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EFC’s Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre Shines Globally

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Led by a visually impaired person

The Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) was shortlisted for the ‘Zero Project 2021’- an initiative of the Essl Foundation which focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally, an EFC news release said.

Essl is an Austrian foundation set up in 2007 by Martin and Gerda Essl and their children for social purposes and scientific research, its mission is to support social innovation, social entrepreneurship and persons with disabilities.

The Foundation is also in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations since 2014 (ECOSOC status) and a member of the European Foundation Centre.

The Zero Project of the Essl Foundation provides a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face, are shared. It is committed to assist in creating a world without barriers, based on the Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the release said.

Each year the Zero Project focuses its research on a particular theme from the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD.) The themes revolve around the key areas of employment, accessibility, independent living, political participation and education.

The EFC’s Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre was among the 178 nominations which made it through to the shortlist out of 475 nominations for the Zero Project Award 2021. ‘The nominated practices and policies have made it through a detailed quality check and through one round of peer-reviewing from experts, with and without disabilities, from around the world,’ according to the project details, the release added.

Applauding Manique Gunaratne, Manager, Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre of the EFC for, “her commitment towards improving the lives of persons with disabilities,” in a congratulatory note, the Zero Project Team has further acknowledged her efforts to be having a “significant impact on inclusive economic development.”

The Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre of the EFC which is now into its 11th year, is a benchmarked platform for its ‘innovation’ and ‘uniqueness’, says its Manager. “The opportunities afforded by the Centre are multiple including employment opportunities for people with disabilities, additional training opportunities, app users etc. All these services are geared towards the open labour market in the country and extend to persons with diverse disabilities, diverse age groups, covering all corners of Sri Lanka,” notes Gunaratne who is a globally recognized activist for people with disabilities.

Steered by a person with a disability for persons with disabilities, the Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre rests on the concept of ‘nothing about us without us,’ says Gunaratne who herself is visually impaired, having lost her vision in her late twenties due to Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Calling for a national will to champion the rights of people with disabilities, Gunaratne urges for expeditious passage of Disability Rights Bill. “The COVID pandemic has taken a toll on everyone and it is imperative to identify the concerns of people with disabilities and empower them especially during a testing time such as this.” She also invites more companies and stakeholders to join hands with the EFC to provide more employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and promote inclusive workplaces.

Commenting on the recognition as a “huge honour for the EFC”, Director General, EFC, Kanishka Weerasinghe noted: “I would like to thank the members of the Employers’ Network on Disability, those who have supported us over the years and especially those who have committed themselves in assisting persons with disabilities over the years. A special thank you is extended to my colleagues Manique Gunaratne and Ayasana Gunasekera.”

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INSEE Cement continues investment in mason development across Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka’s leading cement manufacturer INSEE Cement is driving transformation across the local construction industry with significant investments in empowering one of the sector’s key stakeholder groups; the mason.

‘INSEE Sathkara’, a multifaceted initiative to develop local masons powered by INSEE Cement is shaping the mason of the future – a professionally, socially and financially empowered individual contributing significantly to the advancement of both the local construction industry and Sri Lanka’s economy.

“The INSEE Sathkara initiative facilitates empowerment and development through up-skilling, social recognition and financial stability, an all-round approach that has successfully nurtured a new generation of masons that are fast adaptable to industry demands through newly developed skillsets, knowledge and capacities,” says Jan Kunigk, Executive Vice President, INSEE Cement.

INSEE Cement’s approach is to build a certified and skilled workforce with recognized credentials to bridge a gaping skill gap in the construction industry. The program ensures sustainable capacity development for masons backed by National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) in collaboration with the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA) of Sri Lanka.

INSEE Cement also launched a Mason Apprenticeship Program to provide 120-day training opportunities for masons to learn on the job, preparing them to enter the workforce with specialized skillsets.

For Ajith Kumara Dissanayaka from Ambathenna, a mason for nearly 16 years, receiving all-round advancement through INSEE Sathkara has been truly life changing. “Five years ago, I was able to complete a course conducted by INSEE Cement and NAITA and received a Level 3 NVQ certification – my first professional credentials as a mason. This training gave me knowledge and insight that I had not received in over a decade of working as a mason, and it made me look at my profession differently. I improved my tile work skills, which also increased my income,” Dissanayaka stated.

