John Keells Group’s CSR entity, John Keells Foundation (JKF) piloted a family empowerment programme in partnership with Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) with the objective of increasing the income of 30 low-income families in the villages of Iranaipalai in the Puthukkudiyiruppu DS Division and Puthumathalan in the Maritimepattu DS Division.The six-month initiative is a highly intensive programme comprising both group and individual family interventions, the provision of seed capital to begin or expand a business venture and coaching on entrepreneurship and business plan development to ensure a sustainable business venture that results in doubling each family’s current monthly income.
The majority of the beneficiaries have decided to pursue livestock and poultry farming while others have purchased sewing machines and raw materials for producing fishing nets with the seed capital provided by JKF. It is interesting to note that the beneficiary who has decided to pursue weaving fishing nets is a former beneficiary of fishing nets in 2012 under the JKF Village Adoption Project. Now that those nets have succumbed to wear and tear he is planning to use that netting along with the raw materials purchased with the capital provided to weave new fishing nets. The beneficiary who opted to purchase a sewing machine too has a history of association with JKF. Her youngest son was a recipient of an English Language Scholarship from JKF. Thus, the pilot project is both building on existing relationships whilst forging ties with new beneficiaries thereby uplifting the lives and living standards of disadvantaged persons and groups by empowering them to build and develop themselves and their communities in a sustainable and entrepreneurial manner.
SLRCS monitors the progress of the families through periodic one-on-one visits while JKF plans to monitor the outcomes of this pilot over time towards replicating the model in other villages under its Village Adoption Project. JKF Village Adoption Project drives poverty alleviation at the grassroots through an integrated and sustainable development programme including Essential Infrastructure, Education and Skills Development, Livelihoods and Market Access, Youth and Gender Empowerment and is aimed at fostering self-reliance and entrepreneurship among disadvantaged rural communities.