Icons of Change: Women Entrepreneurs Forum 2022

Given the importance of female participation in economic development, as a part of the SCCI series of workshops and conferences for South Asian women entrepreneurs, with a vision for empowering Sri Lankan women in business, the Women Entrepreneurs Forum was successfully held on 18th of November 2022 at the Kingsbury hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka. The event was co-organized by the SCCI and FCCISL (Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka) in collaboration with WCIC (Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce), supported by FNF South Asia (Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom), IFC (International Finance Corporation) Women in Work Program with Australian Aid, and the NDB Bank.

The Inauguration was graced by distinguished guests such as the Secretary to the Ministry of Industries, Ms. J. M. Thilaka Jayasundara; Ambassador of Turkey, H.E. (Ms.) Rakibe Demet Sekercioglu; Ambassador of Vietnam, H.E. (Ms.) Ho Thi Thanh; Program Manager (Women in Work, Sri Lanka) of International Finance Corporation, Ms. Sarah Twigg; Director of SAARC Cultural Centre, Professor (Ms.) Prashanthi Narangoda; Director General of National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority, Dr. W.M.S. Wijeysingha; Chairman of National Enterprise Development Authority, Mr. Sunil Jayarathne; Vice Chairperson of WCIC, Ms. Gayani de Alwis; President of FCCISL and EC member of SCCI, Mr. Keerthi Gunawardane; Vice President of FCCISL and Vice President of SCCI, Dr. Rohitha Silva; and Director of FCCISL and EC member of SCCI, Mr. Ruwan De Silva. The Master of the Ceremony was Mr. Tilan M. Wijesooriya, Associate Director SCCI Sub Office (South).

Under the main theme “Icons of Change”, the Women Entrepreneurs Forum conducted three sessions on different sub-thematic areas. The first session focused on the challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs amidst the socioeconomic turmoil in Sri Lanka whilst the second session discussed various aspects of increasing access to finance and financial literacy for women entrepreneurs in SMEs. The third session deliberated on leveraging e-commerce and digital platforms for women-led businesses. There were over 20 female business icons and subject matter experts who carried out insightful speeches and productive panel discussions interacting with an audience of over 240 women entrepreneurs across Sri Lanka representing different sectors such as eco-friendly products, renewable energy, information technology, food processing, agriculture, manufacturing, services, etc. They actively took part in the Women Entrepreneurs Forum presenting their business ideas and queries and interacting with the panelists during the sessions. The participants were extremely contented with the productive discussions networking with international and national stakeholders at the Women Entrepreneurs Forum.