The last 52 years have seen the Small Industries Association growing from strength, from phase to phase, determined, and not wavering in its stated purpose. The names of its members who have passed into the halls of fame are numerous. And many are the Industries, which began as truly small, Small Industries, which have now reached the zenith of corporate success. We owe all this to the dedication and strength of purpose with which the Association sponsored our cause.

We are no longer an Association, but a Chamber with the power and capacity to call the shots, standing shoulder to shoulder with the nation’s leaders of Industry.

It was in the year 1963, to be exact on April 6th, when our Inaugural meeting was held at the Dawasa Newspaper office, under the patronage of Mr.D.B.Dhanapala, Chief Editor of the Dawasa Group of Newspapers. We were known as the All Ceylon Small Industries Association Mr.Albert Edirisinghe was elected as the Charter President.

The year following the inauguration in September 1964, the Association organized an exhibition of Small Industry. It was named “Dharmapala Day Small Industries Exhibition”, in honour of that great pioneer. It was held at the Art Gallery, where 35 small industrialists participated. This exhibition proved to be a real boost for the small producer of the day. The exhibits ranged from clips and pins to engineering products, shoes, slippers, umbrellas, plastics, electrical lamps & fittings, brass items etc. It was declared open by the then Minister of Industries the late Hon’ble Maithripala Senanayake.

It was during this time that the Asia Foundation granted 100 scholarships to small industries, for training abroad. This was entirely due to the initiative of the Small Industries Association. Around 45 of our membership did have the privilege to undergo in plant training mostly in India. A few of us had the privilege of training programs in Japan, USA, and Germany. These programs lasted from 3 months to 1 year.

The first Council Meeting was held at our little office on the first floor of Porolis Fernando Building in Pettah. Subsequently, we moved to the Bank of Ceylon Building in Fort. The Bank charged us a subsidized rent in consideration of the encouragement that the small industries sector deserved. The Asia Foundation gifted with the furniture for entire office. We had to move out of the Bank of Ceylon building when concessionary rent was withdrawn. This was during the latter part of 1968. It was the last year of Mr.Edirisinghe’s Presidency. He gave our Association office space at his showroom at Maradana.

In 1973 the activities of the Chamber took a serious turn.

With the imposition of the Open General License, and the oil crises, Small Industrialists, were saddled with numerous problems. Raw material was restricted. Due to the oil crises, prices of raw materials shot up in the world markets. Some items going above 300%. One had to work with heavy restrictions to production.

At the Annual General Meeting held in June 1974, the Chamber was renamed as the Sri Lanka Chamber of Small Industry. The Chamber made numerous representations on behalf of its members to the Ministry of Industries, for the allocation of raw material quotas be given in full at the beginning of the year. Numerous representations were made on behalf of the Handloom Industry as a few of our members had commenced exports to the European markets.

The main reason for the reduction in quote allowed to the small industrial sector was that the Government at that time was forced to use the meager foreign exchange resources available for food imports.

During this time the Chamber pledged its fullest support to the then Prime Minister Mrs.Sirimavo Bandaranaike, in her efforts to make this country self sufficient in food. The Chamber for the first time mooted an agricultural project to be run on a co-operative basis under the National Youth Movement Scheme. We could perceive this as a fine example of our flexibility and commitment to National Development.

It was in 1975 after numerous representations to the Minister of Industries, the Chamber having been recognized, won representations on the Industrial Development Board and the CISIR. The Chamber nominated Mr.Padmasiri Dias to the CISIR and Aloy Jayawardene then President to the IDB Board.

Two of our members Mr.Aloy Jayawardene, then President and Mr.Padamasiri Dias Vice President were selected to represent Sri Lanka’s Small Industry on a study tour of India. This was under the Indo-Sri Lanka Economic Co-operation. It was an invaluable opportunity which took us to five Industrial States of India, period of 3 weeks. This was in 1975.


