Unilever Sri Lanka and the Industrial Development Board (IDB) signed a three-year memorandum of understanding to uplift SMEs in Sri Lanka. This is a public private partnership between Unilever and the IDB to jointly support the growth and development of 20 Micro Small & Medium Scale entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka every year through the Industrial Development Fund (IDF). The IDF, under the supervision of the Industrial Development Board, and conforming to guidelines of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka provides financial capital in the form of low interest, repayable loans to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), enabling them to commence or expand local manufacturing in sectors prioritized by the Ministry of Industries to fuel an export-oriented economy. The first batch of loans were handed over to 10 female micro entrepreneurs at the occasion of the International Women’s Day on the 12th of March 2024.

Under this initiative, Unilever will contribute to the IDF, a portion of the revenue generated from its own and ongoing SME upliftment programme, “Saubhagya”, which, over the last 20 years has empowered over 15,000 rural females to start their own door to door selling operations with the provision of an initial stock of Unilever products.

Ali Tariq, Chairman & CEO of Unilever Sri Lanka, said, “Supporting the growth of small businesses, especially those managed by women, encourages the contribution and participation of all in the growth and success of Sri Lanka. We are grateful to the Ministry of Industries and the Industrial Development Board for inviting us to support their programme that will impact more than 60 small businesses and their families over the next 3 years”.

Dr. Saranga Alahepperuma, Chairman of the Industrial Development Board stated,” The SME sector stands as a cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s economy. IDB is steadfastly committed to providing SMEs with comprehensive support in terms of encouragement, promotion, and development. Notably, Women Entrepreneurship plays a vital role in fostering socio-economic growth. We express our deep gratitude to Unilever Sri Lanka for their contribution to empowering women entrepreneurs, thereby propelling the nation towards overall success.”

Hon. (Dr.) Ramesh Pathirana, Minister of Industries, also stated, “We are going through a decisive moment in the history of Sri Lanka where even the smallest actions we take can decide the wellbeing of our future generations. To ensure a fairer and more equitable outcome as we journey towards economic recovery, we must take care that we don’t leave behind anyone in the economy including MSMEs. In this regard, as the government, we are thankful that Unilever has stepped forward to help the local industry.

This partnership builds upon Unilever’s existing commitment to supporting MSMEs in Sri Lanka. The company anchors one of the largest value chains in the country, supporting small and medium businesses who form its eco system of manufacturing, distribution, and marketing operations to provide daily essentials to every household in the country every day.

Launched on International Women’s Day, this initiative underscores Unilever and IDB’s shared commitment to driving inclusive and equitable development and the importance of public-private partnerships for scalable impact.


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