Sri Lanka receives Ford Foundation grant to boost startup ecosystem

ECONOMYNEXT- The Ford Foundation will provide a 300,000 US dollar grant in a deal with the Lankan Angel Network (LAN) to boost Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem, a statement said.

“We look forward to our partnership with the Lankan Angel Network and their implementation of programs to accelerate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sri Lanka in order to address income and gender inequality,” Ford Foundation India, Nepal & Sri Lanka Regional Director Pradeep Nair said.

The grant, which is the Ford Foundation’s first financing effort in Sri Lanka, will see the startup ecosystem being further developed islandwide, and reach multiple business sectors.

“While Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem has grown rapidly, it is still very much focused in Colombo,” the statement said.

“The grant will focus on growing skills, entrepreneurship and reaching more people operating at the grassroots level.”

LAN Founder Prajeeth Balasubramaniam said the grant will support and accelerate eight programs over 2020/21.

LAN will collaborate with key partners across the island, and support the ‘I AM HER’ program to empower female entrepreneurs through the grant.

The financing will also help to launch an angel fund, and support the annual startup competition Venture engine.

Other initiatives will focus on founder and funder education.

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization founded in 1934 to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.

The organization was founded by Ford Motor Company President Edsel Ford, son of automobile industrialist Henry Ford.

The Ford Foundation, which has an endowment of 12 billion US dollars, and is the second largest of its kind in the US, has been active in South Asia for over 60 years.

LAN, a platform for angel and private investors with high risk appetites, has been supporting the development of startups and promoting equality and shared growth..

“Partnering with the Ford Foundation is an honour and a privilege for LAN. It’s an endorsement of our efforts and strengthens our vision for the next decade,” LAN Chairman Mano Sekaram said.

“With this support, we aim to promote entrepreneurship across the country.”

“Furthermore, we believe this partnership will provide much-needed expertise to accelerate the growing startup ecosystem.” (Colombo/Feb25/2020)