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Lankan Angel Network & Angel Fund Appoint First Female Chairperson



The Lankan Angel Network (LAN), the country’s largest network of angel investors, has appointed Chandi Dharmaratne as its Chairperson for 2021/2022, at its most recent Board Meeting held in September. Ms. Dharmaratne is the first woman to lead the Lankan Angel Network.

As she steps into this role, Ms. Dharmaratne succeeds Mano Sekaram, Founder/CEO – 99x, who welcomed her by stating; “It gives me great pleasure to welcome Chandi to take the reins of LAN and the Angel Fund. She has been an important person in the LAN ecosystem, and I can think of no better person to lead the Angel Fund as it continues to focus on creating positive change for our communities, and for Sri Lanka.”

Currently serving as the Vice President of Human Resources at Virtusa, Ms. Dharmaratne is responsible for the company’s global HR automation strategy. With a career that began in New York, Ms. Dharmaratne returned to Sri Lanka and joined MAS Holdings, where she has held many leadership roles for over a decade. In 2013, she joined Virtusa as the Head of HR for the Sri Lanka geography. Since then, Ms. Dharmaratne has forged an award-winning, and much accoladed career.

She is passionate about developing employability skills amongst the youth of Sri Lanka as well as encouraging IT industry growth and brain gain. She spearheads projects on these themes via the many organizations in which she has held numerous leadership and board positions, including SLASSCOM, ICTA, AMCHAM, Association of Human Resource Professionals in Sri Lanka, USAID and AISEC. She has also been involved in multiple university collaborations, for example with the Universities of Moratuwa, Kelaniya, Peradeniya, etc., in order to bring industry requirements into our local curricula.

Additionally, Ms. Dharmaratne has been recognized in Echelon’s list of “50 Most Powerful Women in Sri Lanka” and, in 2019, was included in its “New Establishment 100,” wherein only the most innovative and influential young leaders succeeding in many different areas of business were recognized.

Prior to taking up her new role as Chairperson, Ms. Dharmaratne served as a Board Member of LAN since 2019.

Commenting on her appointment, Ms. Dharmaratne said, “I am excited to take on this appointment as the first woman to chair the Lankan Angel Network. This is a particularly interesting time where change is accelerated, and adaptability is mandatory, in order for us to take advantage of new opportunities. With the excellent support from the talented, and well-experienced, industry insiders who make up this year’s Board, I am confident that we will be able to drive Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem to new heights.”

It is also noteworthy that the 2021/2022 Board, as well as being led by a woman, comprises 30% female representation overall – a significantly higher percentage than other corporates in the country.

Joining Ms. Dharmaratne on the 2021/2021 LAN Board Members are: Anarkali Moonesinghe, former CEO – CIMB Sri Lanka; Prajeeth Balasubramanium, Co-Founder/Managing Partner – BOV Capital; Dumindra Ratnayake, Chairman – Martin & George; Adil Mansoor, CEO – Promo Lanka; Kasturi Wilson, Group CEO – Hemas Holdings; Nathan Sivaganathan, Co-Founder – Hatch; Jeevan Gnanam, Co-Founder – Hatch; Lahiru Pathmalal, Founder/CEO –; and Sharhan Muhseen, Director – H2O ONE/Chairman – Platinum Advisors (Singapore).

Additionally, LAN announced the 2021/2022 Board Members for its Rs. 100 million Angel Fund, which is also chaired by Ms. Dharmaratne. The Fund’s Board further comprises Anarkali Moonesinghe, Mano Sekaram, Prajeeth Balasubramanium, Dumindra Ratnayake, Suren Pinto, Founder and CEO – Wavenet Group, and Channa Manoharan, Chief Operating Officer/Advisory Leader – PwC Sri Lanka.

LAN is a platform for angel and private investors that invest in high growth early-stage Sri Lankan ventures. The platform’s Rs. 100 million Angel Fund continues to identify and evaluate opportunities for investment across the island, including in traditionally underserved regions.

With plans to ultimately invest in six to 10 high potential startups in total, gearing them up to scale domestically, and even internationally, the Angel Fund is dedicated to investing in, and mentoring and supporting, early-stage startups across multiple sectors; from making investments at the early stages, to even helping startups identify sources for future funding.

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Sri Lanka Tourism commands attention at World Routes 2021



Sri Lanka made a huge splash at the 26th World Route Development Forum (World Routes 2021), which took place in Milan, Italy, recently. By making its presence felt at the forum, Sri Lanka pitched its destination for global airlines to consider it as one of the top holiday destinations for the upcoming winter season and beyond. Sri Lanka Tourism officials were able to directly engage with decision-makers from the global route development community, including world’s air services, while taking advantage of dedicated in-person and virtual event days combining extensive meeting opportunities, exclusive industry insight and first-class networking opportunities.

The Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, Ms. Kimarli Fernando, expertly leveraged on the platform provided by World Routes 2021 to highlight Sri Lanka’s 5-year global campaign and growth potential. Her keynote presentation was followed by a panel discussion and a Q&A session with attendees in collaboration with Major General (Rtd.), G.A Chandrasiri , Chairman, Airport and Aviation Services. Through the duration of the Forum, Sri Lanka Tourism was present on all social media platforms for driving brand awareness, pushing Destination Sri Lanka to the front and centre of global travel and tourism operators present.

