Oct 05, Colombo: Despite playing a huge role in the country’s economy, Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and SMEs are struggling to advance their business capacities due to lack of workers with skills and relevant business education, Sri Lanka's Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen says.
An international, multi-stakeholder meeting on entrepreneur education to be held next week in Sri Lanka is expected to address this core challenge.
Minister Bathiudeen says SMEs are more than 70% of the total number of enterprises in the economy providing 45% of the employment and contributing to 52% of the Gross Domestic Production (GDP).
"Despite these sectors acting as the growth driver of our GDP and are playing a very important role in employment and labor force, we find very few opportunities for them to develop their education and capacities."
Announcing the 7th UNESCO-APEID Meeting on Entrepreneurship Education in Trincomalee Thursday at a media conference, Minister Bathiudeen said since only 16% of students in the country's education system enter the University, the government is fostering an Entrepreneurship and SME culture for the youth.
He said the UN supported events such as the UNESCO-APEID meeting can open many new doors of opportunities for the SMEs and entrepreneurs who are keen to link with exports and the global marketplace.
The 7th UNESCO-APEID Meeting on Entrepreneurship Education will commence on 9 October at Trinco Blu.
A leading entrepreneur education series in Asia Pacific, this is the first time that the UNESCO-APEID meeting held in South Asia and convened by UNESCO Bangkok. The previous (sixth) session was held in October 2017 in Manila, Philippines.
The milestone event is led for the region by Sri Lanka’s apex entrepreneur and SME business development agency, National Enterprise Development Agency (NEDA).
UNESCO-APEID entrepreneurship education series calls multi-stakeholder support from government, education institutions, academia, private sector, international organizations and the students themselves and supports consolidating the network for entrepreneurship education among stakeholders.
The specific objectives of the Trincomalee meeting are to identify various models of multi-stakeholder engagement in entrepreneurship education, share good practices of such in primary, secondary, tertiary and non-formal education, showcase selected enterprises, and discuss potential areas of joint activities to enhance multi-stakeholder engagement in entrepreneurship education.
Chairman of NEDA Dakshitha Bogollagama said more than 200 local and foreign entrepreneurs, small business participants, policy makers, educators, and youth representatives from 21 countries are scheduled to join the 7th UNESCO-APEID Meeting on Entrepreneurship Education themed "Leveraging Multi-Stakeholder Engagement to Nurture Future Entrepreneurs".
UNESCO-APEID session expects to fulfil Sri Lanka’s newest economic strategy for its entrepreneurs "Enterprise Sri Lanka" which encourages young and "educated" entrepreneurs.
NEDA is Sri Lanka’s apex entrepreneur development agency, aims to stimulate the growth, expansion and development of SMEs and "encourages the establishment and operation outside Sri Lanka of enterprises designed with a view to internationalize domestic enterprises capable of penetrating foreign markets."