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Private initiative brings prosperity to rural poor

Private initiative brings prosperity to rural poor

January 20, 2010  05:07 pm

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The GRASSROOTS FOUNDATION, launched in 2004 as a parliament leadership group at rural level comprising a Multi political membership for good governance and helping alleviate poverty as a social responsibility project has been steadily sustained against formidable challenges.


Modeled along the lines of the Grameen micro-finance development concept, this lower end rural empowerment livelihoods project has brought hope and a new lease of life to over 500 homes in deep rural areas which were wallowing beyond the poverty line. The brainchild of philanthropist, Real Estate, Tourism and IT communications entrepreneur Zarook Marikkar, the project funds have come from his own coffers and from a few well-wishers.


Micro-finance loans of only Rs. 5,000 per family, after an in-depth screening process to establish their bona fides, was all that was needed to set them back on their feet by serving as a catalyst to stir up their desire to fight back against poverty and apply their latent talents to churn out profitable livelihood enterprises. That spirit to fight back has been kept alive by the dedicated GRASSROOTS ‘field force’ comprising men and women who through frequent journeys into these deep rural area homesteads have provided counseling, motivation and training programs which have resulted in a slow but steady growth of their little home based handicrafts and agro industries.


The financial constraints have necessarily made it imperative to make accurate character judgments to ensure that only those more likely to honour their commitments would be given micro credit facilities.


Many of them now want more credit to lift their projects to the next level. A significant phenomenon in the whole exercise over the past five years is that not one single family has failed to honour the phased out repayment commitments. That alone serves to prove the unqualified financial successes of these micro level; home based enterprises. An aggregate of nearly Rs.15 million is being steadily repaid by these worthy recipients of aid from GRASSROOTS, the mother organization.


This rising demand on its resources led to the need to place on record the success stories of this initiative in a bid to generate a significantly tangible financial, material and technical contribution response from the public. GRASSFUNDS needs a substantial response from a caring public, at home and abroad, to enhance their ability to reach more homes in the deep rural areas which are in the stranglehold of abject poverty. The dire needs of Sri Lanka’s marginalized deep rural area populations cannot hold out much longer. Keen observers would have noticed the scores of news items of suicides and violence which have become commonplace in our vast deep rural communities.


It is with this objective of raising funds locally and globally to expand the scope of GRASSROOTS and GRASSFUND’S contributions in the sphere of social responsibility that the founder Zarook Marikkar will be officially launching the GRASSFUND website [] to spread global awareness of Sri Lanka’s vast rural population’s need at grassroots level for sustainable micro-finance funding. The website was set up by Dot Com Private Limited which is one of Sri Lanka’s top IT solution providers. The end of the ethnic armed struggle and a return to normalcy has resulted in a slew of new applications for micro-finance enterprise funding and GRASSFUNDS needs an immediate donor response to build its financing capacity to help these needy people.

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