Business and Economics
Shake off shock to the system, rethink SME ecosystem

In Sri Lanka, small business is a very big deal. The numbers tell the story. The Department of Census and Statistics, in its decennial Economic Census of 2013/14, found that over 99% of all business establishments are micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

For context, consider that they account for 52% of GDP, and 42% of private sector employment. In other words, they are the backbone of the Sri Lankan economy. Micro-enterprises account for 92% of 1 million plus business establishments.

Unpackaging those numbers can help arrive at a better understanding of position, priorities and policy. Industry contributes almost 27% of Sri Lanka’s GDP; about 28% of the labour force works in industry as a whole, mostly in manufacturing.

The Annual Survey of Industries 2018 (ASI) covers 28 industry sectors, of which manufacturing comprises 91%. Marks an Industry First with Personal Concierge Service, a leading e-commerce and product delivery platform has launched an industry-first ‘Personal Concierge Service’, bringing a new paradigm shift in the local ecommerce and concierge delivery space.  Operational between 9:00am and 3:00am every day of the year,’s novel service offering takes care of personal shopping needs without customers ever having to leave the comfort and safety of their homes. It is because of’s wide range of innovative services such as this that the company continues to remain at the forefront of its industry.

The distinctive service reflects’s forward-thinking brand vision that recognizes the consumer’s desire for products that might not be available on generic e-commerce catalogues.

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‘Pandemics and Disruptions: Safeguarding Lives and Livelihoods of Sri Lankans’

The second of IPS’ three-part webinar series to launch the ‘Sri Lanka: State of the Economy 2021’ report on the topic ‘Pandemics and Disruptions: Safeguarding Lives and Livelihoods of Sri Lankans’ was held via Zoom on October 13, 2021. It featured presentations by Dr Nisha Arunatilake and Dr Bilesha Weeraratne from the IPS with expert insights from Ms Madhavie Gunawardena, Director, TRCSL and former Commissioner of the Department of Labour, and Dr Kolitha Wickramage, Global Migration Health Research and Epidemiology Coordinator, Migration Health Division, International Organization for Migration (IOM). Ashani Abayasekera from IPS moderated the discussion.

Dr Arunatilake stated that the unemployment rate increased by 0.7% in 2020. The most affected were youth, low and medium-skilled individuals, and males, while several women left the labour market altogether. The quality of jobs available declined too with many workers taking on more vulnerable forms of employment (eg. agriculture, self-employment) that have low social security. IPS research shows that the perception of employees, employers, and trade union leaders is that the government could have done better by providing financial support through the EPF/ETF. However, no such legal provisions exist.

She pointed out that the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for pre-retirement social security benefits such as sickness benefits and unemployment assistance and that the funds allocated for ETF is sufficient to cover pre-retirement benefits that can be given to workers.

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