Connect with us


Facebook helps Sri Lankan small businesses benefit from the power of digital tools



COLOMBO, June 3 -Facebook has successfully completed the first two phases of the Digital Saubhagya program in Sri Lanka. It was implemented in collaboration with the government of Sri Lanka, civil society organizations, and various trade bodies to help small businesses recover and transform. 

Small businesses are the backbone of Sri Lanka’s economy, accounting for more than 75 percent of all enterprises. These businesses were heavily impacted during the pandemic and many have moved online to continue their business growth.

The #DigitalSaubhagya program commenced in March, prior to the Sinhala & Tamil New Year season in the country. More than 1,500 small and medium businesses from 15 districts received training on how to open business pages to engage with customers. Online sessions were conducted in both Sinhala and Tamil to raise awareness about the best social media practices for business. An informative story was published in newspapers to empower small businesses with guidance on how to build effective online presence.

A Facebook Live event was organized to showcase local entrepreneurs and highlight how they are adapting to the pandemic and transforming their businesses digitally. Influencer and activist, Stephanie Siriwardhana moderated the conversation with the founders of ZigZag and Saaraketha Organics, two leading local entrepreneurs. Mustafa Kassim, founder and CEO of Roar Digital, Facebook’s reseller partner, also shared his insights.  

Jordi Fornies, Director of Emerging Markets at Facebook, APAC participated and discussed Facebook’s initiatives to inform and empower local entrepreneurs. He said “Facebook is committed to provide ongoing training to support small businesses in Sri Lanka. Through our Digital Saubhagya campaign, we have tried to build awareness at the grassroots level. We have partnered with local organizations to bring more micro and rural entrepreneurs online so they can also benefit from digital tools, especially during these difficult times.”

The program also developed case studies on how small and medium businesses are using digital platforms effectively. It highlights the importance of digital reach in the new operating environment that the COVID-19 pandemic has created. These case studies include the journeys of Selyn and Olai, which are engaging with communities in different regions of the country. 

A webinar was hosted and moderated by Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, with the support of Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), which included panelists from Facebook, ICTA, and Selyn. It was also attended by Hon. Shehan Semasinghe, State Minister of Samurdhi, Household Economy, Micro Finance, Self-Development, Business Development and Underutilized State Resources Development. The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka was represented by its Chief Digital Economy Officer Anura De Alwis. The panel discussed the role of digital platforms and the importance of supporting small businesses so they can survive and thrive despite the pandemic. 

Facebook also engaged a local digital developer to create an AR effect for Facebook and Instagram so people can celebrate Avurudu in the safety of their homes. 

#DigitalSaubhagya will re-commence for its phase 3 and continue to support small businesses in Sri Lanka through 2021. (Issued by MSL Sri Lanka on behalf of Facebook)

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


DG Information ignorant of basic election laws and regulations: ECSL




The Election Commission (EC) has expressed its disappointment at controversial statements made by some public officials about elections. It says some top government official, including the Director General of Government Information, are not familiar with the basic election laws and regulations laid down in the Constitution.

The EC says it may be due to his ignorance that the Director General of Government Information has issued the Special News Release, on 29 January, claiming that ‘the gazette notification, with the signatures of the Chairman, and other members of the Election Commission, required for the commencement of the Local Government Election process, has not yet been sent to the Government Press for printing’. The EC has said such notices have to be signed and sent by the relevant Returning Officers in accordance with section 38 of the Local Authorities Election (Amendment Act) No 16 of 2017, and not by the members of the EC.

The EC has confirmed that the notices from the Returning Officers were sent to the Government Press on Monday (30).

The EC’s Media release also points out that the DGI may be unaware that Article 104GG of the Constitution states that if any public official refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to comply with the Commission he or she has committed an offence.

