With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns in 2020,
many of the traditional markets of local small and medium entrepreneurs
(SMEs) and the agricultural community were lost. Most were unable to get
products to market. Realising the challenges faced by small entrepreneurs
and farmers in rural and sub-urban Sri Lanka, Cargills launched an initiative
named ‘Village to Home’. Our immediate objective was to provide small
businesses access to a larger market and to support them compensate for
their lost markets. Our larger vision is to develop the country's budding SMEs
and to take their products to markets outside Sri Lanka.
We hold monthly stalls outside Cargills Food City premises, where selected SMEs get an opportunity showcase their products to the Cargills customer base. The Company bears all expenses of the event. Through the program, local entrepreneurs get the opportunity to directly sell their products to the market. To date, we have seen an exciting array of traditional products including healthy, nutritious, Ayurveda herbal products, handloom and handicraft, cane and reed craft products, etc.
We collaborate with several government and other organizations to ensure the success of this initiative. The Small Enterprises Development Division (SED) of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, the National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA) of the Ministry of Industries and Commerce, the Ministry of Cane, Brass, Clay, Furniture, and Rural Industry Promotion, and the Provincial Department of Agriculture (Western Province) have all assisted us in identifying potential SMEs.
The program is another CSR initiative by Cargills, aligned to its mission statement of reducing regional disparities in Sri Lanka and empowering local smallholder farmers and businesses. It is also aligned with the Group’s continuous efforts to provide affordable nutrition to consumers, as most of the products on offer are traditional, healthy, food products. By encouraging small businesses to increase capacity and providing them with the necessary expertise to do so, the Group is also able to further promote its objectives of providing affordable nutrition to customers by increasing local production.
The local SMEs who took part in this program are extremely grateful, not only for the additional income they were able to generate but also for the technical expertise they gained by working closely with the Cargills team. There have been many success stories to come out of the Village to Home program with some SMEs getting numerous other opportunities as a result.
Radha Lanka Natural Food Products has a range of healthy food products made with traditional grains. Mediseed is one of the main SKUs which is a local grain-based milk powder substitute.
Chamara is an entrepreneur who produces cane furniture and handicrafts. Through the Cargills Village to Home program, Chamara’s cane products got exposure to many clients, including export opportunities. We are proud to play a small part in Chamara’s efforts to take unique Sri Lankan handicrafts to the world.
GSK Products is a local SME that produces 100% natural herbal medicinal drinks such as Nilkatarodu/Butterfly pea flower drink and the Yakinaran/Atalantia Ceylanica drink, which was introduced by the Cargills Village to Home program. These products are listed in selected Cargills Food City outlets.