For the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum of Sri Lanka Association for Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM), uplifting innovators and entrepreneurs, a prospective set of change makers, is considered a key objective in the pursuit of achieving the association’s Vision 2025 of achieving US $ 5 billion in revenue, 200,000 jobs and 1,000 start-ups.
“Encouraging innovation-centric start-ups is crucial, if we are to spearhead Sri Lanka’s journey towards becoming a sought-after solutions provider of IT/BPO services in the global market,” said SLASSCOM Chairman Channa Manoharan, highlighting that the future-focused drive of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum is paving the way for a sustainable start-up ecosystem in the island.
“As we take on a new year of progress, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum is launching a comprehensive programme to mentor and uplift local start-ups by formulating and nurturing a start-up launchpad and platform,” shared SLASSCOM Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum Board Member Anura De Alwis.
He further noted, “We are adopting an islandwide mindset, targeting potential start-ups at both university (beginner) and matured levels across all regions of Sri Lanka, including all state-owned and private universities.”
The mentoring programme is designed in a way that it combines the knowledge, experience and expertise of volunteers across multiple fields such as technical, finance, marketing, legal and operations, so that budding start-ups are given holistic guidance in taking their ideas to a commercial level. Start-ups that sign up for the programme will be provided with tailor-made mentoring, support and consultancy, in order to operationalise ideas into profitable ventures, with potential for international expansion.
“The programme will include a proper assessment of start-ups to find out what areas they need mentoring on and then will go on to assign mentors for each start-up and each area accordingly,” added Entrepreneur and Innovation Forum Alternate Head Charindra Wijemanne.
With a sustainable feeder of experienced individuals, that is the SLASSCOM network, as its foundation, the mentoring programme of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum is well encouraged and supported by all of the association’s other forums.
While the mentoring programme will continue for a period of one year for each start-up, it will bring together government agencies, facilitators, facilities, community partners, who will provide mentoring, curriculum design and other aspects, as well as learning and development partners and investors.
Gearing start-ups with a range of tools, including new business skills, industry insights and novel problem-solving techniques, the programme will enable these young businesses to take on global competition.
The start-up companies that take part in the programme will have the added benefit of being exposed to SLASSCOM’s international network, thus widening their market prospects.
“The programme will encompass a special advisory committee made of high-profile individuals, who possess technical, entrepreneurial and business acumen in the industry.
“These experienced personnel will be from CxO level and beyond and will come onboard to mentor young start-ups, to provide advice and guidelines,” commented Entrepreneur and Innovation Forum Head Priyantha Bethmage.
“To make the mentoring programme a sustainable one, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum is keen on operationalising the system. Although we will commence the programme with volunteers who will commit their time, effort and networks, going forward we may require paid mentors and streamline the mentoring mechanism so that the programme is capable of continuing on its own.”
Driven by multiple objectives, including the identification of novel innovators with potential to be successful entrepreneurs and the portrayal of Sri Lanka as a hub for innovation, while increasing its global innovation index ranking and creating a significant impact in the future to achieve export targets, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum is keen to build and maintain a self-sustaining start-up ecosystem in