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NEDA conduct entrepreneur award ceremonies with the objective of recognizing, rewarding and motivating these enterprises, who have profoundly contributed to the economic development of Sri Lanka. Award ceremonies will be conducted in all provinces with the assistance of District Chambers/Government entities. The purpose of this award is to recognize and reward outstanding entrepreneurs in the region, motivate and encourage them to enhance their contribution to the economic development of the province and stimulate them to seek excellence in their respective field of business.

As per statistics, MSMEs have played a critical role in providing employments and contributing to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in year 2013 while the contribution from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) stood at 40% of the country’s GDP and it has soared to 52% in year 2014. Specially, statistics from the ILO shows a continued rise in the proportion of unemployed youth engaging in an enterprise is one of the best solutions to the problem of youth unemployment.

Having understood this fact, NEDA launched a specialized program for motivating university graduates, in order to develop them as successful entrepreneurs by improving their skills and directing to capitalize the opportunities in the business world. It requires tangible effort to embed entrepreneurship education and the development of soft skills in order to create a conductive environment for this initiative. NEDA is of the view that the existing carrier guidance units of universities will play a crucial role in making entrepreneurial graduates and create career opportunities to others through such graduate entrepreneurs.

Usually graduates opt to pursue employment due to social pressure and lack of awareness about the benefits that may accrue in being an entrepreneur. Moreover, lack of awareness of enterprise opportunities, lack of knowledge in business undertaking, shortage of seed capital and the risks involved in business undertakings have demotivated graduates in engaging in business ventures. Having identified the above these concerns, NEDA has designed and introduced this Graduate Entrepreneurs program.

Specific objectives:

  1. Build up successful graduate entrepreneurs
  2. Create Employment opportunities for communities
  • Encourage educated youth communities in business sectors

NEDA plans to implement this “Upadhidari Vyavasayake Udanaya” Program with all interested universities while obtaining the assistance of the carrier guidance unit of the such universities for the selection and monitoring of beneficiaries.

The growth and expansion of MSMEs are constrained by issues emanating from product and factor markets and the regulatory system they operate in. These problems fall into broad areas of access to finance, physical infrastructure, level of technology, regulatory framework, access to information and advice, access to markets, business development services, industrial relations and labour legislation, intellectual property rights, technical and managerial skills, linkage formation and environmental issues.

NEDA has identified the above concerns faced by the entrepreneurs and implemented short-term capacity development trainings, financial assistance, market facilitation, and other enterprise development activities and follow up services for those entrepreneurs in regional level in all districts. NEDA obtains project proposal from Development officers through respective Divisional/District Secretariats and provide financial support to implement such proposals.

Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are recognized as a driver of economic development of Sri Lanka. However, it has been observed that the majority of the Sri Lankan MSMEs are isolated and are left to continue their production processes without proper guidance. Apparent fact is such entrepreneurs are unable to face the continuous challenges individually.

As a remedy to these challenges, the Cluster/sector based promotional and development approaches are proposed while managing the limited funds of NEDA. It is expected that cluster/ sector-based approach carries many advantages such as cost reduction, resource efficiency, easy management, training and technological innovation, easier access to finance and greater institutional support. It also becomes more cost- effective for the government and other supporting agencies to provide Business Development Services (BDS) to a whole cluster of enterprises rather than to individual enterprises in several locations.

In Sri Lanka, much of the population operates or works for Micro, Small and Medium scale enterprises (MSMEs). Hence, it is essential to create a conducive and dynamic business environment for these enterprises. The concept of Local Economic Development (LED) is an attractive alternative to traditional development strategies, which provides a participatory approach for development. A wide range of local stakeholders is working alongside regional and national Governments and international organizations to realize a locality’s economic potential. While getting such entities engaged, LED creates opportunities and partnership between local private and public sector stakeholders as well as social and political groups.

To create public-private dialogue for local economic development, Enterprise Forums, which bring together representatives of Government authorities, private sector, NGOs and Government business development service providers and key entrepreneurs representing each business sectors are established in the Divisional, District and National level in the country.

National Enterprise Forum: Represent all-national level Government & Private sector stockholders & key entrepreneurs and the forum is chaired by the Hon. Minister in the relevant Ministry. 

