DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY To Make a Difference

Situated 75 kilometres away from the Capital City of Colombo, the small village of Lower Garagoda is found in Yatiyantota, in the hilly central region of Sri Lanka. This is where the story of Berendina begins.

Mrs. Berendina Borst from the Netherlands, visited Sri Lanka for the first time in 1982, where she saw most of the people living below the poverty line. In addition, these villagers were engaged in unproductive trades and subsistence farming, while living in basic or makeshift houses. 

Also living in this village was a Mrs. Eva Mudalige, a remarkable teacher of English, who was committed to social service. Mrs. Borst met Mrs. Mudalige and they became close friends. Eventually, becoming partners in work, they wanted to help this poor community of Garagoda come out of poverty. 

A Trust named 'Berendina Stichting' was created in 1987 by Mrs. Borst to continue her work, which she had begun in Sri Lanka, before she passed away that same year. She appointed her banker, Mr. Bas Timmermans as the Chairman and Prof. A. H. M. Santen and Mr. John Smit as Directors.

That same year, Berendina Stichting started working in Yatiyantota, continuing to help the poor families in Garagoda. This village received support to construct drinking water facilities and toilets and promoting health through nutrition and healthcare programmes, particularly for children, the elderly, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Berendina also built and repaired their homes.

In 1992, Berendina Stichting appointed Mr. Dulan de Silva as the lead consultant, along with Mr. Anura Athapattu and Mr. Jagath Godakanda as the other consultants, after which the Garagoda Development Project was started and the first office of Berendina was established and its first staff member, Mr Wasantha Gunawardana was recruited.

In 1997, Berendina Stichting signed an MOU with the Ministry of Policy Planning of the Government of Sri Lanka and became a recognized International NGO working in Sri Lanka. In 2006, the Berendina Foundation was registered as an International NGO under the NGO Secretariat of the Government of Sri Lanka.  

In 2005, at the request of Berendina Stichting, the formation of Sri Lankan organisations commenced. Berendina Development Services (Guarantee) Ltd. (BDS), was established in 2005. In 2007, Berendina Microfinance Institute (Guarantee) Ltd. (BMI), was formed and in 2015, Berendina Employment Center (Guarantee) Ltd. (BEC), was established. Berendina Micro Investments Company Limited (BMIC) was formed in 2014, to support the expansion of the microfinance work of BMI.  In order to obtain the license from the Central Bank, the microfinance activities of BMI were transferred to BMIC, in 2017.

In 2019, Berendina Micro Investments Company Ltd (BMIC) became the first micro finance institution to receive the license from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.