With the Sri Lankan Government declaring this a growth decade, Sri Lanka Tourism has been aligned to the government’s vision as enshrined in the 10 pillar strategy document. Over the last two years, Sri Lanka Tourism has advanced the industry across various factors to bring prosperity to all stakeholders and to ensure Sri Lanka tourism fulfills its potential. Concurrently, with a high vaccination rate, Sri Lanka has opened up to fully vaccinated tourists, offering them a safe and exciting stay.

One of the key pillars has been connectivity and the efforts made have been fruitful – with several European and regional airlines resuming direct flights, new routes being established and increased frequency of flights to Sri Lanka which will boost tourism for the upcoming peak season.

Apart from elaborating on the strategy, Kimarli Fernando engaged in an absorbing Q&A session with global airline industry stakeholders. During her keynote speech she elaborated on Sri Lanka’s biodiversity, UNESCO sites and other cultural and nature offerings. One of the highlights of her speech was tourist investment. Tourism has been attracting substantial investment despite the challenges emanating from the pandemic. Between March 2020 – June 2021, the Government of Sri Lanka has attracted over US$950 million in investments, received 64 project proposals and approved 38 projects to the value of $102.38 Million. These ventures will be executed under the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). In order to attract strategic investors, the Investor Relations Unit was launched as a single point of contact for all tourism investments. In addition, the Government of Sri Lanka is extending a host of financial incentives and fast-track processes to get projects off the ground within the shortest possible time.

Given the recent tie-ups with France tourism operators and a similar push in more key western markets, the brand awareness of Sri Lanka is growing in strategic markets.

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ComBank wins Daraz award for ‘Best Engaging Overall Cards Base’



The Commercial Bank of Ceylon was presented the award for ‘The Best Engaging Overall Cards Base’ at the recent ‘Payment Partner Performance Awards 2021’ of Daraz, South Asia’s premier online shopping marketplace.

The Bank was awarded this title for empowering the Daraz platform by generating the highest number of transactions by both credit and debit card bases and the highest number of unique buyers’ engagement during the financial year 2020-21. This is the second consecutive year that the Bank was honoured with this award.

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has been an Internet Payment (IPG) service provider to Daraz from 2018, and has since partnered with the online retailer to power ‘Daraz 11.11,’ the world’s biggest online sale.

The two organisations are working together to offer diversified and unique offers to customers with a view of offering them attractive value additions, the Bank said. Commercial Bank cardholders can enjoy periodic discounts at Daraz with the offers structured by the Bank, and the convenience of Easy Payment Plans of up to 60 months.

Launched in 2012, the Daraz eCommerce site has an active presence in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Nepal. The marketplace has over 2.5 million products in diverse categories such as consumer electronics, household goods, beauty, fashion, sports equipment, and groceries. It was acquired by the Alibaba Group in 2018.

Commercial Bank Credit and Debit Cards offer year-round promotions covering a wide variety of services. Commercial Bank was the first bank to offer loyalty rewards for both Credit and Debit Card holders under its Max Loyalty Rewards Points scheme. The Bank was also a pioneer in extending promotional discount offers which were traditionally only offered for Credit Cards to its Debit Cards.

Commercial Bank cards are the fastest growing cards in Sri Lanka and enjoy market leadership in Credit and Debit Card cumulative point-of-sale usage. The Bank offers a variety of Credit Cards in the Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers of Visa, Mastercard and UnionPay Cards, as well as Visa Signature, World Mastercard, Visa Infinite, UnionPay Asia Prestige Platinum and UnionPay Asia Prestige Diamond Cards in the premium segment. The cards are equipped with ‘Tap ’n Go’ NFC technology and are backed by a strong NFC Point-of-Sale (POS) network.

Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 11 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches and 931 automated machines in Sri Lanka. Commercial Bank is the largest lender to Sri Lanka’s SME sector and is a leader in digital innovation in the country’s Banking sector. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.

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Banks’ Chief Internal Auditors’ Forum appoints new committee for 2021/22



Seated from left - Varuna Koggalage (Committee Member), Numair Cassim (Vice President), Charitha Jayawickrama (President), Nirosha Perera (Secretary), Dulan Abeyratne (Committee Member) Standing from left - Dhanjaya Dayananda (Committee Member), Chandima Samarasinghe (Outgoing Secretary), John Premanath (Outgoing Vice President), Maduwantha Liyanage (Immediate Past President/Committee Member), Jayan Fernando (Committee Member). Absent from picture - Committee Members Kushlaini Allis and Gamini Jayaweera

The Chief Internal Auditors’ Forum of Banks appointed its 5th committee recently. The inaugural committee meeting was held on 17th November 2021 subsequent to the AGM held on 3rd November 2021. Charitha Jawawickrama of Sampath Bank was appointed as the President, Numair Cassim (Amana Bank) as Vice President and Nirosha Perera (Union Bank) as Secretary. Others in the committee include Varuna Koggalage (Seylan Bank), Dulan Abeyratne (HSBC), Dhanjaya Dayananda (SDB), Jayan Fernando (DFCC), Kushlaini Allis (NTB) and Gamini Jayaweera (NSB). The outgoing committee included Maduwantha Liyanage of BOC (Immediate Past President), John Premanath (Commercial Bank) and Chandima Samarasinghe (Cargills Bank).

The Forum was established to build strong relationships amongst the Licensed Commercial Banks and Licensed Specialized Banks in dealing with new developments and challenges pertinent to the industry. It also supports Internal Audit professionals to enhance comradeship and encourages participation of Banks to share knowledge and industry best practices. Since re-establishing in 2015, the forum has become an integral body that supports and assists Banks with regard to common audit related concerns in the industry.

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