In support of two critical issues – women’s entrepreneurship and the prevention of gender-based violence – the U.S. government recently awarded $100,000 grants to the Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce (HDCC) and the national NGO Women in Need (WIN). The grants, funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will support training and start-up funding for budding female entrepreneurs in the South, and training and curriculum development on gender-based violence in the North.
In Hambantota, the HDCC will work closely with local women’s organisations to identify 80 enterprising women interested in starting their own businesses, but lacking the means to do so.
These women will receive training from the HDCC on basic business operations, bookkeeping, documentation and finance. During the training, participants will develop business plans, which will then be judged by the HDCC on the feasibility of the idea being proposed.
The authors of the winning plans will receive business loans ranging from LKR 20,000 to 200,000.
“HDCC is happy to partner with the U.S. government to empower women in the Hambantota district,” said Azmi Thassim, Director General of the Hambantota Chamber of Commerce.
“We are confident that this project will build leadership and technical skills in female entrepreneurs, giving them the opportunity to earn more money and change their lives.”In the North, the grant to WIN will support the organisation’s ongoing work in Jaffna and Puttalam to assist victims of gender-based violence.
The grant will fund training for 400 government officials, service providers and community members on the causes and consequences of gender-based violence, services available for victims, and the prevention of further violence.
WIN will also use the grant money to develop a new gender-based violence training curriculum, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice. The training will be used to strengthen the counselling and mediation skills of Court Family Counsellors around the island.
“The support extended by the U.S. government to assist vulnerable women, especially in the post-war areas of Sri Lanka, is an important step forward in the country’s development,” said Savithri Wijesekera, WIN’s Executive Director.
The two grants were awarded through the U.S Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Initiatives (S/GWI), a fund established to support organisations working for the betterment of women’s social, economic and political status.
The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided development and humanitarian assistance in developing countries worldwide for nearly 50 years. Since 1956, the U.S. government has invested over $2 billion to benefit all the people of Sri Lanka.