Sri Lanka’s one million strong Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have clinched the largest international support wave in their business history thereby finally enabling them to directly link with global markets. Lankan SMEs in spices, food preparations and ICT/BPO are to receive support in the first round.
EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka Tung-Laï Margue (right) and Minister Rishad Bathiudeen (centre) inspect handicrafts displayed by a Northern SME at the SME trade fair
“We believe that SMEs are providing 45 percent of employment,” said Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, addressing the launch of Colombo UNDP’s Promoting Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth for Sri Lankan SMEs session and SME Trade Fair at BMICH.
“We believe that SMEs are 75 percent of the total enterprises in the economy providing 45 percent of the employment. I am pleased to say that our SME sector has started receiving international attention. The EU, through International Trade Centre of Geneva has extended support for a large scale SME development project in Sri Lanka” said Minister Bathiudeen and added: “We have commenced a four year project to increase our SMEs’ trade competitiveness in regional and EU markets using this fund.
“The budget is a huge US $ 9 million or 8 million euros. This project, which is of four years, aims to enhance the export competitiveness of our SMEs, efficiency of cross-border procedures and SMEs’ capacities to comply with cross-border procedures, improve compliance and quality infrastructure services to meet quality and requirements in the regional and EU markets and increase SME competitiveness in export-oriented sectors such as spices, food and ITO/BPO industries. I thank the European Union and the International Trade Centre (ITC) for providing such valuable funds and assistance to our SME development and helping us to take the SMEs to global markets.”
Sri Lanka has more than one million registered SMEs, each employing three persons on average. Taken together with other micro enterprises and SMEs that are not registered, the sector’s presence is weightier with a sizeable contribution to the economy, an estimated 52 percent of GDP.