Policy dialogue on youth entrepreneurship highlights key interventions required


Aiming to facilitate a change in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and encourage youth transition into the entrepreneurial world, the first in a series of policy dialogues was organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, under the aegis of the International Labour Organization’s South Asia Leadership in Entrepreneurship (SALE) program. 

Prevalent negative perceptions and attitudes among the youth as well as broader society regarding entrepreneurship, pose a challenge to youth pursuing entrepreneurship as a viable career goal. Held under the theme of ‘Innovative approaches to reach youth entrepreneurship excellence’, with participation from heads of state institutions, ecosystem players, academia, and leading donor agencies, the primary aim of these dialogues is to identify key issues and recommend best practices to the Government of Sri Lanka and other stakeholders, to assist in policy development and initiatives relating to the entrepreneurship environment. 

The importance of ensuring a regulatory rather than restrictive environment, addressing barriers youth entrepreneurs face in accessing finance – with calls for both the Government and the banking sector to implement more updated, coherent and supportive policies, incorporating entrepreneurial studies into school curricula, equitable access to knowledge and resource, and proactive and gender-responsive programs that target the particular challenges faced by female entrepreneurs were among the main recommendations. 

Central Bank of Sri Lanka Assistant Governor Janaka Karunaratne, delivering the first keynote address, highlighted the inclusion of pillars vital to promoting entrepreneurship in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, and the potential for youth entrepreneurship to develop entrepreneurial mindsets and change the current 


International Labour Organization Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Director Simrin Singh, and US Embassy in Sri Lanka Economic Officer Daniel Moon, also addressed the audience. 

The second policy dialogue in this series, focusing on The Digital Path to Business Resilience as part of youth entrepreneurship excellence was held on 27 September at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo. 

Through strategic interventions such as these, ILO’s SALE program, funded by the US Department of State is endeavouring to create a shift in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and enhance capacity among the youth to enable them to launch and grow their own business ventures.