In line with the recently concluded Sri Lanka Investment Forum (SLIF) 2021 oganised by the BOI, The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Colombo Stock Exchange, the Council for Startups held a webinar on the Startup Ecosystem Landscape to attract investments via the local Tech and Innovation opportunities. It was noted that in a thriving /robust startup ecosystem a good investment climate and deal flow is critical. As such, the aim of the webinar was to showcase the local Tech and Innovation potential and to boost the venture funding ecosystem in Sri Lanka. The panelist included Mr. Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital; Mr. Supun Weerasinghe, Director/Group CEO, Dialog Axiata PLC; Mr. Dumith Fernando, Chairman, Asia Securities; and Mr. Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Chairman, Council for Startups of The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce moderating the session.
Over the past 10 years Sri Lanka on average has had venture funding of approximately $2.5M per year where leading countries spend close to 0.5% of GDP per annum. This equates to $400M per annum in Venture Funding for Sri Lanka. Thus the objective during the session was to see how Sri Lanka could gradually increase this funding by at least targeting 0.1% of GDP ($80M) for 2022/2023 by highlighting the following:
1 Geopolitical location – Connected with over 8 trillion GDP within 5-hour flying time which makes it easier for a startups to scale.
2 Untapped market – Still at an early stage with only approximately 400 startups, thus becoming attractive compared to the region for investors that are early movers.
3 Tech talent – Small in numbers but proven talent that can build world class products to compete globally.
4 Brain gain – Sri Lanka has been ranked second best for digital nomads in 2021 ahead of Singapore by Club Med. This study by the French travel company looked at cost of living, safety, average internet speed, presence of nature and wellness spots, as well as adventurous activities in each country. There is plenty of young Lankan talent retuning back to the country and many successful startups in Sri Lanka were founded by them. These entrepreneurs studied in the best schools globally, worked for a few years and came back. They have a world view but want to be in Lanka.
Ceylinco Life presents 162 more ‘Pranama’ scholarships at unique virtual ceremony
Ceylinco Life recently celebrated the 20th edition of its ‘Pranama’ Scholarships programme with its first ever virtual ceremony to felicitate and reward 162 students who excelled in academic and extracurricular activities with Rs 11.8 million in scholarships.
The certificates, medals, and gifts that usually accompany the scholarships will be physically presented to scholarship recipients individually at branch-level in the first week of August, the life insurance leader said.
The scholarship ceremony videocast via Zoom to beneficiaries and Ceylinco Life staff countrywide commenced with a welcome address by Ceylinco Life Managing Director and CEO Mr Thushara Ranasinghe, and was followed by the keynote address of the Chief Guest, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ruhuna, Senior Professor Sujeewa Amarasena.
Additionally, a past Pranama Scholarship winner who is now a research engineer Mr Charana Suneth Sonnadara and current scholarship winners and district level first place winners at the GCE Advanced Level J. M. Tharinda Rashmi Bandara Navarathne, Konesamoorthy Akshika and Umesha Amodama Tilakarathna also addressed the audience as part of the ceremony.
Ceylinco Life launched the Pranama scholarships scheme in 2002 recognising the increasing burden on parents to invest money and effort in the education of their children despite the availability of free education in the country. Over the next 19 years the company presented Rs 155 million in scholarships to 2,725 students, and with the 20th round of scholarships presented in 2021 that figure has now reached Rs 167 million and benefited 2,887 young and talented Sri Lankans. Many past Pranama Scholarship winners are now doctors, lawyers, engineers, or in other pivotal positions that contribute to the development of society in a testament to the value of Ceylinco Life’s initiative to motivate future generations of the country.
Ceylinco Life Pranama scholarships are presented to policyholder’s children who achieve the best results in their respective districts at the Year 5 scholarship examination, the GCE Ordinary Level, and the GCE Advanced Level as well as to those who excel at the national level in sports, invention, drama, cultural activities, or display other special skills. The Company also pays special cash awards to policyholder’s children who are placed second, third and fourth at district level at the GCE Advanced Level examinations.
The latest edition of ‘Pranama’ Scholarships rewarded 30 students who excelled at the 2020 Year 5 scholarship examination with Rs 120,000 each, payable in instalments over five years. Another 25 students who excelled at the 2019 G.C.E. Ordinary Level Examinations will receive Rs 84,000, payable monthly over two years, while 25 students placed 1st in their districts at the 2019 G.C.E. Advanced Level examinations will receive scholarships worth Rs 144,000 each, payable over a three-year period. Members of this group are also each entitled to a special reward from Ceylinco Life of a Lenovo IdeaPad D330 device which is a two-in-one detachable Notebook and lightweight tablet, as well as a giftpack including a pen drive, wireless mouse, and Bluetooth speaker, each.
Furthermore, one-time payments of Rs 30,000 each are to be presented to 73 students placed 2nd, 3rd and 4th in their districts at the 2019 GCE Advanced Level examination.
Nine students who have excelled in sports, drama, invention or creative fields in 2019 and 2020 were presented merit awards, each to the value of Rs 35,000.
