Our Stories | Sri Lanka

Last updated: August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020

Top Gem Lapidary is a women-led enterprise started by eight previously unemployed youth from Central Sri Lanka. The launch of this enterprise highlights the importance of increasing youth employment and entrepreneurship through a systemic, market-led approach. That was the concept behind USAID’s design for the Youth Employment and Business Start-up (YouLead) project. The launch and enterprise training of this women-owned startup is the culmination of the process by which the USAID-funded YouLead project facilitates and supports youth employment.

August 24, 2020

Saad Farook, a youth from Kandy with exceptional analytical skill, had a bright future ahead of him until misfortune struck. In 2016, Saad was forced to leave his undergraduate program at the university he was attending, two years before graduation with a ICT degree. “My dream was to become an applied data scientist. So, I chose to follow a BSc degree in ICT. I was a self-learner. I was even on the Dean’s list in my first year at the university. Due to financial difficulties and social pressure, I had to step down. It was my first setback in life. I thought my dream to excel in ICT was over,” recalled Saad. However, with Saad’s skills and passion, and support from the USAID’s Youth Employment and Business Start-up Program (YouLead), Saad was able to get his life back on track and make his professional dream a reality.

August 24, 2020

Flashback to August 2018, when a group of people are on a pier in the midday heat, waiting for the familiar sight of the ferry. This ‘moving bridge’ would take them to the other side of the river. Until the ferry arrives, they are exposed to the scorching heat, their minds revisiting the risks of an impending ride across a deep river on an ill-made ferry. Those are risks they have long chosen to accept in the absence of a safer alternative.  On the sun-baked eastern coast of Sri Lanka, these people from two remote villages remain separated by a giant body of water, with a conspicuously missing structure: a bridge.

June 25, 2020

USAID’s Social Cohesion and Reconciliation activity (SCORE) helps rural communities to uplift lives, and advance social cohesion and reconciliation. Since the beginning of the pandemic in Sri Lanka, SCORE has responded to the needs of rural communities across the island. SCORE provided hospitals in some regions with essential items such as sewing and washing machines, personal protective equipment, and sanitizers. The project also refurbished an isolation unit for COVID-19 patients in a northern hospital. In addition, a SCORE-supported social media youth group shares reliable information from the Sri Lankan health authorities, providing accurate guidelines on COVID-19 prevention and countering misinformation among rural communities.

March 12, 2020

With less than $3, a passion for sewing, and a childhood dream, 44-year-old Rajika Priyangani from southern Sri Lanka embarked on a journey to earn a little extra money for her family. That was in 2000. Today, she is the owner of an ISO-certified apparel business called Hiru Fashion, producing more than 55,000 pieces per month for the domestic market and employing more than 175 from the local community.

In 2018, Rajika’s business was awarded third place at the National Productivity Awards, and in 2019 Rajika won the best entrepreneur award. Hiru Fashion also received international certification from Great Place to Work Institute™, a global authority on workplace culture. Rajika’s successful business, and the awards, are a huge achievement for a business that started from scratch.

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