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LAN channels Rs. 150m into tech startups, currently evaluating 5-10 startups for investment

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Sri Lanka’s first Angel Fund has, to date, channelled investments up to Rs. 150 Million cumulatively into four home-grown startups – Niftron, Magicbit, Mintpay & Chakra Suthra – while also helping these companies scale and access new markets both at home and abroad.

“Since August 2020, our team has evaluated over 400 startups from across the country. It’s important to note that most of these startups come from outside the Colombo District. And over a period leading up to the end of last year, the prevalence of women-led startups has increased from 8% in 2020, to 15% in 2021. Currently, we’re monitoring and doing the final due diligence on 5-10 startups. We hope to back a few more before September,” commented Chandi Dharmaratne, Chairperson of the Lankan Angel Network (LAN).

Established in 2020 by LAN, and supported by ecosystem development partner the Ford Foundation, the Angel Fund aims to catalyse the growth of Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem. The Angel Fund is currently still open, and prioritizes evaluating opportunities for investments across the island. Interested parties are encouraged to learn more by visiting www.lankanangelnetwork.com/angel-fund, to discover funding and mentorship opportunities.

The Angel Fund portfolio comprises Niftron, a blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) platform, and Magicbit, an easy-to-use STEM education platform. Further, ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ platform Mintpay was added recently, while circular economy recycling concept Chakra Suthra is in the process of being added to the Fund’s portfolio.

Along with its investment, the Fund has supported Niftron in securing customers in Africa and Japan. Meanwhile, Magicbit has been assisted in forming partnerships in Sri Lanka and Nepal, while also working towards helping Magicbit’s launch in China and USA. At the same time, the Fund has helped Mintpay expand into other vertices covering dining, travel and entertainment, and Chakra Suthra has been supported in strengthening its expansion strategy.

Evaluating startups on a monthly basis, the Angel Fund is dedicated to backing early-stage startups across multiple sectors. It supports them in various ways, from making investments, to even helping startups identify sources for future funding. It also provides centralized services such as company secretaries, accounting and auditing for all its startups. This ensures all startups meet proper governance standards, which will certainly help their future funding rounds.

Additionally, for 2022, the Fund is planning a series of matching events to connect its startups with potential customers as well as international partners.

Investment decisions are made by an Investment Committee (IC) with experience in building, running, scaling and exiting businesses locally, as well as globally. The IC meets once a month to evaluate potential startups for funding. The IC includes LAN Board Member Anarkali Moonesinghe and Business Consultant Dumindra Ratnayake, as well as Nathan Sivagananathan, Co-Founder of Hatch Works; Mangala Karunaratne, Founder/CEO of Calcey Technologies; Imal Kalutotage, Founder/CEO of NCINGA; and Shiluka Goonewardene, Principal for Deal Advisory at KPMG.

Created by LAN, which started this journey by funding and mentoring startups in 2012, the Angel Fund supports high potential startups that can be scaled across the country, and even regionally and globally. LAN is a platform for angel and private investors who invest in high growth early-stage Sri Lankan ventures with the aim of creating an impact by reducing inequality.



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Manudam Mehewara Initiative by Dialog, MAS, Hemas & CBL reach 10,000 families, invites all corporates to Join its countrywide emergency relief mission

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Emergency relief is currently being distributed across all 25 districts

In a mission to provide emergency relief to the most vulnerable communities across the country amidst the ongoing economic crisis, the ‘Manudam Mehewara’ initiative reached its first milestone of aiding over 10,000 families in-need.

 Joining hands with like-minded partners including its execution partner Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement and independent auditor PwC Sri Lanka, Manudam Mehewara was initiated by Dialog Axiata PLC, MAS Holdings, Hemas Holdings PLC, and CBL Group with the end goal of providing emergency support to over 200,000 vulnerable families and communities across the country that do not have access to essential supplies and basic necessities. ITN, Siyatha, Swarnawahini, TV Derana and Vasantham are also supporting the initiative as media partners.

Emergency relief is currently being distributed across all 25 districts, and the Manudam Mehewara programme will conduct its relief efforts until a sustainable benefit transfer system is established through an effective recovery plan. Manudam Mehewara invites all corporates to join our shared mission to support over 200,000 vulnerable families across Sri Lanka.

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Ninewells Hospital raises awareness on thyroid disease in newborns to commemorate World Thyroid Day 2022

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Ninewells Hospital, Sri Lanka’s leading woman and childcare hospital in the private sector, commemorates World Thyroid Day on 25th May by emphasising the significance of early detection and treatment of Congenital Hypothyroidism among newborns in Sri Lanka.

