Prof. Lakshman R. Watawala, president CMA Sri Lanka and coordinator presenting the proposals on taxation and incentives to develop the SME sector in both the domestic and export sector, to the Prime Minister at the SME Development Conference held recently.
Hambantota International Port was the venue sponsor of the SME Development Conference 2020, held under the auspices of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who was Chief Guest at the event, and special dignitaries Minister of Industries Wimal Weerawansa and State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal.
The aim of the conference was to help small and medium-scale enterprises meet challenges faced in financial management, entrepreneurial leadership and bank funding in the country’s post-Covid economy. This was the first regional SME conference organised by CMA with the expectation of gaining government attention on the SME sector. There were two panel discussions where several pressing issues faced by the SME sector were discussed. The panel discussion on “Management and Entrepreneurship development in the New Normal” had HIPG participation where representatives fielded questions on how the SME sector can benefit from port related activities and future business opportunities HIP would pursue.
Speaking on how the Port adds value to the SME sector in a post COVID environment, Nishantha Gamage, Marketing Manager of HIPG says the port continued to operate during the lockdown and even found other opportunities such as crew-changes that were handled via the port. He added that as more vessels with various service requirements such as ship supplies begin calling at the port, SMEs could operate as suppliers by upgrading their offerings to cater to them. As advice to SMEs on how to operate under the new normal Nishantha Gamage says, “SMEs should definitely look into digital technology to develop their business. For example, develop an online platform for ship supply services which can cater to international vessels calling at HIP.” He added that the port will soon begin containerisation business to support the free zone, paving the way for more efficient and streamlined container imports and exports via HIP, which would be advantageous to SMEs.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event the COO of HIPG, Tissa Wickramasinghe said, “We are committed to the development of Hambantota and we see smaller medium-scale enterprises as an important component in this endeavour. As much as Hambantota International Port is looking outwards towards developing the port, we also are looking inwards to develop HIP as a gateway port and for this the industrial development of Hambantota is a must.”
The conference committee comprised nearly 50 members from professional bodies, chambers of commerce & industry, commercial banks and industry experts who had met since April 2020 to find solutions to the problems experienced by the SME sector. Around 250 SME customers of Hambantota commercial banks took part in the event where varied challenges faced by the SME sector and future development opportunities were taken up. Going forward, CMA Sri Lanka plans to hold similar conferences in other districts across Sri Lanka.
Ideal Industries acquires home grown e- commerce major Takas.lk
Ideal Group, headed by visionary entrepreneur Nalin Welgama, in keeping with his ethos of growth through innovation, made a move pertinent with the “new normal” by acquiring one of the pioneers in the Sri Lankan e commerce industry, Takas.lk.
Having invested heavily in developing capacity in the Sri Lankan automotive sector, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Ideal Group of Companies, Nalin Welgama, is determined that a Sri Lankan built and operated company be in the forefront of e-commerce in Sri Lanka. “The Ideal Group has and always will be driven by innovation, hence our foray into the digital space with Takas.lk is both timely and appropriate, said Welgama. “We promise to strengthen Takas.lk, making it the most valuable e commerce company in Sri Lanka. The collaborative synergies of the Ideal Group of Company’s island wide touch points will further enable us to provide an unmatched service, hitherto not experienced”.
Takas.lk commenced operations in 2012 and since then has grown to be a household name in Sri Lanka. Indeed, Takas was the first company to introduce cash on delivery (COD), and enable the tokenization of credit cards. Since inception Takas has taken great pride in being a Sri Lankan company that has served Sri Lankans both here and abroad, adding value and giving satisfaction. Furthermore, the technology stack-which Takas operates on has been built completely in-house, and to date has enabled e-commerce businesses in Sri Lanka as well as overseas markets .
Speaking at the launch which was limited to a few stakeholders due to the Covid situation, Founder and Executive Chairman, Ideal Group of Companies, Nalin Welgama said “e commerce is the way of the future and is the new normal. e-commerce is here to stay, and even when the Covid situation eases, our life styles and methods of business have been irrevocably transformed. We will focus on expanding market share as more companies move their businesses online. What will be key from here onwards will be sustainability of demand from newly acquired merchants. The Covid 19 pandemic has accelerated the trend of online shopping and with it the gross merchandise volumes. Therefore we must capitalise on the prevailing strong e-commerce trends and provide many businesses a life line during these challenging macro economic conditions.”
As per statistics, Sri Lanka’s annual domestic e-commerce sales value including services is an estimated US$40-60 million. This is expected to grow to $400 million by 2022-23. “Currently, only 0.3% of Sri Lanka’s total annual retail sales ( $13 billion) are via e-commerce, thus the opportunity is huge”.
Takas.lk is known for its large manage-market place for electronics and under the new ownership will expand on this range of products.
