Business & Finance

EDB fosters entrepreneurship of IT undergraduates with the Kickstart Weekend 2023

Sri Lanka is globally known as an emerging destination for IT and IT enabled services. ICT/BPM industry is in the front line of the export earning sectors in Sri Lanka and achieved this position in a shorter period of time when compared with other traditional export sectors. One of the reasons for this development is that Sri Lanka has an important resource than any other country – the talent.

The sector recorded 300% growth over a decade and there were over 600 companies at present. The sector has achieved around USD 1.5 Bn in 2022 and expect to reach USD 5 Bn in 2025. In order to cater to this exponential growth, the industry requires more IT talent to the industry and more tech entrepreneurs to create Start-ups. The EDB as the apex government body in export promotion and facilitation collaborates with Universities to develop entrepreneurship skills of the IT undergraduates.  As the first step, EDB recently organized an entrepreneurship programme for the Undergraduates who are following the Management and Information Technology Degree in Department of Industrial Management of University of Kelaniya, in collaboration with SquareHub (Pvt) Ltd and the University.

This programme facilitated the undergraduates to conceptualize an entrepreneurial idea, and created the stage to pitch it to an expert panel comprised of state and private sector judges.  The best ideas developed by students were selected as winners of the Kickstart programme.

Further, the eco system partners will support to develop the ideas into businesses overcoming the obstacles.  Through experiential learning, Kickstart Weekend aims to teach and promote entrepreneurship to establish start-ups focusing innovation. Participants at the Kickstart Weekend were divided in to teams; they were to come up with their own innovative ideas and to make presentations. During the three day programme industry leaders and entrepreneurs gave inspirational talks followed by mentors working with the students to brush-up their ideas. Mr. Kanishka Weeramunda, an ITC Consultant and his team from SquareHub (Pvt) Ltd conducted the three day Kickstart Weekend. Kanishka is a founder of several Start-ups and he is a renowned innovator, trainer, mentor and venture capitalist. Several entrepreneurs and industry experts participated as speakers for the event to encourage the young undergraduates on their desired journey, hence they had the opportunity to connect with like-minded, creative, ambitious, and inspired industry experts.

Around 200 IT undergraduates of the University of Kelaniya participated enthusiastically for the programme. During the programme, the undergraduates were encouraged to develop innovative solutions for real life problems and generate viable business ideas. All business ideas were pitched to the panel of judges comprised of the state and private sector.  Mr. Suresh D de Mel, Chairman  & Chief Executive of EDB graced the occasion as the Chief Guest at the judging and certificate awarding ceremony.   The three day event was sponsored by Kansha Pvt. Ltd, Upfield Sri Lanka and Axiata Digital Labs. EDB along with other start-up ecosystem partners wishes to assist the selected concepts to develop in to real world business and to reach global markets to bring the much needed dollar revenue to the country.

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