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Rising startups keen to tap stock market for external funding

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Board members of The Startup Council-Standing (L to R)  Chandula Abeywickrama(Founder & Chairman – Lanka Impact-Investment Network). Achala Samaradivakara (Co-Founder & Managing Director – Good Market) Imal Kulathotage (CEO – nCinga) ,Yasura Samarakoon (Manager – Business and Trade Promotion, The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce).Seated (L – R) Prajeeth Balasubramaniam (Managing Partner -BoV Capital- chairman- Startup Council). Shalin Balasuriya, (Co-founder -Spa Ceylon), Brindha Selvadurai-Gnanam (Co Founder –Hatch),Mangala Karunaratne -(Founder & CEO – Calcey Technologies)

by Sanath Nanayakkare

Rising startups in Sri Lanka are keen to tap the stock market for external funding for product development, product launches and scale up and expand their their businesses in new markets, The Island Financial Review learned at a forum held by the Council For Startups, established by the The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

The Council provides entrepreneurs with exclusive opportunities and access to international markets

Prajeeth Balasubramaniam Founder, Lankan Angel Network/Managing Partner, BoV Capital who is also the chairman of the Council speaking to The Island Financial Review said,” Today people who have money pour that into the stock market because interest rates have come down. People who used to make higher interest rates are not making that and they are putting that into the stock market because they feel they can get better returns. Similarly if they can channel some of that money through the banking sector or other sources into startups it would be good. The CSE is regulated and the private sector is not going to put money into startups. If the government regulates startup projects and their funding structures then banks and private investors will feel that the risks are minimized and then they will join in to reap the rewards by investing in them”.

“Spring Singapore is a government startups initiative. Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings has put a lot of money into that. If we can create a similar situation people will be convinced that they won’t end up in trouble by investing in startups,” he said.

Imal Kalutotage, CEO of nCinga said,”nCinga was highly fortunate to expand regionally with the support the Ceylon Chamber and its global partners. Via the Chamber, its global partners and members, we were able to attract customers for accelerated growth and investors who also helped us with exit in December 2019. We now have a national body to help provide invaluable market access for startups and am happy to be a part of this to help other entrepreneurs grow”.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce recently established the Council for for Startups to address the key needs and challenges of SMEs and startups through allocation of a range of easily accessible opportunities, including access to local and international markets for various partnerships.

Inaugurated in September 2020, the Council for Startups primarily aims to foster a thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurship, which facilitates economic growth and empowerment of startups and SMEs in Sri Lanka.

Offering a highly influential and knowledgeable advantage, the CCC provides the cumulative support of 600 members to promote business opportunities for startups. These alliances (20 Global Chambers, 38Trade/Product and Service Associations and 21 Bilateral Business Councils) position the Chamber in an ideal position to promote business opportunities.

The Council recognizes the benefits of sustaining ripe economic conditions and marketing opportunities for startups and further aims to use its resources and partnerships with high commissions, foreign Chambers of Commerce for startups, and consulting firms in order to create a secure infrastructure that drives optimal business performance.

 

 



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Business

CSE planning new product lines to attract investors in greater numbers

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By Lynn Ockersz

The CSE is planning to attract a greater number of investors to the stock market this year through the introduction of some new product lines. In order to increase the choice of instruments available to equity investors, the CSE intends to focus in the immediate term on instruments, such as, stock borrowing and lending and regulated short-selling, CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike said.

The latter instruments would help in generating more liquidity and trading among equity investors, not only in instances when the market is on its way up but also in a declining market as well, CEO Bandaranaike told The Island Financial Review in an exclusive interview recently.

The CEO also said that the CSE is aiming at leveraging the corporate debt market through the initiation of some new products. For example, Green Bonds, Perpetual Bonds and the facilitation of secondary trading of corporate bonds via repo trading.

Asked to indicate as to how these instruments would help the bourse going forward, Mr. Bandaranaike said that stock borrowing and lending, for instance, would facilitate and enable regulated short selling which will have the effect of increasing liquidity and trading among all categories of equity investors.

This will create opportunities for traders to make use of market volatility. Besides, investors holding long term portfolios could lend their stock and earn an interest with least effort on their part.

Asked to elaborate on the importance of Green Bonds, the CEO said that institutional investors in particular are currently focusing on ESG projects; that is, investors that are sensitive to environmental, social and governance concerns. Accordingly, the CSE would be catering to some important investor needs through the latter projects.

