Vinya Ariyaratne

Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement
Sri Lanka

Sarvodaya is a people’s movement that is working to build peace and create “sustainable village economies” in Sri Lanka using self-help and enterprise development approaches.

Focus: Health, Reconstruction, Education, Economic Development, Rights advocacy
Geographic Area of Impact: Sri Lanka
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 400,000 (2013)
Annual Budget: USD $ 6.7 million (2013)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 23%

Much of Sri Lanka’s modern history was shaped by nearly three decades of ethnic conflict and the 2004
Indian Ocean Tsunami. Although the country achieved “middle income” status in 2010, there are persistent disparities across social groups leaving much scope for a more equitable access to services such as education, finance and economic opportunities. Even though the civil war came to an end in 2009, much remains to be done by way of peace-building, rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation.

Innovation and Activities
Sarvodaya has a unique philosophy and strategy for development that promotes self-reliance and self- governance at both individual and community levels. Sarvodaya encourages the community to share resources including labour, time and ideas to create “sustainable village economies that meet the 10 basic human needs”. Sarvodaya’s approach and activities are guided by Buddhist and Gandhian values with a significant focus on building peace in the war-torn nation.

In each village, Sarvodaya works through a five-stage intervention model that includes needs assessment, community mobilisation, setting up of self-help institutions called Sarvodaya Shramadana Societies, impact measurement and extension of support for other village communities. Each village receives a customized mix of products, services and activities in economic development, peace building and emergency relief. As of 2012, this model, spearheaded by a staff of 1500 people, reaches 15,000 villages in 25 districts in Sri Lanka. Sarvodaya also runs Shanthisena - a peace brigade consisting of over 130,000 youth volunteers dedicated to peace building and community development. In addition, the movement has spawned many initiatives on specific social issues – including the largest microfinance organisation in Sri lanka serving 140,000 clients and 4,335 pre-schools serving over 98,000 children.

In its first two decades, Sarvodaya’s activities were dependent entirely on voluntary labour and local resources. From the mid-1970s, the organisation accessed external resources and donor funding and since the 1990s has focused on converting select initiatives into financially self-sustainable business models. Today, Sarvodaya also works very closely with the Government in an advisory and collaborative capacity as it accelerates its economic and social development agenda.

The Entrepreneurs
Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, the Founder and president of Sarvodaya has won over 40 international including the Sushil Kumar International Peace Award in 2006, two years after it was given to the Dalai Lama. Born in 1931, Ariyaratne holds a doctoral degree in humanities, a doctor of letters degree (honorary) and a Bachelor’s degree in economics, Sinhala and education. He served on Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission and also received Srilankabhimanya, the highest national award of Sri Lanka. Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne is the General Secretary of Sarvodaya and has been a lecturer in Community Medicine Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka.