Sri Lanka must develop an Entrepreneurial culture to achieve sustainable development

Sri Lanka must develop an Entrepreneurial culture to achieve sustainable development

Dr. Kulatunga Rajapaksha

Emeritus Managing Director

DSI Samson Group

  1. Please comment on the role and impact of Entrepreneurs in the overall Development of Sri Lanka

With regard to overall Development of Sri Lanka it is Entrepreneurs who contributed to the development as they are engaged in not only manufacturing industries but also various other sectors such as Agriculture, Tourism, Logistics etc….

  • Are we ready for the shift “From export economy to entrepreneurial economy”?

In order to shift “from export economy to entrepreneurial economy” it is important that government has stable Trade and Taxation policies. Presently multinationals are granted various incentives for them to come Sri Lanka but local entrepreneurs do not receive any such assistance to establish units in overseas and being multinationals.

  • What do you think, “Enterprise Sri Lanka: A vision to establish an entrepreneurial Society”?

Enterprise Sri Lanka was started during 2018 and it has over 11 projects. Out of which IT and Agriculture has the sizable value of the loan over 400 million and that seems to good step towards entrepreneurial development and it is too early to comment the real benefit of it.

  • What are the Key impact/s of Entrepreneurship Education on Small Businesses’ Performance?

The impact on Entrepreneurship Education on Small Businesses’ Performance is negligible and it must be encouraged as it may generate results in long term.

  • Do you think the Sri Lankan tech industry can meet the ambitious goals and export earnings by 2015?

It is very unlikely that Sri Lankan tech industry can meet the ambitious goals and Export earnings by 2025 as there is a serious doubt within the business community on the stability of the government and there is no structured road map to achieve the goals.

  • There are many local and international institutes providing entrepreneurship courses in many levels, even PhD level. What is your opinion on this? Is Education paramount to be a successful entrepreneur?

Providing entrepreneurship courses at all levels is definitely required and its paramount important not only to be a successful entrepreneur but to inculcate entrepreneurship spirit at early stage in life preferably at School level.

  • As a self-thought entrepreneur what has been your mindset and approach from the start today?

To be a successful entrepreneur that is important to have determination and hard work and be satisfied within end results. An entrepreneur will always consider challenges as opportunity.

  • How important is passion and purpose when running a business or entrepreneurial activity?

Passion is the primary factor in entrepreneurial activity and it is important to satisfy all the stake holders.

  • As a person who has successful operations internationally what has been the mantra for success?

International operations need to be studied in depth before step into any overseas venture quality, confidence,, on time delivery and quality are the key factors to the successful operations internationally.

  1. What advice would you give Sri Lankan entrepreneurs who want to go global and compete internationally?

Just because an entrepreneur has done extremely well in domestic market it is not a qualification to enter into export market. There are many ways to enter into export market.

Products specification requirement in each county must be studied in detail and products must be tailor made to meet those standards. The products that is selling extremely well in domestic market can be totally failed in certain export market.

  1. Presently entrepreneurship is a hot topic and many institutions started ( local and international institutions, universities, NGOs, consultancy firms etc. and Govt. entities too ) innovate course. Do we really need this? Any innovative comment, especially visionary thinking of course development for business the real entrepreneurship development towards Sri Lankan economic growth?

Yes. We need many institutions to change the curriculum in local universities. NGOs will not play an important role in this area. Consultation from all leading entrepreneurs will be required to develop this sector. Entrepreneurship programs to be included at school levels and mind set of student need to be changed for self-employment rather than directing them to be government servants.

  1. As an entrepreneur who has faced many challenges, what are the suggestions do you have to promote local entrepreneurs towards contributing to the economy?

As an entrepreneur I have faced many challenges and in order to promote local entrepreneurs we need to inculcate patriotism. Government should take the initiative to convince the masses from school level to patronize local products.

Today there is only one institute “ Mawbima Lanka Padanama” who promote local products when government is discouraging the consumer by promoting bilateral agreement to benefit the consumer by giving imported products at a lesser price by giving duty concessions.

  1. Looking back at your career what are some of the failures and what have you learnt as a result?

Due to lack of stable policies there were many instances that I have failed but as entrepreneur somehow overcome temporally by converting challenges to opportunities. Example ; -Sudden opening of economy as far back 1977, crippled many industries but we managed to survive by changing the production techniques accordingly.

  1. You are passionate about social entrepreneurship. In your view how can social Entrepreneurs contribute to society?

In my view social entrepreneurship is the vehicle that can give back part of benefits to families who do not have an income by way of assisting them financially helping children and elders homes, schools, and religious places, housing etc.

In all these events in today’s environment, supplying of safe-drinking water is primary and major requirement.

  1. What elements do you look for in the social enterprise either to invest or mentor?

With regard to social enterprises to invest be considered to help education and promoting agricultural products take priority.

  1. Based on your experience what are some of the common challenges faced by Social Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka?

As entrepreneur when social projects are under taken the biggest challenges that we face are due to lack of funds, restriction of tax relief, red tape in government approvals, difficulties in obtaining government land and political interference.

  1. How can entrepreneurs give back to the society ? what is your philosophy?

In order to give back to the society, system that we adopted to setup various projects manufacturing, agriculture, services etc in remote villages where basic infrastructure facilities are not available. 200 garment factories program initiated by late Mr. R. Premadasa was one of such successful projects.

  1. What is your advice to future entrepreneurs?

My advice to future entrepreneurs is to keep the distance from politicians and not to depend on government subsidiaries but manufacture quality products in cost effective manner in reasonable volume to enter into export market.

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