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Youth are Active Participants in Community Development

Nowadays, the involvement of youth and leadership role in the community development are very minimal. To address this issue and to actively involve the youth in the community development initiatives, Berendina Development Services (GTE) Ltd (BDS) joined hands with the British Council in Sri Lanka for a special project under the title - “Empowering and Engaging Youth in Local Government Initiatives (EEYLGI)”.

Through this project, youth were mobilized and actively engaged as contributors in government programs to address social issues faced by the community in the Nuwara Eliya District. Accordingly, youth were facilitated to identify the critical issues in their respective areas for which the government also taken initiatives to address it. The selected youth came up with their own five small projects to address critical social issues and those projects were implemented successfully.

1. BLUE FRAME - Inland Fishery (Fresh Water Fish Harvesting) Project (Annfield Estate)
In the Annfield Estate, child malnutrition was found as critical issue as 30% of children under five years are identified as underweight category and the 25% of children are born with low weight at birth. Consumption of improper nutrition food was identified as one of the reasons for this prolonged issue in the community. To address this issue, youth initiated a project to increase the availability of nutritious food at local level which could be consumed freshly and at an affordable price. It was decided to build a freshwater pond in which fresh water fish can be released and harvested for consumption. The youth engaged in negotiation with the estate management and government officials to get the necessary resources. As a result, the estate management provided the necessary land to establish the pond and DS Office provided a soft loan to purchase and stock the fingerlings and fish feed. NQDA provided all the technical inputs with regard to this project. Youth are now managing the pond and the first harvest was held in June 2020 with the catch of 60 Kg of fish. This enabled the community to purchase nutritious food for their children. Further, the youth continues to engage in spreading the awareness among the community about the importance of consuming healthy and nutritious food and availability of fresh water fish in coming future.


2. AVALATHIKARAM - Time for Action (Kotiyagala Estate)
In the Kotiyagala Estate, youth found early marriages among the teenage girls and women and sexual abuses are very high due to the early school dropout, unaware of the social and sexual exploitation. In order to educate and safeguard them from being exploited, youth in the area initiated the project call “Avalathikaram”, partnering with relevant institutions such as Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Education (MOE). several initiatives such educating girls and women on sexual exploitation and harassment, sexually transmitted diseases, importance of education and rejoining the school etc. were undertaken in this project initiative. As a result, it was noted that the interest has been increased among the teenage girls in rejoining the schools and to be vigilant on illicit affairs. Village level complaints and issues have been reduced considerably and community is now well aware of the issues related to early marriage. Youth continues to make awareness programs among the community as a follow up of the project.

3. MOTTU - Time to Bloom (Annfield Estate)
In the Annfield Estate, it was found that most teenagers of the estate are employed in other districts as domestic workers. As a result, they face number of harassment and undergo various sexual abuses. It was identified that the major contributor for domestic employment is early dropout from school. In order to address the early drop out issue and to motivate the children and youth to understand the importance of education and to continue their schooling, youth in the area has initiated the awareness program by means of street drama and a short film to reach out to parents, children and teenagers. The short film which was created for awareness has won a National level award. The youth of the estate further partnered with NGOs like LEADS to conduct awareness program in the Badulla, Monaragala and Nuwara Eliya districts. There is a 13-members’ trained group to guide the school leavers on their career development. After the implementation of the initiative, 10 school leavers re-joined the school again and some others were linked with Berendina Employment Center (BEC) to undergo training on skills development.


4. DREAMY DESTINATION - Aberdeen Waterfall (Dehigasthena)
Aberdeen Waterfall is the 18th highest waterfall of the island. Bathing in the middle of the pool and swimming to the middle has caused many deaths in the past as swimmers were not aware of the depth which goes up to 60 feet. There weren’t any warning signs or board depicted this danger condition in the past. Also, the village people had the habit of dumping garbage in the adjoining areas of the waterfall.

In order to save lives of visitors to the waterfall and make them enjoy the nature without getting harmed, youth in the area formulated and implemented an initiative partnering with the District Secretariat office to put up a sign board cautioning about the death trap of the pool and to protect from accidental drowning. This action also created social cohesion among the Tamils and Sinhala as both community got together and implemented the activity.


