Set back by 25 years and possibly more

Colombo City, Sri Lanka.

Once named Ceylon, an island located south of India, surrounded by beautiful beaches, lush green trees, tropical climate and abundant wildlife at all corners of the land, boasted exports of fine tea and cinnamon. Everything was well, until 1983, civil unrest broke, insurgency, the land was now occupied by war. Arguably the worst time to have fallen to such vicissitude. While the west was innovating and their technology booming, Sri Lanka was suffering. And it did for 25 years managing to create one of the most advanced rebel forces in the world. On the eve of 18 May 2009 the war had finally ended making Sri Lanka the only country in the world to have overthrown a gorilla force.

The war has taken its toll. A lot of catching up has to be done. Infrastructure in the country is still backwards. Since the end of the war the country is experiencing growth in economic and social development. Boost in tourism levels and local business performance, growth of small start-ups, infrastructural developments to land and logistics are beginning to blossom. Steps are now being taken in the right directions.

Although progress is being made it would seem to be achieving development at a rather slow pace due to a few underlying factors, which are hindering its potential greatly. Namely, the current political environment governing regulations within the country. The lack of government stability and clear regulation since the war is acting as a barrier to trade and commerce. Corruption, black money, loose deals have left majority of the islands earnings at the hands of few individuals, much of whom are politically connected. Their agendas are ‘power & control’ motivated with the country’s interest being left for last.

Consequently, leading to large disparities in wealth distribution with a majority of the population earning an estimated 4000 USD per annum or less. For the moment, it would seem to continue to operate in this way.

Despite such devastating conditions, small businesses are yet emerging and growing, aiming to thrive on the growing tourism industry. The conditions for trade and commerce has improved, yet not enough to the extent of creating significant value for SME’s (small and medium sized enterprises). There are still many avenues in online banking and e-commerce to be developed, and its pace is being bottle necked by slow regulatory measures.New and innovative solutions are heavily needed to enable the country to conduct commerce with less friction as possible. The highly centralized structure of politics coupled with its instability is creating inertia for SME’s. The lack of latest financial tools and infrastructure is affecting their ability to compete and keep-up with global markets by increasing their offerings both locally and worldwide.