The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) recently named Suresh de Mel, acting managing director of GEN Sri Lanka, as its new chairman. The organization advises the government on national export development policies, monitors the performance of the export sector and works to support Sri Lankan entrepreneurs find new markets.
De Mel began his role on December 14, committing to grow the country’s exports by making use of his experience as a small and medium exporter for over 40 years by giving priority to product and market diversification.
The organization spoke on behalf of de Mel's appointment and noted that they believed he "could steer the EDB to greater heights in future development and promotion of exports in the country by strengthening and educating the entire export community to drive the much-needed growth of exports of the country."
On his appointment, de Mel remarked "he was honored and privileged to be appointed as EDB Chairman." He also commented on his commitment "to grow the country’s exports by making use of his experience as a small and medium exporter for over 40 years by giving priority to product and market diversification."
He spoke on his hopefulness to adapt to the "new normal" that was brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic – and how he believes his previous export experience will accompany the initiatives of this new role.
"The government of Sri Lanka in its recent national budget has clearly emphasized on support for SME’s and startups; and the agriculture and export sectors. In line with the governments priorities, I hope to diversify our export product mix to suite the evolving “new normal” and the new opportunities in diversified markets. Sri Lanka has great potential to develop value added agricultural products for export. Helping and inspiring farmers, startups and SME’s to be successful entrepreneurs will be a priority."
He concluded, "Since I currently operate two flagship value added export projects, manufacture designer fishing flies and process organic spices for global markets, I hope my own experience will be inspirational and fit well to support this effort."
De Mel is a social entrepreneur who actively promotes investments and entrepreneurship that sustain “people, planet and profit." He serves on several boards and committees, both government and non-government, for the development of regional SMEs, entrepreneurship, vocational training, labor relations, responsible tourism, sustainable agriculture and exports.
De Mel owns Lanka Fishing Flies, a company that employs 200 women in Tangalle, Ratnapura and Nugegoda producing fishing flies for export. He also actively serves on several boards and committees, both government and non-government, for the development of regional SMEs, entrepreneurship, vocational training, labor relations, responsible tourism, sustainable agriculture and exports.
He has a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering from California Polytechnic State University and worked in the United States as an agricultural and environmental engineer for ten years.
De Mel succeeds Prabhash Subasinghe, the previous EDB chairman who ended his one-year tenure earlier this month.