This professional up-skilling has enabled INSEE Cement to create much needed social recognition and acceptance for Masons across Sri Lanka as a crucial link in the construction industry value chain. Mason Chats, Mason Meets and exclusive membership to the INSEE Concrete Society (ICS) has provided local masons industry inclusivity as well as recognition and rewards to encourage new avenues of income and entrepreneurship. Long-established ICS-member masons are also rewarded for their contribution to the local construction industry through ‘INSEE Garu Sara’.

To secure a stronger financial future for masons, INSEE Cement has introduced a comprehensive life insurance policy with disability, medical and accidental cover. This comes in addition to the pension scheme introduced to masons in partnership with the Employee Trust Fund Board (ETFB) of Sri Lanka.

“I joined the INSEE programme five years ago, and have benefited in ways I never imagined. The knowledge I gained about the industry, Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLS) standards and safety requirements have made me a better professional, and my clients respect me more because of it,” stated Ratna Ravindara, a mason based in Kandy with over two decades of industry experience.

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European ride-hail Bolt enters Sri Lanka

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Bolt, the leading European transportation platform committed to making urban travel easier, quicker and more reliable; announced its entry to the Sri Lankan market, with a pilot launch of its service in Colombo, on November 25, 2020 with over 2000 drivers ready to start accepting rides. Bolt pilots its services in South Asia for the first time with the launch of operations in Sri Lanka.

Committed to affordable trips and happy drivers, the company has announced that it will be charging drivers no commission for using the platform and offer fares 20% lower than other competitors, for a minimum of six months. It builds on being smart about how to grow the company, and focusing operations on efficiency, allowing Bolt to pass the savings on to customers, passengers and drivers.

Bolt has chosen to enter Sri Lanka during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis with the firm belief that people still need to move around in the city and doing its best to fulfil the mission to help them do so. Currently available only within Colombo, Bolt services can be accessed by passengers by downloading the secure and free Bolt app from Apple App Store or Google Play Store and setting up a user profile. Any person with their own Car who wishes to join Bolt as a driver, can easily register with the company through https://partners.bolt.eu/driver-signup by completing the relevant formalities or through the Bolt Driver App available on Apple App store or Google Play Store.

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Mobisec marks 6th anniversary as its future outlook remains strong

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International footprint with branch office in Melbourne

Mobisec (Pvt) Ltd, an innovator in the mobile application sector in Sri Lanka is celebrating its 6thanniversary since its inception in November 2014.

Over the years it has served hundreds of thousands of customers across Sri Lanka through its telco and mobile applications. Starting with humble beginnings as a start-up, Ashen Gomez, Founder & Managing Director of Mobisec has worked diligently over the years alongside his wife Sumudu, the Co-founder of Mobisec to build the company and expand its services in different verticals.

The company marked its first international expansion in the beginning of this year by establishing a new branch office in Melbourne, Australia. Today, the company is home to a dynamic team of over 30 software development experts.

Founder & Managing Director of Mobisec Ashen Gomez said; “since inception, we have continued to create applications that revolutionize the way people connect with the technology. Our prime focus is to provide smart and reliable solutions for modern problems our customers are facing and help them improve the quality of their lifestyle.”

Company’s product portfolio expanded further during this year along with the three brand new products that were launched into the Market. “Baby’s Diary” is one of the Android Apps that was added to Mobisec’s product portfolio in the mid of this year and currently the App has crossed over 10,000 downloads. It’s an all-in-one parenting solution, which contains a variety of options to keep track on the baby’s activities while shopping for all the baby essentials. Since its launch, the App has gained widespread attention and it’s shaping to be a game changer for all new parents in Sri Lanka.

“We are pleased to say that the Baby’s Diary App is the first and only Parenting App developed in Sri Lanka exclusively for parents of new-borns.The challenges and struggles for a new parent have never been addressed through out the past and that’s where we strongly believed that the concept of Smart Parenting needs be introduced to the Sri Lankan market”, said PrasannaDahanayake, Product Manager/ Business Analyst of Mobisec.

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