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Project to create and retain jobs for 12,000 women in SL

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A two-year partnership, known as SheWorks Sri Lanka, has led to a 12 percent increase in the number of women employed by 15 of the country’s leading companies, equating to over 12,000 more women in the workforce.

Initiated by Women in Work, a partnership between IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—and the Australian government, SheWorks Sri Lanka aimed to create more equal and respectful workplaces for women and men in the country’s workforce, while also boosting business productivity and growth.

Launched in March 2018, the partnership has seen the SheWorks companies implement 97 gender-smart actions focused on increasing women’s business leadership, ensuring recruitment and retention of female talent, exploring employer-supported childcare, promoting anti-sexual harassment mechanisms, and supporting women in the supply chain.

The partnership also led to a one-third increase in the number of women board directors in the SheWorks companies as well as a 21 percent rise in the number of women in leadership roles. Six companies saw an 8 to 60 percent increase in the share of women in middle management.

“For growth to be truly inclusive, strengthening opportunities for women in the workforce is a must and the SheWorks companies have shown how advancing workplace equality also improves business outcomes.” said Amena Arif, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives. “We look forward to seeing other Sri Lankan companies step up and embrace the gender equality agenda in the workplace.”

Women’s participation in Sri Lanka’s labor force remains low at 34 percent, less than half that of men. Further, women in the 20-40 age group are the most disadvantaged, securing only 30 percent of jobs in the private sector, reflecting women’s increased care responsibilities that are associated with marriage and childbearing and other entrenched social norms. Against this backdrop, it is essential that companies create an environment where both men and women can thrive at work.

“SheWorks has delivered significant ‘gender shifts’ in Sri Lanka’s workforce that have ultimately improved the corporate bottom line. More companies are providing opportunities for women in non-traditional roles and male-dominated sectors, including in corporate leadership,” said David Holly, Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. “These companies set an example for others to follow in promoting greater gender equality across the country.”

Representing over 170,000 employees, the 15 companies spread across Sri Lanka’s priority industries such as garments and apparel, tourism, information technology, banking and finance and conglomerates. SheWorks Sri Lanka members include AIA Insurance Lanka Ltd, Brandix Apparel Limited, CBL Group, DIMO, Fairway Holdings, Hela Clothing, Hemas Holdings PLC, Jetwing, John Keells Holdings, London Stock Exchange Group, MAS Holdings, National Development Bank, SANASA Development Bank, South Asia Gateway Terminals, and Standard Chartered Bank.

An IFC publication ‘Sri Lankan Business Advance Gender Equality’ provides in-depth information on the impact and business results of the SheWorks Sri Lanka partnership—from March 2018 to December 2019.

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INSEE Cement continues investment in mason development across Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka’s leading cement manufacturer INSEE Cement is driving transformation across the local construction industry with significant investments in empowering one of the sector’s key stakeholder groups; the mason.

‘INSEE Sathkara’, a multifaceted initiative to develop local masons powered by INSEE Cement is shaping the mason of the future – a professionally, socially and financially empowered individual contributing significantly to the advancement of both the local construction industry and Sri Lanka’s economy.

“The INSEE Sathkara initiative facilitates empowerment and development through up-skilling, social recognition and financial stability, an all-round approach that has successfully nurtured a new generation of masons that are fast adaptable to industry demands through newly developed skillsets, knowledge and capacities,” says Jan Kunigk, Executive Vice President, INSEE Cement.

INSEE Cement’s approach is to build a certified and skilled workforce with recognized credentials to bridge a gaping skill gap in the construction industry. The program ensures sustainable capacity development for masons backed by National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) in collaboration with the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA) of Sri Lanka.

INSEE Cement also launched a Mason Apprenticeship Program to provide 120-day training opportunities for masons to learn on the job, preparing them to enter the workforce with specialized skillsets.

For Ajith Kumara Dissanayaka from Ambathenna, a mason for nearly 16 years, receiving all-round advancement through INSEE Sathkara has been truly life changing. “Five years ago, I was able to complete a course conducted by INSEE Cement and NAITA and received a Level 3 NVQ certification – my first professional credentials as a mason. This training gave me knowledge and insight that I had not received in over a decade of working as a mason, and it made me look at my profession differently. I improved my tile work skills, which also increased my income,” Dissanayaka stated.

