In the island nation of Sri Lanka, a woman and her husband run a welding shop, an enterprise made possible thanks to the financial support of Women’s Development Services Co-operative Society, better known as Women’s Co-op.
The co-op—a network of more than 120 branches operated entirely by women—partners with World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) to bring increased financial access to women entrepreneurs, farmers, and the wives of fishermen.
The work of Women’s Co-op and other groups was significant in helping Sri Lanka recover from the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami. Those efforts continue as cooperatives seek to strengthen the country’s financial fabric and help improve the lives of a primarily rural population.
Women’s Co-op offers a variety of financial programs, especially savings mobilization, with an emphasis on children’s accounts and micro-business savings. Children’s savings programs are designed to educate the next generation of Sri Lankans on the importance of financial stability.
Equally vital are the savings of micro-entrepreneurs, especially those involved in the fishing industry, who live on day-to-day fish sales and draw no steady paychecks. Greater financial stability—the goal of the Women’s Co-op/WOCCU partnership—will be critical to the economic growth of women, their families, and communities throughout Sri Lanka.