In 2013 the founders of the Foundation Kalapuwa were on vacation in Sri Lanka. They observed a large number of people manually dragging a net out of the sea and the question arose as to why these people were not out fishing at sea in their boats. The answer was as simple as it was painful, the Tsunami had destroyed all their boats and no funds were available to buy new ones and the banks were unwilling to lend money to them.
This formed the starting point of the idea to help these underprivileged people, who showed an innate entrepreneurship, with the creation of a micro-credit system to help them back into a sustainable work situation. The Foundation was set up and initially five micro-credits were given for the purchase of new out-rigger fishing boats (in Sri Lanka these are known as Catamarans).
Currently (2019) the Foundation has more than one hundred active micro-credits helping those wishing to start their own business thereby offering a measure of self-sufficiency.
The Foundation is a non-profit organisation and the single aim is to help others become economically self-sufficient thereby supporting their families and the general welfare on the peninsula.
The rules are simple:
The Foundation believes that it is en excellent idea to guide new entrepreneurs by means of workshops and training sessions. In 2018 Marc Jan Hollenberg and Mirjam de Boer, from ‘IdoDareDream co.bv.’ ( www.iddd.nl) joined the group travelling to Sri Lanka. They put their expertise on personal and business development to good use giving workshops to a group of our new entrepreneurs. This proved to be a great success and in one case stimulated one woman to create a new business in rare plant species alongside her current business. This is a successful initiative which will be continued.
In 2014 when we gave our first five micro-credits to fishermen for new boats the requests for micro-credits has dramatically increased. Currently we have more than one hundred active. We have a administrative control system and locally we have a member of the Foundation who collects and checks the repayments and takes the necessary steps in the case of non-payments. Here are a few examples of our micro-credit recipients of whom we are very proud.
Erik is an entrepreneur dealing in lobsters. He buys his lobsters fresh from the fishermen when they land their catch and then sells them direct to local hotels and the better restaurants. This has to be done quickly as his customers will only accept live lobsters. His micro-credit was given to enable him to purchase a scooter with a carrying container on the back and to give him the finances to pay the fishermen directly. Lobsters have a limited season of eight months and for the remaining four months he supplies other types of fish to his customers. He is able to make a good living from his business.
This entrepreneur makes amazing objects from coconuts and has a license to sell direct to the better official local souvenir shops . These outlets are government controlled. He started his business less than a year ago and the demand is greater than his production capacity. As his products are labour intensive to make, his micro-credit was for a mechanical saw, compressor, chisels and paint. He has already repaid his full micro-credit and has made a good life for himself.
Using a variety of material and beads Sujeewa makes clothing, wall tapestries, cushions and wedding decorations. Her request was for a micro-credit starters capital to enable her to purchase her materials in Colombo where the prices are 30% lower and we went with her to set up the contacts. She has a good record of re-payments and a good business.
A large number of women have received micro-credits from the Foundation for simple and also industrial sewing machines. Repayment is made within 36 months and they are able to either work for individuals or for companies. Many of these women have to combine their work with the care for their children and the nature of the this work means they can combine their household duties and work on the machines in the evenings. There is a difference regarding the success of this type of micro-credit. For example, one woman has already six sewing machines and has taken on staff for her business, some others have found it difficult to find work. The entrepreneurship spirit is not in everyone and a few have not made the effort, however, overall this has been a success.