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Throughout Asia, the cooperative movement offered great potential as a vehicle for rural development but was long ago hijacked by local elites. In Sri Lanka, however, there is a flourishing and sophisticated micro finance and cooperative sector that serves as a development hub for many rural communities in the country
That transformation has been the life’s work of Dr PA Kiriwandeniya (Kiri). Beginning in the early 1970s as a village school teacher, Kiri experimented with ways of strengthening his own village society then progressively developed a strategy for forming district level societies using the same model. In 1978 SANASA was finally formed as a national movement of thrift and credit societies with Kiri as Chairman. Today SANASA provides small farmers througout Sri Lanka (including Tamil areas) with a full range of banking services including insurance, income generation and marketing support. Kiri’s current efforts are focused on the creation of a rural university.
Dr PA Kiriwandeniya has been Chairman of the SANASA Federation since 1978. He has been a member and director of a wide range of government advisory boards including the Poverty Alleviation Board and has served as Presidential Advisor on Rural Development. From 1994 to 1996 he was Chairman of the Peoples Bank. Dr Kiriwandeniya was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of Ruhuna in 2001 and is currently a council member of two national universities.
This public lecture was presented by the Development Policy Centre at Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.