The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) with support from the U.S. Government’s development arm, the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched a study to assess the current digital maturity level of Sri Lankan small- and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) exporters. On January 26, CCC shared insights and recommendations to strengthen the digital ecosystem and support SMEs with Government of Sri Lanka officials. (The comprehensive study is available on https://www.chamber.lk/trade-watch/backend/public/uploads/attachments/article/FRDMSMSSL_1674200111.pdf
The study assessed 329 SME exporters that represented all nine provinces, key export sectors and sub-sectors, and included women-owned/-led businesses. The study identified SMEs’ technology adoption capacity: strengths, weaknesses, and readiness to use digital technologies in international trade, and provided recommendations to improve SMEs’ digital readiness.
Study findings reveal a wide variance in the digital maturity of Sri Lankan SME exporters. The study calculated a maturity score for each SME based on the survey responses and on to what extent technology and digital processes were integrated into the business’s day-to-day operations. SMEs’ scores ranged from 8.8 to 98.8 percent, with 42 from the SME cohort below 25% in the scale, 96 SMEs in the range of 25%-50%, and 106 SMEs averaging from 50% to 75%. The study also highlighted the ICT sector as having the highest digital maturity at 79 percent, followed by tea at 64 percent, and rubber and rubber-based products at 61 percent.
SMEs’ digital maturity is also affected by external factors outside of the businesses’ control such as IT infrastructure, which is better in certain provinces than others. The assessment also found that SMEs have stable operations and processes to manage their businesses, and there is substantial room for improvement in incorporating digital initiatives into business processes.
The study utilized a mixed-method approach, including interviews, desk research, and field surveys. The digital maturity of SMEs was surveyed across five core dimensions (enabling environment, strategy, technology, operations, human capital, and culture).
USAID’s Partnership for Accelerating Results in Trade, National Expenditure and Revenue (PARTNER) activity supported the study. PARTNER facilitates trade and strengthens government efficiency to fuel broad-based economic growth in support of the Government of Sri Lanka’s vision for economic development and improved international trade.