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SL ranked second in South Asian region for ease of launching startup businesses



Sri Lanka is ranked second in the South Asian region for ease of launching a startup business, the 2021 edition of the Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER), launched by global innovation policy advisory and research firm Startup Genome states.

The report , which is a country validity study, features, among other matters, Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem and the way forward for it, after working closely with the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka.

A press release states: The global innovation policy advisory & research firm Startup Genome launched the 2021 edition of the Global Startup Ecosystem report (GSER), in which Sri Lanka’s Startup Ecosystem was featured along with key insights and its way forward after working closely with the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka as a country validating study. Published annually, the report analyses 280 entrepreneurial innovation ecosystems and 3 million startups and includes the ranking of the leading 140 ecosystems in the world, breakdowns by continent with regional insights. The GSER is widely known as the most comprehensive and widely read research on global startups.

The Information and Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) through a membership agreement with Startup Genome has been working together since 2016 to explore the untapped potential of the local startup ecosystem and find ways to develop it. Exploring the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem in 2021, the report underscores that the ecosystem is evolving rapidly with measures being taken to nurture local talent, improve business climate and foster international connections that bode well for the ecosystem in the long run.

The report highlights that Sri Lanka is ranked second in the region for ease of starting a startup business, given the recent developments and new laws designated for Colombo Port City as a Special Economic Zone and government’s nod to establish five new technology parks around the island and international collaborations for startup funding. The rapid growth of the ecosystem is backed by the government incentives and timely measures to strengthen the ecosystem.

The report sheds light on the strengths of sub sectors such as Cleantech and Agtech and New Food sectors being highlighted for their density of talent, support resources and startup activities as key drivers of economic growth. The fast-growing stock market, reduced corporate income tax and knowledge driven economy along with ranked as #3 in the Asian region for affordable talent and featured in the top 30 Asian Ecosystems in Bang for Buck are some of the cited reasons a startup should move to Sri Lanka.

Among the key findings of the report, the total value of the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem as at 2021 with a growth of 13% from last year, during the pandemic and creating USD 132 million, total early-stage funding – USD 26 million, Median Series A Round – USD 1.06 million, Median Seed Round – USD 50,000, and Software Engineer salary – USD 6,000.

“Sri Lanka is implementing a holistic and reliant approach to developing our startup ecosystem. Provision of infrastructure through state-of-the-art technology parks, startup-friendly laws and policies, creation of a venture fund, entrepreneur visa, facilitating regional startup hubs are a few of many initiatives that will be implemented in our start-up development strategy.’’ said Jayantha De Silva, Secretary, Ministry of Technology.

“As per the Global Startup Ecosystem report (GSER) findings, the overall growth and performance in Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem has been impacted by the pandemic. However as the facilitator for technology startup development in Sri Lanka, ICTA will continue to work closely with Startup Genome alongside a strong collaboration between both local and global organisations to further empower and accelerate the start up ecosystem in the country. It is imperative that priority focus is provided for local startups where the performance of the startup eco system would be pivotal in realising the vision of a future digital economy in Sri Lanka as well as position Sri Lanka globally for world class technology products” said Oshada Senanayake, Chairman of ICTA.

For international businesses looking to enter the Sri Lankan shores, the country offers a 5 to 10-year tax holiday to private companies while maintaining a 0% corporate tax rate for the tech sector. There is zero capital gains and zero dividend withholding tax for foreigners. In addition, ICTA’s recent partnership with PwC Sri Lanka provisioned an alternative Credit Evaluation Framework specifically designed for tech companies to expand financing opportunities through local financial institutions. The continuous efforts towards a startup friendly government saw the Ministry of Finance in October 2020 introducing a procurement policy requires any application software bids for the government under a value of LKR 2 million to exclusively go to tech startups. In 2021 the Digital Nomad visa program was introduced, enabling foreign individuals to work remotely from Sri Lanka for 1 year.

ICTA is actively working with the Startup Genome, government bodies and partner organizations to achieve its vision of establishing 1,000 tech startups by 2024.


EU funded SEDR Project launches Policy Brief to strengthen alternative dispute resolution in Sri Lanka



Jacques Carstens (SEDR Team Leader), Beatrice Bussi (Interim) Head of Development Cooperation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms, Krishanthi Meegahapola (Addl Secretary, Ministry of Justice) and Priyanath Perera (Secretary – Mediation Boards Commission)

The Supporting Effective Dispute Resolution (SEDR) project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in partnership with The Asia Foundation, launched a Policy Brief titled ‘Strengthening A Just Alternative’ to strengthen community-based alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms in the country.

The launch event, held at the British Council Library in Colombo, was attended by several distinguished dignitaries, including Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice, Ms. Beatrice Bussi, (Interim) Head of Development Cooperation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Priyanath Perera, Secretary of the Mediation Boards Commission, Hon. Justice Yapa, Chairperson of the Mediation Boards Commission, and Commissioners of the Mediation Boards Commission.

Speaking at the event, Ms. Beatrice Bussi stated that “The importance of mediation in Sri Lanka is twofold, as it ensure an easy and economic access to justice to citizens, while it provides the opportunity to reduce the burden on the Sri Lankan court system. I want to praise the model of Sri Lankan community mediation boards, for its effectiveness and for the value it delivers to communities in addressing local disputes preventing their escalation”.

Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe stated ” One of the main tasks of the Ministry is to ensure the necessary legal, policy, and institutional framework is set up for efficient resolution of disputes. Alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, play a major role in this regard.  There are different opinions regarding the effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, especially mediation among the community and stakeholders. In the meantime, the Ministry has initiated a number of reforms to improve dispute resolution processes in Sri Lanka. Accordingly, the Ministry highlights the importance of surveys of this nature to facilitate evidence-based decision-making regarding alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. As such the Ministry would like to congratulate the SEDR project on this successful initiative.”

