British Council launches Youth-Led Green and Inclusive Initiatives in Businesses project in Sri Lanka

Youth-led businesses can be a vital catalyst for change, sparking multiple positive ripple effects. This month, the British Council Sri Lanka launched a new project, ‘Youth-Led Green and Inclusive Initiatives in Businesses’, to harness the enthusiasm and energy of young business leaders and spearhead green and inclusive transitions in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Sri Lanka.

The project aims to provide knowledge, skills, resources, and networks to young entrepreneurs to help transform their existing businesses into inclusive and sustainable businesses. A systemic commitment to sustainability and inclusiveness can build customer loyalty, attract better talent, yield more investments, boost stakeholder engagement, build a stronger sense of belonging amidst a team, and improve innovation and efficacy for businesses. The timely project attempts to demystify green and inclusive initiatives, demonstrating how SMEs and young entrepreneurs can create progressive ecological, economical, and societal impact through their organizations.   

30 young entrepreneurs were selected through an open call for applications. Entrepreneurs were chosen based on their existing knowledge, commitment towards sustainability and future plans. The selected youth represent varied sectors such as agriculture, food processing, tourism, and retail trade. 

The project is delivered in partnership with the Green Movement of Sri Lanka and Lanka Social Ventures. Further, the Export Development Board, National Innovation Agency, Earth Dreams International, Thuru, Zero Trash and Centre for Living Sustainability at University of Highlands and Islands in Scotland will collaborate as eco-system partners. 

“Through this project, we pledge to empower you with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to transform your entrepreneurial visions into greater achievements. Together, we will explore innovative ways to incorporate green and inclusive practices, ensuring that your businesses not only flourish economically but also leave a positive impact on the environment and the wider society,” noted Sanjeevani Munasinghe – Head of Programmes, British Council in her welcome address.

“This will not be just another project with a series of activities. It will be a commitment of young people to be change makers in their enterprises and be role models for making businesses greener and inclusive,” said Chameera Wickramasinghe – Programme Manager-Non-formal Education at British Council, emphasizing how young people have a vital role to plan in the business sphere.

Manique Gunaratne (Manager, Specialised Training and Disability Resource Centre – The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon) was the guest of honour and highlighted the importance of inclusivity in business organisations, especially disability inclusion. Heminda Jayaweera delivered the keynote speech, on the topic ‘Sustainability Mindset’.

The launch was held at Courtyard by Marriott, with the participation of distinguished guests from state organisations, non-government organisations and the private sector. Several young entrepreneurs who were selected to be a part of the project were also present.

The project aligns with British Council’s commitment to fostering a greener and more equitable future, with a focus on providing the necessary tools and support to young entrepreneurs and thereby contribute to country’s net zero and green economy ambitions by 2050.

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