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

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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.



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Integrated solid waste management initiative coupled with tree plantation launched at Hambantota Port

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The ceremony to mark the programme was held at the port premises under strict health and safety protocols, with a limited number of staff attending.

 Hambantota International Port launched its first integrated solid waste management initiative on Monday 11th on the Company Day of China Merchants Group (CMG), the parent company of CM Port. The initiative is a strategic approach to sustainably manage biodegradable solid waste. The process covers the source, generation, segregation, transfer, sorting, treatment, recovery and disposal of waste in an integrated manner.

 “The idea is to collect all biodegradable material including garbage from vessels calling at the port that can be converted into compost, and process it.  The processed product will be used as manure for trees that will be planted within the Port and Industrial zone,” says Jeevan M. Premasara, Senior General Manager HR & Admin at HIP.

Members of staff at Hambantota Port planting trees.

The launch of the sustainability drive under the theme ‘Healing the Environment’ coinciding with CMG’s company day, was done under the leadership of CEO Johnson Liu. The program also includes the planting of 500 trees of different varieties, recommended by the Hambantota dry zone Botanical gardens. Twenty-five trees were planted as part of phase 1 of the project, and the port plans to grow and nurture endemic trees that will enrich the biodiversity of the industrial zone and port premises.

“As we launch the first phase of this tree planting and waste management/recycling projects, we will take into consideration planting different types of endemic plants that will thrive in the sandy soil of the Hambantota area in the next phases of the project.  Apart from that, we understand the importance of proper waste management systems and hope to partner with the district’s main waste recycling projects in the future.  As we expand into various industries in the zone, we hope to make our surroundings greener and environmentally friendly, bringing us closer to our goal of becoming an entirely green port,” added the Senior General Manager HR & Admin.

 HIP’s global partner CMPort’s parent company, CMG’s company day commemorated 149 years of sustainable operations this year.  CMG, which is involved in numerous projects to protect and sustain the environment, spreads its sustainability mission across all its members, partners and associate organisations. The ‘Healing the Environment’ project undertaken by HIP is an extension of their international partner’s sustainability drive.

 The ceremony to mark the programme was held at the port premises under strict health and safety protocols, with a limited number of staff attending.

Members of staff at Hambantota Port planting trees.

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Douglas & Sons Great Place to Work® Certified

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Douglas & Sons (Pvt) Ltd (DSL) announced that it is certified as a Great Place to Work® by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka. DSL earned this distinction based on extensive ratings received by its employees in an anonymous survey that was conducted by Great Place to Work®.

Commenting on the certification Saroj Perera, Chairman/Managing Director of Douglas & Sons (Pvt) Ltd said, “We are extremely proud to receive this certification, as it comes amidst a challenging time for businesses in general, when there is a considerable amount of pressure put on both employees and employers to perform at very high levels. We believe that our employees are our strongest asset, and this certification further reconfirms that we are certainly an employer of choice, enabling our employees to reach their full potential, whilst contribution to the growth of the company.”

“We applaud DSL for seeking employees’ feedback and the opportunity to certify itself,” said Kshanika Ratnayake, CEO of Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace – critical metrics that anyone considering working for or doing business with DSL should take into account as an indicator of high performance.”

“According to the Great Place to Work® study, 92% percent of (total number of employees 372) employees say we are a great workplace,” said, Rohan Ariyawansa, Senior General Manager – Human Resources. “345 of our employees completed surveys, resulting in a 95 percent confidence level and a margin of error of ± 5.”

Douglas & Sons (Pvt) Ltd was established in 1986 with a vision to deliver excellence across the board and has today grown into a strong, diversified conglomerate with a passion for innovation that cares for the environment in the markets in which it operates. Its diversity and close ties with stakeholders in all key aspects of the economy forms the bedrock of its success in the country. Its access to key global players enables it to display and market Internationally reputed auto parts, tires, batteries and agricultural implements funnelled through its island-wide network of dealers.

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures.

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“DFCC Bank’s new ‘Auto Loan’ scheme provides affordable avenues for purchasing your dream vehicle”

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In its latest step to drive economic and social value creation, DFCC Bank, the pioneer in commercial banking, announced the launch of the ‘DFCC Auto Loan’ facility, an innovative vehicle loan scheme that enables greater affordability for consumers interested in purchasing automobiles.

The new DFCC Auto loan initiative introduces loan facilities of up to LKR 10 Mn, with an extended payment period. The facility provides the borrower with leverage to afford a vehicle of their choice, through a structured repayment plan, inclusive of a residual value. It also includes an embedded rollover option that enables the client to continue the loan for an extra few years without settling the residual at the end of the loan period subject to a maximum overall tenure of 8 years. The borrower thereby receives the option of settling the residual by disposing the current vehicle and obtaining a fresh loan for a new vehicle, instead. The prime goal of the loan scheme is to enable customers to buy their dream vehicle, through an affordable monthly instalment plan with reduced risk and an increased loan period.

The loan facility will be applicable only for all cars, vans, SUVs and double cabs that customers choose to purchase.

DFCC Bank firmly believes that it is of paramount importance to enhance the affordability of vehicles as a path towards uplifting the standard of living, while securing economic growth and the financial stability of its customers. The lack of access to affordable customer-centric loan facilities, and severely restricted cash flows due to stagnant economic conditions in light of the pandemic, have proved to be a significant hurdle in the path of economic development. Having noted the existing economic issues faced by customers, DFCC Bank’s ‘Auto Loan’ scheme, which extends to a significant portion of society, stands to have notable positive outcomes for all stakeholders involved.

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