As Global Entrepreneurship Week 2022 shines the spotlight on the importance of entrepreneurship to economic growth, the International Labour Organization in collaboration with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce is implementing a series of initiatives to facilitate a change in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and bolster young people’s transition into the entrepreneurial world.

Conducted under the aegis of ILO’s South Asia Leadership in Entrepreneurship (SALE) program, these strategic interventions  focus on creating a more enabling environment for aspiring, emerging, and existing young entrepreneurs encouraging empowerment, and addressing systemic barriers to youth entrepreneurship.  A combination of advocacy and awareness raising efforts, training, mentorship, ecosystem adaptations, and engagement with policymakers are being implemented towards achieving this.

One of the main initiatives under the programme is the delivery of ILO’s Know About Business (KAB) training modules. The Ceylon Chamber, as the principal implementing partner of SALE, conducted a Youth Perception Survey and consulted various stakeholders in order to tailor the KAB training to address youth aspirations. A panel of qualified and experienced trainers were recruited and trained to effectively deliver this customised training, while phase 1 will see this rolled out for 1,000 students in the Galle and Gampaha districts, these efforts will be replicated in several districts next year. .These entrepreneurship training programme are intended to inculcate and encourage entrepreneurism among students at schools, vocational training institutes and universities.

The establishment of School Entrepreneurship Clubs (E-Clubs) is another initiative under SALE to foster an entrepreneurial mindset among school children, and 10 schools in the Galle and Gampaha districts have thus far established E-Clubs.

Two policy dialogues on the themes of ‘Innovative Approaches to Reach Youth Entrepreneurship Excellence’ and ‘Technoprenuership: The Digital Path to Business Resilience’, were organized in collaboration the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. The aim of these dialogues is to engage policy makers, ecosystem players, academia, and other key players is to identify vital issues and recommend best practices to the Government of Sri Lanka and other stakeholders, to assist in policy development and initiatives relating to the entrepreneurship environment.

With advocacy to encourage academic institutions to introduce entrepreneurship education into school curricula being a key intervention of SALE, technical assistance is being provided to the Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Education (NIE), for the incorporation of digital training tools into entrepreneurship curricula being prepared by NIE under the ongoing education reforms.

Through strategic interventions such as these, ILO’s SALE programme, funded by the U.S Department of State is endeavouring to create a shift in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and enhance capacity among the youth to enable them to launch and grow their own business ventures.