ACTED in Sri Lanka is implementing a four-year European Union-funded project aimed at reducing poverty levels and supporting socioeconomic development in Uva and Central Provinces. The project supports marginalised populations—namely women, people with disabilities and people from rural plantations— to further engage in their local economy and to improve their livelihoods.
ACTED has recently finished selecting 320 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to participate in this project. These businesses operate in the dairy, floriculture, fruit, spices and vegetable value chains in four districts. Many of the selected MSMEs are small, family-run businesses that work in informal sectors in rural areas.
In order to identify appropriate enterprises and to encourage marginalized groups to apply, ACTED issued a call for Expressions of Interest (EoI) in local newspapers and magazines. Field-level staff helped guide potential applicants through the process by hosting information sessions that clearly outlined the project goals and benefits for the local population. Through this process, enterprises that showed potential for value addition, business expansion and job creation were identified for the project.
Following an administrative check of the EoIs, eligible applications were then assessed by a selection committee composed of the project team and external officials to ensure transparency and accountability. The committee considered the viability of the MSMEs by assessing their turnover, employment levels and potential to sustainably expand. From this shortlist, project staff visited the MSME operation sites to observe and validate the information. Finally, business owners were called for an interview with the project team to discuss potentially expanding their businesses and to confirm their commitment to the training program. This process also allowed MSME staff to ask questions and understand how the project activities will promote their business development.
Based on the field visits and individual interviews, 320 MSMEs (160 per province) were selected as project beneficiaries, of which 35% are women-led. The final list of MSMEs was endorsed by government officials and published in government offices. Through this project, these 320 MSMEs will strengthen their businesses by partaking in tailored organizational training, developing risk-sensitive business plans and creating market linkages, all in order to increase employment levels and promote sustainable economic growth throughout Sri Lanka.