This professional up-skilling has enabled INSEE Cement to create much needed social recognition and acceptance for Masons across Sri Lanka as a crucial link in the construction industry value chain. Mason Chats, Mason Meets and exclusive membership to the INSEE Concrete Society (ICS) has provided local masons industry inclusivity as well as recognition and rewards to encourage new avenues of income and entrepreneurship. Long-established ICS-member masons are also rewarded for their contribution to the local construction industry through ‘INSEE Garu Sara’.

To secure a stronger financial future for masons, INSEE Cement has introduced a comprehensive life insurance policy with disability, medical and accidental cover. This comes in addition to the pension scheme introduced to masons in partnership with the Employee Trust Fund Board (ETFB) of Sri Lanka.

“I joined the INSEE programme five years ago, and have benefited in ways I never imagined. The knowledge I gained about the industry, Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLS) standards and safety requirements have made me a better professional, and my clients respect me more because of it,” stated Ratna Ravindara, a mason based in Kandy with over two decades of industry experience.

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European ride-hail Bolt enters Sri Lanka

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Bolt, the leading European transportation platform committed to making urban travel easier, quicker and more reliable; announced its entry to the Sri Lankan market, with a pilot launch of its service in Colombo, on November 25, 2020 with over 2000 drivers ready to start accepting rides. Bolt pilots its services in South Asia for the first time with the launch of operations in Sri Lanka.

Committed to affordable trips and happy drivers, the company has announced that it will be charging drivers no commission for using the platform and offer fares 20% lower than other competitors, for a minimum of six months. It builds on being smart about how to grow the company, and focusing operations on efficiency, allowing Bolt to pass the savings on to customers, passengers and drivers.

Bolt has chosen to enter Sri Lanka during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis with the firm belief that people still need to move around in the city and doing its best to fulfil the mission to help them do so. Currently available only within Colombo, Bolt services can be accessed by passengers by downloading the secure and free Bolt app from Apple App Store or Google Play Store and setting up a user profile. Any person with their own Car who wishes to join Bolt as a driver, can easily register with the company through https://partners.bolt.eu/driver-signup by completing the relevant formalities or through the Bolt Driver App available on Apple App store or Google Play Store.

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Mobisec marks 6th anniversary as its future outlook remains strong

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International footprint with branch office in Melbourne

Mobisec (Pvt) Ltd, an innovator in the mobile application sector in Sri Lanka is celebrating its 6thanniversary since its inception in November 2014.

Over the years it has served hundreds of thousands of customers across Sri Lanka through its telco and mobile applications. Starting with humble beginnings as a start-up, Ashen Gomez, Founder & Managing Director of Mobisec has worked diligently over the years alongside his wife Sumudu, the Co-founder of Mobisec to build the company and expand its services in different verticals.

The company marked its first international expansion in the beginning of this year by establishing a new branch office in Melbourne, Australia. Today, the company is home to a dynamic team of over 30 software development experts.

Founder & Managing Director of Mobisec Ashen Gomez said; “since inception, we have continued to create applications that revolutionize the way people connect with the technology. Our prime focus is to provide smart and reliable solutions for modern problems our customers are facing and help them improve the quality of their lifestyle.”

Company’s product portfolio expanded further during this year along with the three brand new products that were launched into the Market. “Baby’s Diary” is one of the Android Apps that was added to Mobisec’s product portfolio in the mid of this year and currently the App has crossed over 10,000 downloads. It’s an all-in-one parenting solution, which contains a variety of options to keep track on the baby’s activities while shopping for all the baby essentials. Since its launch, the App has gained widespread attention and it’s shaping to be a game changer for all new parents in Sri Lanka.

“We are pleased to say that the Baby’s Diary App is the first and only Parenting App developed in Sri Lanka exclusively for parents of new-borns.The challenges and struggles for a new parent have never been addressed through out the past and that’s where we strongly believed that the concept of Smart Parenting needs be introduced to the Sri Lankan market”, said PrasannaDahanayake, Product Manager/ Business Analyst of Mobisec.

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