US will continue to empower mid-sized Lankan businesses – US Ambassador | Sunday Observer

US will continue to empower mid-sized Lankan businesses – US Ambassador

27 September, 2020
 Alaina B. Teplitz
Alaina B. Teplitz

The United States will constantly seek new opportunities for US businesses to partner and support small and medium sized enterprises and empower women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka’s journey towards achieving economic prosperity, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Alaina B. Teplitz told guests at the launch of Sri Lanka@100, a private sector-led initiative focused on the growth of mid-market enterprises last week.

She said the US believes in inclusive economic growth which is key to achieve shared prosperity.

“Through the US Government’s international development agency, USAID, the US government has set up dynamic and mutually beneficial partnerships with Sri Lanka which will help Sri Lankan businesses,” Teplitz said.

She said that US companies have invested over $300 million in Sri Lanka over the past several decades, and expressed hope that this platform would generate more opportunities for mutually beneficial trade and investment between the two countries.

“The Sri Lanka@100 initiative will strengthen mid-sized business enterprises in Sri Lanka.

“The initiative demonstrates the US’s commitment to economic development targeting that space.

“Such initiatives will power Sri Lanka going forward and will be key to building the economy which has much potential,” the Ambassador said, adding that the move will help increase productivity, access to finance and strengthen the capacity of Sri Lankan institutions.

She said as an Ambassador, strengthening private sector capacity is a top priority to create economic opportunities.

“You, the entrepreneurs, the business and government leaders expanding the impact and profitability of medium-sized businesses – are the engines that will power Sri Lanka’s prosperity, and the United States is investing in your drive and potential,” said Ambassador Teplitz.

She said the USD 26 million funding initiative of the USA provides technical assistance for over 60 mid-sized businesses, increases household income and develops the skills of entrepreneurs,” the ambassador said.

The Sri Lanka@100 initiative is funded by USAID and administered by Stax.

U.S. assistance to Sri Lanka has totaled over $2 billion since Sri Lanka’s Independence in 1948.

The United States has made substantial investments in agriculture, enterprise development, education, healthcare, energy and natural resources, and humanitarian activities. The purpose of the initiative is to enable Sri Lanka to become a high-income country within 100 years of Independence (by 2048) — with equitable and inclusive growth fueled by the value creation of mid-market firms. The Platform will, in particular, support businesses in underserved segments.Stax Managing Director and Co-Founder of SL@100, Dr. Kumudu Gunasekara said, “While we may have been born in a developing country, we don’t have to continue to live in one.

We are incredibly resilient as a people, as a nation.

Our SME owners and entrepreneurs have weathered many storms to stay afloat.

“This Platform is about helping them to now really power full steam ahead with ambitious growth plans, and about taking Sri Lanka’s development to the next level,” he said.

State Minister for Regional Cooperation, Tharaka Balasuriya, too expressed similar sentiments on the importance of supporting medium-scale businesses that have the power to recharge Sri Lanka’s economy.

“Programs such as Sri Lanka@100 help businesses fulfill their potential in an increasingly competitive environment, and will play a large part in the economy’s post-Covid recovery,” he said.Mid-sized firms in Sri Lanka face many challenges when preparing for the next stage of growth — such as dependency on a small domestic market for revenue, limited access to quality business development services, and lack of access to varied forms of capital.

The SL@100 Platform is designed to help mid-market companies address such issues by providing high-calibre advisory services in areas such as strategy, marketing, accounting and finance, legal, and technology and data services.

The SL@100 Platform is building an ecosystem of trusted vendors and partners who can provide such services and also bring innovative ideas to the table to help mid-market firms grow.

The ecosystem will include general business interest organisations such as industry bodies, banks, chambers, state-affiliated organisations, and training and professional skill building institutions.