Article 104GG of the Constitution says: (1) Any public officer, any employee of any public corporation, business or other undertaking vested in the Government under any other written law and any company registered or deemed to be registered under the Companies Act, No. 7 of 2007, in which the Government or any public corporation or local authority holds fifty percent or more of the shares of that company, who – (a) refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to cooperate with the Commission, to secure the enforcement of any law relating to the holding of an election or the conduct of a Referendum; or (b) fails without a reasonable cause to comply with any directions or guidelines issued by the Commission under sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (4) or sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (5), respectively, of Article 104B, shall be guilty of an offense and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

Continue Reading


AKD says no improvement at Sapugaskanda oil refinery since it went into production in 1969



The capacity of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery (SOR) has not increased since it was established in 1969, National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake says.

Speaking at a public rally recently he that in 1969, the SOR used the most advanced technology available at the time.

“CPC started construction in 1968 and SOR started operations, refining oil, on August 5th, 1969. During that time, the CPC could refine 50,000 MT of crude oil. 55 years later, the capacity remains the same. In 1969, the CPC started with the most advanced technology available at the time. Technology has improved now. We are still refining oil with 1969 technology,” he said.

Dissanayake said that Sri Lanka built a fertiliser factory to use the byproducts of the refinery and, in 1982, a newspaper reported that 5000 MT of urea, produced by that factory, was exported to Pakistan. Today, that factory is closed.

“The CPC also had a nylon factory, as a subsidiary. We built our own nylon thread fish nets. By-products of the refinery were used as pesticides and insecticides for our pineapple and flower production. Those factories were closed, too. We had a candle industry from the by-products, we produced lubricant oil. It was sold to American Caltex. Refinery produced fuel for airplanes. It has the capacity to sell USD 1.4 million worth airplane fuel per day. We can buy crude oil, refine, and sell to ships. These are opportunities we must use to earn foreign currency. Recently this section of the CPC was privatized,” he said.

The ruling class has failed to secure even the most important assets, he said. Agriculture, land, gems, ilmenite, our natural resources, so will these rulers protect what is left, he asked.

“They have absolutely no plan to build this country. Selling our resources, closing down factories and selling valuable machinery is what they know. Every government has taken part in the destruction of the refinery. This is why we need a change in the economy. We need to transform our economy. Only NPP can do that,” he said.

The NPP leader said that the existing constitution concentrates too much power in the hands of the executive president. Sri Lanka has had this executive presidential system for 40 years and executive power was used against the people, repressing them.

“Our economy was destroyed. It has done no good to this country. One man cannot develop the country. Individuals have capacities and limitations. We need to unite our capabilities to govern this country. It’s a collective effort and the NPP is the only party to undertake it. That’s the point of difference. There are talented people from all fields like history, economy, mathematics, law and so on. There are lawyers, university academics and professionals. The government has to unite these capacities and talents to bring optimum results for the country. NPP will do that. For that we have to abolish executive presidency and rewrite the constitution vesting more powers in the Parliament. We will bring about this change,” he said.

Dissanayake said an NPP administration will limit the number of Ministers to 18. He added that crossovers have distorted the democratic system and corrupted the political culture.

“People vote for them in one party but for money and positions they change political allegiance. This has become a public nuisance. Some MPs demand ransom to stay in the party. We will add a provision to the Constitution to ban crossing over,” he said.

Continue Reading


JVP: Where are President’s influential foreign friends?



By Rathindra Kuruwita 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who assumed duties, claiming that he had very influential friends overseas, now claims he can hardly afford to pay government servants, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Vijitha Herath says.

“If anything, things are worse than before. The government is afraid of the people and is trying to postpone elections,” Herath said, adding that the March 09 local council election would mark the beginning of the end for the Ranil-Rajapaksa administration.

Herath said so addressing an NPP election rally recently.

 “They will no longer be able to pretend that the people are with them. Not that they have any legitimacy, locally or internationally, but the level of their unpopularity will be seen on 10 March,, when the poll results are announced” he said.

Continue Reading