We then took ourselves into a more important cause

“Let Industrialists work in liaison with our Trade Commissioners” This was a much talked of, representation made by the Chamber, for which much publicity was extended to us by the press. The representations were made to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Chamber very correctly sensed the need to increase and diversify its outlets abroad. The protests against the inadequacies of our salesmanship had persisted too long, to be ignored. The Chamber proposed that some of its members be posted to work in liaison with the Sri Lanka Trade Commissioners. This was mainly for infusing our foreign missions, with useful practical hands on exposure training, know-how, vision and talent. This did not see the light of the day during that time, but was realized in later years.

Our representations made to the then Prime Minister Hon .Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1975, called for a review, the official policy regarding Sri Lanka’s participation in the World Fair and Exhibitions, and for the induction of new thinking in the various Government Departments handling this subject. It was then that the Chamber was requested by the department of Commerce to organize A Sri Lanka Stall at the Brussels Trade Fair in 1975. We were able to bring in the much needed foreign exchange to the country, with the orders received. This Fair was held in Belgium the hub of the European Economic Community, which attracted over 2000 buyers from the neighboring member states.

With the success the Chamber brought to the country, we were called upon to organize the Milan Trade Fair in Italy in April 1976. The Department of Commerce and the Sri Lanka Embassy in Rome had handled this Exhibition for eight successive years, an d in 1976 the entire Exhibition Stall was to be managed by the Chamber of Small Industry, on behalf of the Private Sector. The European Economic Community had extended assistance to this country by providing financial assistance for travel of four delegates and the expenses of the Stand Director, as well as the freight charges for exhibits.

Mr.Aloy Jayawardene President of the Chamber during that time was nominated to be the Stand Director. We obtained firm orders for US$ 75.000.

In 1976 the Chamber sought the membership of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Apex Body of the Private Sector. This was after much protest from the membership, as the Small Chamber would loose its identity among the Giants. Aloy Jayawardene President during that time was able to convince the membership of the advantages in our joining the Federation, as the Federation represented the Chambers and Associations in the country.

Mr.Granville Perea was elected as President of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry of Sri Lanka and held office for 2 years. Mr. Kosala Wickramanayake is to-day the Senior Vice President of the Federation of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Aloy Jayawardene was elected President of the Federation in 1985 and held office for 2 years. It was during Mr.Jayawardene’s Presidency that he initiated the “SMED” program with the assistance of the Fredrick Nauman Foundation of Germany.

In early 1978 the Council members with their spouses went to Jaffna, to hold a monthly Council Meeting. We spent three days, meting a number of Industrialists who were our members, and we did enjoy their hospitality during the days we spent at Jaffna. A far cry from the tragic situation that was to overtake us just 5 years later.

During the latter part of 1978, the Presidency of the Chamber was taken over by Mr.Padmasiri Dias. In early 1980’s the Chamber initiated the Entrepreneur Training Program with the financial assistance from USAID and managed by Asia Foundation. This was a five year program, with a financial grant of Rs. 1 million. In fact this offer from USAID came to the Federation, The Apex Body of the Private Sector, but due to the lethargic way they handled the offer, it fell off. Our energetic President Padmasiri was able to clinch the deal with Asia Foundation for our Chamber. This was one of the best foreign programs that ever came to Sri Lanka for the benefit of the Small Sector. This was the proudest achievement that the Chamber ever made. It conducted lectures for young entrepreneurs. They were taken to manufacturing units for In- Plant training. The response was extremely high where participation was concerned. Those young people who took to this program are today in Industry and members of our Chamber.

It was during this period, for the very first time the “MADE IN LANKA exhibition was organized by the Chamber. The first was in 1982 and followed for the next 2 years.

These exhibitions attracted over 100 industrialists both small & medium. The participation of industrialists boosted their image, and the reports coming back to the Chamber proved the success some of them achieved.

The entire burden of organising and the running of the exhibitions were the brain child of the then President Mr.Padmasiri Dias. The first two exhibitions were declared open by the then Minister of Industries the late Mr.Cyril Mathew and the one in 1984 was declared open by the then Prime Minister the late Mr.Ranasinghe Premadasa.

In 1981 the Chamber was incorporated by an Act of Parliament. It was initiated as early as 1976, but was realized after 6 years. The first “MADE IN LANKA” exhibition was organized to celebrate this occasion in 1982.

