South Asian Association Regional Chamber (SAARC) Chamber of Commerce and Industry has organized a Startup Boot Camp to strengthen startup ecosystems in South Asia for young entrepreneurs.
Held successfully in Colombo, the boot camp was organized in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) and in collaboration with the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka and Academy of Digital Business (ADB).
The boot camp was a training programme for young entrepreneurs who had just started their business ventures. In fact, the boot camp has been the fifth training programme in a series scheduled to be held in every member country in South Asia.
In line with the recommendations of the SAARC Startup Vision Summit 2018, the series of SAARC boot camps are being organised with the intention of developing a mechanism to ensure cross border learning, exposure and mentoring for startups and to strengthen startup ecosystems across South Asia, especially in the countries with no startup ecosystems or least developed startup ecosystems.
The first boot camp was held in Kathmandu in April 2019, the second camp was in Dhaka in June 2019, the third camp was in Male in September 2019, the fourth camp held in Lahore in October 2019, the fifth camp was organized in Colombo.
In Colombo, the main objective of the camp was to guide and train the young entrepreneurs to develop their startups into the next levels of their business ventures, to give them an opportunity to present their startups to a panel of mentors and business experts, thereby gaining their feedback, constructive advice, and to give the young trainers an opportunity to have access to valuable business networks across South Asia and beyond.
It was significant that over 40 selected young entrepreneurs and university students who are in business studies actively participated in the training programme.
Friedrich Foundation Country Director Sagarica Delgoda, Zulfiqar Ali Butt, Prasanna Liyanage, Waruna Dhanapala, Dr Hugo Wisidagama, Damith Gangodawilage, PayMedia founder Kanishka Weeramunda, Saravana Mani, C Subramanian and Tilan M Wijesooriya took part as distinguished guests, mentors and resource persons.
In terms of startup ecosystems in South Asia, “we encounter terms such as infancy (Nepal), coming of age (Bangladesh), making strides compared to last few years (Pakistan, Sri Lanka) and building up from zero (Bhutan),” Sagarica Delgoda mentioned while addressing the young entrepreneurs.
Although the Indian startup ecosystem has evolved dynamically in the last two decade, the ecosystem has not reached full maturity with lacunas inactive investors and support organisations such as incubators and accelerators, the FNF country director said.
The camp covered important dimensions of development of startups such as idea pivoting, lean converse model, design thinking, digital quoting improvement, sustainable digital influence for startup, financing and compliance management, tales from trenches and role models.
The training programme was, in fact, rich with both theoretical perspectives and creative activities for the trainees. All the young trainees were awarded certificates at the closing ceremony. The young trainees were extremely happy about the training programme.