Feb 14, 2019 (LBO) - Sri Lanka has began work on the first national digital data bank for its SMEs and entrepreneurs recently with the backing of a Singaporean firm. Under the new initiative the National Enterprise Development Agency (NEDA) will execute a nationwide centralised database of all SMEs and entrepreneurs thereby boosting the performance of this critical economic sector very significantly. The first ever data collected from this digital platform’s latest pilot tests showed that almost two-thirds of the MSMEs digitally captured, focused in the “consumer” segment, followed by ‘agriculture’ and ‘textiles’. “This initiative is also in keeping with similar upcoming digital databases in the South Asian region. Therefore today’s effort brings our SME sector in par with South Asia’s SME digitalization efforts” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons & Cooperative Development Rishad Bathiudeen. The Minister was addressing the NEDA’s InfoComm Digital Age project launch event. NEDA is equipping its field ‘development’ officers with 250 Tablet PCs to be used as data collection terminals to upload captured entrepreneur data in real-time. “NEDA’s overall aim is bringing the Sri Lankan micro small and medium entrepreneurs and their enterprises to a centralized digital platform,” said Minister Bathiudeen. “This Info-comm digital platform will result in the first such digital database for SME and entrepreneurship sectors of Sri Lanka. This initiative is also in keeping with similar upcoming digital databases in the South Asian region." Chairman –DG of NEDA Dakshitha Bogollagama said that current data entries at NEDA are manually done. “This is a very slow process and time consuming. Time has come to change it. The paper based recordings at NEDA are difficult to update continuously. Such old information are not presentable to any investor nor a buyer. This new system will be live 24x7. It also helps NEDA administration since our own employees’ KPIs can be measured by this system.” The overall cost of entire NEDA – EMS project is estimated at around US 280,000 dollars. Of this, the software/database component is valued at US 147,000 dollars and it has granted as a gift to NEDA as a gift by Singapore’s RES Group.