The Enterprise Acceleration Report dives into the collaboration, learnings and adaptations that made the USAID Sri Lanka BIZ+ program a success
After eight years it is exciting to look back at what we accomplished, where challenges surfaced, and how we responded and adapted. The USAID-funded Sri Lanka BIZ+ project offered support to improve business practices and to expand production and sales, aiming to provide opportunities for suppliers and to create decent and lasting jobs. Not every business was successful. Yet, many surprised me in how successful they were, and they continue to amaze me years later. I ltell people that running the BIZ+ project was the best job I have ever had. Think about it: What could be better than helping a business owner to realize a dream and, in turn, helping thousands of people, often disadvantaged by war or poverty, gain meaningful employment?
Entrepreneurs started a paper mill. Entrepreneurs built a factory on an isthmus that employs 100 women whose lives had been shocked repeatedly by war and who lived through the 2004 tsunami. Entrepreneurs formed a group to start a local restaurant demonstrating the value of women-led businesses in a disadvantaged area and created a model that has been replicated many times in other rural towns.
Looking back, however, it is clear that my team and I learned and adapted as we implemented BIZ+. Building trust was always challenging, yet it is paramount in order to effectively work with entrepreneurs and the owners of growing businesses. Business coaching linked with formal training proved to be a winning combination. As did adopting pay-for-performance type of modalities. Thank you for your interest in Sri Lanka and the BIZ+ program; I hope this report of the learnings and adaptations is interesting reading and contributes to your thinking about enterprise acceleration and SME development. Thank you, Sri Lanka!
Michael Parr, Chief of Party, USAID Sri Lanka BIZ+ program