by Uditha Jayasinghe
The US is ready to partner Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and encourage investment, a top official said yesterday, calling on them to use democratic change to foster growth.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin, who landed in Sri Lanka on Thursday, while addressing IT entrepreneurs, praised the quality of the start-ups in Sri Lanka and stressed that America was enthusiastic about encouraging partnerships.
“I’m here to underscore that our companies are ready to partner with your business community as Sri Lanka realises its potential and moves to the next level. You know the constraints better than anyone else and it is about you providing jobs and what is truly exciting is how many pieces of the puzzle are coming together before our very eyes, not with just a Government committed to reform but the people who are ready to seize that opportunity,” he said.
Rivkin, who visited Myanmar with a business delegation before embarking on his solo two-day visit to Sri Lanka, was enthusiastic of the country’s progress and offered to take up issues facing entrepreneurs when he meets with top Government officials today.
Sri Lanka’s change of Government would have to ensure political reform and economic growth co-exists for innovators to truly prosper, Rivkin said, placing entrepreneurs at the core of economic growth.
“We believe that investing in Sri Lanka’s people is investing in a better future. Your creativity and tenacity carry entire economies. Can you imagine what more you would be able to do when further reforms allow investors and financiers to support more of your ideas? In Sri Lanka we have already seen the power of entrepreneurship. You have created thousands of jobs and there are many people in the US really excited to partner with each of you.”
Rivkin had enthusiastic praise for five Sri Lankan entrepreneurs who participated at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Silicon Valley in June and expressed hope more would participate when it was repeated in India next year.
He also noted US university MIT’s incubator labs for entrepreneurship that works with graduates and others in 15 countries including Sri Lanka showed local start-ups under the program were among the most successful.
“Our embassy in Sri Lanka works to support the entrepreneurs of Sri Lanka and will continue to do so,” he said encouraging stronger engagement for Sri Lankan entrepreneurs to make their mark on the global stage.