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
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
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
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
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.