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Hatch takes Sri Lankan female entrepreneurs global with ‘She Loves Tech’

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L-R standing: Shenelle Perera, Minuri Adasuriya, Dulinika Bulumulla, Thilaksi Chandrasekar L-R seated: Nivarthana Sandeepani, Chathurika Wickramasinghe, Amira Ghaffoor

Hatch brought She Loves Tech 2021, the world’s largest women-centric technology startup competition, back to Sri Lanka for the second consecutive year. Co-founder Leanne Robers shares, “She Loves Tech 2021 is more than a competition, it’s an acceleration platform designed to take women-led and women impact startups to the next level.”

Hatch has been a key contributor to developing women entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka. The She Loves Tech program portrays their commitment to showcasing talented local women entrepreneurs on the global stage.

Over 70 female tech-enabled startups from across the island applied to be part of the She Loves Tech Sri Lanka local rounds and 8 outstanding women entrepreneurs were selected as the finalists.

Abitharani Jeyachandran – Co-Founder, Trash for Trade which is based in Batticaloa focuses on upcycling plastics and is based on a social business model. The idea was derived from an open source community named “Precious Plastic.” Amira Ghaffoor – CEO, Northwood Consulting which offers consulting services that aims to maximize business potential by implementing cost effective solutions with high scalability using AI and ML. Chathurika Wickramasinghe -Managing Director, Crowdlearn LMS which delivers an online learning and teaching platform that facilitates virtual learning as well as blended learning customisable to the user.

Gayathri Wickramasinghe – Founder, Adage Digital which focuses on developing a disruptive blockchain technology to solve global issues including sustainable waste management solutions. Nivarthana Sandeepani – Founder, NivIT which specializes in IT based services and solutions to deliver low cost water quality management tools to ensure water safety in developing countries.

Shenelle Perera – Co-Founder, Connect Co. which provides an effortless last mile delivery service that is reliable and consistent. Thilaksi Chandrasekar – Co-Founder, AgXone which is on a mission to provide innovative solutions in agriculture, through the use of drone technology and AI systems that are readily accessible for anyone, anywhere.

The finalists were supported during the program through virtual toolkits, workshops and industry mentorship provided by Kushlani De Silva on Product Marketing, Janani Liyanage on Resilience, Indika De Zoysa on Strategy Development and Ruwani Kumarasinghe on Pitch Coaching.

“We must also commend the passion and conviction of these female founders. We knew that Gayathri, one of the finalists, would be going into labour at the time of the competition. We made arrangements for her to deliver a pre-recorded pitch but to our surprise she attended the live session and pitched from the hospital mere hours after giving birth! It was a moment to celebrate and admire the fire and determination of our Sri Lankan female entrepreneurs. They are unstoppable! The camaraderie and support the 8 women continue to show each other even after the competition is wonderful. They continue to share wins, business and networking opportunities with each other. This safe and supportive community is what we try to foster with all our programs at Hatch” says Minuri Adasuriya, Head of Programs at Hatch.

The finals were held and conducted by Hatch Events in a hybrid format on the 1st of October, 2021 with live streaming enabled globally. The judging panel consisted of female entrepreneurs and strong male allies including Brindha Selvadurai (CEO & Co-Founder – Hatch), Chinthi Weerasinghe (CEO – Mitra Innovation), Pulani Ranasinghe (Founder – Loons Lab), Chalinda Abeykoon (CEO -Lankan Angel Network), Prabhath Mannapperuma (Microsoft) and Emesha Pinto Jayawardena (President – DCLK). Helen Lam, (Head of Innovation, Asia – Lendlease) based in Singapore delivered an inspirational keynote, highlighting that women can break any barriers even in a male dominated industry.



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ComBank partners with PayHere to offer Q+ users a unique eCommerce experience

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Commercial Bank’s Group Chief Marketing Officer Mr Hasrath Munasinghe (2nd from right) and PayHere Founder/CEO, Mr Dhanika Perera (2nd from left) exchange the agreement in the presence of PayHere Head of Developments, Mr Karvin Mendis (extreme left) and the Bank’s Senior Manager – Card Centre Mr Seevali Wickramasinghe.

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has partnered with PayHere, Sri Lanka’s largest Aggregated Internet Payment Gateway Service, to offer users of its Q+ Payment App a unique, user-friendly and secure eCommerce experience.

Commercial Bank customers can now conveniently pay for their purchases via the Q+ app to over 3300 registered PayHere Online Payment Service enabled merchants. The Bank’s Credit, Debit and Prepaid Card holders who pay through Q+, the fastest-growing QR app in the country, will not be required to tap in their card details as this information is already stored on the app, the Bank said.

Payments to PayHere merchants via the Q+ Online Pay facility will enhance customer convenience as the transaction will only require the entering of users’ mobile numbers registered with the app. Disbursements via Q+ require authentication using a static PIN which ensures the safety and security of transactions, making the Q+ App more secure than a normal card as the customers’ sensitive data is not transmitted to merchant websites.

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TAMAP drives Stakeholder Forum for Good Agriculture Practice

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Secretary of Agriculture Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe addressing the forum

The inaugural meeting of the GAP Stakeholder Forum was held with the support of the Technical Assistance to the Modernisation of Agriculture Programme (TAMAP) at the Department of Agriculture in Peradeniya on 17 November 2021. Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest.

The Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) programme, introduced by the Department of Agriculture in 2016, was a promising step taken to minimise adverse impacts of agriculture on the ecosystem and human health while meeting steadily rising demand for food. Although the programme had an encouraging start, the overall conversion of farmers to implementing GAP remained low. Over the past six years, 1500 farmers registered as GAP producers out of the 1.8 million farmers in Sri Lanka. To align with the current policy of the Sri Lankan Government to improve ecological friendliness of farming, it is important to transform all production units towards GAP farms.

Studies showed that to achieve this goal, the GAP implementation strategies needed to be updated and infused into the mainstream agriculture, facilitating a quick transformation of the current approach towards a macro-level system. Therefore, the requirement for a rapid strategizing of such an approach followed by periodic review of GAP performance arose. This initiated the need for a stakeholder forum.

The key purpose of the forum is to provide a common platform for key stakeholders to meet in formulating a strategy to mainstream SL GAP, propose a way forward for implementation such recommendations, and to regularly review program performance and adopt remedial action to achieve GAP objectives.

Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Agriculture who chaired the Forum in his opening statement commented, “GAP programme has emerged a solution to challenges faced by Sri Lankan agriculture today to improve safety of users and ensuring good environmental performance. Reinforced by facilitating legislation and approved national standards, GAP programme provides a strong foundation towards addressing above concerns.”.

Over forty participants were present at the forum, representing the various stakeholder groups comprising producers, distributers, SL GAP team, academics, and market players. Ms D. S. Ratnasinghe, Addl. Director (Agribusiness) and Dr W. M. W. Weerakoon, National Coordinator outlined the status of the GAP programme and the challenges faced.

The deliberations during the forum were broken down into five main areas: Technical, financial, institutional, and social problems faced by GAP stakeholders on maintaining production, supply, product quality, and consumer trust. Gaps in technology transfer and adoption, marketing and quality control measures and means for increased rate of adoption and GAP farm certification; Gaps in current GAP process and procedures, user friendliness and applicability; Future technological needs towards increasing production, productivity, product quality and ecosystem sustainability; and Policy needs for increased adoption of GAP to mainstream GAP into national agriculture agenda.

Prof. G. Pushpakumara, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya and Ms Jayantha Ilankoon, ADG (Dev) moderated the forum through group activity, outcome presentations and strategic discussions on the way forward.

Concluding the forum, Dr Nihal Atapattu, stated, “TAMAP, along with the European Union that provided the funding support is very pleased to have assisted to launch several interventions that would promote recognition of GAP as a premier means of strengthening Sri Lankan agriculture in sustainably meet requirements of the domestic and export markets. TAMAP expects that the Stakeholder Forum launched today will be a milestone event in advancing GAP to achieve its potential in Sri Lanka”.

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HNB’s commitment to expand e-commerce and digital payments wins Daraz award

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Daraz Managing Director Rakhil Fernando (fourth from left) handing over the award to HNB Head of Cards – Gauthami Niranjan. Also present (from left): Daraz Partnerships Nimesh Dasanayake, Daraz Senior Manager – Prepayments Sandamina Rajapaksha, Daraz Head of Partnerships Dulika Jayamanne, HNB Cards Business Development Executive - Ashokan Harishanna, HNB Assistant Manager - Cards Business Development and Portfolio Management - Imanka Keshini Hikkaduwage and HNB Cards Business Development Executive – Roshan Chaminda Perera.

HNB has been recognized by Daraz for exceptional contribution to its growth, in an independent endorsement of Sri Lanka’s leading private bank’s commitment to expand e-commerce and digital payments throughout the country.

The award, for the ‘Card Base with Highest Overall Growth’, was presented to HNB at the ‘Daraz Payment Partner Performance Awards 2021’. HNB, which ranks among Daraz’s best banking partners, recorded the highest growth on total payment volume, buyer engagement and total transactions month-on-month, for both credit and debit cards for the year 2020-2021.

“This award is an important validation how the local economy – both businesses and consumers – are benefiting from HNB’s cohesive programme to drive greater adoption of e-commerce and digital payments,” HNB Head of Cards, Gauthami Niranjan said. “These efforts are particularly significant at present, given how digital and contactless payments can assist in reducing the spread of the pandemic and support the Bank’s and the country’s vision to transform Sri Lanka to a cashless economy.”

Currently, HNB Cardholders enjoy multiple offers on Daraz, Sri Lanka’s leading online marketplace, a wholly-owned subsidiary of global e-commerce giant, the Alibaba Group. These include zero-interest instalment plans up to 48 months with attractive discounts for HNB Credit and Debit Cards and 10% off site-wide on Daraz for all HNB Credit Cards on purchases made during Saturdays. In addition, HNB tied up with Daraz for its 11:11 and Black Friday sales, which provided HNB Cardholders access to a range of offers and massive discounts.

HNB has been a pioneer in Sri Lanka’s banking industry in the digital banking and digital payments space. These include the launch of digital wallet and payment app, HNB SOLO and introducing Asia’s first-ever fitness-linked savings product in the form of the HNB FIT Savings Account.

With 254 customer centres across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically-innovative banks, having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking. HNB has a national rating of AA- (lka) by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd. The bank was also ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine for five consecutive years. HNB was also declared Best Sub-Custodian Bank in Sri Lanka at the Global Finance Awards 2020.

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