The SUN Business Network (SBN) in Sri Lanka was launched in March 2019, amidst calls from private and public sector stakeholders to increase business engagement for nutrition within the country. They called for a more collaborative approach between government and the private sector to address the country’s nutrition issues linked to both under- and over-nutrition, including their role in food production and fortification, consumer demand for good nutrition, strengthening market linkages for nutritious crops and products, and how workplaces can be leveraged to improve nutrition.
Since the time of the launch, 30 businesses have signed up as SBN members, with all members encouraged to participate in one or more of three SBN working groups that drive the agenda of the network:
- Workplace Nutrition and Well-being
- Production of Nutritious Food
- Creating Awareness on Nutrition and Nutritious Food
Each of these groups is led by a local business leader, and convenes on a quarterly basis to plan and report on the execution of its workplan, which was developed by members in alignment with the priorities defined within the (draft) SBN Strategy. Members also include stakeholders from NGOs, donor and UN Agencies, and key government representatives. Each team drives the key initiatives contained within its respective workplan. Working group highlights include:
- Development of a new instant rice meal product using fortified rice by an SBN member
- Formation of a new collaborative partnership between two SBN members to provide healthy meals to employees at their canteen
- Interest in the use of fortified rice among several large garment manufacturers that provide free meals to employees
WFP is also in the process of developing an SBCC Campaign that supports Working Group #3.
Since its establishment, stakeholders have positively indicated that the SBN has created a strong platform to build communication between the private sector and government officials around matters of nutrition, something that was not available previously. Further, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCISL) of Sri Lanka, which works with SMEs across the country, is playing a strong role within the network and working groups, as it is envisioned that FCCISL would be a good potential long-term home for SBN. FCCISL will also support to reach out to SMEs in the next phase of the SUN Business Network where Sri Lanka hopes to reach out to sub-national level organisations.