As part of its commitment to support sustainable economic growth in Sri Lanka, the Embassy of the United States of America supports expert American speakers and ongoing programs to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship across the country.
“Our continuous outreach to students, academics, and entrepreneurs will empower Sri Lankans to take advantage of the peace dividend and develop a more vibrant and prosperous economy,” said U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap.
Last week Samira Cook Gaines, a White House “Champion for Change” entrepreneurship expert, led a series of workshops and one-on-one counselling sessions for women entrepreneurs around Colombo, Kandy, and Jaffna. Some participants travelled from as far as Kilinochchi and Nuwara Eliya to learn how to best grow their small businesses. With samples of their products in tow, the women learned the importance of networking, finding creative funding sources, and expanding their product lines. Ms. Cook Gaines also encouraged students and faculty at the University of Moratuwa to find ways to turn their passions into businesses.
On July 28, the Embassy also partnered with the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) to support the “Disrupt Asia” investor forum, bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, government agencies, and other key stakeholders to boost Sri Lanka’s start-up ecosystem. The American venture capital (VC) experts – Tugce Ergul, a founder of Angel Labs; Arteen Arabshahi, Senior Associate of Karlin Ventures; and Sheel Tyle, the head of Seed Practice at New Enterprise Associates – challenged local leaders to invest in up-and-coming Sri Lankan technology start-ups. This year’s conference attracted 50 entrepreneurs and more than 400 attendees.
The American experts are part of ongoing Embassy programs to support innovation and entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka. The American Center in Colombo offers regular management workshops with expert Sri Lankan and foreign speakers, while the American Corner in Kandy hosts business English and entrepreneurship incubator courses. In the coming months, these two spaces will be equipped with Makerspace technologies and programs like 3D printers and basic programming devices to inspire and promote innovation.