Another Entrepreneur Development Programme was initiated by the Chamber with the assistance of the Janasaviya. The Chamber played a major role in assisting small industries at grass root level, in the deep South of Sri Lanka. The assistance was extended with a number of workshops and seminars conducted in school halls where the industries were located. The industries that were assisted were manufacturers of clay products, jewellery, leather goods, light engineering.

With the assistance of USAID a sub contracting Exchange Unit was initiated, known as the Private Sector Policy Support Unit. This linked the large manufacturer with the small producer.

He got the Colombo Plan to recognise the Chamber as its Focal Point. This was a major achievement for the Chamber. Some of the other larger Chambers were all out to obtain the recognition as the Focal Point. This recognition of the Colombo Plan was for the development of the Small Private Sector in the Country.

The Chamber initiated the participation at the Canton Fair in China. Since then over 1000 industrialists and business people have joined the programme. The result of this participation has brought much result to the small business.

The Chamber under the advice of the Ministry of Industrial Development accepted to lead the NAWABIMA programme. This unit was promoted by Sarvodaya (SEED), the IDB and the Japan Lanka Industrial Development Centre. This was to operate as an incubator for small entrepreneur; the selected participants are given 3 years to come to a fair level of production, thereafter to branch out and stand on their own feet. TIPS and UNDP assisted this programme. This is the first Private Public sector co-operation in the SMI Sector.

The South Asia Association of Small & Medium Enterprises commenced its operations in 1998 in Karachi. Our Chamber is a partner to this organisation. The main purpose of this organisation is to network the small & medium industries in this region.

From the year 2000, the Chamber was rejuvenated with a new president taking office. Mr.Aloy Jayawardene, who held office as president in 1973 for 5 years, was brought back to head the Chamber after 20 years. Under the dynamic leadership of Mr.Jayawardene the Chamber was able to form two affiliated associations in Galle and Jaffna – the Small and Medium Industry Association of Ruhuna and the Small and Micro Industry Association of Jaffna.

History was created by the Chamber with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association in Bangalore, India in November 2002. A fifteen member delegation was present at the signing of the MOU and the Chief Guest on that occasion was the Hon.Roshan Baig. Minister of Industries of the Karnataka State Government.

Our Chamber and its members have at all times been motivated by the highest ideals of corporate citizenship and a commitment to National Development.

Indeed, it is a great honour for the Sri Lanka Chamber of Small Industry, to claim, that the late Mr.D.Samson Rajapakse JP the founder of the DSI Samson Group which has triumphed above multinationals as Sri Lanka’s No. 1 footwear and gone beyond the seven seas to win the international markets too, as one of their founder members.The Chamber organised the International Industrial Fair 2003. The brainchild of then president Aloy Jayawardene (2000-2003). This was held at the new exhibition centre at the BMICH. The first exhibition to be held in the new centre.

The Small Chamber was able to make representations to Mr.Paskaralingam Advisor to the then Prime Minister Hon.Wickramasinghe, Problems of members. These meeting were held once a month, with representatives, of Ministries, Departments, and Government Agencies being called to settle these problems. Even today the Enterprise Forum chaired by Minister Bogollagama, which is held one every month, problems of our members are placed before this forum for redress.

A proud achievement of our members was the tender won by KIK Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. for the supply of electrical panel boards to the underground railways in India. Another member Orange Electrical has joined an Australian Company to manufacture electrical switches for the export market. Production has already commenced. DSI Group another member from the inception of the Chamber is exporting bicycle tyres to the Middle East market.

The Chamber is to add to its name “MEDIUM” to read as SRI LANKA CHAMBER OF SMALL & MEDIUM INDUSTRY. The Ministry of Industrial Development is preparing a Cabinet paper to be presented to Parliament for its Incorporation through an Act of Parliament.

Mr.Aloy Jayawardene, President of the Chamber, was appointed Director to the Sri Lanka Export Development Board by the Hon.Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Enterprise Development & Investment Promotion and he will serve the board for 3 years ending in 2008.