5. CROWN – Youth Drug Prevention Initiative (Dehigasthanna)
Drug abuse among the youth living in Dehigasthanna village is very high at an alarming rate and it led the youth to dangerous situations and turned them into unproductive. There aren’t any recreational activities in the village which contributed majorly for youth to get into unwanted habits. To commence a productive entertainment for youth of the village, the youth community came up with the innovative idea of engaging the youth in the sports activities.
As the response mechanism, they introduced several sports coaching activities such as chess, carom and gym at community centers to engage the youth in the evening hours and to create the interest in sports. As a result, youth are well motivated and utilizing their time in engaging in sports activities and taking the initiative to introduce sport like Volleyball coaching and workout at gym. This initiative has resulted in reduction of drug abuse considerably and now youth are engaged more in sports and recreation activities. To successfully implement the program, youth have created a network and partnership with DS Office, local government and Non-profit organizations as well as with sports personalities.

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Adding Value in Sri Lanka

This blog comes to us from Claire Kelly, WPF's Regional Director for Asia/Pacific. (March 24, 2017)

Adding Value: Berendina's Enterprise Development Services (EDS)

Providing access to credit is the fundamental service of all of Whole Planet Foundation's microfinance partners. But what is the best way to support borrowers as they use their loan capital to start or grow a small business?   It is actually a very difficult question.

Client trainings can leverage the investment that clients can make in their business, but they cost money to implement. To cover the cost of client trainings, an institution may need to raise interest rates or add fees. And perhaps there are some clients who would prefer to pay a cheaper price for the loan rather than pay for trainings that may or may not be applicable to their business needs. In addition to increased costs, clients may end up forced to waste their valuable time in a training that somebody else has decided is valuable.

WPF's Sri Lanka partner, Berendina, addresses this challenge with a market-driven training program called Enterprise Development Services (EDS). According to BMI's annual report, “The objective of the EDS service is to ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of the borrowers' business ventures by developing a wide variety of their skills, which primarily include their technical skills, business management skills and financial literacy.”

Clients choose which trainings they would like to attend and the clients pay for their desired training sessions. Berendina staff therefore has to work hard to respond to client demands for high quality support on topics the clients feel can develop their business.

Berendina has developed 3 types of client support enterprise services:
• Type A EDS: This includes technical training (e.g.: sewing, food processing & preservation), agriculture training (e.g.: poultry management, composting) and financial literacy. These trainings focus mostly on teaching or developing skills that clients can use as income-generating activities. At the loan disbursement, borrowers are issued coupons valued from 1200-2500 LKR (about $8-16USD), depending on the size of the loan.  The total value of the coupons are repaid over the course of the loan along with the principal and interest payments for the loan.

• The borrower can redeem the coupons for participation in various trainings, depending on her preferences. For example, the clients in the photo below each paid 4 coupons (1200 LKR, which is about $8) to participate in a sewing training. The cost covered 2 full days of instruction from a local specialist (resource person), materials for the course, and meals each day.  If the borrower doesn't wish to participate in any training during the loan cycle, she can cash in the coupons at face value at the end of the cycle towards the repayment of the last installment. Each Berendina branch has one EDS officer who is in charge of running the program. The EDS officer gets feedback from the clients about what trainings they are interested in and s/he uses this information to register qualified resource people into the pool of Berendina instructors. Then the EDS officer works with the microfinance officers to promote the upcoming courses and organize the event. EDS is especially popular in the WPF-supported Kaliwanchikudy branch thanks in large part to the dedicated staff there. At this point, Berendina has a gross profit for the direct services and the entire program is 80% self-sufficient.

• The borrower can redeem the coupons for participation in various trainings, depending on her preferences. For example, the clients in the photo below each paid 4 coupons (1200 LKR, which is about $8) to participate in a sewing training. The cost covered 2 full days of instruction from a local specialist (resource person), materials for the course, and meals each day.  If the borrower doesn't wish to participate in any training during the loan cycle, she can cash in the coupons at face value at the end of the cycle towards the repayment of the last installment. Each Berendina branch has one EDS officer who is in charge of running the program. The EDS officer gets feedback from the clients about what trainings they are interested in and s/he uses this information to register qualified resource people into the pool of Berendina instructors. Then the EDS officer works with the microfinance officers to promote the upcoming courses and organize the event. EDS is especially popular in the WPF-supported Kaliwanchikudy branch thanks in large part to the dedicated staff there. At this point, Berendina has a gross profit for the direct services and the entire program is 80% self-sufficient.

