COSMI formed to revive industrial sector through MSMEs
By Uwin Lugoda
Originally published in The Morning, October 19, 2019

A country’s economy is made up of a lot of moving parts, and requires the involvement of businesses both large and small. MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises), while not talked about, play a major role in helping a country’s economy grow, and the Sri Lankan economy is not exempt from this.

MSMEs mainly include entities manufacturing and processing rubber and plastic-based substances, tea, leather, metal, fibre, paper, furniture and furnishing, gem and jewellery, coconut and coconut-based substances, agribusiness and agricultural products, recycling paper, plastics, rubber, and industrial waste, printing and packaging, light engineering, tools, hardware, allied machinery, and woodwork.

In order to revive and foster the industrial sector of Sri Lanka through MSMEs, a non-profit organisation was formed on 16 October. The Confederation of Micro, Small, and Medium Industries (COSMI) was founded by individuals from the Chamber Movement in Sri Lanka, and comprised of a cross-section of representatives from the industrial sector.

“The governments over the last few decades have failed to address the core issues faced by the industrialists in Sri Lanka. There are several MSMEs registered with the Government, but due to lack of technology, financing, and other deficiencies, most of these MSMEs have not been able to progress and develop. The purpose of this confederation is to give a boost to these MSMEs,” said COSMI Chairman Deshabandu Macky Hashim.

With the vision of being the voice of the industrial MSMEs in Sri Lanka, COSMI was the brainchild of business professional Nawaz Rajabdeen, who had served the Chamber Movement for over four decades.

During a press briefing held to commemorate the launch of COSMI, Rajabdeen stated that all its founding members contribute on a voluntary basis, and share the goals of creating a sustainable future in the industrial sector in Sri Lanka, and leaving a lasting, positive impact for the benefit of future generations.

The founding members of COSMI comprise of a governing council and board of directors. The Governing Council is led by Hashim as the Chairman and comprises members Dudley Thambinayagam, Dr. Rohan Karunaratna, Dr. JagathPeiris, and Hui Min Dias Bandaranayake.

According to Hashim, during the first general meeting of COSMI, Rajabdeen was unanimously nominated the Founder President of COSMI by the Governing Council.

The rest of the COSMI Board of Directors includes Vice President Indhra Kaushal Rajapaksa, Keerthi Gunawardane, Ramal Jasinghe, Ayanthi Gurusinghe, and M. Rajarammohan.

COSMI’s Advisory Panel consists of leading academics and professionals from various domains such as agribusiness, agri-based research and development, market research and analysis, growth strategy consulting and corporate training, business restructuring, entrepreneur development, women empowerment, sustainable energy and clean production, advanced machinery, supply chain, logistics, business feasibility study, and project proposals.

The panel is set to play a major role in helping foster and empower MSMEs and bridge prevailing knowledge and technology gaps. This will also include providing free preliminary assistance to MSMEs that are registered with COSMI, with subsequent services being charged a reasonable and affordable fee, evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

In its business intervention strategy, COSMI is also set to give priority to alignment with Sustainable Development Goals and principles of a circular economy, harness regional technology, develop a strong service sector to support industrial MSMEs, establish local and international affiliations and collaborations, and follow the success factors for SME competitiveness identified by the International Trade Centre.

The organisation will also give special attention to the development of industrial MSMEs in the North and East, after having already identified several potential projects that could be easily and successfully implemented in these regions.

According to Rajabdeen, through regional and international partnerships, COSMI has many activities planned for their beneficiaries, including providing opportunities and exposure and bridging knowledge gaps of local industrial MSMEs.

COSMI has invited MSMEs to register for a fee of Rs. 2,500 to obtain the benefits and support they provide.