John Keells Foundation (JKF) launched the pilot of John Keells Praja Shakthi Digital Learning Initiative on 11th November 2021 in Ranala. As a medium-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project aims to facilitate online based learning of disadvantaged school children who are preparing for public examinations in the midst of the pandemic and mitigate the increase in inequalities in accessing educational opportunities.
The pilot project involves the distribution of a total of 100 Samsung A8 tabs and data packages to selected O’Level and A’Level students in John Keells Praja Shakthi locations in Colombo 2 and Ranala for the duration of the respective course of study. JKF is partnered in this initiative by Deutsche Bank as co-funder and John Keells Office Automation (JKOA) and Dialog Axiata PLC as suppliers of devices and data packages respectively at concessionary rates. Elephant House was the logistics partner for the Ranala event.
During the simple event held at the Elephant House Factory in Ranala in compliance with COVID-19 protocols, 50 tabs were distributed to selected O’Level students from four government schools, namely, Dedigamuwa K.V, Dewamitta M.V, Munidasa Kumarathunga Vidyalaya and Philip Thilakawardhane M.V.
Addressing the gathering, JKF’s Head of Operations, Ms. Carmeline Jayasuriya said, “John Keells Foundation decided to initiate this project taking into account the numerous hardships faced by school children, especially in examination years, to pursue their education amidst the pandemic including school closures and the challenges in accessing online education due to the unaffordability of devices and data. We are delighted to be partnered by responsible corporates such as Deutsche Bank, JKOA and Dialog Axiata in this pilot initiative. Whilst all of us consider this as an investment on the education of our youth, we firmly hope that you, the beneficiary students, will optimize this opportunity to pursue your educational endeavours responsibly.”
The event was also graced by Chathura Mihidum, Divisional Secretary, Kaduwela, Ms. Anuradha Samarakoon, Divisional Education Director, Ranala, Daminda Gamlath, John Keells Group President – Consumer Foods, Sanjeewa Jayasundara, CCS’ Head of Operations – Supply Chain, Pasan Jayasinghe – Vice President Deutsche Bank and Harsha De Zoysa – Senior Sector Manager, Large Enterprise, Dialog Axiata PLC.
The distribution to Colombo students took place on 22nd November at Cinnamon Grand, the logistics partner for the event.
The project is designed so that tabs will be re-pooled after the completion of the recipients’ study course to benefit another cohort of deserving students. To ensure the due use of the device and enhance the impact of this intervention, JKF will be monitoring the educational progress of the students through the school principals as well as backend mechanisms.
John Keells Praja Shakthi is a sustainable community empowerment project initiated by JKF in and around the John Keells Group’s business locations through strategic interventions. The multistakeholder collaboration on the new project is a testament to the strength of partnerships in empowering communities through sustainable initiatives.
Education is one of the six focus areas of John Keells Foundation – the CSR entity of John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), a company listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange operating over 70 companies in 7 diverse industry sectors. With a history of over 150 years, John Keells Group provides employment to over 14,000 persons and has been ranked as Sri Lanka’s ‘Most Respected Entity’ for the last 16 Years by LMD Magazine. Whilst being a full member of the World Economic Forum and a Participant of the UN Global Compact, JKH drives its CSR vision of “Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow” through John Keells Foundation and through the social entrepreneurship initiative,
‘Plasticcycle’, which is a catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.
New Anthoney’s Group in 100pct acquisition of Gold Coin Feed Mills Lanka
New Anthoney’s Farms (Private) Ltd, a leading producer in Sri Lanka’s poultry sector with a distinctive reputation for quality and innovation, recently bought 100pct stake in Gold Coin Feed Mills (Lanka) Ltd from Gold Coin Management Holdings Pte Ltd and Glen Arbor Holdings (Singapore) Pte Ltd, both of whom are subsidiaries of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc (“AEV”). With this acquisition Gold Coin Feed Mills (Lanka) will now be Anthoney’s Feed Ltd, making New Anthoney’s Group an integrated poultry player with end-to-end supply chain capabilities in Sri Lanka.
With this acquisition New Anthoney’s is now able to control and manage the entire manufacturing process end to end, enabling it to further enhance the quality delivered to its customers and improve production efficiencies. New Anthoney’s is also among the top exporters of poultry products in Sri Lanka and this acquisition directly fits in with the company’s overall objective of accelerating the export growth further, earning valuable foreign exchange to the country.
