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EY facilitates discussion on Digital Cities at the FITIS Sri Lanka Internet Day 2021 Forum

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Ernst & Young (EY) facilitated a timely discussion on Digital Cities as the knowledge partner at the “Sri Lanka Internet Day 2021”, the inaugural virtual event organized by the Digital Chapter of the Federation of Information Technology in Sri Lanka (FITIS) which was held in line with FITIS mandates on digital economy and regional hub and the 7-pillar digital strategy.

Themed Digital inclusion, the forum emphasized the need for citizen engagement in a digital society and its impact on digital inclusion and also discussed about Sri Lanka’s digital strategy, digitalization initiatives and the need to further enhance digital infrastructure to facilitate a digitally empowered ecosystem.

A major highlight of the forum was the discussion on Digital Cities held with the participation of Arjuna Herath Senior Partner and Head of Consulting at Ernst & Young Sri Lanka and Maldives and Amit Midha president, Asia Pacific and Japan and Global Digital Cities of Dell Technologies. The discussion between Herath and Midha provided deep insights on Digital Cities and laid the foundation for Sri Lankans to look forward to the concept, inspired by the digital models implemented by Singapore and other developed countries.

Herath laying the context for the discussion indicated that Cities have been centers for innovation and economic growth since the perennial times and as a result of that, more and more people migrated to cities in search of jobs and luxury lifestyles. He stated that technology has played a key role in the transformation of cities and that has led to the emergence of the Digital City concept. Midha exploring the topic said, “It is a City that thrives in the fourth industrial revolution”. Midha emphasized the fact that data and data related industries are going to be crucial within the next 30 to 40 years and that everyone needs to transform themselves to be successful in the digital sphere. He highlighted that digital jobs can thrive with new concepts such as Work from Home and Sri Lanka has the capacity to build on that. He also stressed on the importance of a Digital City in helping individuals and societies to transform themselves with access to economic growth, better living standards, better healthcare and education, mobility and new job opportunities, etc.

The discussion emphasized how new technology can be used to facilitate the everyday lives of people. The government’s role in this regard was perceived as vital because if necessary policies are implemented and infrastructure is provided, there is enough talent to build on those advantages and come up with new innovations. Midha emphasized that the private sector must join hands in the development efforts by alluding to the fact that ideas from different segments are vital in making progress.

A Digital City is expected to have streamlined services relating to transport, health, education, and all the primary services that people look forward to. The discussion went on to show a clear pathway where Sri Lanka can adapt the Digital City concept in the long run. According to the thoughts shared, safety is the top most priority for a city because if the city is not safe, people will leave that city. The next pillar is to streamline transportation within the city, from the city and into the city. The third pillar is the development of heath care and education which are considered as two of the primary needs of people living in a city. The next important aspect is the government to work as an app, conveniently assisting to fulfil the needs of people. The focus on sustainability, green energy, smart grid and solar was also highlighted as essential aspects in shifting to the concept.

The discussion also highlighted the need to focus on security when dealing with data and data related projects at a time when hacking, cyber-attacks and data thefts are abundant in the world. “In the process of digitizing cities, intrinsic security is a must have and we need to pay more attention to that going forward.” Says Midha.

Mr. Herath spoke about the opening Sri Lanka has in creating a Digital City with the new Port city in the making and the need to embedding the concepts that were discussed when creating the City including the required leadership and policies, operating models and processes and the community and the ecosystem which also need to be considered. Mr. Midha elaborating on this said “There has to be a vision that has to be built. A dream has to be put out there to get citizens buy in. In fact this is how cities take shape. There is plenty of money in the system. People will help make these cities happen. They need to be told what the dream is, how they can happen, then they buy into this, in fact any public project that makes livability better makes prices of all real estate in the city to go up. So, all the folks know that by doing things right, it is a significant economic return. They also want future generations to have better access to infrastructure and live in a better place.”

