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Future very much in the hands of young entrepreneurs: CB Chief

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Tuesday, 15 May 2018 00:00


By Shannon Jayawardena

Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy last week declared that the future of our country is very much in the hands of young entrepreneurs as they are the key towards success and overall growth.

“What has been encouraging is really the attitude, the energy, the expertise and the drive of the young people in Sri Lanka. I think what most of us of my generation, and the generations immediately after have to do is to get out of the way and let the young people of this country shift the agenda forward,” he said at a program supporting and recognising SMEs organised by Carson Cumberbatch Plc.

The 10 entrepreneurs felicitated were from the fibre products, garments, footwear, soft toy manufacturing, food and beverages and building materials sectors.

The event organised by Youth to Nation Foundation the corporate social responsibility arm of Ceylon Guardian Investment Trust PLC and Ceylon Investment PLC Carson Cumberbatch Plc gave light to four local entrepreneurs; Subadra Sanjeewani, Keerthi Siriwardhana, Manjula Janaki and Anusha Waarnakula, inviting them to share their stories of success while awarding several young entrepreneurs for their determination, hard work and innovative thinking. 

Coomaraswamy noted that there is a clear divide among the older and younger generations, yet one always feels encouraged and revitalised once mixed with the young people of the country as they have a very different mind-set. The access to the internet and social media have given them a much broader perspective and an open mind with awareness on the abundance of various opportunities that Sri Lanka holds. 

“We need to capitalise on the energy and expertise that lie among our young people and to find a framework through which we can provide them with the support that is necessary to help them move forward,” the Governor emphasised on.

If you look at Sri Lanka, agriculture in particular which employs 27% of the workforce of this country only accounts for 7% of the growth of the economy. Hence the country has a low productivity and low income agriculture. A need for transformation of the sector through reformation of several arcade laws is very much crucial he noted. Therefore we need to develop rural entrepreneurs who could generate non-farm based economy and employment he stressed. 

Coomaraswamy said: “In Sri Lanka we have a number of programs to support the SME sector but we haven’t been successful. It’s a rather fragmented approach which is not very holistic. With my limited knowledge of this sector, what one needs to do is to have a holistic approach which intervenes at four levels.”

The four levels include training, providing access to inputs and technology, providing access to finance and finally the most challenging problem which is marketing. To be most successful you have to produce something that you can sell. That is the biggest challenge he stated. 

Coomaraswamy hence noted that young entrepreneurs need to be supported to access markets and you can do it in various ways. You can help them to link into supply chains in their own community or within their regions, or ultimately even into international supply chains. That is something that we have not been able to do well, to open up the marketing channel because if you open marketing channels for a young entrepreneur, you will find that the money will come in and you will be able to get the inputs. Clearing that marketing channel becomes the most crucial challenge that needs to be addressed.

Netherlands Ambassador to Sri Lanka Joanne Doornewaard said: “Three years ago the member states of the United Nations committed themselves to achieve the sustainable development goals. These goals are adapted to add quality, protect the planet and ensure prosperity and for this to become a reality everyone needs to play their parts.”

She stressed on the fact that the government, private sector, civil society and general public must come together in order to reach the set sustainable development goals. Women and young people deserve better opportunities to support themselves through paid work or by running their own business. The lack of prospects at home drives many people to seek jobs elsewhere, which is seen on a daily basis in Sri Lanka. Entrepreneurs are drivers of innovation, stated Doornewaard. 

“Young entrepreneurs can solve all problems with new technology. They have shown that they adapt more. When we talk about economic development we should definitely think about sustainability,” she added. 

Pix by Ruwan Walpola

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