The acquisition was completed following an official signing between the two companies during mid- December. Nithya Partners acted as legal advisor to New Anthoney’s whilst Mr. Saminda Weerasinghe, CFA acted as financial advisor to the buyer. TWCorp (Pvt) Ltd was exclusive financial advisor to the seller whilst Julius & Creasy acted as legal advisors to the seller.
Emil Stanley, the Chairman of New Anthoney’s Group, commenting on this, said ‘‘This is a historic moment for New Anthoney’s. I am confident that the acquisition of the animal feed business from Aboitiz Group will help us to grow our business exponentially and will help us to achieve our vision of becoming a reputed brand in the global poultry market. I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Aboitiz Group for the trust placed on us and to TWCorp for facilitating this transaction.’’.
‘This was a timely decision considering the many factors at hand and the acquisition will strengthen our position in the feed sector enabling us to provide an uninterrupted supply of poultry and also cater to the increasing demand both locally and internationally,’ said Neil Suraweera, CEO and Executive Director.
The foundation of New Anthoney’s is the farmer who ensures the nation receives the right proteins. As a result, the country’s more significant population depends on animal producers regardless of its size inside the country. It is because of them producers like New Anthoney’s can conduct environmentally friendly business practices nationally.
New Anthoney’s supports the transformation of animal production systems, both small-scale and large-scale, in ways that are sustainable from an economic, social, and environmental perspective to increase livestock’s contribution to the supply-demand chain.
The sellers, Gold Coin Management Holdings Pte Ltd and Glen Arbor Holdings (Singapore) Pte Ltd are both subsidiaries of AEV), and form part of the Aboitiz group’s integrated agribusiness and food and nutrition businesses (“Aboitiz Food Group”). The exit comes as part of the Aboitiz Food Group taking a strategic decision to focus on its core markets and exit non-core markets such as Sri Lanka.
Established in 1986, New Anthoney’s today is growing from strength to strength with a steady expansion of its product portfolio and success in the international markets. Its animal welfare complies with that of the National Chicken Council (NCC) in the US, with certifications including GMP, HACCP, ISO 22000, local and international halal accreditation.
General availability of Azure OpenAI Service expands access to large, advanced AI models
Large language models are quickly becoming an essential platform for people to innovate, apply AI to solve big problems, and imagine what is possible. As part of a continued commitment to democratizing AI, and the ongoing partnership with OpenAI, Microsoft announced the general availability of Azure OpenAI Service.
With Azure OpenAI Service now generally available, more businesses can apply for access to the most advanced AI models in the world—including GPT-3.5, Codex, and DALL•E 2—backed by the trusted enterprise-grade capabilities and AI-optimized infrastructure of Microsoft Azure, to create cutting-edge applications. Customers will also be able to access ChatGPT—a fine-tuned version of GPT-3.5 that has been trained and runs inference on Azure AI infrastructure—through Azure OpenAI Service soon.
Empowering customers to achieve more
Microsoft debuted Azure OpenAI Service in November 2021 to enable customers to tap into the power of large-scale generative AI models with the enterprise promises that customers have come to expect from Azure cloud and computing infrastructure—security, reliability, compliance, data privacy, and built-in Responsible AI capabilities.
Since then, the company has seen the breadth of how Azure OpenAI Service has enabled customers—from generating content that helps better match shoppers with the right purchases to summarizing customer service tickets, thereby freeing up time for employees to focus on more critical tasks.
Customers of all sizes across industries are using Azure OpenAI Service to improve experiences for end-users, and streamline operational efficiencies internally. From startups to multinational corporations, organizations small and large are applying the capabilities of Azure OpenAI Service to advanced use cases such as customer support, customization, and gaining insights from data using search, data extraction, and classification.
Azure—the best place to build AI workloads
The general availability of Azure OpenAI Service is not only an important milestone for Microsoft customers but also for Azure.
Azure OpenAI Service provides businesses and developers with high-performance AI models at production scale with industry-leading uptime. This is the same production service that Microsoft uses to power its own products, including GitHub Copilot, an AI pair programmer that helps developers write better code, Power BI, which leverages GPT-3-powered natural language to automatically generate formulae and expressions, and the recently-announced Microsoft Designer, which helps creators build stunning content with natural language prompts.