Additionally, 550 students who are ranked in the top 10 in all three public examinations at a district level will be presented a certificate of appreciation and a gift pack at their respective branches, shortly.
Ranked the ‘Most Valuable Life Insurance Brand’ in Sri Lanka by Brand Finance and voted the ‘Peoples Life Insurance Service Provider of the Year’ for a record 15th consecutive year in 2021, Ceylinco Life has been Sri Lanka’s leading life insurer for more than half of the 33 years it has been in existence. In 2020, the Company was certified as a ‘Great Workplace’ in Sri Lanka by Great Place to Work®, was named the ‘Best Life Insurer in Sri Lanka’ for the seventh consecutive year by World Finance, and accorded an ‘Honourable Mention’ as one of the ‘Most Admired Companies in Sri Lanka’ by the International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (ICCSL) in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), UK.
Ceylinco Life has close to a million lives covered by active policies and is acknowledged as a benchmark in the local insurance sector for innovation, product research and development, customer service, professional development, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility.
Pan Asia Bank in impressive performance
Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC reported an impressive performance for the six months period ended 30thJune 2021to report a Pre-Tax Profit of Rs. 1,822Mn and a Post-Tax Profit of Rs. 1,356Mn with growth rates of 27% and 50% respectively, while demonstrating the resilience amidst challenging macro-economic conditions. The Bank’s performance was characterised by strength and resilience despite the heightened uncertainty due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 impact on the Sri Lankan economy, the Bank’s Operating Profits before VAT on Financial Services reached Rs. 2,245Mn with an increase of 25%reflecting the excellence in core banking performance and the success of cost containment measures evidenced by improvement in all key matrices which now rank among the industry bests. This feat was achieved even after setting aside a sizable provision buffers for the probable deterioration in credit quality due to COVID 19 pandemic.
Experts from Switzerland conduct knowledge-sharing session on organic agro-ecosystem
A team of experts from Switzerland presently on a 10-day visit in the country conducted an experiential and insightful training session on organic agriculture and ecosystem, a need of the hour for Sri Lanka as it bans chemical fertilizers and pesticides to make a transition from conventional to an organic approach. The event was held at the Baurs’ Fertilizer Factory (CMW) in Kelaniya on August 2 in adherence to strict health and safety guidelines with the presence of PHI officers on-site.
This knowledge sharing session saw the participation of Baurs’ senior management, support staff, fertilizer and plant protection field staff, CMW lab and factory staff, feed millers, invitees from animal health, poultry and biochar segments including INSEE Ecocycle, and special guests from Sunshine Holdings PLC including Binesh Pananwala, CEO of Watawala Plantations PLC.
The event is a part of the expert team’s diverse visit to study the country’s agricultural landscape, an initiative of A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd (Baurs). The team of experts is from two of the world’s leading institutes on this topic, namely the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL). They will meet with stakeholders from various key institutions, converse with farmers and other members, and visit numerous sites and facilities across the island.
Rolf Blaser, Managing Director/CEO of A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd, in his welcome speech, said ‘We are proud to take a proactive stand on the organic fertilizer challenge. We established dialogue and started this initiative four months ago no sooner the country’s announcement to ban chemical fertilizers and pesticides.’
‘We believe having such a world-class team of experts down here to study and exchange knowledge and resources on the holistic organic agriculture ecosystem is extremely beneficial to the country and sector. Together we will be visiting many sites and facilities in the coming days including key officials, academics and professionals to have an in-depth understanding of the system.’
According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Sri Lanka currently has a 2.5pct share of organic agriculture.
Prof. Dr. Christoph Studer, professor of natural resources management at HAFL, walked the audience through his presentation on the importance of having an agroecological approach. Prof. Studer highlighted the importance of soil fertility management, expressing that the objective is not only providing nutrients to crops but also nurture the soil to make it fit for its diverse tasks such as production and ecosystem services. He also stressed on organic matters, soil life, sustainable use of resources, diverse cropping patterns, nutrients, biofertilizers, among others.
Dr. Jacques G Fuchs, senior scientist in plant pathology and soil quality at FiBL, shared insights on the basics of recycling organic residues, citing that everyone in Switzerland is individually involved with collecting and separating organic waste at home, and that there are a wide range of waste categories. Dr. Fuchs also touches on improving soil fertility, numerous ways of composting practiced in Switzerland from farmers through to industrial plants, including systems for treating bio-waste, various waste that can be composted or treated by anaerobic fermentation, anaerobic degradation process, decomposition and maturation, entire cycle.
Dr. Fuchs shared the entire cycle of the process management from collection of green waste to utilization of the final product, to include concept of organic waste collection, composting, anaerobic fermentation systems, mixture of raw materials, process management, storage of end products.
The event had an interactive Q&A session with all four members of the expert team including Dr. Gurbir S Bhullar, senior scientist in tropical agroecosystems at HAFL, Paul van den Berge, senior consultant at FiBL, followed by a vote thanks by A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd Deputy Managing Director/Director- Agriculture Janaka Gunasekera.
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