The Chamber organised a Trade Promotion visit to Chennai (India) in June ’06. It was of 20 member delegation, lead by Mr.Aloy Jayawardene President. The mission participated at the “ACMEE 2006” International exhibition one of the largest in India. India-Asean-Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce & Industry organised one to one meetings with their members and these meetings enabled most of the Sri Lankan delegates to discuss and finalise projects for the benefit of each other. The Chamber signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ambattur Industrial Estate Manufacturers Association (AIEA). This is to boost trade between India & Sri Lanka and also to cementing the friendly bilateral ties between the two countries.

In December 2005 Sri Lanka Parliament unanimously passed the bill for the establishment of the SME Development Authority. The Chamber had played an important roll in the establishment of this Authority.

Mr.Jayawardene is to hold office as President till end of 2008. During this period he is due to organise a trade promotion mission to Australia. His visit to Australia in December 2006, meeting various Chambers is to promote this mission which he plans for September/October 2007.

It has been said of Sri Lanka’s business community that it is very rarely that they adopt principles of high corporate citizenship and governance if they were not mandatory.

President of the Chamber represented the BIMSTEC Countries 2nd International Seminar held in India in August 06 for the development of SMI sector. This seminar was sponsored by the Indian Council of Small Industries.

Chamber presented two proposals to the Budget 2007. They are as follows: 1. Introduction o an Export Development Grant. 2. Export Promotion Incubators (EPI) in Chennai & Karachi.

These proposals were also presented to H.E. President when the Chamber President and Mr. Lalith Kahatapitiya met H.E. the President

To facilitate trade promotion in Sri Lanka a Seminar on Export to India – Pakistan FTA was organised by the Chamber along with the Export Development Board September 2006

Meetings were also held with ICBP – Strategy 21 Micro Enterprise Capacity Building Mr.Tisil Cooray along with the President attended this meeting and GTZ_SMI Cluster. Arrangements were made to obtain highly competent advisory of technical assistance from Canada for local business with the help of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber held it is 43rd Anniversary in November 2006 in a grand scale at “Waters Edge”, Bataramulla. A souvenir was presented to all members & visitors who participated the event. 20 of our members too were recognized for their achievements in their industry. Also few officials who extended their support to the Chamber were recognized. A MOU was signed between the Chamber and the SME Bank to facilitate the access of the member entrepreneur development and the support services offered by the SME Bank for expansion, modernisation, diversification or relocation of the production operations as well as enhancement of the internal management capacities and business competencies of these enterprises. The Bank and SLCSI shall work towards co-operation and collaboration with each other for systematically achieving the broad objectives. Out of the funds received for the anniversary of Rs.450,000/-(Face Value) was invested in Bank of Ceylon Treasury Bills

A delegation to visit “My Karachi” exhibition in June 2007 and 4 cities in Pakistan namely Karachi, Faisalabad, Lahore and Sialkot , in June 2007 was arranged. However due to the unfavourable environment in Pakistan at the time the commencement of the fair the mission had to be cancelled.

President visited 4 States in Australia – Melbourne, Brisbane, Tasmania and Queensland. He was successful in obtaining the consent of 2 Chambers to organise a ministerial delegation from Sri Lanka to the States of Tasmania and Queensland with 12 members in early 2008. The Hon. Minister of International Trade and Export Promotion Hon.Prof. G.L.Peris is to lead the delegation. President is in communication with High Commission in Canberra H.E.Balapatabendi & also with the Consular General in Sydney Ms. Gothamimi Indikadhena in this connection seeking their assistance to make the tour a success. If this comes through there is possibility to have Australian investment in Sri Lanka by way of Joint Ventures and direct foreign investment using the FTA with India & Pakistan. There is also avenue to open up Australian training institutes here to training skilled labour using tools and instruments in Australia by skilled labour in Sri Lanka.

