The Business for Peace Alliance or “BPA” as it is popularly known is a network of regional business chambers throughout Sri Lanka. BPA’s current membership stands at 26 chambers that bring together approximately 15,000 Small and Medium Enterprises - SME’s .
BPA is a strong advocate of social inclusion and supports member chambers to have a balance in representation of all business groups in the regions including youth, women, ethnic minorities, the differently-abled, representatives of small traders associations, various business sectors, and business’ operating from remote areas etc.
2. What is BPA’s mandate?
BPA is committed towards regional empowerment, national unity and implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility-CSR at regional level in a context sensitive manner.
3. When was BPA started?
BPA was started as a regional chamber network in 2002 and operated informally for 4 years. The success of this network led to it’s institutionalization in September 2006 and setting up of a Secretariat in Colombo. The BPA network now consists of regional business chambers representing every Province in Sri Lanka, including women’ s chambers.
4. Why was BPA formed?
BPA was started at the time the Cease Fire Agreement was signed in 2002 and there was a sense of euphoria that peace and normalcy would be heralded into the country. The regional business community saw an opportunity to penetrate new markets between the North and the South which had been closed over the years of conflict. New markets within the country were an attractive option.
The regional business community which had been functioning in isolation in their own areas also realized that they had much in common with their counterparts in other regions. There was much to learn and share amongst one another. Hence there was a need to establish a common platform and develop a common voice for the regions.
The regions also realized that there was a need to adopt a “bottom up approach” to regional development. The traditional Colombo centric approach where decisions on issues affecting the regions were made by policy makers based in Colombo had not proved to be successful. Therefore through BPA the regional business community saw an avenue to get actively involved in a participatory process of decision making on matters concerning the regions and being engaged in participatory development.
5. Who owns and manages BPA?
BPA is owned exclusively by the regional chambers themselves and all policy decisions are taken by the Board of Directors who are all regional business leaders representing respective regional chambers of commerce. Since our membership is so vast and scattered throughout the country, for operational purposes, the chambers have appointed three representatives each to BPA. The Board of Directors which comprises of 23 members and the Past Chairman as an honorary member, is made up of BPA representatives from every member district.
The Board meets regularly once a month and minutes are recorded by the Company Secretary and available for perusal in the Secretariat.
To ensure a strong and efficient governance structure, there are several sub committees made up of Board members and external experts that are responsible for overlooking specific areas.
Currently there are 4 sub committees. Namely Finance and Audit, Enterprise Development, Board Development and a CSR Project subcommittee labeled “Learn and lead”.
6. What is the role of the Secretariat?
The Secretariat is BPA’s focal point and co-ordinates it’s activities island-wide. We have a small but highly dedicated and professional staff and two international experts who are volunteers and serve in the capacity of Advisors. They come through Voluntary Services Overseas., VSO.
The Secretariat is managed by the Secretary General and features three departments: Programs, Communication and Media, and Finance, Human Resources and Administration. The Core staff are based in the BPA Secretariat in Colombo and project based staff operate from the regions.