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Colombo Plan provides grant
Micro credit project for Jaffna, Mannar women entrepreneurs:

The Colombo Plan is providing a grant from its Community Development Fund to the Women's Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC) to implement a micro credit project in the Jaffna and Mannar Districts. The idea was mooted by the Colombo Plan Secretary-General Patricia Yoon Moi Chia, who visited Jaffna in October 2010. The fund would be used mainly to uplift the lives of poorer households, especially those headed by women in these two districts affected by the 30 year war. The WCIC will implement the project beginning January 2011 and will maintain the fund as a revolving fund.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by the Colombo Plan Secretary-General, Patricia Yoon Moi Chia and Women's Chamber of Industry and Commerce Chairperson Vidyani Hettigoda on December 15. The objective of the project is to create job opportunities and empower women as entrepreneurs in the Jaffna and Mannar District.

The fund will be allocated to 40 women to start small and medium size businesses or to enhance their existing businesses. These women are required to organize themselves in groups of five according to their business activity and should have a business plan.

The WCIC is responsible for the allocation of funds and its maintenance as a revolving fund. In addition, Hettigoda said that WCIC will support the project through the provision of training in relevant aspects such as accounting, financial analysis, management and in developing new products. The WCIC will also support in finding markets for the products outside Jaffna and Mannar Districts and sourcing of equipment.

Since 2006, the Colombo Plan has been reaching out to the community through special projects aimed at community development in member countries. Past projects included the provision of equipment to the Hardy Technical College, Bhutan Public Library and support for 40 students through high school through the Bhutan Youth Development Fund, assistance to Nargis flood victims in Myanmar and school supplies for 310 children who were affected by the floods in Pakistan. Contributions were also given to help the abandoned children's centre of Sri Lanka Sarvodya Society.

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