President sent letters of congratulations to 4 new ministers. Three of them gave opportunities to meet them and discuss the problems the SME sector is having. They are Hon. Minister of Industrial Development, Hon. Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion and Hon. Minister of Export Development & International Trade. Hon. Ministers were presented with proposals for development of exports in the Small and Medium sector & suggested to introduce a Non Tariff Barrier System on finished goods imports to protect local manufacturers. Also to introduce an Export Development Grant for the export of goods and also to grant Government support to establish Export Promotion Incubators in Chennai – India and Karachi- Pakistan. To give opportunity for our industrialist to take advantage of existing FTA’s with India & Pakistan.

A courtesy call was also made to Hon. Karu Jayasuriya Minister of Public Administration.

On a proposal was made by Mr. Kumara Semage a past President of the Chamber action has being initiated to promote Mr. Aloy Jayawardene President of the Chamber as a Presidential Advisor to H.E. the President Mahinda Rajapakse concerning matters of Small & Medium Industry. Mr. Jayawardene’s C.V detailing his 44 years of service to the industrial sector and a letter addressed to H.E. the President signed by the members of the Council as well as few members of the Chamber was handed over to 4 ministers by a delegation of the Council who met these ministers. They were requested to hand over the requests of the Council to H.E. the President & to fix an appointment with H.E. President to meet him by a delegation of the Council members and handover letter to H.E.President.

The Ministry of Industrial Development has approved a bill with regard to the incorporation of the Chamber and Ms. Nirupama Rajapakse M.P. has agreed to move this in the Parliament.

Presidential Exporter Award that was not held for over 10 years by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board. In this regard a letter addressed to H.E.President was sent by the Chamber. The Export Award for the year 2005 was held recently and 19 top manufactures were recognised at the award ceremony. Our members K.I.K.Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. and D.Samson Rubber Industries won this prestigious

Congratulations were extended by the President, to Polymer Technology for receiving the ISO 14001:2004 EMS. They being the first SME to have achieved this standard in Rubber Products Manufacturing Sector. They also received in the year 2004 ISO 9001:2000 QMS (Quality Management System).

Bopitiya Auto Enterprises and J.S.Enterprises had received recognition with at SILPA Presidential Awards. They too were congratulated.

At the AGM held on November 29th 2008 the members unanimously approved a proposal that Mr. Jayawardene continue at least for another term after he completes the Presidency in 2008 proposed by Mr. Nandadssa Rajapakse and supported by Mr. Lalith Kahatapitiya

The 44th Anniversary celebrations was held on November 29th 2008 with H.E.Alok Prasad Indian High Commissioner as the Chief Guest, he agreed to accept this invitation at a cordial discussions held by the President along with Mr. Nandadasa Rajapakse & Mr. Lalith Kahatapitiya. The “Industrial Excellence Award 2007” to 24 of the Chamber members was awarded by H.E.Alok Prasad Chief Guest and Hon. John Ameratunge M.P (Gampaha District). Plaques also were presented to both H.E.Alok Prasad and Hon. John Ameratunga M.P. and also to the Main Sponsors Sri Lanka Telecom & Mr.T.K.Premadasa of EDB who assisted the selection of the award winners. Two of the important members of the Chamber Mr. Nandadasa Rajapakse & Mr. Lalith Kahatapitiya were also presented with plaques for the heavy finance contribution made by them towards the success of organising the celebrations.

President attended the India Rural Business Summit in October 2007 in New Delhi on invitation of the Indian High Commission. The summit organised by the FCCISL, New Delhi was the first of its kind with more than 150 participants attending from different states of India over 600 delegates. Representatives were from USA, Japan, France, Italy, Nepal & Bangladesh.

A 3 member delegation met Mr.Attygalle, Director General Fiscal Policy & discussed the proposals submitted to the budget to encourage SME exports. Mr. Kahaptitiya also met Prof. G.L.Peiris in this connection. & the President presented these proposals to the Export Development Board.

Proposals for the development of SME exports submitted to Export Development Board were accepted. They have offered the Chamber with a space at “Spencer Plaza” in Chennai- space of 510 sq.ft. on a rent free basis for the 1st year. Already 5 members have joined this project. Veveca Ratten Craft Asian Chill Equipments (Pvt.)Ltd. Country Style Foods Ltd. Royal Furnishers (Pvt). Ltd. Rosewood Interior (Pvt.)Ltd.

