ar 20, Colombo: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the development arm of the U.S. Embassy, has awarded the first grant under its Biz+ program in Sri Lanka on last Friday (March 16).
The US$275,000 grant will help Jeyantha's Katcovalam Ice Factory expand its ice production from six to 26 tons per day, meeting growing demand from fishermen and traders who transport fresh fish to Colombo and elsewhere.
The Biz+ program supports local businesses, increasing economic growth and job creation in recovering areas. The program provides grants along with technical and managerial assistance to small- and medium-size businesses.
"USAIDs latest initiative, Biz+, will open up jobs after decades of conflict. This grant will augment incomes of fishermen and fish traders by meeting the demand for ice in the region and benefit others along the value chain, such as transporters," said USAID Mission Director Jim Bednar.
"This is the ultimate aim of Biz+: to help improve living standards of vulnerable populations and stimulate the regions economic growth,"Bednar has said.Jeyantha has invested some US$360,000 in the ice factory. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. Thirunavukkarasu Senthan, CEO of Jeyantha Industrial Park in Point Pedro, Jaffna District said, "We will continue to increase activities and create new jobs as an ongoing process. Ice, cold room facilities and a fisheries harbor are basic requirements for the success of multiday fishing. The common thread is creating jobs while providing a service to the immediate community."
The grant will fund the purchase and installation of environmentally-friendly refrigeration units at a new central facility, and will support localized cooling and ice distribution centers. Biz+ will also provide technical assistance to improve the design of the companys operations, to help cut costs of wasted cold water.USAID's visiting Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Asia Bureau, Denise Rollins signed the grant. The grant award came as part of Denise Rollins's three-day visit to the island to review progress of USAID-supported activities.