Economic empowerment of the traditional ‘Sesath’ community living in the Unaveruwa village

The initiative aims to provide a sustainable livelihood opportunity to this village by developing the industry and introducing sustainable economic development in the form of a social enterprise.

Sesath or traditional Sinhalese umbrellas have a long and history with rich traditional and cultural values. The making of traditional Sesath today survives in only one solitary village, namely, Unaveruwa in the Matale district.

Even though the industry has been fading away, as it loses sociocultural and economic recognition, it is still the main livelihood of the Unaveruwa villagers. Researchers have identified five key factors such as, lack of market opportunities, reducing manpower, design and technology, people’s attitude and lack of resources that result in drawbacks in the Sesath craft.

The initiative will:

• Provide raw material for 85 enterprises
• Conduct four trainings with guidance from creative designers on value
addition for product diversification and begin complementary
production
• Provide necessary equipment and materials to operate a Center for
demonstrations, marketing and sales
• Development of a website/on-line platform
• Train entrepreneurs on soft skills and demonstrative skills required to
function the Demonstration Center
• Display promotional boards in key tourist attraction places in the surrounding towns
• Publish newspaper articles and web articles on Sesath Inclusive Business Market Study.

Sustainable Livelihood Development: The project takes a holistic approach to address the factors that hinder growth in this industry including, inability to establish and sustain competitiveness, develop economically viable products and lack of collectivization among villagers who make the craft, especially coordination and collaboration between different generations. It will ensure sustainable livelihood for 193 families of this village.

Social empowerment: We draw upon our local and international experience working in partnership with diverse stakeholders to promote the Sesath industry as a driver of integrated economic growth. The initiative focuses on the social enterprise as a sub sector, due to its sustainable development focus and in doing so, improve the lives of 653 villagers.

Empowerment of women and youth: The Initiative will contribute towards diversifying livelihood opportunities by creating viable and livelihood opportunities for 348 women and 121 youth within the Sesath industry, which in turn will improve their household income levels. The proposed project uses existing community governance structures (Praja Mandala) as the main stakeholder for implementing the planned activities, therefore ensuring long term sustainability of the project.