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The Nucleus Approach


Nucleus and SME statistics

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Legal property of the Nucleus Approach



Types of Nuclei

Manual for the Nucleus

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9 criteria for the selection of a sector

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10.08.09 - NF - Sri Lanka: Dave Maurice presents the Nucleus Approach as instrument for SME promotion at the LED conference in Colombo

Nucleus: Using a group SME promotion approach to achieve Local Economic Development

The Nucleus Approach was presented by Dave Maurice (Director of the Nucleus Foundation) at the recently concluded LED conference in Colombo. The gist of the presentation - incorporated into three power point slides - was that through the Nucleus Approach entrepreneurs in working groups share problems, ideas and experiences, support learning networks within sectors, undertake activities to upgrade their enterprises  and / or influence framework conditions, foster inter regional and inter ethnic business linkages, thereby contributing the local economic development.  Nucleus also helps to identify competitive sectors and analyse value chains mobilising entrepreneurs across different stages of the value chain to address gaps and exploit opportunities. The positive feedback to the presentation indicates that conference participants recognised the Nucleus Approach as a practical tool for developing local economies.

One of the questions that was asked was how to ensure the sustainability of the approach for example when it’s used to compliment value chain interventions. In response Dave said:

When it comes to any kind of entrepreneurship or livelihood development intervention, to make it succeed you require active participation from the entrepreneurs and livelihood groups. When you mobilize such groups to share ideas and experience and to undertake joint activities they are compelled to take ownership of the intervention. For example when a group of cinnamon producers invest in equipment for common they are compelled to make it sustainable and to take ownership. They buy into the fact that by undertaking this activity collectively they are sharing the cost thereby reducing it for each person. Because they invest their own money they are also required to make it work and to make profits for themselves. This above all is what creates the sense of ownership leading to sustainability. This is the reason the Nucleus approach has become a popular SME and livelihood development approach in Sri Lanka.

Development projects come and go. If we take an honest look at ourselves as development practitioners, how many of us can say that we have contributed to something “sustainable”? Nucleus was introduced to Sri Lanka more as a tool for organizational development of chambers of commerce, SME promotion was secondary. Today not a single of the over 10 chambers supported with subsidies and technical assistance are implementing the approach in this country. But Nucleus groups still function, not as part of a chamber and often without a Nucleus Counselor (the counselor was seen as an integral part of the approach organizing a facilitating the activities for the groups). They still function as a group; leaders have emerged; and they have taken ownership because they see the advantages of working together. Some of the stronger groups have emerged as their own organization, like the Sri Lanka Computer Vendors Association Central Province, The Uva Region Printers Association, Kandyan Floral Association. This is what makes the Nucleus Approach sustainable, the ability to mobilize entrepreneurs and keep them interested in their own development.

Dave's Presentation (ppt)