Amba Chutney Cooperative
As the first community co-operative working with Amba Estate, the chutney entrepreneurs put a portion of their sales on each bottle of chutney sold into a Community Development Fund (Rs. 10 per bottle). In the first year, they sold more than $2000 of chutney and supplemented their income by 20%. This fund is used to kick start the next community enterprise in the valley. This model can be used for years to come as tourism continues to grow in Sri Lanka. It’s intended that 20 more local women can be trained through the savings of the fund in the coming years. Income from the partnership will be invested in children’s education, nutrition and housing improvements, creating a better future for community members in the region.
Livelihood opportunities in the valley of Bandarawela, Sri Lanka are limited for low-income community members. Many rely on agricultural work, especially in the tea plantations, which can be arduous with little financial gain. Amba Estate came to the area with the purpose of promoting economic growth through their organic tea plantation, paying fair wages, sharing their profits with their workers, and creating opportunities for growth. Having established its place in the travel market, Amba is now ready to support community cooperatives as a means of better spreading the income of tourism throughout the valley.
Planeterra worked alongside Amba Estate to support the initial investment for the first community-led micro-enterprise working in partnership with Amba. Planeterra’s catalyst grant covered the equipment, training and setup costs for a group of six women to formally become a chutney co-operative. Once produced, the chutney is sold back to Amba Estate for travellers to consume and purchase. Travellers have the opportunity to eat the delicious chutneys, meet the women and see how it’s made. The “Six Stars” Chutney Cooperative is made up of women who are employed as tea pluckers with Amba Estate, and are nearing the age of retirement. All tea pluckers in Sri Lanka are required to retire at the age of 55. For this reason it is important that they begin to build up their savings and diversify their skills to continue earning after their tea plucking years are over.