A panel of high-profile Sri Lankan entrepreneurs, many of them graduates of Australian universities, discussed the challenges and opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka at an event organised by the Australian High Commission and Australia Sri Lanka Alumni (ASLA) on 25 October at the Park Street Mews – Stables, Colombo.
The ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship Q&A’ highlighted the need for business, finance and government to be more tolerant of the risk associated with entrepreneurial activity. It also emphasised the private sector’s leading role in fostering a broader cultural change in attitude toward innovation and entrepreneurship.
The need to address the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in setting up a business, assuring financial institutions of their credit worthiness and building a credible brand, was another key focus of the discussion.
All the panellists pointed out that, in order to take greater advantage of the country’s location in relation to the enormous South and East Asian markets, Sri Lankan businesses should think regionally and globally.
The Q&A session was moderated by Bernadine Jayasinghe, award-winning TV news anchor and presenter, with an audience of Australian alumni and other guests engaged in a vibrant discussion with a panel of innovators and entrepreneurs: Lahiru Pathmalal, alumni of University of Queensland and Founder and Managing Director of Takas.lk; Manik Suriyaaratchi, alumni of Swinburne University and Managing Director, Omega Global; Raj Alagendran, alumni of University of Wollongong, and Chief Operating Officer at CurisOne; and Selyna Pereis, Director Business Development at Seyln.
Speaking at the event, Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson said, “Events such as this one, and the networking they encourage, is another way in which Australia is seeking to help build a critical mass of Sri Lankans with an interest in how the economy can be more outward-looking and resilient.”
The Australia Sri Lanka Alumni (ASLA) network has been established to connect the many thousands of Sri Lankans who have studied in Australia. This number is growing fast. There are more than 10,500 enrolments by Sri Lankan students to study in Australia in 2018.