Partner with us in Sri Lanka, not to build a social welfare state, but to build an entrepreneurially focused new Sri Lanka, was the message of Rajendra Theagarajah, Vice Chairman of Cargills Bank who was the guest of honour at the Canadian Tamils’ Chamber of Commerce gala and awards ceremony in Toronto. “No handouts, why not engage?” he said. He urged innovative Sri Lankan Tamil entrepreneurs in Canada to utilize hundreds of graduates each year produced by the University of Jaffna’s IT computing program and the new engineering institute of the North in Ariviyal Nagar, Killinochi.
“They are hungry and willing. You can offer them access to markets, not assistance to migrate,” the senior banker added. “Sri Lanka needs its talents and workers. You can create a bridge to make use of their talent, give them empowerment to construct their own lifestyle.”
The Canadian Tamils’ Chamber Commerce (made-up of entirely Sri Lankan Tamils) into its 26th year may play a key role to build entrepreneurial bridges between Canada and the North East Sri Lanka. “Identify the three chambers in North and East; the Yarl Chamber, the more recent Killinochi Chamber and the Eastern Chamber and enter into a twining arrangement. What the members of those chambers need is a strong alliance,” said Theagarajah, who is a member of the 179 year-old Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
“Being a fellow Tamil, let me tell you, when you as members of the Tamil community extend your hand in capacity building it can be even stronger. Try to share your best practices which you have done here with those chambers.”
He was impressed by the variety of success stories showcased at the CTCC gala in a range of professions beyond the traditional fields of medicine and engineering. “From where I come from, the very same pool of talent is still there. What it needs is not hand out, what it needs is hand holding and access to markets,” he said.
Theagarajah shared some recent Sri Lankan business success stories
- Lanka Harness: A company that provides high intensity sensors to car manufacturers GM, Ford and Toyota.
- Macey’s Magic Dressing Room, using augmented reality to capture your silhouette to virtually fit clothes.m“That particular innovation was done just south of Colombo in Nawala, by a Bharatha Tamil from Silicon Valley, who has 120 scientists working for him in Sri Lanka.”
- Around 300 engineers working on artificial intelligence and analytics focus on the reservation system for the hospitality industry. The solutions are used by Emirates Airlines and Royal Caribbean Cruises.
- The State of Arizona, Uber, Ebay and London Transport all have one thing in common. Open source computing, API management, internet of things. This company opened a branch office in Jaffna 2 years ago, to encourage the graduates.