About the programme

ENTERPRISE aims to empower and enable women and youth in the Uva and Central Province to create and participate in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).   

The project is funded by the European Union under the wider programme area - support the integrated rural development in most vulnerable districts of the Central and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka, and is delivered in partnership with Care Germany and Chrysalis. The operations commenced in June 2017 and will run over a period of 42 months. 

Our contribution to this project comes under the programme area of skills for social entrepreneurship. This includes introducing, popularising and capacity building in enterprise intermediaries, to enable positive social change through innovative and effective business models, that tackle social issues and contribute to sustainable development.

What is Social Enterprise?

Social enterprises are businesses that are changing the world for the better. They tackle social and/or environmental problems. Social Enterprises create jobs and opportunities for those marginalised from the workforce. They generate income like other businesses. But instead of channelling their total profits to owners, they reinvest part of the profit to support their social/environmental mission.

In doing so, they are improving people’s lives in our communities and societies.

Our contribution

Through this programme, we are introducing the concept of social enterprise – a new way of doing business with a social and/or environmental mission. We are working with entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, communities, policymakers, universities, government institutions, enterprise intermediaries and NGOs. We have a special focus on youth and women.

  • We are developing training programmes to support social entrepreneurs and social enterprise intermediaries in increasing the impact of their work. 
  • We are supporting universities in the target geographical areas by supporting to set up incubators, developing and implementing a programme to embed social enterprise content into university teaching programmes drawing on UK experience and potential links 
  • We are implementing a communication campaign to raise awareness and understanding among policymakers, key stakeholders and the general public of the potential and important role of social enterprises in solving social and environmental issues and the contribution it makes to the economic development.

Communication and awareness raising campaigns

British Council together with Tea Leaf Vision (TLV) in Nuwara Eliya launched a communications campaign.

The TLV theatre troupe worked with our team to compile context-specific messages about Social Enterprise. The script portrayed Social Enterprises as an alternative sector that can create employment while addressing social and environmental issues faced by the communities. 

The activity targeted women and youth living in rural villages and estates. The Tea Leaf Vision held 18 performances from October to December 2018 and they performed in Sinhala and Tamil language. The performances reached around 2,050 spectators. 

"Active Citizen's Social Enterprise": Leadership Programme

The Active Citizen's Social Enterprise (ACSE) leadership program builds the capacities of women and youth to start new businesses. This programme was designed by drawing the lessons from our global Social Enterprise Leadership Programme. This had two steps:

  1. Training of trainer’s program (ToT)
  2. Entrepreneur training cascade program. 

As the first step, we held a five-day ToT programme for selected staff members of four local organisations: Institution for Growth Concept (IGC), Palm Foundation, Janthakshan and Foundation for Innovative Social Development (FISD). Then the four local partner organisations held a series of five-day residential training programmes for 628 entrepreneurs.

Business investment Readiness (BIR) programme

The British Council provided its expertise through the three-phased Business and Investment Readiness (BIR) programme. 

Phase 1: The first phase included three steps:

  • Baseline and orientation,
  • Social Entrepreneurship workshop
  • Coaching and mentoring sessions. 

Phase 2: The second phase included three steps:

  • Develop Theory of change and prepare social enterprise action plan (workshop)
  • Coaching and mentoring sessions.
  • Develop marketing and promotional materials.

Phase 3: The Third phase includes three steps:

  • Digital marketing training
  • Financial Management support
  • Mentoring and business case-specific support 

Building linkage between the Universities and the community

This component of the project kicked off in mid-July 2020 with a virtual meeting between four stakeholders: the two Sri Lankan universities; the University of Peradeniya (Central province) and the University of Uva-Wellassa (Uva province), the technical service provider; Glasgow Caledonian University in the UK, and the British Council.

The two Sri Lankan universities appointed working groups with representations from different faculties, and they were tasked with drawing up plans for setting up incubator space, developing academic modules, creating awareness among students and planning community-university interactions.

Social enterprise advocacy masterclass for government officials

We also organized two-day advocacy masterclasses to introduce the social enterprise concept and to encourage engagement between government officials and local social entrepreneurs and communities.

The participants were provincial, district and divisional level planning and decision-making officials. During the training, the participants identified social and environmental issues prevailing in their regions and did opportunity scanning exercises to generate social enterprise business ideas.