Minister Cabraal supports SME Task Force in setting up an Equity fund

A delegation of the CA Sri Lanka SME Task Force met Hon Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Money and Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms at the ministry recently. The meeting was organised by Mr. Sunil Wanigabadu, the Vice President of AAT Sri Lanka,

The CA Sri Lanka SME Task Force was established by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) to develop the business acumen of the SMEs and to enhance their ability to better access to finance and contribute to national development in partnership with AAT Sri Lanka.

The Task Force conducts a unique mentoring program to develop SMEs selected by SDB Bank which works as a partner to this programme facilitated by regular visits to the business establishments of those entrepreneurs by the members of CA Sri Lanka and AAT Sri Lanka which also joined the programme.

These finance professionals work with the entrepreneurs for a period of one year on voluntary basis. This is the first time in the history that the finance professionals came forward voluntarily to contribute to the national development through the development of SME sector. This unique development concept could be expanded in the Asia pacific region and other parts of the world.

The delegation was headed by Mr. Lakshman Abeysekera, Chairman,CA Sri Lanka SME Task Force. The other participants were Mr. Sunil Wanigabadu, Vice President AAT Sri Lanka, Ms. Anoji De Silva, Council Member of CA Sri Lanka and Alternate Chair of the CA Sri Lanka SME Task Force, Mr. Harsha Gunasena and Mr. Ajith Alahakoon, Senior Chartered Accountants and the members of the CA Sri Lanka SME Task Force.

Minister Cabraal is a past President of CA Sri Lanka, South Asian Federation of Accountants and served as a pioneer member and vice president of AAT Sri Lanka at the inception of the organization.

The Minister was impressed with the innovative initiatives by finance professionals towards national development through development of SME sector where 52% of the GDP contribution and more than 45% of the employment is generated.

Mr Manil Jayesinghe, and Mr.Sanjaya Bandara, President and  Vice President of CA Sri Lanka respectively  and the Governing Council have the vision in developing  SME sector in Sri Lanka especially the rural agriculture based communities which is shared by AAT Sri Lanka as well.

SME Task Force is promoting cashflow-based lending to SME sector against collateral-based lending. The Mentoring program would establish a governance framework for SMEs and create social capital for entrepreneurs to be eligible for capital both loans and equity.

The delegation further raised the point that there is no institution or effective system to support the SME Sector who have very attractive business plans and who do not have adequate seed capital.

Minister who always promote the right balance of debt equity ratio and advocates bringing equity capital to Sri Lankan businesses rather than debt, assured finance professionals his commitment for this national need. He invited CA Sri Lanka SME Task Force, financial professionals and CA Sri Lanka and AAT Sri Lanka to develop an institutional framework in this direction.

The Minister further said that he will take steps to establish suitable Equity Funds to support these entrepreneurs in providing seed capital and the professionals assigned by CA Sri Lanka SME Task Force who work with these entrepreneurs. The fund would be managed by a group of independent prominent innovative professionals. Minister requested the delegation to develop a concept paper and assured an early implementation of this needy proposal.

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