Sustainable Development Goals 1 – Eradicating Poverty, 5 – Gender Equality, and 8 – Economic Growth

Primary Media
A Sri Lankan woman stands in her retail shop
Uthayakumar Lembert in her retail shop in Vankaalai village, Sri Lanka.
Credit: ECLOF International
Published On: February 6, 2024

For International Development Week 2024 (February 4-10) The United Church of Canada highlights Mission and Service Partners who are contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

ECLOF International is the hub of a network of socially driven microfinance institutions that provide financial and non-financial services to micro entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers, promoting human dignity and enabling self-sustainability. A key part of the service ECLOF provides is training in areas like financial management, budgeting, and entrepreneurship. Uthayakumar Lembert’s story is one of many showing how ECLOF’s support transforms lives.

When civil war raged in Sri Lanka, Uthayakumar Lembert and her family fled to India. When they returned, Uthayakumar and her husband found nothing but empty land. They built a humble hut for themselves without water and electricity, and then put up a small food stand to earn income. The business did not bring in enough money, and Uthayakumar’s husband had to emigrate in search of work. One day Uthayakumar attended a workshop held by ECLOF and the Women Rural Development Society, where she learned about entrepreneurship, savings habits, and business strategies. She soon joined the Uthayasooriyan Small Group that was funded by ECLOF.

With her first loan, Uthayakumar converted the food stall into a retail shop. Since there were no other retail shops nearby, her business soon grew. The business income and the savings habits Uthayakumar developed helped her bridge hard times, build a better home, and get her now 23-year old daughter through school.

Uthayakumar is grateful: “ECLOF provides not just a loan, it offers an excellent package including empowerment meetings, mentorship and advice, constant follow-up, training programs, affordable interest rates, and motivation.”

This story was adapted from ECLOF International. You can read more about their work on their website.

What Can You Do to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals?