Why entrepreneurship development should be priority number one

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When someone in Sri Lanka becomes an entrepreneur, not only is there one less job seeker but also we have a job creator – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara 


There are two ways to create jobs in Sri Lanka. The government recruiting more people to work in the public sector is the first way. The second way is to develop entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship creates job opportunities and people who work in the jobs created by entrepreneurs are called private sector employees. The government absorbing more people into the public sector is costly for the government and is not sustainable in the future. Entrepreneurship development is the way out. 

Creating new jobs

When someone in Sri Lanka becomes an entrepreneur, not only is there one less job seeker but also we have a job creator. Even a small scale entrepreneur can create half a dozen jobs. Entrepreneurs in the high tech industry are not just creating jobs but also creating highly paid jobs which means more money in circulation in the economy. An entrepreneur does not only create jobs directly but also creates a lot of jobs indirectly. An entrepreneur will need services from software development to auditing. This leads to more jobs being created in the industries that are offering those services.

Solutions to problems

An entrepreneur is a problem solver. The main reason why governments should love entrepreneurs is because entrepreneurs solve problems and pay taxes also to the government for solving a problem the government has to solve. Entrepreneurs creating companies like Uber and Facebook have innovated with mobility and communications respectively to a large extent. Uber has created millions of opportunities for people to make money. Even an entrepreneur who sells the same products as his competitor is good for the economy as it keeps the prices competitive for the consumers. Entrepreneurship development is encouraging problem solvers as they are constantly looking to innovate. 

Innovation and creativity

Since 2000, 52% of Fortune 500 companies have gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist. There is disruption happening very fast. My recent article for Forbes speaks on corporate innovation being essential for large businesses to survive. But who caused the innovations which made many Fortune 500 companies fall? It was young entrepreneurs. Creativity and innovation is found in startups as they thrive with innovation. Even large corporations like Disney have accelerator programs where it gives space, invests and provides help with its expertise to entrepreneurs seeing the potential for innovation to come out of them. Developing entrepreneurship will lead to rapid innovation which is essential for Sri Lanka to keep up with the world.

Increases international trade

Entrepreneurship in today’s age of globalisation means more trading with other countries. Entrepreneurship is about scaling the business and as Sri Lankan entrepreneurs grow they will expand looking for new markets and thus increase Sri Lanka’s exports and bring in much needed foreign exchange. Exporting is very important for economic development. Exporting does not mean just tangible goods like tea, rubber and garments. Many Sri Lankan businesses involved in businesses such as software development for foreign countries are also exporters as they bring in foreign exchange into the country and provide jobs. Improving international trade brings peace to the world as history shows, when international trade decreases, wars begin. 

Poverty reduction

Entrepreneurs help in reducing poverty. Entrepreneurs into manufacturing build factories in rural areas which helps provide a lot of jobs for the particular rural region. The people working in the factories are trained with essential skills. Even if the factory moves out of that region because of the training, the workers will be able to get jobs elsewhere. It also leads to infrastructure development due to logistical needs. 

Entrepreneurship is the way forward

Entrepreneurs are people with a growth mindset always looking for opportunities to grow their businesses. Developing entrepreneurship will lead to creating thousands of people with an entrepreneurial mindset looking to grow and expand their businesses. This will lead to economic growth. Increasing the percentage of entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka will also help change the mindset of Sri Lankans towards looking for constant growth and with this kind of a mindset, we as a nation can become a developed country soon. 

(Talal Rafi is an Entrepreneurship Expert having worked on entrepreneurship projects by the World Bank, USAID and Chatham House London. He is currently working with Chatham House London on formulating recommendations for the G7 & G20 on gender equality in entrepreneurship post-COVID.)

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