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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

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APEA helps entrepreneurs find new markets - President



Chairman of Laugfs Holdings Limited, W.K.H Wegapitiya, receiving the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the High Commissioner of Malaysia to Sri Lanka Azmi Zainuddin. Chairman of NDB Bank Hemaka Amarasuriya looks on.

The Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards 2012 (APEA) helps local entrepreneurs find new markets, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In his personal message to the APEA awards ceremony the President indicated that awards of this nature helps Sri Lankan entrepreneurs to benchmark themselves.

Chairman, Laugfs Holdings Ltd, W. K. H. Wegapitiya was named as the Entrepreneur of the Year while Managing Director, Ramya Holdings, Ramya Weerakoon was the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. The Young Entrepreneur Award went to Deputy Chairman, LOLC, Ishara Nanayakkara and a Special Achievement Award was presented to Chairman Nawaloka Hospitals, Jayantha Dharmadasa.

High Commissioner of Malaysia Azmi Zainuddin said that the APEA has become a premier recognized programme in the region since its inception in 2007. “The award has enhanced the awareness of the importance of entrepreneurship among the general public and in turn has stimulated the growth of local and regional brands, both locally and regionally.”

“This year, the APEA acknowledges for the first time the contribution made by dynamic men and women among the business community in post-war Sri Lanka. It has indeed created much interest, enthusiasm and excitement among leading entrepreneurs and the vibrant business circle here.”

“The timing of the awards reaching the shores of Sri Lanka could not be more timely and opportune. The reason being, despite global uncertainties, Sri Lanka’s economy has been able to sustain a 8.3 percent growth target in 2011, a notable improvement from the previous year’s 8 percent. The country also made an impressive jump of 10 places to the 52nd ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2011-2012 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last September.

“Statistics for the first eleven months of 2011, has shown that total trade between Malaysia and Sri Lanka reached USD 796 million (RM 2.4 billion) with Malaysia’s exports amounting to USD 627.5 million (RM 1,892 billion) while imports were registered at USD 167.9 million (RM 506.2 million). In other words, Malaysia’s exports to and imports from Sri Lanka have increased very significantly by 53.6% and 128.6% respectively compared to the same period last year,” he added.

President, Enterprise Asia, William Ng said that given the economic challenges the region is facing, the need to encourage and promote entrepreneurship is even more urgent.

“If we continue to allow the global economy to be dictated by a handful of countries and a small group of global conglomerates, we are putting the future of our economy and our countries in a very precarious position.”

“We have already seen how the European debt crisis has affected all of us in Asia. Whilst the West can be our friend some of the time, do not make the mistake to think that they will continue to be our friends all the time. We must mitigate our risks by enhancing intra-regional ties within Asia. We must partner with other Asian companies to benefit from the Asian century.”

“This year, one of Enterprise Asia’s key initiatives is the launch of Invest Asia. Invest Asia is a multi-prong framework to encourage intra-regional trade and to match successful businesses across boundaries with an aim for capital appreciation and market development.” “A world without entrepreneurs will be devoid of innovations and competitiveness - the very essence of humanity and progress.”

“Here in Sri Lanka, after two decades of ethnic tension and civil war, the need and urgency to promote entrepreneurship is never greater than now. Through a vibrant entrepreneurial climate, Sri Lanka can and will move towards becoming a more stable, prosperous nation, and Sri Lankans can expect a better standard of living and insulation from global economic uncertainties.”

The award winners with the organisers and special invitees of the event.
Pictures by Sulochana Gamage

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