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Although the country historically had ingenious cooperative systems in the predominantly agri-based economy in the olden days, organized cooperative system took roots here with the BRITISH who ruled the country, With the alienation of land of the poor by the state for new plantations, brought inequality in resource sharing making the poor to be borrowers of uncouth money lend To save those working class and poor peasantry cooperatism took roots here as savings and credit societies under an act of the then legislature.
So in this way, the first SANASA Society came in to being in the year 1906. The growth of this micro finance institutions were not fast and subsequently the state run consumer societies took priority over the savings societies which turned out to be savings clubs for the village elite. But for the marginalised who were deprived of basics of life did not have to continue in that apartheid state, a charismatic leadership who stepped down from the ladder with a vision to empower the marginalised, started his work from grass root level in a hamlet in Kegalle, serving in Walgama credit/savings society. He foresaw the potential that cooperative philosophy has in empowering the marginalised by working together to resolve their problems of need and want.
So he dwelt on a mission, with the vision he envisioned to group the scattered savings societies together making the marginalized aware the need to address their issues and bring solutions by themselves, amassing the resources in the village for the use of the village.
He formulated a three tier system with the growing primary societies that were proliferating with the renaissance of SANASA. The SANASA societies now came under its brand name and also not isolated but as a people movement to empower the have-less.
The resurgence of the 1978 gave rise to “The SANASA Movement” with its village level societies affiliated to a district union which handles all matters of the societies in the district while all island-wide districts were affiliated with a central apex body “The SANASA Federation” or “Federation of Thrift and Credit Cooperative Societies in Sri Lanka”.