Providing a comprehensive outlook on Digital Cities, what advantages these cities have in store for the public and what needs to be done in order to shift towards the new concept, the discussion ended after sharing a wealth of knowledge while acting as an eye opener for the authorities to look forward to maximize the available technologies and embrace the Digital City concept.



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CSE Continues Regional Awareness Drive in Negombo

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The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) successfully concluded yet another virtual forum organized as part of an awareness drive for island-wide Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). The second event of the series which was held for SMEs in Negombo, drew strong interest among the entrepreneurial community based in the region. The series of virtual forums is hosted by CSE with the objective of promoting the advantages of listing on the Empower Board.

Ms. Hansinee Beddage, Senior Analyst at Acuity Partners (PVT) Limited, Mr. Rohan Senewiratne, Managing Director of Atarah Capital Partners (PVT) Limited, Mr. Suraj Surwaweera, Managing Director of Chrissworld Limited and Mr. Nuwan Chathuranga, Manager of CSE Negombo Branch made a strong case on a number of potential advantages available for SMEs through the Empower Board. The speakers further joined in a Question-and-Answer session which fostered an engaging and open conversation with the participating entrepreneurs.

Ms. Hansinee Beddage, elaborated on the process of listing and the relaxed policies applicable to SMEs through the Empower Board. A comprehensive comparison between the growth of listed companies and companies opting for other sources of capital were discussed.

She further commented on the multitude of benefits of listing, including capital acquisition for growth prospects, elevation of business value and defining the market value of the company, investor attraction, improvement of business recognition, business opportunities and regulation of business processes.

Mr. Suraj Surwaweera, Managing Director of Chrissworld Limited, shared the company’s experience in the listing process. He explained the specific and demanding capital requirements of the warehousing industry and how listing on the Empower Board has benefited them. He further elaborated on the recognition among the business community and the national and international stakeholders they have attracted to the company within a short period since listing.

As the advisors and sponsors to Empower Board’s first listing, Chrissworld Limited, Mr. Rohan Senewiratne, Managing Director of Atarah Capital Partners (PVT) Limited added that the main objective of sponsors is not to list a multitude of companies but to bring suitable companies to the correct standard to list.

He elaborated on the importance to ensure minority shareholder protection, sharing his experience in listing Chrissworld and wished that company a successful journey ahead. Senewiratne explained reaching the required standard to list is not a hard process but an organized restructuring process, in order to bring the business to a better standard so that a company gains the trust of investors.

For more information on the Empower Board and CSE visit www.cse.lk or contact Mr. Purasisi Jinadasa, Head of Origination & Issuer Relations at CSE.

(CSE news release)

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LAN and GBAN to promote Sri Lankan startups globally via Entrepreneurship World Cup

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Lankan Angel Network (LAN), the country’s largest network of angel investors, has been appointed the Entrepreneurship World Cup’s Official National Organizer for Sri Lanka.

 This long-term, strategic initiative follows on from LAN joining the Global Business Angel Network (GBAN) as a committee member. GBAN is affiliated with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN). LAN and GBAN aim to take local entrepreneurship to a global level with the Entrepreneurship World Cup’s Global Hosts MISK, GEN and TGELF.

 The Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) will offer Sri Lanka’s national champion, to be selected in July, the chance to pitch on a global stage for a share of USD 1 million in cash prizes, plus additional investment opportunities, and another USD750,000 in in-kind support. EWC in 2020 featured 175,000 entrants applying from 200 countries.

 According to LAN Chairman Mano Sekaram, “Lanka Angel Network is proud to be entrusted with organizing the national finals for the Entrepreneurship World Cup, a testament to our longtime efforts in pioneering and building the local startup ecosystem and promoting local talent worldwide. We are also pleased that the top startups of Sri Lanka are participating in this endeavor, especially considering the challenging business environment experienced by so many both here and abroad.”

 With a goal to grow to 250 angel investors by 2025, with 30% of its membership from abroad, LAN’s future is closely linked with the growth of the local startup ecosystem. During these trying times in particular, LAN relies on the deep domain expertise of its unmatched pool of mentors and investors to assist startups in traversing the difficult business environment they are experiencing.

