COSMI president says: Grassroots level industries need support to accelerate economic growth | Sunday Observer

COSMI president says: Grassroots level industries need support to accelerate economic growth

24 November, 2019

The Confederation of Micro, Small and Medium Industries (COSMI) was set up recently to provide a strong push to promote micro, small and medium industries to make them a vibrant force in the export drive.

There are a large number of micro, small and medium industries in Sri Lanka. However, there is no institution to direct these industries to achieve growth in terms of production, market and revenue generation, the Founder President of COSMI, Nawaz Rajabdeen said.

COSMI was formed to fill this gap by veteran past chamber presidents to support this sector which is saddled with many issues, including access to financing and markets. We have identified these industries and review them to bring back to business. It’s a pity that we do not have a database for these segments and we are working on this matter, he said.

The global concept of value chain has changed to provide market opportunities in each stage, and it is necessary to pool resources for investment. We will support entities which are in business and prospective business falling under micro, small and medium category, the president said.

The grassroots level industries need to be supported to accelerate economic growth. We want to get all the micro, small and medium industries to be registered under COSMI to enjoy our services. We are discussing with donor countries to support them with new technology and manufacturing techniques to make this sector a strong economic driver in the country, he said.

“The COSMI will have special attention for enhancement and development of women entrepreneurs. It will support them to access for finance and also encourage access to digital platforms with a view to create linkages with industries. They will be given assistance to participate in global export forums, to create awareness and improve networking beyond barriers. This will drive them to trade on their own to support the economy of Sri Lanka,” he said. This initiative is expected to develop the entire spectrum of industry, while ensuring upward growth. It will also encourage and will bring in the MSME sector to build up scale and know-how to be a greater part of the value chain. It will support backward integration through expertise and knowledge dissemination to make this sector a force to reckon, he said.

Incorporated this year, as a non-profit organisation, limited by guarantee, to revive and foster the industrial sector in Sri Lanka through MSMEs, COSMI will play a leading role in harnessing the potential of the sector. Founded by a group of highly respected individuals from the Chamber Movement in Sri Lanka, the membership represents a cross-section of the industrial sector. An important feature of COSMI is the Advisory Panel consisting of leading academics and professionals in domains, such as agribusiness, agri-based research and development, market research and analysis, growth strategy consulting, and corporate training, business restructuring, entrepreneur development, women empowerment, sustainable energy and cleaner production, advanced machinery, supply chain, logistics, business feasibility study and project proposals and others. The panel will play a major role in helping foster and empower MSMEs and bridge knowledge and technology gaps. Preliminary assistance will be provided free for MSMEs that are registered with COSMI. Subsequent services may be charged a reasonable and affordable fee, evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Industrial MSME categories include manufacturing and processing in rubber and plastic based, tea, leather, metal, fibre, paper, furniture and furnishing, woodworking, gem and jewellery, coconut and coconut based, agri-business and agricultural products, recycling of paper, plastics, rubber and industrial waste, printing and packaging, light engineering, tools, hardware and allied machinery.

In its business intervention strategy, COSMI will also give priority to alignment with Sustainable Development Goals, principle of circular economy, harnessing regional technology, developing a strong service sector to support industrial MSMEs, establishing local and international affiliations and collaborations and follow the success factors for SME competitiveness identified by the ITC. COSMI will support them. According to statistics, there are over 1.5 million micro, small and medium industries in the country.

“With our past experience over chamber involvement, we feel that there are at least 2.5 million such industries in the country. This segment faces a lot of difficulties as the government has overlooked them for more than three decades. With the end of the war in 2009, we expect these industries in different sectors to accelerate growth. “However, a large amount of imported goods was dumped in the country crushing these MSM industries due to lack of policies by the government. We also identified that a large number of women entrepreneurs who are capable of contributing to the country’s economy were not given enough support. This resulted in set up of the Confederation mainly to revive the sick industries in the country,” he said.

“There are more than 60 to 70 industrial estates in the country that belong to the public sector out of which more than 50 percent is not performing as expected. The government should consider to revive these ailing industries as a priority as this sector is the backbone of the country’s economy.

“They can also contribute to the country’s GDP and create employment opportunities both direct and indirect, if their products are showcased with the support of the government to find markets locally and internationally. Especially, a proposal should be put forward for the North and East to create entrepreneurs to manufacture day-to-day products required by the region,” he said.

“There is a need for the Chambers in all regions and districts to play a role for the public sector in creating awareness for industrial products to generate a demand. We have a great task now in building a database where the government has failed to do so. This will enable us to identify different sectors to support them by offering new technology, new machinery and low interest to revive them. COSMI plays a different role altogether compared to other chambers of commerce in supporting a sustainable regional industrial sector,” he said.