The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Partnership for Accelerating Results in Trade, National Expenditure, and Revenue (PARTNER) activity, with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), have completed an on-the-job coaching program for 50 Development Officers (DOs) attached to the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB).
At an award ceremony on 18th January 2024, SLEDB, USAID PARTNER and CCC, recognized the officers for completion of the coaching program, which included a three-day residential program followed by a one-month “self-coaching program” guided by experienced master coaches. The coaching prepared the officers to mentor other DOs attached to the SLEDB tasked with uplifting the export potential of regional small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Kingsley Bernard, Chairman of the SLEDB stated, “I strongly believe that this program has empowered the EDB Officers and the Development Officers with knowledge to strengthen the capacity of regional SMEs, enabling these businesses to connect with the export value chain and to enter the international market. Finally, this will help improve regional-level export figures and, ultimately, increase the overall income of the country.”
The coaching for 50 DOs is a sustainability initiative, which was delivered as a follow-on to a larger capacity building program supported by USAID PARTNER with CCC as the implementing partner from August 2021-April 2023. In total, 317 DOs attached to EDB across Sri Lanka participated in a 5-day curriculum-based classroom training to enhance their ability to support regional SMEs to reach export potential.
“Playing a significant role as the implementing partner of this collaborative initiative underscores the CCC’s commitment to fortifying Sri Lanka’s export landscape, and empowering our SMEs with the knowledge and tools to ensure enhanced competitiveness and sustainable growth,” said Deputy Vice Chairman of the CCC Mr. Bingumal Thewarathanthri.
In Sri Lanka, USAID supports SMEs with direct technical and financial assistance, while working closely with stakeholders to improve the enabling environment that impacts SME competitiveness. Gabriel Grau, USAID Mission Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives underscored USAID’s commitment to inclusive private sector-led growth, stating “Small and medium-sized businesses are at the forefront of businesses affected by Sri Lanka’s economic crisis. The ongoing critical reforms in Sri Lanka are essential for the country to reemerge as a resilient economy, with small businesses continuing to be the engine of commerce and growth. By offering technical assistance, the United States, through USAID, aims to help boost Sri Lankan exports, create jobs, and, ultimately, contribute to putting money back into the pockets of citizens”.
The Sri Lanka Export Development Board, known as EDB, is Sri Lanka’s apex organization for the promotion and development of exports established in 1979.
USAID’s Partnership for Accelerating Results in Trade, National Expenditure and Revenue (PARTNER) Activity is a $19 million, five-year initiative to minimize bottlenecks to trade, bolster Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and strengthen the capacity of Small and Medium Enterprises, private sector associations, and chambers of commerce to promote a vibrant private sector in Sri Lanka. PARTNER is one component of the longstanding partnership between the American and Sri Lankan people to support self-reliance and promote a healthy, educated, and employed population. To find out more about USAID’s work, please see usaid.gov/sri-lanka.
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce is the oldest business Chamber in Sri Lanka, and a leading representative voice of the private sector. It is a confederation of trade associations, regional and sectoral Chambers of commerce and industry, bilateral business councils and employer organizations in Sri Lanka.