KF Lai and Ashok Jhunjhunwala seed entrepreneurship in Colombo

Posted on December 20, 2009  /  0 Comments

When e Sri Lanka was designed, we thought that lots of jobs would be created, some through conventional firms in the IT and IT enabled service industries, but more in entrepreneurial startups. The first hope was realized more or less, but not the latter.

Since two people with direct experience, LIRNEasia international advisory board members Ashok Jhunjhunwala and KF Lai, were in town for the LIRNEasia@5 conference, I offered them as speakers to SLASSCOM. A well attended meeting that included local entrepreneurs such as Dinesh Saparamadu (hSenid) and Mifaan Careem (Respere) and a significant number of U of Moratuwa engineering students saw a fruitful exchange of views that has already led to the establishment of an entrepreneurs society at U of Moratuwa.

KF Lai talked about how he had been encouraged to start his own business while a government scientist, by the Government of Singapore. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, talked about how he has created a conducive environment for the incubation of start ups at IIT Madras. In the course of discussion we found that the Lanka Software Foundation had also created such an environment, albeit on a smaller scale in Sri Lanka. They both emphasized the need to have the burning desire for starting something new as an essential precondition for success.

LIRNEasia normally spends its CSR money in the disaster space. But we are happy that this little deviation is already beginning to yield results.

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