Migrant workers can be diplomats! – Sunday Observer – 11th October 2009
by Lalin FERNANDOPULLE
The main concern of migrant workers is not only remitting money back home to support their families, but also could play a role of commercial diplomats for their country.
The book 'Internationalisation of Sri Lankan Entrepreneurship, a study of Sri Lankan immigrant entrepreneurs in Japan ' by Prof. H.D. Karunaratne of the Department of Business Economics, Faculty of Management and Finance, University of Colombo gives us a new dimension to immigrant entrepreneurship, an emerging concept of the migrant labour market.
The book deals with a vital aspect of entrepreneurship development in Sri Lanka and the structural changes which took place including the emergence of immigrant entrepreneurship following the liberalisation of economic activities.
Emerging economies such as India and China have used their overseas population to enhance economic prospects.Building linkages, trade promotions, employment generation and strengthening bilateral ties are vital aspects of immigrant entrepreneurship.
The writer is particular that migration should not be considered only as a means of earning foreign currency to the country but also as an opportunity to develop tourism, industries and export markets.
Sri Lanka's black tea market in Japan has grown by 69 percent which is a catalyst for other products to venture into foreign markets.
Japan Immigration Bureau sources record that the total number of registered Sri Lankans in Japan increased from 509 in 1985 to 12,000 in 2007 which is a 75 percent growth per annum.
Sri Lanka is one of the leading migrant suppliers to the world which is around 10 percent of the country's population and around 15 percent of the labour force.
The country sends substantial number of skilled workers to the Middle East, Asia and Europe .
The book contains eight chapters with an introductory chapter, background, objectives, methodology and limitations followed by a review on immigrant entrepreneurship, presents structural features, growth performance and economic relations between Japan and Sri Lanka .
Based on extensive research the book makes a salient contribution to bring the internationalisation of Sri Lankan entrepreneurship with the globalisation of economic activities.
The effort made by the author is crucial in terms of continued existence and growth of Sri Lankan diaspora in Japan and the steps needed to be taken by policy makers to make maximum use of the Sri Lankan entrepreneurship in Japan who account for over 16 years of business experience.