53% of Sri Lanka’s GDP is contributed by the country’s SME sector. However, women’s participation in the sector remains low at only 24%. Thus, in-line with our focus on empowering women entrepreneurs to thrive in Sri Lanka’s Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs), Chrysalis decided to highlight some of the key issues that ‘women entrepreneurs and women led businesses’ face within Sri Lanka’s MSME sector, during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence in 2020. The campaign titled ‘It’s Her Time Now’ was an attempt to create awareness and engage audiences to change the existing negative perceptions around ‘women in business’ in Sri Lanka’s SME sector. The campaign also sought to celebrate women’s achievement in the SME sector and highlight their contribution to Sri Lanka’s GDP and economic growth.
As a key activity of the campaign, thirteen challenges that women entrepreneurs face within Sri Lanka’s MSME sector, were shared on our social media platforms, highlighting practical and real-time anecdotes of thirteen different women entrepreneurs who were from different parts of Sri Lanka. While highlighting a real-time issue or issues faced by the women in focus of the story, the stories also recommended potential solutions and recommendations, at times spanning up to required changes in policies and regulations with contextual statistics, data and insights.
As part of the campaign an online dialogue was facilitated to discuss issues around women’s participation in the SME sector. The European Union Delegation for Sri Lanka and the Maldives partnered with Chrysalis for this campaign. The campaign kicked off with a Zoom discussion with three inspiring women entrepreneurs from Kurunegala, Kilinochchi and Matale and ended with another discussion on the strategies and measures needed to enable women to overcome systemic barriers to achieve economic independence. The second discussion saw the participation of the Hon. Minister Shehan Semasinghe, State Minister of Samurdhi, household economy, micro finance, self-employment, Mr. Thorsten Bargfrede, Deputy head of European Union Delegation to Sri Lanka and Maldives and two women business owners from Colombo.