The MJF Charitable Foundation Small Entrepreneur Programme (SEP)
The Internationally acclaimed MJF Charitable Foundation Small Entrepreneur Programme (SEP) has supported over 700 small entrepreneurs all over Sri Lanka. This programme has changed the lives of an estimated 15,000 people in the most deprived areas in the country. SEP is founded on the principle that every individual, however marginalised and poor, has inherent ability; that ability is harnessed and combined with guidance, equipment and other assistance to develop micro scale, environmentally and socially sustainable businesses.
Some of the success stories are documented below:
Sathyabama – a woman of courage
Sathyabama lives in the Batticaloa District in Eastern Sri Lanka. She is a mother of four and the sole breadwinner in her family. Her husband, a former combatant, is paralysed due to a spinal injury suffered during the war. She credits the MJF Charitable Foundation for having given her a sewing machine which enables her to produce clothes for sale to sustain her and her family. Today Sathyabama is able to provide for herself and look after her paralysed husband and young children and not become a burden to society due to the support given by the MJF Foundation.
Udayaratne – Cycle Repairman
Udayaratne suffered severe burn injuries as a 10-year old. His life changed thereafter. Ostracised by society due to his disfigurement, Udayaratne suffered silently for years but never gave up on life. Today, as a recipient of the MJF Charitable Foundation’s SEP he is able to support his family of 5 with the income he receives from repairing bicycles. He has built a house and a small bicycle repair shop from this income.
Chandralatha – the potter
Chandralatha is a potter who was trained by her mother in the art from an early age. The MJF Charitable Foundation provided her with the financial assistance to setup a work place and kiln. Her dedication and innovation has helped her gain a loyal clientele and she has now purchased a three wheeler for the transportation of her wares. Chandralatha is supported by her husband and she is now able to employ others to support her work.
Dinesh and Wife – Owners of an Aquarium
A couple whose dreams were shattered when they were wrongfully accused of a crime they did not commit were supported by the MJF Charitable Foundation to get beyond their situation and the social stigma attached to imprisonment. Today they are the proud owners of one of the best aquariums in the Moneragala District. The Foundation provided the infra structure facilities required including setting up the concerete fish tanks.
Upul Indika – Producer of Jelly for dessert
Upul Indika lives in Moneragala, one of the poorest Districts in Sri Lanka. His keenness to start his own venture enabled him to develop a dessert cup business with the assistance of his wife. The MJF Charitable Foundation having recognised his talents for innovation provided him with a refrigerator so that Upul could store his produce. Today Upul has found markets even in Colombo and attributes his success to the support bestowed on him by the MJF Foundation.
Pushpakumara – the young carpenter
Pushpakumara is a young man with a bright future thanks to the efforts of the School for Visual and Hearing Impaired in Moneragala and the MJF Charitable Foundation. Born with a speech and hearing deficiency, he has been trained in carpentry and masonry which has given him ability to lead a better life. Today his skills are much sought after and he provides carpentry and masonry work at the School where he was trained and for others in the area. MJF Charitable Foundation supported him with the necessary equipment needed to begin his career as a carpenter and mason.
Facilitating Dignified Reintegration for Reformed Prisoners
The first of its kind in Asia, the ‘Reform and Integrate’ Programme of the MJF Charitable Foundation (MJFCF) offers an opportunity to reformed prisoners who have served their term and are released on parole, to escape the stigma of their imprisonment and rebuild new lives. Through this programme the Foundation empowers a severely marginalised segment of society. The success of this programme is already evident as high re-offending rates previously recorded have substantially reduced with former prisoners gaining a mode of income and occupation and a level of social acceptance through the programme.
The ‘Reform and Integrate’ Small Entrepreneur Programme (SEP) was launched in Sri Lanka in October 2007 with the involvement of the Minister of Justice and the Prisons Department. Since then the Foundation has assisted over 100 prisoners. They have successfully integrated into their communities and are engaged in businesses in fields such as agriculture and carpentry.
Hailing from the East of Sri Lanka, 31 year old Samantha was released from prison in 2008. With the support of the MJF Charitable Foundation, he was able to purchase an industrial sewing machine and an overlock machine in order to set up a tailoring shop adjoining his home. He currently sews uniforms for civil defense troops attached to the camp situated close to his home. Samantha has now employed another youth in order to meet the demands of an expanding business.