The Policy Brief is based on the findings of a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) survey commissioned by SEDR and conducted by the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in 2022. The survey aimed to assess knowledge, attitudes and practices of various community-based alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, including mediation boards. The survey covered six districts in the country, targeting 1,712 households of all three main ethnic groups.

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COYLE urges government to engage business leaders in policy-making process for fair, sustainable, and economically sound decisions



The Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (COYLE) held its 24th Anniversary Celebrations on 10th March 2023, at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo. The event was attended by the chief guest, Prime Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena; the guest of honour, U. S. Ambassador, Julie Chung; former President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena; Chief of the Defense Staff, General Shavendra Silva; cabinet and state ministers; parliamentarians; commanders of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces; government officials, and business leaders.

The Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (COYLE) comprises more than 116 prominent individuals who serve as Chairmen and Controlling Shareholders of some of the most influential companies in Sri Lanka.

It has over 500 member organizations and is affiliated with nearly 50 business chambers in the country. The organization is managed and controlled by young entrepreneurs but also boasts a number of senior and respected business leaders who joined the organization during its formative years to help shape COYLE into what it is today.

The Chamber actively promotes entrepreneurship, the development of rural communities, and thought leadership. In adherence to the organization’s strongly held principles and as a mandatory service to the community, COYLE engages in countless CSR initiatives through its member companies around the country. The Chamber provides leadership, learning, and development for its members and stakeholders, and over the years, it has grown into a vehicle for business growth in Sri Lanka via its many local and global networks.

The past year was an exceptionally challenging one for all parties in the Sri Lankan economy. Remarking on this, the Outgoing Chairman of COYLE, Mr. Dimuth Chankama Silva, stated during his address, “This year was the greatest test of our mettle. Even diamonds are born out of pressure. This year gave us the opportunity to shine through pressures from all directions. I believe we shone. We are here alive and kicking, our businesses are growing, we are conquering international markets and territories, and COYLE has grown in leaps and bounds.”

A notable emphasis was given to the introduction of the COYLE theme for the year 2023/24, EVOLUTION: #Resilience, #Agility, and #Transformation. The incoming Chairman, Mr. Rasith Wickramasingha, stated, “Evolution is to upscale capability, enhance skills and increase creativity, innovate at a time of chaos, and re-imagine a new business environment. Evolution requires change: change in mindset, attitude, self-awareness, and acumen of the surrounding environment as well as culture.”

He went on to note that in today’s environment, every five years constitutes a generational gap and emphasized the need for COYLE to evolve as a chamber in order to be relevant and sustainable for the future. He further mentioned that decades of ill-conceived, politically driven policies based on the advocacy of a few, rather than consultative decision-making with recognized business chambers, have led to the current crisis. Elaborating on this point, Mr. Rasith Wickramasingha said, “Policy formulation should be done based on sound economic principles and business acumen. Businesses rely on stable policies so that they may plan ahead. Ad hoc policies which bring no economic benefit have led to losses in the private sector and leakage of foreign exchange from the country.”

He emphasized that it is heartbreaking to see that the individuals who strive continuously for the betterment of the country and persistently do the right thing get penalized while those engaging in unethical practices to avoid taxation are rarely held accountable. COYLE hopes for more genuine dialogue from policymakers regarding these issues and affirms that the organization’s globally exposed and experienced members could be a great value addition to any actions taken to revive the economy. What sets COYLE apart from the rest is that its members are made up of business owners and decision-makers who are passionate about doing something good for the country, who are genuinely aligned with this cause, and willing to embrace the future without diluting our national and cultural heritage.

The 24th Anniversary Celebration of COYLE closely reflected in its overarching tone the state of the country following the Easter Bombings, the pandemic, and the economic and political crisis. The event also honored and recognized the Chamber’s numerous members who weathered the storm by building resilience, being agile, and transforming their businesses. It also highlighted the many CSR initiatives undertaken by COYLE member organizations, many of which were carried out quietly, purely as a service to the country.

These initiatives focus on communities most affected by the calamities of the past years and were chosen regardless of race, religion, or creed. With a host of esteemed and influential guests attending the celebrations, COYLE made this event a platform to convey a strong message calling for sociopolitical change in the country. COYLE believes that the hardline decisions taken by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, were tough but necessary considering the state of affairs. The Chamber also notes that as a result of these decisions, gradual change for the better is apparent in the economy. Considering the massive pool of collective experience, expertise, and connections held by COYLE, it is capable of providing significant value and insight for economic reform. Hence, COYLE urges the government to actively engage and work together with the Chamber to expedite economic revival.

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Once again, AIA Ran for their Lives – proud sponsor for the 3rd consecutive year



AIA Insurance was humbled to be a part of Run For Their Lives 2023, in raising funds for the Apeksha Cancer Hospital. The charity run aligns with AIA’s brand purpose of helping people live healthier, longer, better lives with focus on the prevention and management of Non-Communicable Diseases in Sri Lanka. The company will continue its commitment to fight NCDs and actively engage in creating awareness on leading NCDs in the country.

With AIA’s goal of making a positive impact on one billion lives by 2030, participants at RFTL were encouraged to make a pledge for a healthy habit that could help prevent illness and remain healthy in the long run. The participants also took part in a real-time survey that measured their unhealthy habits and recommended healthy lifestyle habits. Participants were also instantly rewarded for taking part in the wellness games and the free BMI sessions organised by one of AIA’s wellness partner Vida Medical Clinic.

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