Business Service Centers: A One-Stop Shop to boost the MSME sector in Sri Lanka

Over 40% of MSMEs in the country are not registered and lack awareness of the benefits of registration.  Registering an enterprise is a cumbersome process and a startup has to go to several places to obtain approvals, licenses, and permits. MSMEs also face many challenges in marketing their products and sourcing raw materials. They also face technology and productivity improvement challenges that stop growth. Women in the MSME sector face added transactional costs in accessing services.

The Business Service Center (BSC) – a One-Stop Service Center – will provide multiple regulatory and business development services to facilitate support through a single window. The Center will assist individual enterprises to obtain technology improvement, product improvement, quality control, skills development services, and market access. The BSC will host a database on market opportunities available locally, regionally, and globally that provides easy access. MSMEs owned and managed by women will be able to access services with greater efficiency and address a number of issues that challenge the growth of their business including mobility restrictions, access to information, finances, and technical input.

The BSCs are housed within the premises of the District Secretariats and the staff required to manage the center will be facilitated by the District Secretariat. Service provision organizations operating at the district level will work closely with the center and provide their services based on the need. The center will be equipped with a web portal that will be linked to BDS providers, Regulatory Authorities, Financial Institutes, and Banks.

Four BSCs have already been established in Monaragala, Badulla, Matale and Nuwara Eliya. The Cabinet has approved establishing Business Services Centers across the country in all 25 Districts. Chrysalis conceptualized the BSC together with experts from the government including from officials of the former Ministry of Trade and Commerce, and the private sector, the intention, services, and governance model of the BSC and presented it to the Ministry of Samurdhi, Household Economy, Micro Finance, Self-Employment, and Business Development.  It was made possible via the EU-funded Enterprise project implemented by Chrysalis together with the British Council and CARE Germany.

The BSCs will be monitored by the Ministry of Samurdhi as well as providing staff cadre and financial support for its administration. It is expected that the BSC will eventually become financially viable and establish a fee-for-service business model.

The European Union funded ENTERPRISE project aimed to create an enabling environment for women and youth to create and participate in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  Targeting the Uva and Central Provinces, it used inclusive business models to celebrate the diverse perspectives and experiences of those involved while ensuring profitability. ENTERPRISE also incubated enterprises, and sought to amplify women and youth voices in economic decisions and influence over SME policies that impact them.

Enterprise is implemented by Chrysalis and the British Council in Sri Lanka in partnership with CARE Deutschland-Luxemburg.