21st June, 2016
GIZ and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce partner to strengthen business and social links between SMEs in the Eastern and Central Provinces
High regional disparity in economic development has been a common characteristic in the Sri Lankan economy for a long period of time. The long drawn internal conflict further aggravated the situation and the businesses in the North and East have been operating in isolation for nearly three decades. Though the regional disparities have slightly reduced during the post war period, the businesses in the North and East, particularly SMEs are still at a disadvantageous position in terms of technical know-how, access to technology, access to markets and new business opportunities compared to their southern counterparts.
Identifying this shortcoming, GIZ SME Development Programme partnered with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce to organize the first SME Exchange/Linkage Programme between Southern and Northern SMEs in September, 2015 in Matara titled ‘SME ProLink;Unity Through Business’. The first SME ProLink programme was highly successful in re-establishing links between the established SMEs in the South with SMEs in the North and resulted in a number of mutually beneficial business linkages among SMEs in the North and the South.
Gnanachandran owner of Sivan products in Kilinochchi met Wijeya Kumara, a producer of Kithul based products in Akuressa for the first time during previous ProLink programme held in Matara last year and they have gone beyond establishing market linkages between the two regions. Their families visit each other frequently, and in April 2016, Gnanachandran invited Wijeya Kumara and family from Matara to join him and his family in Kilinochchi for the Tamil New Year. “They invited us to Matara in May for the Buddhist Vesak celebrations,” he said. “I had only heard of a place called Matara, but because of ProLink I got to see it and even made a friend from there,” Gnanachandran said. During the last trip to Kilinochchi Wijeya Kumara had made a profit of Rs. 40,000 selling spices of which he had donated Rs. 30,000 to renovate a Hindu temple in Kilinochchi.”This was a unique experience for me to help Gnanachandran who I now feel like a brother to me,” Wijeya Kumara said.
Satisfied with the impact of previous ProLink, GIZ and CCC have teamed up once again to organize the second “SME ProLink: Unity Through Business” Programme in Trincomalee, which would provide opportunities to the participating SMEs and the stakeholders of the Food and Beverage (and related) sector to enhance their social linkages, expand business contacts and strengthen skills and capacities. ProLink is specially designed for Small and Medium scale F&B entrepreneurs and associated stakeholders, who have been in operation for at least 2 years, with a minimum turnover of Rs. 3 Mn per annum and the interest and capacity to supply other regions.
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce is the premier business chamber in Sri Lanka which facilitates and contributes towards the development of the private sector businesses in Sri Lanka. The Chamber, with its long service of 175 years, also functions as a moderator between the government and the private sector in policymaking and voicing the concerns of the private sector.
The Sri Lankan-German SME Development Programme, implemented by GIZ in cooperation with Ministry of Finance, Sri Lanka, aims to support a cohesive policy framework enabling SMEs to grow in an inclusive and eco-friendly manner. Through a wide range of technical assistance, it helps enhance competitiveness of SMEs through technology transfer, innovation and improved access to finance. The programme is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) of Germany.
In keeping with the tag-line of GIZ SME Development programme, which is to ‘Advise on and facilitate matchmaking between technology and innovation providers and SMEs’, the SME ProLink programme concept is designed to support the SME sector with the participation of various stakeholders connected to it. Through this concept, business and social linkages amongst the participating SMEs and service providers are expected to be strengthened.
In its second consecutive year, SME ProLink 2016, designed as a two day residential SME exchange/linkage programme will be held from 9-11th August 2016 at Green Park Hotel in Trincomalee. The programme will consist of technical and knowledge sharing sessions on relevant topics for the development of the sector, promoting linkages between the F & B sector SMEs and corporate businesses and field visits to a food processing factory that have specific learning points and cultural events to promote social and cultural linkages. Through this programme, the Project will ensure that thirty (30) SMEs each from the Central and the Eastern Provinces, along with Technical service providers such as Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI), Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), Dept. of Food Science and Technology of the University of Peradeniya and the large scale corporates will meet at one venue to share knowledge and experiences and establish mutually beneficial linkages. Distinguished guests from the host province and GIZ will also grace this occasion.
The District Chambers of Commerce in Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Kandy, Matale and Nuwaraeliya Districts will facilitate the participation of SMEs from respective districts at this two day business development programme.
SMEs in the F&B sector operating in the above Districts can forward applications for participation in the Programme through the District Chambers in the respective Districts. After carefully reviewing the applications, the organizers will select the most suitable SMEs for participation in the programme based on a set of transparent selection criteria. The expenses of the entire SME linkage programme including cost of travelling, accommodation and meals will be covered by the organizers.