on 26 October in Colombo. Minister Bathiudeen was joined by his senior advisor Himali Jinadasa and other top officials.

Minister Bathiudeen, briefing IFC’s Henriette, said: “Our Ministry is working on the National SME Policy where a bigger role for women entrepreneurs are envisaged. National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA) and Industrial Development Board (IDB) under my Ministry are working to develop women’s entrepreneurship and NEDA is working on market access for women. IDB preparing to develop women owned businesses and planning training programs in rural areas in ten Districts at first, and all the other Districts in four years. My Ministry also started work to open a major project-150 women led apparel cottage factories, the first batch in Districts of Monaragala, Polonnaruwa, Ampara, and Mannar. There will be six month’s initial training by Sri Lanka Institute of Textile and Apparel (SLITA) and Juki (sewing) machines given to them to start the factories. National Design Centre gives the design training. When their industries finally start to become businesses, they will then be transformed to Cooperative Society Units with buy-back assurance from the government, an important aspect here is that the factories are linked to the buyers directly, eliminating the middlemen. This is a new enterprise model and the pilot project has been successful! the ministry will also start e-biz training next month (November) for entrepreneurs to take them online.

It is estimated that Sri Lanka has 1.09 Million Micro, SME and large enterprises, of which around 587,300 are registered while another 432,300 are not. 25% of all “registered” enterprises are owned by women (26.3% in micro scale, 8.3% in small scale, 6.1% of medium scale and 4.6% of large scale enterprises under women ownership). The IFC can, as a development organization, support breaking down these barriers in Lankan women’s business and SMEs.”

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