• Sri Lanka Exports Development Board (SLEDB)

    Sri Lanka's Apex Organisation for Export Promotion


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    Sri Lanka's Apex Organisation for Export Promotion


  • Women Entrepreneurs Development Program

    Inspired and enabled by the Women and Trade program by the International Trade Center (ITC), the Women Entrepreneur Development Program of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) seeks to engage more women participation in agriculture and manufacturing based exporter sectors.

    Ground Challenges

     Women employment in Sri Lanka

    Although Sri Lanka has achieved gender parity in access to education, women’s economic participation is well below potential. Female participation in the labour force was at 40% in 2018, significantly lower than that for men (73%). Women’s ownership of formal small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is low in Sri Lanka, and most women struggle to transition away from informal microscale businesses.

    Moreover, unemployment rates are also significantly higher for women. There is a large gender gap in the share of women who are unpaid family workers, who account for 20.4% of women compared to 3% of men. Although SMEs contribute about 45% of Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product (GDP) and provide about half of the country’s jobs, only 25% of entrepreneurs are women in the SME sector.

    However, women play a major role in the global and local economy. They invest more in their families than men do, in areas such as education, health and nutrition, creating a secure foundation for the future of their families and communities. Therefore, empowering women economically, especially through their involvement in trade, creates multiple opportunities for livelihood and economic development.

    Women’s entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka has traditionally faced four interconnected challenges and bottlenecks including;

    • Women entrepreneurs’ limited access to finance;
    • The low business capacity of women entrepreneurs;
    • Inadequate policy and regulatory framework for women entrepreneurship; and
    • Poor data and evidence on women entrepreneurs on which to base policies and practices.

    Our Solution

    Helping Women Succeed in Bussiness

    In order to address the obvious disparity be between male and female SME operators and owners, EDB’s Women Entrepreneurs Development Program includes a multifold approach including;

    • Identifying and engaging small and medium section women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka
    • Building the capacity of women entrepreneurs through training and awareness-building programs on global trading and relevant industry practices
    • Assisting women entrepreneurs access business development services provided by other government organisations
    • Increasing the awareness of the potential of women entrepreneurs and raising awareness of related barriers that hamper their participation in local and global trade
    • Actively promoting women participation in global and local trade events and exhibitions

    The main objective of our program is to link women and their associated businesses to commercially viable opportunities and value chains across the world, enabling economic and community development.

    SheTrades - Empowering Women-led Small and Medium Enterprises

    Enabling women-led enterprises across the country can lead to the generation of more jobs island-wide, and more equitable distribution of income. According to the Empowerment of Women project of the Indian Ocean RIm Association (IORA) women-led Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in Sri Lanka can largely benefit from having access to quality certifications, digital marketing tools and computer-based knowledge, marketing opportunities, and intellectual property systems.

    SheTrade was launched in Sri Lanka in 2016 by EDB Sri Lanka in partnership with several institutions that support trade and investment including the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE), Women ‘s Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and the Association of Small and Medium Enterprise in Tourism.

    As the verifying organisation in Sri Lanka for SheTrades, we have been conducting communication campaigns focussing on various aspects of the program as well as providing Sri Lankan women entrepreneurs with best business, industry, and marketing practices and encouraging women-led MSMEs to register with EDB Sri Lanka and SheTrades program for ongoing assistance.


    Welcome to SheTrades.com

    Shetrades.com (website and mobile app) is a unique platform for women-owned businesses, organizations, companies and ITC SheTrades partner institutions:

    • Women entrepreneurs can use the platform to showcase their businesses, build strong networks, strike business deals, increase their credibility and connect to markets.
    • Companies and individual buyers can use shetrades.com to include more women entrepreneurs in their supply chains, by sourcing specific products & services from women-owned businesses.
    • Registered users can gain free access to SheTrades Virtual Learning, the core training hub for the SheTrades initiative, where they can participate in group activities and live webinars, and take courses developed by experts.
    • Users can apply for workshops, trade fairs and other business events. Within a growing number of countries, women entrepreneurs registered with SheTrades are given opportunities to attend dynamic and enriching in-country activities, all of which are made possible by ITC SheTrades partners and sponsors.
    • Users can stay up to date with ITC SheTrades activities, news, success stories, videos, publications and more. There is a lot of action to be witnessed, information to be shared, and conversations to be had within the SheTrades community.

    SheTrades is ready to connect women entrepreneurs to markets. Be part of this network. Join SheTrades!

    Register on the SheTrades website: www.shetrades.com and download the mobile app! Available on Android and IOS.

    Have a question about our programs? Ask Us