SLCSMI launches webinar series to boost post-pandemic revitalization for SMEs | Daily News


SLCSMI launches webinar series to boost post-pandemic revitalization for SMEs

The panellists giving their insights on the way  forward for SMEs in post-pandemic times
The panellists giving their insights on the way forward for SMEs in post-pandemic times

Always at the forefront in uplifting Sri Lanka’s SMEs through engagement, support, standardisation and networking events, the Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries (SLCSMI), the apex body of SME’s, known for its pioneering knowledge-sharing initiations, recently launched ‘The Way Forward for SMEs’ – an interactive webinar series to share knowledge on how small and medium businesses could recover from the repercussions of COVID-19.

Planned as a series of seminars to support the local SME sector, the chamber has adopted a digital platform, with additional emphasis on the current pandemic, to ensure that the knowledge sharing initiative is carried out sans hindrance.

The first webinar of the series held in late April, aptly named “The Way Forward for SMEs: Recover and Revitalise” brought together Sujeeve Samaraweera – CEO of Four Corners, IPP National Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka and Director of NIBM, Economist and International Consultant Anushka Wijesinha who is also the Team Leader Trade USAID Partner Project and an Independent Director of Seylan Bank PLC, and Attorney-at-Law Rifa Musthapha – Chairperson SAARC Chamber, Women Entrepreneurs’ Council and P Chair WCIC of Sri Lanka. The session included views from President of SLCSMI Rohan De Silva who is a Chartered Interior Architect, Chartered Furniture Designer and Master of Interior and Furniture Design and was moderated by the Chairman of H C P Consulting, Senior Chartered Accountant and Strategic Advisor to the Chamber, Chaaminda Kumarasiri.

Opening the forum, De Silva brought to attention the overarching theme of the webinar series ‘Be Lankan. Buy Lankan’ focussing on the chamber’s drive to promote the motto of Sri Lanka’s SME sector – ‘Made in Sri Lanka.’ He shared that going forward, SME business people must educate themselves and develop a balanced knowledge base to ensure survival and growth.

Anushka Wijesinha talked about the “Quadruple Whammy” Sri Lanka will be facing as the amalgamated result of external and supply and demand shock, together with the domestic supply and demand shock due to Chinese supply chains lockdown, key markets lockdown and the local curfew.

He explained that Sri Lanka is much more exposed to international capital markets now than ever and hence is at the mercy of what happens externally.

“The pandemic will impact the Sri Lankan economy for over a year,” he stated stressing on the need to create synergies among the business community in order to come out of this calamity. Highlighting the chamber’s role to handhold SMEs and support business development at provincial, national and regional level, he urged the need to create synergies by bringing together the larger companies to share business with smaller organisations to drive mutual survival.

Moderating the discussion, Chaaminda Kumarasiri pointed out the importance of not looking back: “There is nothing called going back to where we were – it’s history; we have to talk about what our future is that is going to be totally different to what it used to be. Let’s see what the new world is going to be and define ourselves accordingly. Let’s think new and adapt to the new normal.” Rifa Musthapha highlighted the contribution of women entrepreneurs, ranging across a myriad of industries, to Sri Lanka’s economy.

 Applauding the government’s initiative to offer a stimulus package for affected businesses and individuals, she pointed out the need to include all women entrepreneurs in the provision of these benefits “since they are very important to the economic ecosystem and are most of the time the backbone of the family economy.

Organised in tandem with Blue Lotus 360, the session which streamed over Zoom and Facebook Live was freely accessible to all and also included a Q&A section. The 1.5 hour session concluded with De Silva thanking all those who have supported the endeavour and inviting the Sri Lankan SME sector to stay positive and move forward.

The webinar was well attended and viewed by a wide audience including participants across six countries.

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