USAID invests US$ 19 mn for youth empowerment

Sri Lanka’s business ownership is at low ebb and it should be increased to a reasonable amount Of the working population, only a 2.8 percent owns a business and this is a very low figure in the region, Mission Director USAID Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Reed Aeschliman told a forum in Colombo.
He said that it is with the idea to broad base the business ownership that USAID is having series of programmers targeting the youth. Aeschliman was the guest speaker at the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) AGM on Tuesday.
The USAID identified SMEs (small and medium enterprises) as a key area with high potential for business growth and ownership some 25 years ago.“We are very keen to promote skill development and ICT sector where we feel education in these segments could help to create new businesses from youth. USAID has recently invested over US$ 19 million for the ‘You Lead’ program targeting the youth empowerment.
He also said that the USAID was in Sri Lanka since 1954 mainly to assist entrepreneurship and also help in improving education sanitation skills development and other priority areas.“Today we have provided over US$ 2 billion not as Aid but as grants to Sri Lanka.”“If you look at the last few years we have being offering grants around US$ 35 to 40 million per year to Sri Lanka.”
Aeschliman said that USAID is also working with the Sri Lankan private sector in promoting youth empowerment and are working with CIC, MAS, Brandix, Cargills and Hayleys in this regard.Meanwhile Chairman of the Michael Koest, CEO/Managing Director Ceylon Tobacco Company was elected as the new AmCham President replacing Dr. Kumudu Gunasekera. Michael Koest, said that they hope to work closely with government to assist foreign investors who are keen to invest in Sri Lanka. “We also like to get involved in youth empowerment.”