Digital transformation and innovation that sees opportunity in turbulence in order to attain resilience and growth, were among key themes that were explored at the National SME Forum 2022 organised recently by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
Conducted under the theme of ‘Way Forward for SMEs to Navigate Through the Crisis’, the second edition of the annual Forum engaged high-level public sector officials, industry experts, organisations engaged in SME development, and other players in the SME ecosystem, to map out a course of recovery for the SME sector which is among the hardest hit by the current economic crisis. Deputy Governor of the Central Bank Mrs. T.M.J.Y.P. Fernando, CEO – Lanka Clear, Channa De Silva, economist Dr. Anura Ekanayake and veteran entrepreneur Dr. Nirmal de Silva were among the eminent panelists who participated at the Forum.
The Forum highlighted the need to prioritise digitisation of the SME sector in order to transform the supply chain, overcome logistics challenges and ensure broader access to both local and global markets. Featuring eminent panelists from a wide selection of sectors and industries, a key feature of the Forum was the dialogue it facilitated amongst participants and presenters, giving participants the opportunity to address pressing questions and obtain insightful advice from the panelists.
Topics raised through participant questions included the potential risks of digitisation, addressing import and export related challenges, and retaining customers and stabilising the business amidst the currently challenging economic environment.
Panelists offered insightful advice and guidance on navigating these issues, explaining how partnership and collaboration, with SMEs working together at an industry level, can contribute to overcoming challenges. A key theme presented by panellists was the importance of being proactive and identifying opportunities that could arise from challenges, such as leveraging digital innovations spurred by the pandemic and other economic factors to integrate more efficient processes into business operations.
Emerging trends in supply chain logistics and management, exploring regional collaboration, and benefiting from capacity building initiatives spurred by government, NGO and private sector entities within Sri Lanka were other areas that were explored. Mitigating payment risks, evaluating businesses for export-readiness, diversifying product portfolios and dealing with compliance related challenges were discussed.
With several pertinent issues being discussed and innovative solutions discussed, the outcomes derived from the National SME Forum offer a strong basis to further explore and develop strategies to address the survival and revival of Sri Lanka’s SME sector.