The President attended the BIMSTEC Countries International Seminar in Kolkata in March ’08. The second occasion the President participated.

“3rd International Seminar of the BIMSTEC Countries under International Cooperation Scheme of the Ministry of Micro, Small& Medium Enterprises on the theme “ A mission-driven approach towards sustainable development of SSI/SME sector in BIMSTEC countries through Cluster Development for capacity building and income generation of BIMSETEC countries”

An Australian trade mission of 10 members was organised by the Chamber. The mission visited States of Queensland and Tasmania. Delegates left to Australia on the 4th of April’08 and met the Chambers in the above States and concluded the mission on 11thApril ’08. The Sri Lanka Consul General in Sydney Ms.Gothami Indikadahena made all possibilities to make the mission a success. A brochure was printed with messages from Hon. Prof. G.L.Peries, Ms.Indikadahena, Consul General and Mr. Brian Angunawela Chairman, Export Development Board.

With the setting up of an investor-friendly business climate in Sri Lanka since the late ‘70s, Australia gradually emerged as a prominent development partner with the establishment of over 60 investment projects here by the Australian business community. Some of them are benefiting from the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement, which is an eye-opener to our Australian business partners. These business links were further developed during our tour. Our business delegation focused on and toured two important states in Australia, Queensland and Tasmania.

The present volume of bilateral trade does not reflect the full potential in this area, even on a conservative estimate. Therefore our trade mission certainly helped to achieve a desirable quantum of bilateral trade, accruing to stake-holders in both countries in an equitable manner. Our visit is certain to hep in increasing the range of items featuring in bilateral trade.

Our interaction with our Australian partners will help in diversifying bilateral trade and create a steady, healthy business growth. Our talks were with the Trade Chambers in Tasmania and Brisbane. Our fist meeting was with the Chamber in Brisbane. We were able to meet up with the president of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce and Industry and we also had discussions with the International Manager of the chamber, Nick Ferris.

The state of Queensland is experiencing a tremendous shortage of labour in their industries. We invited the Chamber to join hands with our Chamber and with the approval of the BOI launch an institute in Sri Lanka to train Sri Lankan youth with the Advanced Level of education in the methods used and in the handling of tools and accessories in Australian industry.

With regard to this institute, the President had discussions with the Chairman EDB. Because we thought the export of our labour would serve industry and I have requested the Chairman to prepare a project proposal which we could submit to our Australian counterparts to be studied. The EDB Chairman showed interest in this proposal for the export of our human resources.

We were very happy to have with us Ms.Gothami Indikadahena- our Consul General in Sydney. She gave a very impressive power point presentation, touching on benefits foreign companies would enjoy by investing in Sri Lanka. She also covered the FTAs with India and Pakistan. I also had the privilege of meeting top government officials of Queensland.

We also met the General Manager of Queensland’s Department of Trade and Commerce Rob Whiddon and also at the same meeting we had Honory Consul for Sri Lanka Anton swan. We were also to meet the Minister for Transport, Trade, Employment and Industrial Relations John Mickel MP, but unfortunately he had gone to Canberra on urgent business. But I had a very encouraging letter from him, where he says “Based on your discussions, there appear to be opportunities for members of your Chamber to do business with organizations in Queensland. I have asked Ms.Gayle O’Brien, Business Manager (South Asia), Trade Queensland, to continue to liaise with you in relation to potential areas for business co-operations”.

In Tasmania we met with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We had a meeting with Damon Thomas, CEO of the Chamber along with two officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. There were six private sector participants at the meet where we discussed business possibilities. We also had a meeting with Tasmania’s Department of Economic Development which was chaired by Allan Campbell, General Manager, Export and Trade. I was a fruitful meet where he gave us an assurance that he will help us to keep in touch with Tasmania.

The mission’s aims can’t be achieved with just one visit. The personalities with whom we held discussions may need to study what we to offer in some detail. Regular contact between the sides could facilitate this process. We hope to visit Australia in another year or two. The next visit, we hope would be led by a minister.



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