Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:01
The Commonwealth Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE), the premier network of networks of young entrepreneurs in Asia and the organisations that support them, came together in Colombo to promote regional trade and youth entrepreneurship. CAAYE concluded its second successful summit in line with CHOGM in Colombo.
The Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL), the most represented private sector policymaker and the apex body of regional chambers and national institutes, recently hosted CAAYE’s flagship ‘Young Entrepreneur Summit’, supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat, London.
The three-day summit held in November 2013 structured on the theme ‘Profit with Purpose’ was attended by over 150 young entrepreneurs from all the Commonwealth-Asia region countries namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and invitee member Nepal.
Events showcased entrepreneurship in action through field visits to various high end entrepreneurship ventures such as Royal Ceramic Lanka PLC in the porcelain industry, Epic Lanka Group in the IT sector, the Sanasa Group in the financial sector and Athukorala Tea Factory in the tea sector and micro enterprises in the traditional weaving industry, Kottawa, Wooden accessories and handicraft in Moratumulla, the mask village at Horana and the clay and pottery industry at Ranala, that have created excellence in Sri Lanka.
In addition, a beach food festival with all member country foods was also held with the blessings of Dehiwala-Mt. Lavinia Municipal Council Mayor Danasiri Amarathunga. Fireworks and entertainments were the value added features of beach food festival of CAAYE Summit.
On the second day, sector-wise business to business (B2B) meetings were held at Orion City, Dematagoda. Orion City Ltd. is Sri Lanka’s first and only IT Park, which currently serves global giants like Virtusa and Sabre. It was a great free networking platform arranged for the delegates explore the possible business linkages among them. A few delegates exchanged their product ranges also during the meetings.
The official inauguration of the CAAYE summit was held on the second day at the Centre for Banking Studies, Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the occasion was graced with the presence of Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal who was the Chief Guest of the event.
All the guests and delegates were welcomed by FCCISL President Kumar Mallimaratchi who commented that as the apex body, the FCCISL is delighted to have hosted the much needed Young Entrepreneur Summit. He added: “As a nation belonging to CAAYE and the positive outlook in the country we strive to drive entrepreneurs, grooming them to be leaders of tomorrow.”
Central Bank Governor Cabraal, in his speech, stated: “Young entrepreneurship is an important aspect in today’s context and we all need to contribute for entrepreneurship development in the country from a young age to ensure wealth and job creation, thereby the younger generation can make significant contributions to support the economic growth of the country.
“Sri Lanka has come long way after three decades of active terrorism and after eradicating the same within four years and we have achieved many milestones. Our economy during the conflict period was also managed better than many peer economies. Presently Sri Lanka is one of the best performing economies in the region.
“As a country, we have improved the investment climate as reflected in the ‘Doing Business Index’ which is compiled by the World Bank. I believe that the CAAYE alliance can play a major role in developing young entrepreneurship through their member countries including Sri Lanka.”
CAAYE Founder President Dr. Rahul Mirchandani, addressing the gathering, stressed that Asia is fast changing with the region contributing 60% to the world’s GDP, but trading within the member courtiers is very low. CAAYE will be a body to work towards the improvement in the trading among the member nations and the socially responsible businesses, which earns profit with purpose.
Commonwealth Asia Regional Centre Regional Director Aminul Islam Khan, during his special address, stated: “The Commonwealth Regional Centre and CAAYE are working hand in hand in young entrepreneurship development via the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) and CYP will continue to support the initiatives by CAAYE to ensure that the CAAYE member counties are benefited and that the AAYE model has been replicated in the other regions to support the young entrepreneurship development at large.
Hutch CEO Thirukumar Nadarasa stated in his speech: “Our purpose in life is to develop products and services that address the real needs of consumers. Unfortunately in the recent past, there have been too many global news stories of people making inflated profits without any purpose whatsoever or addressing any clear need.”
The CAAYE Annual report showcasing a year of the alliance and its member organisation’s work in promoting youth entrepreneurship in the region was released by the Central Bank Governor at the inauguration.
FCCISL Secretary General Nalin Attygalle, in his closing remarks, stated: “Our alliance with CAAYE has been more engaging than ever with the summit hosted in Sri Lanka voicing out a universal concern and sharing knowledge that with purpose comes profit. We thank all our delegates, sponsors and partners for making this happen.”
The grand finale of the CAAYE Summit was held at Stein Studio, Ratmalana. The summit which saw the participation of many delegates from 11 countries saw three panel discussions and highly intense audience interactions on topics that ranged from sharing next practices, women entrepreneurship in Asia and also ‘doing business in Sri Lanka’.
All delegates also engaged in a full day of discussions both among their peers as well as the speakers and panellists.
Over 30 speakers who spoke at the CAAYE Summit represented a wide geographic distribution and included many pioneering entrepreneurs who have made their mark and have ventured into promoting entrepreneurship with a firm understanding of how entrepreneurship contributes positively to the economy.
Following the summit, Dr. Mirchandani thanked the host country and the country representative organisation the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries in Sri Lanka (FCCISL) for hosting a successful summit. In his closing remarks he also left the delegates with the message of uniting for a common goal stating that “entrepreneurs are like fireflies, able to produce light independently and when fireflies come together, they are able to bring light even to absolute darkness”.
The voices of all young entrepreneurs took the form of a communiqué, a key outcome of the CAAYE Summit 2013. It set out recommendations to member governments to support entrepreneurs whose businesses help address the country’s development needs. The communiqué was signed by the country representatives and presented to Regional Director Aminul Islam Khan for submission to the member governments.
FCCISL Secretary General/CEO, Nalin Attygalle in his concluding remarks stated: “What a coincidence it was to have a CAAYE summit finale at a venue that has been created by an outstanding entrepreneur/businessman Raja Mahendran. Stein Studio is one of the largest in the Asian region having all facilities in accordance to international standards.”
Attygalle also stated that the CAAYE should publish its annual activity calendar and all member countries should have the reciprocal connectivity through the web. The G20 Alliance should take an active role to support all young entrepreneurs and SAARC young entrepreneurs will be the newest group that will link with the team.
Commonwealth secretariat in London should continue to support this worthy cause in order to support the respective country economies by having more and more entrepreneurs. It is my believing that economy of any country will be elevated to next level with more and more entrepreneurs.
The Presidency of the Alliance was also ceremonially passed on from Dr. Rahul Mirchandani from India to the Malaysian country representative Nurul Huda Afandi. Afandi went on to express her gratitude for the appointment while commenting that she has big shoes to fill.
The host country for next year’s summit will be decided at the interim meetings and Leadership Assembly scheduled in Dhaka, Bangladesh in June 2014. The CAAYE Flag was officially handed over to CAAYE Bangladesh Country Representative Ejaj Ahamad by CAAYE Sri Lanka Country Representative K. Vinopavan from FCCISL, the host of the CAAYE Summit 2013 in Colombo.