• Type B EDS (Business Support) Clients can also receive individualized assistance from their Berendina Enterprise Development Officer. Typical business support services include helping a client to register her business, helping a client to sign up for livestock insurance or giving business advice on something like advertising. While the technical trainings require coupons, the Type B and Type C EDS services are offered free of charge as a benefit to Berendina members.

• Type C EDS (Special Income Generating Projects): Berendina members who participate in the same type of enterprise also come together periodically as part of Type C EDS. While the members in the photo below belong to different cluster groups for their borrowing, they all weave natural baskets from Palmera leaves.  This group can have more business opportunities when united together.  For example, the group can better organize to buy raw materials in bulk, market their products, design and share new models (such as woven flowerpots) and link up with other support services.  Berendina is organizing a craft fair in the new year that will showcase artisan products of different types, including the Palmera products.While some do basket weaving as a main livelihood activity, most weave Palmera products as a side project.   For example, Ranjini (pictured in orange below) does tailoring for her main income generating activity.  (She is in her first loan cycle with BMIC, borrowing 30,000 LKR, approximately $200.) However, she also produces about 3 or 4 baskets on the side for some extra income every week. According to Ranjini, it is the training provided by Berendina's EDS program that really makes the loan capital useful.

Access to loan capital alone is only one way to help micro-entrepreneurs build a business that will provide income for themselves and their family. They also need access to other tools like savings accounts, insurance, technical assistance and training. Berendina's EDS methodology is an excellent example of an innovative model providing support in a sustainable AND client-centric way.

Courtesy: Whole Planet Foundation

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Mobile Service to provide legal documentation for plantation communities

The plantation sector denotes 8.9% of population in poverty, and is found to be highest among the estates. These communities do not have access to basic documents such as National Identity cards or Birth Certificates, which is a basic right and therefore, Berendina Development Services (BDS) is committed towards advocating for these rights. These communities are often unaware of the importance of such documents and only seek these documents when wanting to claim EPF/ ETF. Although a letter is issued by the hospital upon any child birth, these communities do not know the process of going to the District Secretariat’s (DS) office and claiming the official certificates.

Therefore, BDS provided awareness trainings to Estate Medical Assistants (EMA) on the process of obtaining these legal documents, who then in turn provided this awareness to communities living in Kotagala Plantation in the estates of Drayton, Craigielea, Boghawatte, Mountvernon, Mayfield, Keliwatte, Derryclear and Herington. This awareness was provided with our partner organisation World Vision Lanka. Upon receiving this awareness, communities obtained a basic understanding of what documentation or information is required to bring along to claim the legal documents.

Subsequently, BDS recently conducted a mobile service on the 21st of July 2018 to issue these legal documents among communities living in the above mentioned estates. This was held at Tamil Maha Vidyalayam School in Pathana. Among the officials’ present were the Land & District Registrar, P.R.B. Keerthisinghe and Additional District Registrar, A.M.G.V Bandara. The estate EMA and Welfare officers were also present at the program. The total number of participants at this program was 203. Out of which, 116 were female participants and 87 were male participants. Subsequently, 15 new birth certificates were issued on the day and a further 63 participants who had misplaced or who have been unable to locate their birth certificates were also issued.

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BMI receives appreciation award from SIYB Association

27th September 2017: Berendina Microfinance Institute (Gte) Ltd (BMI) received a special appreciation award from the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) Association network of Sri Lanka recently in recognition of BMI being an Active Training Partner of the Association. 

The training services conducted by BMI was honored at the Annual Convention of SIYB Association held on the 27th of September 2017 at the Renuka City Hotel. The award was presented by the Country Director of the ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives - Ms Simrin Singh and received by BMI's Manager of Enterprise Development Services – BMI. Mr. Rajesh Khanna.

Deputy Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training - Mr. Karunarathna Paranawithana, Chairman of SIYB Association - Mr. Hilmy Ishak and the CEO of SIYB Association - Mr. Mohan Thilakasri were also present at the event.
  
