Twenty graduates of the U.S. embassy’s Rural Women Entrepreneurship Program held a trade fair at the American Corner Kandy to showcase their products on January 30. The women participated in a six-month course ‘Zero Money: How to Start a Business’. The program taught them the skills needed to launch and run a small business. The American Corner Kandy has conducted the program since 2016.
More than 100 women from underserved communities have participated in the program, which is led by Dr. Shobana Rajendran, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Economics and Statistics at the University of Peradeniya. Dr. Rajendran developed and implemented the program to provide women with the necessary skills to be self-sufficient and support their families.
The program helps build their self-confidence with hands-on mentoring from experts. In addition to business skills, participants also learn basic English to enhance their marketing abilities. Graduates serve as role models, strengthening their families and communities.
“It’s very heartening that the support from the U.S. Embassy is instrumental in the success of this program, which helps vulnerable women reach their dreams. The smooth collaboration with the American Corner Kandy provides us a warm and enabling environment with useful resources, and this is a crucial component to success,” said Dr. Rajendran.
Sixteen of the 20 participants in the 2019 group have already launched their own businesses. Each group’s program concludes with a trade fair that allows participants to showcase their merchandise, including agricultural items, paper products, and handicrafts.
University students served as project interns, gaining exposure and experience in program administration and implementation.
The U.S. Embassy’s American Corners in Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna, and Matara offer a range of programs for local communities that equip participants with the knowledge and skills to be successful at school and in business.