By Shannon Jayawardena
Business Network International (BNI) a franchised networking organisation is currently focused on building its presence in Sri Lanka while focusing on expanding the SME sector in the country and creating more business opportunities.
In early 2017 BNI Head Quarters in USA together with BNI Asia Pacific took Sri Lanka under their control and since, has made a steady progress in the country with the opening of three Hall of Fame Chapters. Because of their growth in the country, BNI is to open a head office in Colombo during the next few months.
Sri Lanka has generated nearly Rs.750-900 million worth businesses within the company including the global operations done by local members. Their aim is to increase members from 132 to 300 by the end of this year and 1,010 by 2020.
BNI Asia Pacific President Mahesh ‘Mac’ Srinivasan said: “Our presence is there in 72 countries and we have a total of 232,000 members who are all entrepreneurs. Our main goal is for entrepreneurs to help each other and grow their businesses. It’s the best for SMEs. We refer businesses for each other, we find business opportunities and we are constantly upgrading our business skills through training.”
BNI conducts several training courses per year and conducts workshops on improving presentation skills, improving networking skills, building up collaboration instead of competition, and building up confidence. They also conduct weekly leadership programs and membership skills workshops that open up the stage for greater opportunities and entrepreneur empowerment.
Srinivasan noted, “We create a very good platform for SME entrepreneurs who really want to grow their businesses. Sri Lanka has so many opportunities and all you have to do is to know how to tap the right talents and right platforms.”
He added that this is the best way for an SME entrepreneur, especially in Sri Lanka to build and gain recognition. They do have larger corporates but SMEs are their major play. Srinivasan said that they are immensely excited to bring it into Lanka and hope to enable business owners to have a formal platform to carry out their businesses while staying connected to the world.
BNI Executive Director KVT Ramesh stated, “Our main focus here in Sri Lanka is to grow the SME sector and strengthen their capacities and network opportunities. BNI is a platform for businesses to grow their businesses. We form groups called chapters that contain various entrepreneurs that create an exclusive marketing right.”
“Why we are aggressively looking at the Lankan market is because the market here right now needs that platform to grow their businesses. They are still looking at the age old mythologies whereby BNI will truly improve their skills while connecting more opportunities for entrepreneurs across the country,” he added.
BNI believes that contacts and marketing intelligence are very important for the success of any business. They are now focusing on expanding to Jaffna, Negombo, Kandy, Galle and more rural districts to empower all businessmen and women while spotting opportunities for them and preventing bad deals.