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Sunday, 29 January 2012

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Mannar Divi Neguma woos large crowds

Crowds thronged the first Divineguma exhibition that began in Mannar. The eighth Divineguma show in the series and the first ever Divineguma to be held in the region, also highlighted strong private sector participation and attracted the highest Tamil speaking crowds in any Divineguma show to be held in the Northern Province, specially considering the overall low population in the region.


New, small and medium business startup inquiries (Expressions of Interests) personnel busy manning the inquiry counters at Mannar Divineguma show on Saturday 21.

Interestingly, it also showed unprecedented interest of many exhibition-goers who usually go after white collar occupations- towards small-scale entrepreneurship and self- employment.

"The second Divineguma to be held in the Northern province exceeded our initial expectations.

There were more than a 6000 Tamil speaking populace visiting the show during its two-day duration and benefiting from it. A strong private sector presence was very visible", said, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka Rishad Bathiudeen. Minister Bathiudeen was speaking at the conclusion of the two-day Divineguma on January 22. The Divineguma series of exhibitions are under the patronage of the Ministry of Economic Development and implemented under five line ministries, including the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Ministry of Economic Development.

The Export Development Board (EDB) and National Entrepreneurs Development Authority (NEDA) of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce contribute significantly to the program according to the vested subject areas. Fourteen government institutions 40 private sector firms exhibited at Divineguma.

The exhibition focused on the empowerment of rural household economies.

Among the sectors on show were agro sector (specially machinery, seeding and replanting), leather and footwear manufacturing, food processing, SME marketing and networking capacity enhancement, and new technology infusion to the rural production units. Initially estimates showed on the spot sales exceeding Rs. 500,000.00, with mounting future purchase orders (to be confirmed) for agro machinery such as tractors and harvesters.

Onesh Trading, one of the first private agriculture companies to be incorporated in Sri Lanka, and was a leading participant at the show, reported that almost all its vegetable and flower seed stocks were sold out promptly.

Seminars on local and international business opportunities, organised by the National Enterprise Development Agency (NEDA) under the Industry and Commerce Ministry, saw capacity crowds of SME businesspersons attending the seminars with many inquiries following.

The show clearly projected unprecedented interest towards small-scale entrepreneurship and self-employment.

NEDA reported more than 4500 Expression of Interests (EOI) forms being submitted for new business start-up inquiries in the SME sector, the bulk of them being focused on the agro sector and small enterprise start-ups/cottage sector, such as palmyrah production, food processing, school writing books production, handlooms and even brickmaking.

"This show was aimed at giving an opportunity to start off the industry base, specially the cottage sector, in the Mannar region.

New employment opportunities also was an expectation. We are starting to see encouraging results", said Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce Tilak Collure,. Times and Fergasam Group, the first BOI manufacturer to enter Mannar, reported that strong interest with regard to joining its upcoming apparel manufacturing facility in Mannar was seen by ascertaining the applicant numbers registered during the exhibition and several new applicants for its Colombo factories also registered. " The private sector came in on very strong, in comparison to previous Divineguma's", said, Secretary, Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprises V. Sivagnanasothy.

"The gamut of products and processes almost woke up the entrepreneurial culture in the region", Sivagnanasothy added.

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