19th April 2018

Citi CCC Rural Development Project

Citi-CCC Rural Economic Empowerment Programme was initiated in June 2015 with the financial assistance of Citi Foundation with the main objective of empowering rural entrepreneurs through financial inclusion by providing training on financial literacy and business management skills as well as providing micro financing through facilitating linkages with banks.

The second phase of the Citi-CCC Rural Economic Empowerment Programme commenced in March, 2017 has been working with over 400 rural entrepreneurs from 11 Divisional Secretariat (DS) Divisions in Anuradhapura and Galle Districts. These include five DS Divisions in Galle Districts namely; Niyagama, Nagoda, Velivitiya-divithura, Neluwa and Thawalama and six DS Divisions in Anuradhapura District namely; Nochchiyagama, Nachchaduwa, Galnewa, Eastern Nuwaragampalatha, Thalawa and Mihintale.

The project activities of the second phase commenced in the above selected DS Divisions with an awareness session about the project and assistance offered through the project so that they have a clear understanding on the project interventions and dispel any false expectations from the project. Project staff of the Chamber, HNB staff including the Regional Manager for the respective region, Branch Manager and Micro Finance Officer of the respective branch, CEO of the District Chambers and Senior Officials of the respective Divisional Secretariats participated in these awareness sessions.

HNB officers explained the details of loan schemes available for micro and small scale entrepreneurs as well as the loan application and evaluation process.

HNB officers also highlighted the wide experience, they have gained in working with micro and small entrepreneurs through their Gemipubuduwa programme and their capability to extend loan facilities to all creditworthy entrepreneurs with viable business ideas/plans within the shortest possible time. Officers of Divisional Secretariats stressed the importance of empowering rural entrepreneurs through programmes of this nature led by the private sector. Whilst extending their fullest co-operation for successful implementation of the project, they requested the beneficiaries to make best use of the services/assistance offered by the project to improve their businesses.

During the awareness session, baseline information on the beneficiaries’ businesses, issues faced by them and the type of assistance required were obtained through a simple questionnaire in order to assess current status of their businesses/livelihoods and to plan project activities to suit their needs. The project conducted awareness sessions in 11 DS Divisions mentioned above with the participation of over 600 beneficiaries.

Baseline survey revealed that a large percentage of the participants are already engaged in some livelihood or a business venture and most of them have expressed interest in obtaining business management training, marketing assistance, advisory services to solve some technical problems, technical training and financial assistance.

The project partners strongly believed that proper understanding of basic business management principles and planning the business in a methodical manner is of paramount importance for success of their businesses. Therefore, the project offered basic business management training for selected beneficiaries through 3 structured training programs based on “Foundation to Improve Your Business” module of ILO accredited SIYB Training Program. The resource person for the training programs was a Master Trainer of ILO-SIYB Program, National Facilitator of ILO – Know about Your Business module and an experienced Business Development Expert and the 3 training programs covered following subject areas. The training programs were conducted using the participatory training methodology where the resource person facilitated the learning process through close interactions with the participants so that they can easily understand the subject areas covered by each training program.

Citi-CCC Rural Economic Empowerment Programme linked the beneficiaries who successfully completed the FIB training module and developed a basic business plan with the respective branches of HNB. After careful assessment of creditworthiness of beneficiaries and the feasibility of their business plans, HNB facilitated loans to beneficiaries linked by the programme.

In addition to offering small number of loans by each branch in the respective area, HNB provided loans to around 30 beneficiaries from Nochchiyagama, Nachchaduwa and Galnewa DS Divisions on September 22, 2017. On April 4, 2018, HNB through its Pitigala Branch facilitated loans to 70 beneficiaries of the programme from Neluwa and Thawalama DS Divisions. Altogether, the Citi-CCC Rural Empowerment Programme has so far facilitated loans to over 100 rural entrepreneurs during the last one year period.

Shanaka Waduge, Head of Corporate Affairs of Citi Bank, Sri Lanka, Jude Fernando, Deputy General Manager, SME and Development Finance of HNB, Visvanath Gunawardena, Senior Manager, Development Banking of HNB, Jagath Dissanayake, Regional Manager, Development Banking of Southern Regions of HNB and Chandrarathna D. Vithanage, Senior Assistant Secretary General of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce graced this occasion.

Representatives of all partner organizations including Citi Bank, HNB and CCC highlighted the importance of empowering and providing necessary guidance and assistance to rural entrepreneurs, who plays a catalytic role in uplifting the rural economy making a significant contribution to national economic development. 

DailyFT

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