The U.S. and Keells are partnering to strengthen small businesses in Sri Lanka through an agreement to connect Keells suppliers with private business advisory service providers.

“The small businesses that supply your grocery stores keep the economy going and drive job creation,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung at the MOU signing. “This collaboration with Keells is based on a mutually shared vision to improve the competitiveness of small business entrepreneurs working in the food processing sector.”

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed recently solidifies a partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Private Sector Development (PSD) project and Jaykay Marketing Services (Pvt) Limited, the operator of the Keells retail chain. Through this partnership, USAID’s PSD project will strengthen micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by providing access to a variety of services, including digital marketing, global certifications, and financing. Keells will link these enterprises with new markets to increase their competitiveness.

Krishan Balendra, Chairman of John Keels Group, commented that “the vision of our retail brand Keells is to improve the quality of life of our nation. This partnership with USAID aligns with this vision and provides us the opportunity to empower communities and further extend our efforts in supporting Sri Lanka’s MSMEs toward improving their product quality, optimizing their brand visibility, adopting e-commerce, and implementing sustainable business practices. We look forward to this partnership and to further supporting small businesses, in particular, those that are women-owned and women-led.”

John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH PLC) is one of Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerates and its group of companies touches every major sphere of Sri Lanka’s economy. The Keells retail chain, with 128 outlets island-wide supplied through 4,000 farmers and 1,000 large and small-scale suppliers, is operated by Jaykay Marketing Services (Pvt) Ltd. (JMSL), a subsidiary of JKH PLC. KEELLS is committed to achieving sustainable development and ‘People, Planet and Profit’ is a guiding principle in its business model.

The USAID PSD project expands opportunities for MSMEs by facilitating financing that increases MSME competitiveness, productive employment, innovation, and market linkages. This is one component of the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Sri Lanka to support self-reliance, strengthen stability, and promote economic growth.