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International development

Completion of our EFECS project in Sri Lanka

December 3, 2021

Better integrated value chains, increased innovation capacity, and a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem

"This is a collective effort to reach the market with quality produce. With reliable market linkages, we're well protected thanks to the project." This is the testimony of D. Jayasena, a Sri Lankan pepper producer. Like thousands of others, he has increased his skills and income through the support he received from our EFECS project.

The five-year initiative, which concluded in September 2021, was designed to increase the financial security of Sri Lankan entrepreneurs, particularly those in the traditional rice, pepper, banana and tourism value chains. This large-scale project was carried out with the financial support of Global Affairs Canada and in collaboration with the SANASA cooperative financial group in Sri Lanka.

The EFECS project was based on three main strategies:

  • Strengthening the financial and business management capacity of Sri Lanka's micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), particularly those run by women
  • Improving the product and service offerings of SANASA entities to better meet the needs of MSMEs and contribute to strengthening value chains
  • Promoting the socioeconomic contribution of cooperatives to the national authorities for consideration in the development of policy and legislation on MSME financing

The project's key results at a glance

  • The project enabled the establishment of the SANASA Entrepreneur Financial Expertise Center (SEFEC), which will continue to operate on a sustainable basis.
  • 2,552 staff and board members of SANASA entities received training.
  • 15 new products and services were designed to better serve MSMEs, including 12 training programs and 3 loan products.
  • 8,053 MSMEs (5,641 of which were led by women) accessed business development services tailored to their needs. Among the training offered was an experimental program developed by HEC Montréal and SIRLab to promote innovation. A total of 680 entrepreneurs participated, including 435 women.
  • 17,012 MSMEs (10,417 women-led) were able to access loans adapted to their needs, including 1,380 MSMEs in the 4 targeted value chains.
  • 7,231 MSMEs had access to an insurance policy.

Ultimately, the project had a major impact on the capacity building of MSMEs, including a majority of women-led businesses.

  • 2,260 MSMEs engaged in value-added commercial activities
  • The viability index of supported enterprises increased by an average of 27%
  • Entrepreneurs' assets increased by 17% on average (10% increase for men and 20% for women)
  • An impact study conducted in 2020 with a sample of 300 entrepreneurs about the trainings offered through the project reveals that:
    • 56% of respondents saw a major improvement in their business as a result of the trainings received
    • 81% improved their business management skills, 76% increased their revenues, 74% were able to increase their investments and 70% diversified their business activities
    • 96% gained a better understanding of the importance of financial services and 88% increased their savings

With the support of the project, entrepreneur M.D. Wimalasena was able to form a pepper growers' association and obtain an organic production certificate that allows him to sell his pepper at a better price. He also introduced turmeric cultivation, which provides him with additional income. "I'm proud and very optimistic for the future," he concludes.