TN Entrepreneurs Add Social Dimension to Investing in North Lanka

COLOMBO: A group of young entrepreneurs from Tamil Nadu who visited Tamil-speaking Northern Sri Lanka recently to scout for trade and investment opportunities, have set for themselves a parallel goal – to uplift, through their investments, the condition of the youth and women, especially young war widows.

“We were moved by the plight of the 70,000 war widows in the North and East. They can be helped by our investments in the agricultural, garment and sari manufacturing sectors. The youth of the North are educated, but lack entrepreneurial and technical skills. Our investments can create and nurture these skills,” said R. Vignesh, one of the leaders of the 44-member delegation of the Dindigul Chapter of the Young Entrepreneurs School (YES) which toured Lanka between October 5 and 10.

The YES mission, sponsored by the Madurai-based Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is sanguine about investment prospects in both North and South Lanka.

“The roads, even in the former war zone in the North, are excellent, and  telecommunication facilities are flawless with no call drops anywhere in the island. The Lankan Board of Investment (BOI) has  a single window clearance system for all our needs, including labor and land. BOI officials assured us that there should be no problem allocating 50 to 100 acres for an entrepreneur,” Vignesh told Express.

The Indian Consul General in Jaffna, A.Natarajan, who arranged a general as well as one-to-one meetings with 80 North Lankan businessmen, said that he could  help get sites at the Achchuveli Industrial Estate and outside too.  But he appealed to the TN investor not to make inroads into businesses that might hurt local interests.

“Northern Tamil businessmen were equally enthusiastic. Our delegates saw opportunities for joint ventures in sectors like IT, hand tools manufacturing, agriculture, food and food processing and garment and sari making. One entrepreneur might set up an IMAX theatre in Colombo. With 10 to 35 percent local value addition, many products can be exported to countries which give trade concession to Lanka,” Vignesh said.