The U. S. government’s Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a free online mentoring platform today to connect emerging entrepreneurs with experienced business experts. The platform, available to the public at www.yes.youlead.lk, connects aspiring entrepreneurs across Sri Lanka with more than 100 experienced business leaders and subject matter experts to help them navigate unprecedented challenges and support the long-term success of their businesses.
“Mentoring is very often the missing link in the success of many startups, especially for those owned by women or located outside the urban centers with limited access to networking opportunities and support facilities,” said Reed Aeschliman, USAID Mission Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives. “USAID’s YouLead project is strengthening entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka by giving business owners an online platform to discuss their plans and receive objective guidance from experts, free of charge.”
Through a partnership between USAID’s YouLead project and the Sasnaka Sansada Foundation, this platform matches entrepreneurs with mentors who volunteer their time and expertise to help businesses succeed. To ensure long-term sustainability, a dedicated team is in place to onboard mentors and mentees, moderate the mentor-mentee engagement, and recruit reputed mentors onto the network.
Hasitha Wijesundara, President of Sasnaka Sansada Foundation, stated that “There is an abundance of entrepreneurial spirit in Sri Lanka, but many entrepreneurs lack the experience to see their ideas through and lose focus when dealing with the complexities of running a business. Through this mentoring platform, we will be able to better match eager entrepreneurs with experienced mentors and increase the success rate of startups in Sri Lanka through a structured process.”
According to Ms Deepa Liayange, Secretary to the State Ministry of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research, and Innovations, “We need to disseminate the success stories of entrepreneurs, their best practices, and strategies they adapted to navigate through challenges as part of the entrepreneur training and educational process. Mentoring provides a one-on-one platform for this process, and we would like to thank USAID, Sasnaka Sansada, and all the mentors for collaborating to create this nationally accessible service for entrepreneurs.”
YouLead is funded through an $18 million, seven-year grant from the United States and implemented by the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) to improve technical and vocational education and training, link youth to productive careers, and strengthen entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka. Sasnaka Sansada Foundation is a community organization that has helped increase the potential of Sri Lanka’s youth since 1997.
This project is one component of the longstanding partnership between the American and Sri Lankan people to support self-reliance and promote a healthy, educated, and employed population.