Grassroots Women's Participation in Democracy Sri Lanka  
Grassroots Organizing by Women
Agromart Foundation

Agromart FoundationFounded in 1989, Agromart Foundation is a national level women's NGO, carrying out grassroots work with a large number of communities in Sri Lanka. The Head Office is located in Colombo with nine other provincial offices in the Southern, North Western, Uva and the Eastern provinces. Agromart Foundation is committed to the philosophy of women's grassroots participation in development and is strongly involved in strengthening the capacities of women leaders at the community level to position them as advocates of sustainable change. At the core of its mission is strengthening the competencies of its membership through participatory training. Agromart's decade of service to the establishment of a progressive society based on human freedom, justice, democracy, and equality has made it a strong and powerful organization in Sri Lanka.

The Agromart Foundation provides multifaceted and integrated development services to benefit rural entrepreneurs, especially women. According to the leader of the organization, since the mainstream financial institutions have not been able to serve the micro-enterprises for their credit needs, Agromart has assumed this critical responsibility. Currently, it is serving the credit needs of 6000 members attached to Agromart Farmer Societies, thereby facilitating women's socio-economic empowerment. Among the small enterprise services it provides, upgrading technical skills related to production technology is the most critical. The main training services it provides are in the fields of economic literacy, business management, and technical aspects pertaining to the participants' enterprises. In addition, the organization provides guidance, follow-up and credit supervision. The Foundation intends to bring about a new credit culture in the rural sector to alleviate rural poverty. Although the training programs and credit schemes of the Foundation place greater emphasis on women, men are not excluded. These facilities are available without a gender bias and the Foundation maintains a female-male ratio of 70-30% in all the activities. Through the implementation of these loan schemes, the Foundation hopes to establish and institutionalize a micro credit system for rural women through Agromart Farmer Societies. Agromart's credibility, experience and commitment to sustainable grassroots democracy and strengthening of civil society are reasons for its inclusion in the Partners Forum.