During the period from January to August 2017, BMI has conducted 88 Improve Your Business (IYB) training programmes of SIYB for over 1600 micro level entrepreneurs 

The 'Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB)' Program of the International Labour Organization is a system of inter-related practical management-skills training package for small-scale enterprise owners and managers. 
It encompasses a range of cost-effective and practical training, monitoring and evaluation methodologies and instruments which are designed to meet the management training needs of potential and existing small business persons.

The overall objective of the SIYB Association is to contribute to the economic development and to the creation of new and better jobs in any country it practices. The mission of the SIYB Association of Sri Lanka is “to facilitate the development of a vibrant, private sector led market for business development services that offers a wide array of quality products to micro, small and medium scale enterprises”.

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BEC commences Accelerated Skills Program

10th September 2017: Berendina Employment Center (BEC), in a joint collaboration with Institute of Computer Technology recently commenced the Accelerated Skills Acquisition Program to train youths in Malavi located  in the Mullaitivu District. Under this three-month programme, 50 under-privileged youths selected from the Mullaitivu district will be provided with a job-oriented training on English and IT Skills while a significant time is allocated to develop their social, moral and soft skills. 

“The program will be conducted in two batches in two different locations considering the geographical and practical situations of the district. Students will have four compulsory classes for four days and one optional class in a week,” District Manager of BEC,  Mr. Dinesh Chandru said. 

The program for the first batch of students commenced on the 10th of September 2017 at Malavi – TACAWEC Training center while the second batch is expected to begin in due course at the Virginia H. French Learning Center in Mulllaitivu. 

Berendina Employment Center will contribute a funding of Rs. 650, 000 for the course with Rs.  13,000.00 being paid per trainee (650,000.00) while the students taking part in the program will contribute a meager amount of Rs.3000.00 each.

“It is expected that at the end of the training program, each trainee will be able to develop their task schedule for the next three months in their career. Accordingly, BEC will also assist them to gain productive jobs. Those interested in pursuing higher education will also receive guidance on the choice of the professional course based on each person's vision,” Mr. Chandru said.

Berendina Employment Center (BEC) commenced its activities in the year 2000 with the objective of finding suitable and productive employment opportunities for youth in rural and plantation areas as well as to assist employers to find suitable employees at a minimal cost.

Since inception, BEC has successfully linked over 16,500 youth with jobs and during 2016, a total of 1623 youth were linked to productive employment opportunities through BEC.

Berendina is one of the Sri Lanka's leading poverty alleviation agencies in the non-government sector. It consists of Berendina Development Services (GTE) Ltd (BDS), Berendina Microfinance Institute (GTE) Ltd (BMI), Berendina Micro Investments Company Ltd and BEC.

 

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Berendina ties up with govt. to shelter estate workers

07th September 2017: Sri Lanka's Ministry of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Berendina Development Services (Gte) Ltd. (BDS) in a landmark Public Private Partnership (PPP) to build 10 houses for the vulnerable families in the estate community in Nuwara-Eliya and Ambagamuwa. 

According to the MoU, BDS will undertake the construction of ten houses at a cost of Rs. 8.1 million which consists of a contribution by the Ministry amounting to Rs. 5 million and the balance amount being borne by BDS by way of a grant.

The agreement between the two parties was signed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development, Mrs. Ranjani Nadarasapillai and Berendina Group Chairman, Mr. Anura Athapattu on the 07th of September 2017 at the Ministry premises. The signing event was witnessed by BDS General Manager, Mr. Dayantha Fernando, Additional Secretary to the Ministry, Mr. M. Uthayakumar and Consultant Engineer, Mr. Nawarathna Walisundara.

Established in the year 2005, Berendina Development Services (BDS) is a Non-Governmental-Organisation with a mission to assist the vulnerable and marginalized communities in the island by extending supports towards livelihood, water, sanitation and hygiene, house constructions, Health, Education and Social infrastructure development projects. BDS, which annually supports over 60,000 families across districts, currently operates in eight Districts spread over twenty-seven Divisional Secretariat Divisions in the rural areas and over 69 estates in Nuwara-Eliya and Kegalle districts.

The sister organisations of BDS includes, Berendina Microfinance Institute (Gte) Ltd, Berendina Employment Centre and Berendina Micro Investments Company Limited (BMIC). BMI, a not-for-profit company is a leading poverty alleviation agency providing microfinance and Enterprise Development Services while BEC operates with an objective of finding suitable and productive employment opportunities for youth in rural and the plantation areas.

