South Asia Leadership in Entrepreneurship (SALE – Sri Lanka)

This sub-regional project promotes entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka and Nepal as a desirable career option for youth, with the support of the US Department of State.

Overall objective of project

Working with local institutions, SALE will encourage entrepreneurship and an enabling environment for start-up businesses; with a focus on the digital economy and e-commerce. SALE will provide young women and men with entrepreneurship training, and raise awareness of opportunities in this sector, through campaigns, competitions and mentoring programmes.

Specific project objectives

Goal: Youth of school-leaving or university age in Sri Lanka see entrepreneurship as an attractive career option with grounding in starting and improving their business, within an enabling environment for small business growth.
  • Enhanced interest in and knowledge of entrepreneurship, and increased capacity of young men and women to start and improve businesses
  • Selected government and higher learning institutions become champions for entrepreneurial activities
  • Positive image and support for young entrepreneurs within society


Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC)


  • The project identifies a clear need to integrate the value of entrepreneurship and private sector growth as drivers of development. Awareness programmes highlighting success stories of entrepreneurs; school-based exposure programs; enhancement of local digital platforms; promotional campaigns on the digitalisation of marketing; capacitation of public-sector on innovative entrepreneurship; incentives to join and participate in digital platforms, are few among many strategies for inclusive engagement.
  • The project’s goal and objectives are well aligned with national policy priorities. In Sri Lanka, the National Policy Framework ‘Vistas for Prosperity and Splendour (2019)’ highlights the need for youth entrepreneurship. The National Policy Framework further seeks to promote women’s contribution to development and to empower them economically and socially.
  • Further, as proposed in the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Sri Lanka (2011 – 2015), a mechanism should be introduced to support SMEs to innovate and transfer technologies, giving priority to high-end technologies through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) schemes. 
  • With emerging digital trends in the era of COVID-19, the project utilises an opportune moment to engage young men and women in entrepreneurship within an inclusive and sustainable environment.

Target beneficiaries

The Sri Lanka component will reach 5,200 youth of school-leaving or university age, of whom 50% are female. Special attention will be paid to participants from marginalised communities. In addition, at least 100 civil servants, school and university teachers will be capacitated on entrepreneurship promotion. Through the national change campaign, at least 50,000 members of the general public will be sensitised on favourable perceptions of entrepreneurship.

Expected results

 Contextualize and roll-out ‘Know-About-Business’ and ‘Start and Improve Your Business’ through selected schools and higher learning institutions.
  •  Advocacy to include entrepreneurship in school and university curriculums
  • A ‘Forum’ to promote policy dialogues towards an enabling environment for young entrepreneurs
  • Execute a 3-tier entrepreneurship competition.
  •  Develop content and communication strategy to promote entrepreneurship
This project is linked to Sri Lanka DWCP 2018-2024 Outcome 1.1 (Sri Lankan workforce have more and better employment opportunities) and contributes to ILO P&B 2022-2023 Outcome 4 (Sustainable enterprises as generators of employment and promoters of innovation and decent work).