From left: GIZ SME Development Programme Adviser Hasitha Wijesundara, German Embassy Deputy Ambassador Dr. Michael Dohmen, GIZ SME Development Programme Senior Advisor German Mueller, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce CEO Dhara Wijayatilake and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Assistant Secretary General Chandra Vithanage
By Zahara Zuhair
With an allocation of Rs.3.2 million, the second phase of SME ProLink, an initiative to strengthen business and social linkages of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), will be focusing on Eastern and Central Provinces this year.
Accordingly, 60 SMEs will take part in the ‘SME ProLink; Unity Through Business’ programme providing opportunities to the participating SMEs and the stakeholders of the food and beverage sector to enhance their social linkages, expand business contacts and strengthen skills and capacities.
SME ProLink 2016, designed as a two-day residential SME exchange programme, will be held from August 9-11 in Trincomalee.
It is an initiative organised by the GIZ and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), which also expects to provide technical assistance to enhance competitiveness of SMEs through technical transfer, innovation and improved access to finance. “The main focus of this programme is to create a joint forum where the SMEs can share information to learn from each other and create the business linkages. It is an opportunity for SMEs to get clarified whatever requirements they wish to get sorted out, a good opportunity to learn from each other,” GIZ SME Development Programme Advisor Hasitha Wijesundara said. “Overall what we are trying to create is unity to business catering to national reconciliation on the one hand, to create markets access for SMEs and linkages to widen their market and business and also very important technology transfers would enable SMEs to reach to the next development,” he added.
Further, it was noted that it will bring into the spotlight of the government’s initiatives of providing safety food and this programme will provide the opportunity to discuss ideas on safety ways of packaging.
German Embassy Deputy Ambassador Dr. Michael Dohmen said that the SMEs should be the backbone of the country and in Germany it plays a key role. “We have a lot of employees, there are so many innovations in this sector,”
Ceylon Chamber of Commerce CEO Dhara Wijayatilake said that the most significant thing about this programme is it establishes relationships between regions and people. “This programme has advantage of helping entrepreneurs with their own work and forge relationships,” she said.
She stressed the importance of acquiring standards for food products and good practices.
Meanwhile, she also stressed that dependence of government jobs must be stopped, as mostly university students look for government jobs and there should be a way where even the graduates could go into universities and acquire knowledge where they could apply to set up their own enterprises.
The first phase of the programme took place in 2015 targeting the Southern and Northern Provinces.