The group works with a vision of creating an empowered, equitable society where poverty does not exist.

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Berendina supports scholarship students in East

05th August 2017: The Arayampathy branch of Berendina Micro Investments Company Ltd. (BMIC) recently organized a free seminar for Grade Five students who are preparing to sit for their Grade Five scholarship examination this month. The program was held on the 05th of August 2017 at the Kokkadicholai Ramakrishna Maha Vidyalam with the approval of the Education Department in the area.

This scholarship seminar conducted by two renowned teachers was participated by 103 selected bright students from the Paddipalai Zone and consisted of pupils chosen from nine schools in the Manmunai South West division.
At the seminar, the participating students were provided with study materials required to prepare themselves for the forthcoming national examination. This timely program which was highly commended by students, teachers and parents alike for its academic value, proved to be a grand success.

 

 

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Berendina to crown ‘Best Entrepreneurs’

04th August 2017: Berendina Microfinance Institute (Gte) Ltd (BMI) and Berendina Micro Investments Company (BMIC) has announced that its seventh edition of the awards programme to recognize outstanding entrepreneurship is slated to be held in October 2017. The competition organized by BMI and BMIC, which work towards eradicating poverty by facilitating access to finance and enterprise development services for those under the poverty line, is held once every alternate year. 

Titled 'Best Entrepreneur Awards 2017', the contest will be conducted for national and regional level under five awarding categories namely Best Small Entrepreneurs, Best Micro Entrepreneur, Best Upcoming Entrepreneur, Best Entrepreneur for Agriculture and Best Entrepreneur for Animal Husbandry.

The BMI branch locations gaining eligibility for the contest will be four branches in Kegalle region, five branches in Anuradhapura region, four branches in Nuwara-Eliya region, four branches in Trincomalee region and four branches from the Batticaloa region. 

Speaking about the upcoming event, BMIC Director and General Manager, Charith Fernando said branch-level Micro Finance Officers (MFOs) would be responsible to support and guide applicants and submit applications from their village and estate clusters while the Branch Managers & Enterprise Development Officers would be responsible to choose applicants.

“At both the Regional level as well as the National level, the selected applications from branches will be assessed by external independent evaluators,” Fernando added.

At National BMI & BMIC Level, selected applications from all regions will be considered for national level selection. At the national level, one entrepreneur for each category will be selected as a winner leading to 5 winners being recognized at national level as best entrepreneurs.

The Best Entrepreneur Awards which was last held in the year 2015, recognised 170 entrepreneurs from 17 branches in 6 districts. In the year 2016 alone, BMI has trained a total of over 30,000 entrepreneurs of whom a majority were women. The purpose of these training programs are to empower participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to start and continue a business activity with an objective of improving their living standards through the generation of a steady flow of income. 

 

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BMI motivates rural entrepreneurs

30th July 2017: The Thambalagamam branch of Berendina Microfinance Institute (Gte) Ltd. recently organized a mega motivational training programme on ‘Effective entrepreneurship development’. The event, held on Sunday, 30th July 2017 at the Thambalagamam - Aadhi Koneshwara Mahavidyalayam from 9 am to 4.30 pm, attracted a participation of 167 clients.

The training programme which was attended by a majority of women was conducted by the Senior Lecturer at Jaffna University, Dr. Ramasamy Pushpakaanthan.

The objective of the programme was to empower and enhance the knowledge and skill sets of the participants on effective Entrepreneurship Development. The program was also aimed at motivating to transform their mindset towards entrepreneurship-oriented development and to educate them of the ways and means to achieve their goals.

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Berendina Akkaraipattu marks First Year Anniversary

29th July 2017: The Akkaraipattu branch of Berendina Micro Investments Company Ltd (BMIC) successfully celebrated its first-year Anniversary on 29th July 2017. To commemorate the day, the staff at the branch engaged in a benevolent activity by donating 21 pairs of shoes for school children with special needs at Ramakrishna Mission Maha Vidyalaya, Akkaraipattu.

The staff of the branch also spent time with the children during the event graced by Asia / Pacific Regional Director of Whole Planet Foundation, Claire Kelly as the Special Guest. Berendina’s Operations Manager, Miss. Y.Rajany and Area Manager- Batticaloa, Mr. A.Ajith Sri  were also present at the event organised to mark the Anniversary.

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