We need more entrepreneurs!
Less than 4 percent of Lankans own businesses - Econ.
Sri Lanka's woefully inadequate entrepreneurship is a barrier to
economic growth, said a senior lecturer on business economics at the
University of Colombo.
He said that entrepreneurship building in Sri Lanka is astonishingly
low compared to many developing countries in the region which have
accelerated economic growth over the years.
The lack of entrepreneurship is a major obstacle to expediting
Prof. of Business Economics, Faculty of Management and Finance,
University of Colombo, H.D Karunaratne said that of the population of 20
million and a workforce of around eight million, less than four percent
own businesses which is a stark contrast to many countries across the
world which have created a vibrant entrepreneurship culture.
He said that if Sri Lanka is to fast track development it has to
increase the four percent entrepreneurs to around 40 percent as in
advanced countries where 30-40 percent of the labour force have their
Sri Lanka remains poor and lags behind many countries in various
sectors is due to the lack of a dynamic entrepreneurship culture.
“Policy makers with the support of academics, experts in the private
and public sectors should focus urgently on creating an entrepreneurship
culture in the country taking root from primary to tertiary education
level which at present is mainly geared to create only professionals.
Children from the primary level are being groomed to be professionals
such as doctors, lawyers and engineers and not entrepreneurs,” Prof.
Academics said that free education, healthcare with nutritional
programs from primary to tertiary education level have instilled the
attitude of dependence among students who after having graduated demand
jobs from the Government as if it is duty-bound to provide employment to
them. Students need to get out from the dependence mentality which is a
huge hindrance to entrepreneurship and focus on developing occupational
skills that will pave the way for career enhancement and higher
prospects in life.They said that education with the proper mind set to
develop entrepreneurship through sound financial literacy is the way out
of one-track professional education which stifles the pace of economic
"A large number of people in Japan are capital market investors
compared to Sri Lanka which is abysmally low,” Prof. Karunaratne said.
Financial literacy enables a person to make informed and effective
decisions with his financial resources. Personal finance is focused in
State-run programs in Australia, Canada, Japan, United States and the
“Sri Lankans are risk averse. They prefer to invest in safe and low
return conventional systems such as banks and financial institutions.
Capital market investment is a high-risk high-return investment. The
education system should include personal financing which helps students
to prioritise and cut down unwanted expenses and save for a rainy day,”
Prof. Karunaratne said.
He said it is unfortunate that even at university level the demand
for entrepreneurship education is low as students are stuck to the
attitude of becoming a professional. The number of job opportunities the
private sector could provide is limited.
The number of businesses registered a day in Sri Lanka is alarmingly
low which creates a job mismatch in the country. The number of
businesses registered a day in China is high. To enter a profession in
Japan one should have a degree. Non-degree holders cannot gain
employment in the public sector.
On the contrary some people in Sri Lanka want to be professionals
without academic qualifications,” Prof. Karunaratne said.
The University Don also said that the lack of resources, facilities
and stereo type management systems to suit all occasions in universities
cannot cater to the rising intake to universities. They said that
countrywide entrepreneurship is vital to create job opportunities.Export
orientation and entrepreneurship creation is crucial to develop the
economy. Sri Lanka has a very insignificant number of multinational
companies unlike Japan which has over 70 multinational companies
bringing revenue to the country.
"We need to ask why have we failed to create a Honda in Sri Lanka. We
need to develop export oriented professionalism through education and
human resource development," he said.