District Enterprise Forum: Represent all District/Provincial level Government & Private sector stakeholders & key entrepreneurs and the forum is chaired by the District Secretary. District secretary has power the authority to call relevant stakeholders to the forum.

Divisional Enterprise Forum: Represent the all regional level Government & Private sector stockholders & key entrepreneurs is chaired by the Divisional Secretary.  Divisional secretary has the authority to call relevant stakeholders to the forum.

The objective and role of the Forum

The objective of the Enterprise Forum is broadly to contribute to the local economic Development and growth through MSME development. Accordingly, the role of the Enterprise Forum is to be a facilitator and function as a forum for dialogue to achieve this objective. More specifically, the role of the Enterprise Forum is to:

  1. Have regular consultations and dialogue among the members to promote the MSMEs.
  2. Facilitate networking among all stakeholders relevant to MSME development.
  3. Address issues in the MSME sector and contribute to devising solutions.
  4. Facilitate advocacy and lobbying in order to bring MSME related issues to the national level.
  5. Suggest, promote and in some cases coordinate activities relevant to MSME development in the region.
  6. Contribute to National, District & Divisional Development Plans of the national and local government institutions.
  7. Promote optimal utilization of regional resources.
  8. Facilitate investment and export promotion through the Chamber of Commerce.

Link the needs and development programs sponsored by Government and other donor agencies.

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Marketing is one of the main issues that SMEs are facing recently and to provide a platform to such SMEs, “Made in Sri Lanka” franchise shops will be established in places of leading customer attractions (Local & International). Those Trade stalls are operated by the Private Sector and this mechanism will assist SMEs to improve marketing linkages throughout the country. Suppliers with “Made in Sri Lanka logo” will have the opportunity to showcase their products in franchise shops offering an opportunity to improve their revenue. 

With the country’s growing eminence, NEDA will choose most promising locations to establish Made in Sri Lanka franchise Shops island-wide to promote our heritage under one umbrella. The shops will be selected by NEDA by inviting such interested local entrepreneurs/tenants to come up with their own business places. The design of each shop must integrate with branding, colours, materials, lighting, display and visual merchandising to maximize its appeal to complement the whole shopping experience.

A franchise business is a process in which the NEDA as the ‘franchiser’, sells the rights, business logo, name and model to third party retail outlets owned by independent businessmen (SMEs) known as a ‘franchisee’. The NEDA will manage all franchising matters of tenants and upon confirmation of agreement to franchise, NEDA will commence the design and fit out process with the tenants.

Tenants will also need to engage a reputed contractor to put up the shop under the auspices of NEDA. Once the place is selected, a formal contract will be signed along with necessary permits, insurance and other documentation.

An experience Development Officer will be appointed to handle all related work on behalf of NEDA. NEDA will also organize regular committee meetings to monitor the success of the venture.

NEDA has launched “Made in Sri Lanka” logo with the aim of promoting and developing genuine Sri Lankan MSME products with high value addition. In line with this, NEDA also conduct trade fairs to uplift these Sri Lankan products to the national and international market place. The selection of entrepreneurs is made according to the recommendations given by the development officers who have the direct contact with the entrepreneurs. An awareness campaign has been launched to provide an equal opportunity to all small and medium scale entrepreneurs island wide to participate in this event. The final selection of entrepreneurs is vested with the selection committee appointed by NEDA.

Benefits to entrepreneurs:

  • Create a Sri Lankan value added genuine product base under the Made in Sri Lanka theme and offer them the Logo.
  • Ensure the MSMEs a persistent market access for their products island wide.
  • Popularize the Sri Lankan products among the tourists who visit the Sri Lanka.
  • Improve and develop the standards of the products in conformity with the overseas market place.

Though there are plenty of local businesses being carried out with local resources, there was no proper recognition for the local products when compared to the imported products. Consequently, the customers used to give priority for the products which were imported. As a result, the demand for the local products become diminished while customers used to think that the imported products are of superior quality than the local products. To address this issue, NEDA has taken a step to promote the locally made products by introducing a Logo (Made in Sri Lanka), launched in December 2022, to depict the degree of “localness” of the products.