Enterprise Sri Lanka dazzles in Moneragala | Sunday Observer

Enterprise Sri Lanka dazzles in Moneragala

2 September, 2018

The first ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ exhibition held in Moneragala last week was a resounding success with a large number of people of all ages thronging to witness the three-day exposition whilst reigniting the true entrepreneurship spirit in the rural district, say organisers.

‘The Enterprise Sri Lanka 2018 National Exhibition,’ an initiative of the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, consisted of 12 zones and 515 trade stalls of the private and public sectors.

It was declared open on Wednesday (29) at the Moneragala District Secretariat premises with the participation of Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Malik Samarawickrema, Ranjith Maddumabandara,Eran Wickremeratne and Lasantha Alagiyawanna. On the second day, Opposition Leader, R. Sampanthan was the chief guest while Speaker Karu Jayasuriya graced the occasion on Friday (31).

“Over the course of three days, the place was a hive of activity and the turnout of over 250,000 people on the second day clearly surpassed our expectations. It was a pleasure to see large crowds, both men and women, young and feeble and budding entrepreneurs taking immense advantage of the wealth of information that was on offer,” an official of the Ministry of Finance told The Sunday Observer.

The official noted that banks, companies and state agencies that participated at the exhibition provided training to people on how to prepare project reports which would then enable them to apply for loan assistance under any of the 16 interest-subsidised schemes of ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’.

The exhibition while showcasing Sri Lanka’s status as a trading hub for many centuries, also apprised the public of the progress of the ongoing development projects and future development projects of the Government. The Lake House also had a stall at the event, which was the first in a series of exhibitions planned to be held in the future island wide.

The twelve zones at the exhibition included Legacy Zone - a walk through experience of the history of Sri Lankan enterprise showcasing the success stories from Sri Lanka as well as the failures, enabling entrepreneurs to formulate their plans accordingly, avoiding the pitfalls of working in a vacuum or in isolation. The second zone was the Entrepreneurs Zone where potential and existing entrepreneurs were able to meet bank officials for loans and discuss technical assistance and market access.

The third zone linked Public and Private Sector Exhibitors. Ministries, government departments and private sector companies showcased their brands, products and services and interacted with the general public. The fourth was a Learning Zone comprising of workshops and education in three tiers for entrepreneurs, women, and school students while the fifth was a Blue Green Zone that featured sustainable economic initiatives to lower carbon foot print.

The sixth was the innovation zone showcasing innovators from around the country.

‘Ahanna’ and reconciliation discussions took place in the seventh Discussion Zone while the eighth zone was dedicated for sports activities for visitors to the exhibition.

The ninth was the trade zone where quality products were available at reasonable prices. The Mass Media Zone allowed media houses to educate visitors on citizen journalism and constructive journalism.

The Presidential Task Force Zone promoted key initiatives such as peace and reconciliation, anti-drug campaigns, organic food campaign and right to information while the Entertainment zone provide fun and entertainment experience for all the visitors with games, musical shows etc.

The ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition’ aims to support and nurture entrepreneurs so that the

Sri Lankan trade eco-system transforms its ‘imports heavy’ focus to an export-oriented focus. The project believes that the pillars supporting such change are democracy, development and reconciliation, which – if achieved – will propel Sri Lankans forward to a successful future,” the Ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

It is learnt that while Sri Lanka currently has approximately 230,000 employers or business owners (about 2.8% of total working population) 75% of all Sri Lankan enterprises are categorised as Small and Medium Enterprises, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, However, the country lags far behind other Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam in Entrepreneurship.

“In Vietnam, 19.6% of the working population are business owners or employers, while in Thailand, this number is even higher, at 27.5%. Countries with high populations such as Bangladesh and China report 11.6% and 7.5% respectively,” a prominent economist attached to the Finance Ministry said explaining the strong rationale behind ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’.

The official noted that in countries with high populations that are equal to Sri Lanka, the rate remains at a steady 10%. By these standards, Sri Lanka is far behind and needs to increase its entrepreneurship rates to compete in the global economy and to reach the country’s expected growth rate, the economist pointed out.

Meanwhile, a series of development projects in the Moneragala District were also initiated under the ‘Gamperaliya’, rapid rural development program to coincide with the exhibition. Accordingly, ground was broken for three green parks which are to be established in the three electorates of the district - Moneragala, Wellawaya and Bibile. Each Park will consist of a meditation center, gymnasium, jogging path and a library, informed sources said.

Several rural and provincial roads will also be developed while school grounds as well as public playgrounds have also been earmarked to be developed via the Gamperaliya program, they pointed out.