Since it’s acquisition by the Ideal Group, Takas.lk has quickly expanded into the gift giving segment, daily essentials, and cakes/flowers. ” We will be working with Sri Lankan suppliers and empowering them, giving them the ability to function on a basis of ‘business as usual’ during these difficult times”. Takas’ new location on Rosmead place too is more convenient and better equipped to service their customers.
Subsequent to the acquisition, the existing Takas.lk management team including Lahiru Pathmalal will remain to guide the company through its transition and will work together with the Ideal team for a stipulated period in their current roles, ensuring a seamless transition. Commenting on the acquisition, Co founder Takas.lk, Lahiru Pathmalal said, “having been a part of Takas.lk from day one, I have a strong understanding of the key operations required for the success of Takas. I like to think I have a creative approach to the industry, and this combined with the wealth of resources the Ideal Group brings to play in the e-commerce game, makes me excited and motivated to help shape its future.”
Under it’s new mantle, Takas.lk has a vision of becoming ‘The’ one stop-shop for all consumer requirements and is committed to follow a service first philosophy!
SLT Mobitel awarded prestigious ‘Project Management Excellence Award – 2020’ by PMI
SLT Mobitel, achieved yet another significant milestone by bagging the most esteemed Project Excellence Award (PMI) 2020, by the Project Management Institute (PMI) for its Stage VIII Project themed “Project Rural MPowerment”.
Conceptualized to empower every Sri Lankan with digital inclusivity, the project facilitated rural areas by providing 4G technology across the country. Having embarked on the project in 2018 with two leading strategic partners, namely, Huawei and ZTE, the Mobitel team concluded the project 5 months ahead of its planned schedule. This multi-million-dollar endeavor involved establishing 5400+ base stations including over 3000 4G LTE nodes. As a result, people in and around the rural areas were provided with supreme connectivity and extended broadband coverage.
In 2019 alone, Mobitel made an investment of over USD 100 million in expanding its network and will invest another USD 25 million in 2020 to provide superior connectivity and broadband experience to every Sri Lankan. Having completed just before the COVID-19 outbreak, the project enabled school children to continue their education through e-Learning platforms and helped the corporate sector to adopt to the WFH concept with no interruptions. Further, the project not only enabled people in rural areas to connect with the world but also empowered the SME sector by facilitating them with broadband accessibility thus increasing their contribution to the national economy.
Commenting on the achievement, Lalith Seneviratne, Group CEO, Sri Lanka Telecom Group said “Being recognized internationally for a national level project by the Project Management Institute is a tremendous honor, and I would like to thank the Team Mobitel for their untiring commitment, dedication and loyalty to complete this project in record time. This high level of achievement has not only brought glory to Sri Lanka but has also shown that the skills and capabilities of local professionals to compete in the international market as well. I would like to thank our valued stakeholders, government officials and the PMI Sri Lanka Colombo Division, who went above and beyond duty extending their invaluable support in helping us to secure this coveted accolade”.
Construction sector counters witness some bounce
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
Construction sector related counters at the CSE slightly appreciated yesterday following the Central Bank announcement of a new lending rate cap for housing loans of 7 percent, stock market analysts said.
The Central Bank will introduce maximum interest rates on mortgage-backed housing loans for salaried workers from licensed banks and set lending targets for certain sectors in the near future in conformity with the policies of the government, Central Bank Governor Deshamanya Prof. W.D. Lakshman said while addressing the final monetary policy review press conference for this year. The press conference was held online yesterday.
Consequently, several construction sector related counters including, Royal Ceramic, Swisstec, Tokyo Cement, ACL Cables and Alumax shares slightly appreciated. It is said that Royal Ceramic increased by Rs. 1.10 or 1 percent, Swisstec by Rs. 2.40 or three percent, Tokyo Cement voting and non voting 3 percent, ACL Cables 3 percent and Alumax by 4 percent during the day.
In this context both indices also moved upwards slightly. The All Share Price Index went up by 6.33 points and S and P SL20 by 7.47 points. The turnover stood at Rs. 1,98 billion sans a single crossing.
In the retail market, companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Expolanka Rs. 175.9 million (6.9 million shares traded), Hayleys Fabrics Rs. 144.7 million (5.7 million shares traded), Dipped Products Rs. 142.4 million (429,000 shares traded), ACL Cables Rs. 123.7 million (1.8 million shares traded), Melstacorp Rs. 109.8 million (2.8 million shares traded), Tokyo Cement (Voting) Rs. 100 million (1.5 million shares traded) and Tokyo Cement (Non Voting) Rs. 100 million (1.77 million shares traded).During the day 69 million share volumes changed hands in 17616 transactions.
High net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Dipped Products, JKH and Lion Brewery Ceylon. Mixed interest was observed in ACL Cables, Access Engineering and Tokyo Cement Company non-voting, while retail interest was noted in Expolanka Holdings, Kelani Tyres and Melstacorp.
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