The Moratuwa University’s eight week Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training course, to support the growth of entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka’s apparel and creative industries which commenced recently has had a good response, Dr.Nirmali de Silva, the Director of the Fashion Design Degree Course said.
She said that the companies which had sent their personnel for training included Hidramanis, MAS Intimates, Bodyline, Sanchia and those who wished to establish new businesses.
Among the Sri Lankan companies that delivered case studies were Siddhalepa, while Hatton National Bank did a presentation on SME Development, she added.
Delegates are expected to produce a business report that explores new business models and evaluate the challenges and conditions that are critical to sustainability and survival. The evaluation has to be in the context of a new start up business or an existing business unit that needs to become proactive and influence change within an organisation.
The unit is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and group tutorials. Relevant fashion industry case studies are being used in seminars to enable the students to demonstrate understanding of contemporary issues.
Dr. Lynne Hammond and Dr. Julia Wolny – two leading academics from the London College of Fashion (LCF) – travelled to Colombo to launch the course.
Hammond has been the Manager of International Educational Consultancy office (IECO) at London College of Fashion since May 2008. Her expertise ranges from training and business development for the fashion industries, collaborative management strategies, international project management, business strategies and entrepreneurship management.
Wolny is the Director of Fashion Business Resource Studio at LCF. Alongside working on projects within the fashion industry, she has been a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at LCF for the last seven years, engaged in high profile agendas of the fashion industry, including new media technologies, mass customisation, creativity and innovation.
Hammond said that the ‘Face Block’ would be followed by an online text/chat session with the students. “We have set up a Wiki where all of the learning handouts and resources have been uploaded. This will encourage student centred learning and make distant learning more interactive and collaborative. It would also improve university inter department cooperation and support knowledge sharing between UK and SL apparel and creative markets. All the students will have access to this online repository from work or home.”
The CPD unit has been developed as part of the policy dialogue for enterprise education in Sri Lanka between the Moratuwa University and LCF, which was affiliated to the University of Arts, London. It focuses on three key elements, namely the founding of a new fashion business, development stages of a fledgling business and how to foster professional management within a maturing small fashion business, she said.
De Silva said that the British Council, which was funding the course, had provided 3000 sterling pounds worth of books.
“The British Council is currently supporting Sri Lankan universities to develop their enterprise education and promote graduate entrepreneurship through education partnerships with leading entrepreneurial universities in the UK. These partnerships are funded by the UK Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education.”
The courses topics include ‘Business Environment and Entrepreneurs,’ ‘Marketing Your Apparel Business,’ ‘Understanding Your Customer,’ ‘Business Modelling,’ ‘Pitching and Presenting Business Ideas and Concepts,’ ‘Case Study Analysis of Successful Brands’ and ‘Branding Concepts and Strategies’.
Hammond said that upon successful completion of the CPD unit, participants would be able to evaluate new business opportunities and assess its viability and apply professional planning, management skills and knowledge needed for a new business; communicate business strategy and operations to stakeholders through verbal or written communications; identify the needs of the internal and external team required for a micro or small business and appraise practice and skills to project their future within the industry.
“Initially, the entrepreneurs have to critically evaluate themselves and the opportunities available before launching a new business. Once a micro business has started, the first two to three years are crucial to long term success. Therefore these stages of development must be handled professionally and with strategy in mind.”
Small business leaders are dealing with a multitude of challenges to keep their businesses afloat as the economy turns. The aim of producing a business report was to develop intellectual competences to analyse and solve emerging problems as part of the start up phase and beyond, she said.
“It is an important part of the explorative process of start-ups and enterprise managers. It is important to understand the key challenges; opportunities and barriers facing small businesses and new business units. Many small businesses are started around their own particular area of expertise or interest. Many small business owners are also extremely involved in the day to day running of their business, which leaves little time to spend on driving their business forward. The harsh reality is that, even with a unique product or service, without a well defined marketing strategy to guide your business you will not be able to achieve future growth.”
Hammond said that the unit would allow one to understand the evaluation of a business plan, expand knowledge of the problems of the early years of a business and to continue strategic vision and operational success in a maturing micro or small business within the fashion industry.
London College of Fashion commenced its partnership with the Moratuwa University in 2002.It has provided curriculum development consultancy and also developed a new UG Course B. Design in Fashion Design and Product Development, she said.
“The intention was to provide design and product development graduates that could enhance the competitiveness of Sri Lanka’s manufacturing companies. The gap in Sri Lanka’s education system at that time was identified by Professor Lakdas Fernando (the then Department Head and presently Director of the Sri Lanka Apparel Institute) who managed the consultancy proposal between the Sri Lankan Government and the University of Arts London.”