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ICTA’s inaugural ‘Spiralation’ demo day features 10 startups

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Entrepreneurship is required to be one of the top priorities in any nation, and it needs to be encouraged in order to strengthen the autonomous assets of a country. The world is currently confronting massive challenges with the pandemic’s existence and as a developing country, the Sri Lankan government is compelled to support entrepreneurs in their efforts to resurrect the local economy.

Sri Lanka’s Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) has been active since 2010, nurturing Sri Lankan entrepreneurship. The ultimate purpose of this was to equip the Sri Lankan economy with a quality brigade of entrepreneurs to compete in the international arena. As the apex ICT institution of the government, ICTA initiated the Spiralation program, to support Sri Lankan tech startups in 2010 and is running its 9th cohort by 2021.

Reaching a major milestone, the ICTA has successfully concluded the inaugural Spiralation Demo Day on Monday 20th of December 2021 at ICTA, SPARX Lab. The Demo Day featured 10 Spiralation startups. These Spiralation startups have already passed their early stages and have gained traction in the market.

Starting off the proceedings, Sachindra Samararathne, Director, Startup Ecosystem Development, ICTA, stated, “This wonderful program (Spiralation) started off back in 2010. During our previous tenure, we witnessed the emergence of startups as we saw the growth of the startup ecosystem. Even though ICTA started off this program, it has now become the national incubator program as so many collaborators have joined hands”

The presence of potential clients and investors for these Spiralation startups at the Demo Day can be considered a significant fact. After the pitches, there was a business matchmaking session arranged by the ICTA. While there were also many dignitaries at the event from multiple industry verticals who were new to corporate innovations. This is a massive step that ICTA took to connect startups with corporates. Each startup was provided with five minutes to present their solutions, followed by an engaging five-minute question and answer session.

“Currently, we have a USD 1.5 billion IT industry in Sri Lanka, and we’re looking forward to making it USD 3 billion. We are not going to stop here. Hence, we’re planning to have our own technoparks. As the ICTA, we’re with you to ensure that we go along on this journey with you all, “said Mr. Oshadha Senanayake, Chairman, ICTA, while addressing the gathering.

Kicking things off, Keerthi Kodithuwakku, CEO and co-founder, Jendo Innovations, was the first to pitch his solution. Jendo is a preventative healthcare solution that is highly scalable and non-invasive that can identify abnormalities in the cardiovascular system and predict the risk of the disease. Migara Amithodhana, the head of Magicbit, was the next in line to pitch his solution, which is an all-in-one development platform built for innovation and designed to learn and practice internet-of-things, robotics, computer programming and so on.

Representing the 2021 Spiralation cohort, Urmila Chandrasekeram, co-founder of Mintpay, was the third in line to pitch his idea. MintPay is Sri Lanka’s first “buy now, pay later” platform where consumers are given the chance to pay for their goods in installments through online purchases. The next pitch in the line was conducted by Sanjeewa Pathirana, Founder and CEO of Nanosoft Smart Co-op, which is a fintech startup that is focused on empowering the Sri Lankan rural financial sector by creating a banking solution for cooperative banks in the island.



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Business

Seven factors of concern at upcoming Monetary Policy Review

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) is scheduled to announce its latest monetary policy review on 20th January 2022, with all eyes on dwindling foreign reserves and foreign currency exchange in the country.

In this context, First Capital Research has named 7 factors of concern that could be taken into account at the upcoming monetary policy review. They are as follows.

* Foreign Reserves USD 3.1 billion – Dec 2021

* Inflation CCPI 12.1% – Dec 2021

* GDP Growth -1.5% – 3Q2021

* Private Credit LKR 60.5 billion – Nov 2021

* 03M T-Bill rate 8.38% as at 12.01.22

Liquidity and CBSL Holdings LKR -364.0 billion and LKR 1.42 trillion

Balance of Trade (BOT) and Balance of Payment (BOP) USD -6.5 billion and USD -3.3 billion for Jan-Oct 21

First Capital Research’s Policy Rate Forecast – Jan 2022-Apr 2022 notes that they believe the CBSL may highly consider tightening the monetary policy rates in this policy review but given the concerns over economic growth, there is a probability of 40% for CBSL to maintain its policy stance at current levels.

“With high frequent indicators improving in line with expectations, we have eliminated any probability of a rate cut. We expect a continued increase in probability for a rate hike in order to prevent overheating of the economy amidst the given fiscal and monetary stimulus,” they said.

As per First Capital’s view, CBSL either can choose to hike policy rates by 50bps or 100bps or hold policy rates steady, while a rate cut is off the table due to the high debt repayment and the high domestic borrowing requirement.

First Capital believes that there is a 60% probability for a rate hike due to the remedial actions required in achieving external stability.

However, there is also a 40% probability to maintain the policy rates at its current level in order to further improve the high frequency indicators.30%, they noted.

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Sri Lanka’s dash brand enters international markets

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Multichemi International Ltd, which manufactures and distributes a wide range of products under dash, one of Sri Lanka’s leading detergent and household care brands, has begun exporting its products to several international markets in Asia and Oceania, with plans also to enter Africa. The dash brand includes a wide range of products in car care, household care, home fragrances and laundry care sectors. Multichemi International Ltd, which has been awarded ISO 9001:2015 certification, is a Sri Lankan pioneer in environment-friendly cleaning products, having launched the country’s first biodegradable, safe cleaning products over 28 years ago.

Amila Wijesinghe, General Manager of the Company said,”Having conquered the domestic market, we are now ready to capture the international market. We are confident that our products which are of high quality will receive a good demand overseas as well. The feedback we have received so far from our overseas customers is extremely encouraging. We are dedicated to taking our products to the international market, to bring in foreign currency to the country and help uplift the economy”,

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Janaka Abeysinghe appointed SLT CEO

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Sri Lanka Telecom PLC has announced the appointment of Janaka Abeysinghe as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from February 1, 2022.

The incumbent CEO Kiththi Perera will be overseas on leave for a period of two years to pursue higher studies, according to a stock market filing by the company.

Abeysinghe joined SLT in 1991. In his present role, he leads the enterprise and wholesale business of SLT that provides integrated voice and data solutions to enterprises, government institutions, domestic telco operators and global wholesale carriers.

In his career at SLT spanning 29 years, he has held a number of senior positions, including general manager Enterprise and International Sales and has extensive experience in the areas of Enterprise Digital Services, Enterprise Communications Solutions, Data Communications, Business Development, Domestic and International Switching Operations and Global Wholesale Voice & Data Business.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Kansas, USA and a BSc degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering with a First Class Honours from the University of Moratuwa.

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