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Monday, March 07, 2005

Entreprenuers in SL

This has been on my mind for a while and after reading indi's blog on entreprenuers here are a few stories of people I have come across in Sri Lanka.

When I lived in Colombo he operated the nearest "kaddai" (coner-store/milkbar). After a game of cricket we would all stop by his shop and buy drink on credit. All the houses on the street seemed to have a line of credit. He was "mudhalali" (can some one correct the spelling). He had been to the middle-east performing blue-collar work, the type of work spurned by the locals, and had collected enough capital to purchase some land and build the house+shop. 10 years after leaving SL I caught up with him. He had managed to renovate and extend the house. Next visit: five years afterwards and he had diversified into operating a private bus and also into tourist travel. He said that the war ravaged economy was taking a heavy toll on his businesses and getting start-up loans from the banks was very difficult.

A relation of mine, having graduated from a local university as a pathologist worked in government hospitals before deciding to seek his fortunes in the middle-east, performing tasks the locals couldn't qualify for. Having earned enough money he came back home and decided to start a pathology clinic at home, working in his after-hours providing the most basic of services. As the years passed the clients grew as did the range of services and he quit his job. Being self-sufficient the clinic became the largest in the town/region. Patients spurned the government clinic by the masses. I still wonder why he didn't go onto open more clinics may be it was his reluctance to see it as a business.

A family friend was a government engineer. Frustrated with the bureaucracy he quit and started consulting. Emboldened by the success achieved through hard-work, and using the land that came with the marriage (read dowry) he managed to find enough investors to provide start-up capital to open a restaurant and hotel complex. Serving the middle-classes and local business he has now trebled the size of the hotel complex.

Finding start-up capital and evolving the business to the next stage seem to be challenges.

When you travel from SL to a developed country, watching the local news the most striking aspect is the emphasis placed on the local and national economy. In SL, unless things have changed recently, with a literacy rate of 92% why isn't there more discussion about economic activity and its connections to the political economy, specially in the Singhalese non-english local media?

Update: performed some clean up.


  • At 9:21 am AEDT, Anonymous indi said…

    I don't think there's discussion cause people don't much care. Economy seems to mean being a Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, or getting a lifetime Government Job; not creating wealth or jobs. I don't think the culture is as much about growth as stability. The problem is that this leaves the country in a state of stable crappiness.

  • At 11:44 pm AEDT, Blogger ivap said…

    Someone once told me that the problem with sri-lanka is that social development was too far ahead of it's economic development. If only the memes of markets, economy and meritrocracy can invade the culture. May be a brave writer, journo, intellectual can bring it to the masses.


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