Meanwhile, in response to the question on how the digitization initiatives of the CSE have helped in ushering a more robust share market in Sri Lanka, CSE’s Chief Information Officer Chandrakanth Jayasinghe said it is the aim of the CSE to give progressive digital exposure to investors. There are two dimensions to be considered here the CIO said. First, more and more important features have been added to the CSE’s digital mobile App over the last two years.

The CIO added: ‘A revamped mobile App is now at hand to enable quicker and informed investment decisions. All the information required by the investor is now available via this App to enable him to enter the market. For example, we are linked to the Department of Registration of Persons. Digital on-boarding and digital signing etc have been enabled via the app. On a full digital basis investors can now interact with the CSE.

‘The investor is now connected to the CDS E-Connect via the CSE and the investor could access his/her stock portfolio, for instance, and access his/her monthly statements. They could also make changes to their profiles such their address changes via the mobile App. Research reports of brokers could be accessed by the same means, nominations could be effected through the same mechanism. It’s a total change: a 360-degree info hub has been created through the App.

‘Secondly, the CSE is a more agile digital organization. For instance, most of our back-end functions are fully robotized. AI is used in many operations. We use AI for compliance operations.

‘We are saddled with very much less paperwork. Over 90% of all account openings are effected through our mobile App. Most paper-based formalities have been done away with.’

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SriLankan Airlines unveils new and improved mobile App

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SriLankan Airlines has unveiled a new and improved mobile app that is designed for optimum user-friendliness. The enhanced app will afford customers greater ease and flexibility in managing their flight bookings, purchasing value-added services, enrolling for a FlySmiLes account and performing a variety of other tasks.

The new app provides greater autonomy for Customers through added features that are exclusive to the app. Customers will be able to choose their in-flight meal; reserve seats; change travel dates and sectors; buy value added services such as excess baggage, travel insurance and duty-free items; and check-in for flights well in advance.

The ability to manage flight bookings, even while on the move, remains entirely with passengers who will be empowered to exercise greater control in shaping their journey independently and dynamically. Customers’ in-app experience is inclined to be further enhanced with the new ‘My Trips’ feature. My Trips will organize and present important information that a customer requires for an upcoming flight in a timely fashion on the app’s homepage.

The homepage includes other up-to-minute information on the flight schedule and allows users to search and stay on top of the departure and arrival times of flights. Customers can also stay updated and not miss out on the latest deals and promotional fares.

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Business

Brandix Manusathkara Thilina 2022

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Brandix Apparel Ltd., gave hope to 16,824 children of the Brandix family by gifting them school essentials including stationery and schoolbags necessary for the new school year, under its ‘Manusathkara Thilina’ 2022 initiative recently.

 Understanding the current need to support our team members, especially during the current crisis of rising stationery costs, the children of 10,933 Brandix Associates were recipients of Brandix’s unstinting efforts to inspire and support education for all. The 2022 programme is being held for the 7th consecutive year where children from pre-school to Grade 13 received stationery packs.

Malika Samaraweera, Group Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Brandix Apparel noted, “The beginning of the new school year is eagerly anticipated and exciting for all students. However, we realise that our employees, who are the backbone of our enterprise, are facing a daunting challenge to provide their children these essential items. We firmly believe in taking care of our communities and this year’s Manusathkara Thilina programme ensures these children have the tools and opportunity to learn and grow.”

 Begun in 2016, the Manusathkara School Essentials initiative seeks to drive home the importance of education among the children of Brandix employees. To-date, over 37,000 children have benefitted from the programme. The educational hampers gifted to the children comprise of stationery and other school necessities, enabling their success for the foreseeable future.

With the aim of driving social sustainability, the inspired team at Brandix continues their work towards Equal Opportunity and the Right to Education for All. Recognising that today’s challenges are wide-ranging and incredibly tough for many families, the school essential packs will enrich the lives of the beneficiary children and sustain their school education.

Supporting Sri Lanka’s aspiring youth towards continuity in their education, Brandix has also initiated an annual scholarship scheme under its ‘Manusathkara University Scholarship’ programme. Children who are high performers in the Advanced Level Examinations within the Brandix Model Villages are awarded scholarships to pursue their higher education and contribute towards Sri Lanka’s future workforce. The ‘Model Village’ concept was developed by Brandix to support the wellbeing of communities within a 10km radius of the company’s facilities.

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