The Government of Canada recently entrusted Développement international Desjardins (DID) with a new mandate to support entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka. Among others, the project aims to establish a financial center for entrepreneurs in this country through a partnership with SANASA, the largest financial cooperative institution in Sri Lanka. This initiative was announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion, during his visit to Sri Lanka last July.
The outcome of this 5-year initiative is to provide adapted financial and non-financial products and services to entrepreneurs, thus supporting the local economy in a sustainable manner. Non-financial services, including advice for SME start-up and agricultural production, will target women more particularly.
In the end, the project will help stimulate private sector development and job creation, improving the livelihoods of entrepreneurs operating micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), particularly in the agricultural sector.
SANASA serves nearly one million members disseminated in all parts of Sri Lanka, through approximately 1000 community-based co-operative societies. DID and SANASA initiated their partnership in 2005 in the context of a post-tsunami assistance program. Along this relationship, DID contributed to computerizing operations in some of SANASA’s Primary Societies and to develop microinsurance products. Since then, DID and SANASA have remained in contact through Proxfin, an international network coordinated by DID.