Congenital hypothyroidism (CHT) is a condition affecting infants from birth, and refers to an absent thyroid gland or a thyroid gland that is present but is unable to produce adequate thyroid hormones. On average, 1 in 4,000 babies are born with a severe form of CHT in Sri Lanka, while milder forms can be seen more commonly. If left untreated, the condition can affect brain development as well as normal growth in children and adolescents. Conversely, if detected and treated early, the damaging effects of CHT can be reversed and prevented completely.

“As Sri Lanka’s leading private sector childcare health service provider, we want to draw attention to the serious implications of Congenital Hypothyroidism on World Thyroid Day this year. Congenital Hypothyroidism is a condition which has a detrimental impact on postnatal development. For this reason, early detection and treatment is vital and should ideally begin within the first two weeks after birth,” said Dr. Vibash Wijeratne, Chief Operations Officer and Director, Ninewells Hospital.

In 2021 Ninewells Hospital unveiled a Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) testing facility to support Sri Lanka’s national program for screening newborns for CHT and the country’s vision for a healthier population. Since then, the hospital has carried out over 8,000 tests in 2021 and over 2,000 tests between January and May of 2022.

With the unveiling, Ninewells Hospital became the first in the private sector to introduce a TSH screening machine and became one of the only two hospitals in the country to offer this screening service.

“The screening for CHT is a simple process that is performed using a heel prick test. At Ninewells, the test report following the screening is issued within a short span of three days which is unprecedented in the country. This allows healthcare providers to begin immediate treatment to avoid development impediments in newborns and infants,” Dr. Wijeratne also said.

Ninewells Hospital is Sri Lanka’s premier women’s and children’s hospital in the private sector, providing a variety of specialty services such as Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Paediatrics, and Fertility. The hospital, which is backed by the Access Group of Companies’ visionary leadership, continues to push boundaries and raise the bar for women’s and children’s healthcare in Sri Lanka.

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SL plunges into worst economic contraction in the wake of dramatic currency collapse – CBSL Governor

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Sri Lanka will witness the worst economic contraction in its history, as it reels from a currency collapse of the rupee from 200 to 370 to the US dollar and interest rates contracted above 20 per cent, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said.

“Sri Lanka is going through severe fuel shortages and power cuts after the credibility of a soft-peg was broken by mis-targeted interest rates in the course of targeting an output gap (printing money to boost growth) under the Keynesian ideology, Weerasinghe said while addressing the Press Club of the Sri Lanka Press Institute. The event was held at the Colombo Hilton on Monday.

Weerasinghe added: “At this juncture we cannot make normal imports for the next three to six months. Industries are saying there is no raw material. Only essential imports can be made on a priority basis in order to maintain day- to- day activities.

‘Sri Lanka’s economy contracted 3.6 per cent in 2020 amid the Coronavirus crisis and it also contracted 1.5 per cent in 2001, after a soft-peg crisis amid a civil war.

‘The latest failure of the unstable peg with the US dollar came after the Central Bank printed over two trillion rupees over two years to mis-target interest rates, leading to a steep collapse of the currency and a correction of the interest rates back to around 20 to 25 per cent.

‘The economic crisis has also spilled over into a political crisis and social unrest.

‘The rupee’s 2022 fall to 380 to the US dollar from 200 to the dollar is the worst currency crisis created by the soft-pegged Central Bank in its 72- year- old history.

‘The money printing Central Bank created its first economic crisis and output shock in 1953, bringing down growth to 0.7 per cent after triggering a now famous “hartal”.

‘An Exchange Control Act was also enacted in 1952 as the printed money from the newly set up Central Bank scrambled to go out, in a phenomenon that was repeated multiple times over the next 70 years and dragged the country into 16 IMF programs.

‘The unstable Central Bank was set up by a US money doctor in 1950 in the style of Argentina’s BCRA, abolishing a Currency Board that had kept the country stable through two World Wars and the Great Depression, where money printing above the external anchor was outlawed.

‘The worst recorded crises in the country include the 1948 uprising against the then colonial administration which took place after the British railway bubble burst, commodity prices fell and the then colonial government upped taxes. However, there is no information on the economic contraction that year.

‘Sri Lanka’s citizens burnt the houses and property of the elected ruling class on May 9, after the unstable peg collapsed in a botched float where interest rates were not allowed to go up before the float and a surrender rule pushed the rupee down.

‘Interest rates were allowed to go up after my appointment as CBSL Governor and the economy is now slowing and the headlong crash of the rupee peg has slowed.’

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