YOUTH EMPOWERMENT SCHEME: Under the 'Micro Credit Scheme' of the Bank of Ceylon, Horana Branch in 2006 more than Rs. 7.5 million has been released among unemployed youth in Horana, Ingiriya and Madurawala Secretariat Divisions for self-employment ventures.
During the past few months 150 self-employment projects have been initiated under this scheme.
Manager of BoC Horana Branch B. R. Kularatne told Daily News that under the new scheme, many new project proposals were submitted by youth in the area, and many of them had been approved. Credit facilities had been granted to start or continue their projects. Most of them were given a loan of Rs. 50,000 at the initial stage, and progress reports showed they had been running their projects successfully.
Recently mediamen were able to inspect some of the projects being carried out in Horana area with the credit facilities released by BoC (Bank of Ceylon) under its Micro credit scheme.
Manager, Horana Branch (BoC) B. R. Kularatna, Credit Officer Hurburt Perera joined in the tour.
There are many creative, talented, skilful youth in rural areas who can't stand their own feet as they are economically handicapped with no one to assist them. So the micro credit scheme that supported many of them have showed marvellous development and they are conducting their small workshops successfully without much fanfare.
According to project and credit officer BoC Horana Branch Hurbert Perera, some of the projects carried out are ornamental fish breeding, animal husbandry, running of small bakeries, minor trading, beauty culture and motor cycle repair centres.
One such is Nirodha Lakmalee of Wewala, Horana running an electrical workshop with her husband. Their job is to produce decorations with LED bulbs for vehicles and houses.
She said, "We started this shop in a small way with my husband. We create various designs using pictures of Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Gods and scenes with LED bulbs and other bulbs.
After we received a loan from the Bank of Ceylon, we expanded it. Rented a room at Wewala bought everything we required. Now we produce attractive designs with electric circuits sales are brisk. 'Monthly we get a sales orders for Rs. 50,000 and earn a profit of around Rs. 18,000. 'During Vesak season we had a good sale.
We expect to expand our industry in future. Her face showed a bright future before them."Gayan Sanjeewa of Galabodawatta, Mahena, Horana is a 19 year old youth running 'Sanjeeva Rubber Industries' in a small room sheltered with galvernised sheets.
He looks after his father and brother. He had made up his mind to start a self-employment venture to work without yielding to anybody. So he has started a small workshop of his own to produce items like rubber bushes, rings, and other items for motor cycles.
He says, "I started this workshop with a machine. I made the machine, I produce spare parts and items made of rubber used for motorcycles. When I buy a sheet of rubber worth Rs. 8,000 from the Industrial Development Board (IDB).
He can produce rubber spare parts worth more than Rs. 40,000. A rubber bush or a ring is sold for Rs. 4.00 but shop owners sell it for Rs. 20 saying imported items.
I have no problem in selling. There is a great demand. Monthly sales are good and I receive an income of Rs. 20,000 a month." I expect to expand this and train two youth."
Vajira Nishantha of Poruwadanda, Horana is a youth who is running a cushion workshop 'Vajira Cushion Works' of his own. After obtaining a loan from BoC the under Micro Credit scheme, he had developed his workshop.
He cushions vans, cars, buses and three wheelers.
Though it seems a tiring job it is interesting for him and his wife. He says:
"First I got to this job in a small way. Now I have my work shop. My wife helps me. I can cushion two or three, three wheelers a day, a van takes one day, my charges are not high. I can complete cushioning a van around Rs. 16,000. It changes according to the materials used. Two boys work under him.
The credit from BOC helped me to purchase machines and materials needed.
Actually this is a good job. I can earn around Rs, 25,000 a month leaving all expenses. If financial assistance is given I can expand. Vehicle owners from Colombo, Kelaniya, Piliyandala come to his workshop to get their vehicles cushioned.
R. D. Liyanage, of Mapatuna, Bellapitiya, Horana is a brassware producer. After he left his government job he has taken to production of brasswares as he has gained brassware technology from his father in Kandy.
He says, 'I started this industry in my home. I have put up a temporary shed and set up the oven. After I got the loan from the Bank of Ceylon. I purchased necessary raw materials, equipment and other necessary things. My main problem is finding raw materials.
Today a killo of brass is Rs. 250. After heating raw materials at a temperature of 1500 degrees, brass melt. Then I pour the liquidated brass mixture into moulds. I produce brass elephants as there is great a demand for them from tourists.
I sell my production to Colombo and Kandy shops. This is an industry that earns exchange. Therefore small scale brassware producers should be helped by the government by providing raw materials at a fair rate. My monthly income is around Rs. 50,000 and I earn about Rs. 20,000 a month. There is one youth to assist me."
Helan Chinthaka (25) of Manana, Poruwadanda has started a new venture. That is the bottling of drinking water. His workshop is close to his house.
He had started this project with a capital of Rs. 200,000.
This is also a loan. After I received the loan from BoC I improved it with necessary plants.
He gets pure drinking water from a deep well from his garden.
Water is pumped into the workshop after purifying, water is bottled through machines.
The trade name of his business is Dumbara. His products are sold in Hambantota, Moneragala, Dambulla and many other areas.
'Although pure water is obtained free, the process of bottling of water and transporting from here to far away places incur much money. We don't charge money for water but the other expenses.
'Eight others work in the centre. Each is paid 3,000 a month. I am satisfied with this new industry. I am able to earn a profit of around Rs. 25,000 a month. At present the sale is on the increase. When we think of these hard working youth, they try their level best to find their living carrying out a remarkable service to the people and to the national economy'.