The Rural Enterprise Network (REN)

Linking small-scale farmers to input-output markets through the Rural Enterprise Network
2010 SEED Award Winner Sustainable Agriculture Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Rural Enterprise Network (REN) is a social marketing organization established in year 2002 by networking rural farmers and producers in South of Sri Lanka. It has operated within Practical Action South Asia since 2002 and was formally established as a company limited by guarantee in August, 2004.

The REN concept came from the constant observations that access to markets and other BDS was lacking in rural micro-business interventions. The REN model addresses these gaps, providing marketing-related services to increase market access for poor small-scale producers.

REN has substantial experience helping producers organize as groups, product quality improvement, access market information and improve market linkages mainly via a common brand exclusively focused on products crafted by Sri Lanka’s small-scale producers. The new initiative is proposing to replicate REN model for the small scale farmers and producers who suffered from the ethnic conflict during last 30 years in Northern part of the Sri Lanka. The proposed initiative will facilitate the formation of a network of agro and food processing enterprises and establish a formal mechanism to provide bundle of BDS for network members in affiliation with government and private sector business development institutes.

The purpose of the proposed initiative is to assist the small scale producers and farmers who affected by the 30 years conflict in north part of Sri Lanka to reestablish their livelihoods. Accordingly, the new initiative is proposing to replicate the REN concept which already implementing in southern part of Sri Lanka to improve the small scale businesses affected by the war. The proposed project will carry out activities related to community organizing, promoting of collectivization & common branding concept, technology transferring, product quality improvement & certification, linking with markets and other Business Development Services (BDS).

At the same time, the project will promote organic farming and processing practices among the project beneficiaries to minimize the damage they are doing to the environment. In addition to that, from its’ concept the project will promote equal participation of men and women for farming and food processing industries. Through this intervention, the project will link conflict affected farmers and producers with rest of the markets including local urban markets and international markets which would help these rural producers get better price for their products. This will increase the profitability of selected enterprises and assure the sustainability.

Eco-Inclusive Impacts

REN supports poor small-scale producers to increase market access and income by providing marketing-related services and protects the local biodiversity by promoting eco-friendly farming practices.

 

  • Increasing income and living conditions of rural farming families by improving capacities of small-scale agro-processing enterprises.

  • Creating new employment opportunities and contribute to poverty reduction.

  • Protecting the local biodiversity by promoting environmentally-friendly farming and processing practices and technologies, and renewable energy sources.

 

  • Ensuing sustainability and profitability of small agro- and processing enterprises is assured through improved product quality, entrepreneurship skills and market links.

 

Partners

This enterprise is supported through its partnerships with various stakeholders, ranging from national and international organisations, investors, research institutes, suppliers, governmental bodies, NGOs, other social and environmental enterprises and more.

Rural Enterprise Network (REN) implements the project, including capacity building, product marketing and project administration.

Practical Action mainly provides required guidance and technical inputs for REN to expand its network.

The Farmer Federation for the Conservation of Traditional Seeds and Agri-Resources provides its expertise on chemical-free farming practices to the REN members.

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