Friday, February 25, 2011

Walking the long road together

Today we travelled from Kandy back to Colombo where we attended a meeting of the SANASA Federation.

Approximately 50 primary society managers were in attendance and we were greeted very warmly by the Chair of the Federation and the manager who also acted as our translator. We learned that they had been having a strategic planning session to discuss business challenges facing the credit unions, and in particular competition. They also told us about the many community projects taken on by each branch. For example, in one community they were focusing on youth engagement and financial literacy while another community branch built a stretch of road.

One of the SANASA group revenue generating projects is a printing press which they use to disseminate information related to the SANASA movement. We had the opportunity to visit the operation set up in the same building where we were meeting.

In the evening a round table took place with a consortium of partners from around the world who assist and partner with SANASA on a number of projects. Dr. Kiri, the revered leader of the SANASA movement, led the discussion. Also participating were representatives from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, the Embassy of the Netherlands, as well as an organization from India specializing in creating private universities in Asia.

Many topics were addressed, but one that came up more than once was Sri Lanka’s transition from a developing country and the different levels of support that are still very much needed. Too often donor countries pull out of a country once a certain indicator has been met, but a long term partnership, investment, and development strategy is required for continued poverty reduction. CCA's commitment to Sri Lanka and the SANASA movement was brought up many times in this discussion as a partnership that is working and that should remain to promote long term development.

By: Mark Sparrow

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