Diaspora Lanka Report : 28 September to 31 December 2013 – Part 6

3.5 Vision Mannar

Vision Mannar is a district-wide business initiative that aims to develop boutique businesses based on Mannar’s famous products for tourist and export markets: mainly rice, dry fish, salt and palmyrah. Although Mannar was once famous for such products, the district did not benefit from this because of a lack of product development; branding and packaging; a reluctance to embrace new technology; and low standards in all stages of manufacturing and production. This project has many objectives – to value add to existing Mannar products, develop and promote high quality items for external markets, build the capacity of small and medium enterprises to produce export quality goods and to reduce regional poverty and high levels of unemployment (particularly for vulnerable groups). External funding of this project is essential.

Activities summary from the last visit to Sri Lanka
• Reviewed the extensive “Vision Mannar” proposal and budget completed by Diarne Kreltszheim, Diaspora Lanka volunteer, and Chamber staff in June last year. Also developed a modified and less funds-heavy version.
• Held several meetings with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to seek funds for the “Vision Mannar” proposal.
• Worked closely with Chamber staff to develop new projects and find funding.

Next steps
• Wait for UNDP feedback. The Government and UNDP are currently in negotiations about project and funding guidelines so until the outcomes are known, local resourcing decisions cannot be made.

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