Most importantly, LAN also strives to provide startups with networking, training, and even follow-on funding, an essential part of its efforts to grow its portfolio.

 EWC is more than just a global pitch competition with a shot at life-changing prizes. It elevates entrepreneurs from all stages—idea-stage, early-stage, growth-stage or beyond— by providing them with tools and resources to grow their venture. EWC Accelerates is a virtual training and mentorship program that helps entrepreneurs hone their skills and increase their chances of winning their national competitions – as well as those who advance to the Global Finals.

 The EWC online platform also offers all contestants who complete an application, access to more than USD 25,000 in perks from partners such as Google Cloud, Hubspot, Stripe and more.

 National Finals competitions are held through June and July 2021. In November 2021, 100 startups will be flown to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to participate in the EWC Accelerates program for an intensive startup bootcamp and to compete in the EWC Global Finals.

 To learn more, visit the Entrepreneurship World Cup at entrepreneurshipworldcup.com

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Amãna Bank’s Dilan Joseph becomes Sri Lanka Toastmaster Champion

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Amãna Bank’s Toastmaster (TM) Dilan Joseph was adjudicated as the Sri Lankan Champion of the Toastmasters District 82 International Speech Contest which was recently held on a virtual platform and will now go on to proudly represent Sri Lanka in the Region 13 Quarter Finals.

Having previously won the Club, Area and Division contests with his enthralling speech, TM Dilan Joseph competed amongst the country’s finest orators in the national competition representing 8 Divisions constituting of 179 corporate and community clubs in Sri Lanka. Titled ‘The Gap’, TM Dilan’s heartwarming speech gave one key message, which is applicable to all, that is accept yourself for who you are.

Going forward with his dream of becoming a World Champion, TM Dilan Joseph, representing the entire Sri Lankan Toastmasters fraternity, will compete amongst country winners from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia at the Region 13 Quarter Finals. District 82 of Toastmasters International is known to be a breeding ground for champion public speakers, witnessing 3 World Champions of Public Speaking during the short span of the last 7 years, including producing Sri Lanka’s one and only world champion TM Dananjaya Hettiarachchi.

TM Dilan Joseph, who is attached to Amãna Bank’s Retail Banking Division as the Manager Digital Customer Experience, is the incumbent President of Amãna Bank Toastmasters Club. Prior to this victory, TM Dilan Joseph also won the Division F Humorous Speech Competition in 2018.

Commenting on his success, the Bank’s Head of Human Resources Farhan Refai said “We are very honoured of Dilan’s achievement. I believe it is a great example in showcasing dedication and hard work to achieve one’s dream. Since joining Amãna Bank TMC in 2015, Dilan has been an active member of the club and has come a long way, having won many other speech competitions. On behalf of the Bank, we would like to wish Dilan all the best as he represents the entire country in the forthcoming Quarterfinals, and pray he becomes successful in reaching his ultimate goal of becoming a World Champion.”

Sharing his views, TM Dilan Joseph said “I am truly blessed to have won this competition and would like to congratulate all other participants who gave out their best at the District contest as well all others who contested in the runner up from Club level onwards. I am thankful to the support extended by Amãna Bank and Amãna Bank TMC to me in this journey. Toastmasters is a wonderful program that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. I am humbled to say that I have come a long way and benefitted immensely from the Toastmasters program.

Amãna Bank PLC is a stand-alone institution licensed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange with Jeddah based IsDB Group being the principal shareholder having a 29.97% shareholding of the Bank. The IsDB Group is a ‘AAA’ rated multilateral development financial institution with a membership of 57 countries. The Bank was recently recognized with the Best Employer Brand Award at the Sri Lankan edition of the Best Employer Brand Awards 2020 organized by World HRD Congress. Amãna Bank does not have any subsidiaries, associates or affiliated institutions, other than its flagship CSR initiative ‘OrphanCare’ Trust.

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