All of this innovation shares a common thread: Azure’s purpose-built, AI-optimized infrastructure. Azure is also the core computing power behind OpenAI API’s family of models for research advancement and developer production.
Azure is currently the only global public cloud that offers AI supercomputers with massive scale-up and scale-out capabilities. With a unique architecture design that combines leading GPU and networking solutions, Azure delivers best-in-class performance and scale for the most compute-intensive AI training and inference workloads. It’s the reason the world’s leading AI companies including OpenAI, Meta, Hugging Face, and others—continue to choose Azure to advance their AI innovation. Azure currently ranks in the top 15 of the TOP500 supercomputers worldwide and is the highest-ranked global cloud services provider today. Azure continues to be the cloud and compute power that propels large-scale AI advancements across the globe.
A responsible approach to AI
As an industry leader, Microsoft recognizes that any innovation in AI must be done responsibly. This becomes even more important with powerful, new technologies like generative models. Microsoft has taken an iterative approach to large models, working closely with partner OpenAI and customers to carefully assess use cases, learn, and address potential risks.
Additionally, the company has implemented its own guardrails for Azure OpenAI Service that align with Responsible AI principles. As part of Microsoft’s Limited Access Framework, developers are required to apply for access, describing their intended use case or application before they are given access to the service. Content filters uniquely designed to catch abusive, hateful, and offensive content constantly monitor the input provided to the service as well as the generated content. In the event of a confirmed policy violation, Microsoft may ask the developer to take immediate action to prevent further abuse.
Jaffna International Trade Fair in March 2023
The 13th Edition of this mega trade fair will be held in the heart of Jaffna on the 3rd, 4th & 5th of March 2023 at the Muttraweli Grounds, adjoining the Jaffna Fort. The event is organized by Lanka Exhibition & Conference Services (Pvt) Ltd (LECS), in association with the Chamber of Commerce & Industries of Yarlpanam (CCIY).Since the first edition in 2002 JITF has evolved into an annual trade platform. The exhibition makes it possible for stall holders to reach a large portion of the market in Jaffna. Both consumers and businesses based in Jaffna and in the North, visit the exhibition over the three days and typically thousands of visitors from diverse demographics visit the exhibition. The location of the event next to the Jaffna fort, makes for maximum visibility for those participating as stall holders.
The Jaffna International Trade Fair, which is known as the “gateway to the North” is the most anticipated platform for Small and Medium Entrepreneurs to introduce their products to the population of the North. The organizers of the event noted that Entrepreneurs who have participated in the past, experienced first-hand the potential the North has to offer.
The exhibition will also feature major corporates in the country representing various industries. The Main Sponsor for this year’s event will be Tokyo Cement Company (Lanka) PLC. Ruhunu Foods is the Official Spice Partner for the event. The official Snack Partner at the event is Ceylon Biscuits Limited (Munchee). Official Hygeine & Illumination Partner is Sun Match Company (Pvt) Ltd. Official Education Partner is the Northern Institute of Technology (Pvt) Ltd. Official T-shirt Partner is EXPRESS Factory Outlet and the Official Tire Partner is Adams Tyre Industries (Pvt) Ltd.
The event is a multi-trade affair featuring industries, products and services in the Agriculture, Hospitality, Education, Food, Machinery, Construction, Consumer, Electronics, Power, Textile, IT and Real estate sectors.
The events long-standing education pavilion “Kalvi” will also feature many higher education institutions at the event in 2023. This pavilion gives students and the youth of Jaffna an opportunity to engage with education institutes from around the country.
JITF is a major event in the MIECE events calendar of Sri Lanka. The three-day exhibition provides a major boost to the Hospitality Industry and economy in Jaffna, due to the large number of exhibitors and visitors who will travel to the region during the event. With many of the Hotels seeing high levels of occupancy. Restaurants and local traders also see a boost in sales over the three-day period.
The organizers invite all those interested to join the exhibition to experience and engage with the vast market in Jaffna and the North of Sri Lanka. For more information visit www.jitf.lk or contact Ms. Imalka on 077-1093792.
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