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SPARX Lab by ICTA to act as a springboard for future Sri Lankan entrepreneurship

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The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) recently announced the launch of SPARX Lab with an opening ceremony held recently with the participation of Jayantha De Silva, Secretary to the Ministry of Technology, Oshada Senanayake, Chairman, ICTA/ Director General, TRCSL, Eng. Mahinda B. Herath, Chief Executive Officer, ICTA, Anura De Alwis, Chief Digital Economy Officer ICTA, and representatives from the startup ecosystem including Jeevan Gnanam, Founder, Hatch Works.

SPARX Lab is a physical space dedicated to nurturing early-stage startups in Sri Lanka. In line with ICTA mandate to develop, support, and help nurture the startups, this dedicated workspace will foster budding entrepreneurs and provide orientation, consultation, guidance, and mentoring for entrepreneurs planning to establish their own startup.

In addition, these entrepreneurs will get the chance to develop networks with like-minded people, academia, government, and all other entities within which the ICTA Startup Ecosystem Development unit closely works.

Since 2010, ICTA has supported developing startup ecosystems by creating awareness, instilling entrepreneurship culture, incubation, market access, early-stage seed funding, consulting, and mentoring. In addition, initiatives such as ‘10,000 Ideas’, STEP Pre-Incubator, StartupSL, and Regional Startup Hubs will further support the development and growth of the startup ecosystem in Sri Lanka.

Jayantha De Silva, Secretary of the Ministry of Technology, said, “Within the prevailing cultural and economic setup in Sri Lanka, initiating startups is a huge challenge. Therefore, the Ministry of Technology, along with ICTA facilitates and nurtures these startups to create a technology-driven environment conducive for the growth of startups”.

Chairman of ICTA Sri Lanka and DG TRCSL, Oshada Senanayake said, “I think it’s indeed a significant moment for ICTA. The key pivotal point for us is the development of the next generation of technopreneurs and startup enablers. Therefore, ICTA has an important role to play in enabling and empowering the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem.”

The occupants at SPARX Lab will receive numerous support from the entire startup ecosystem. For more details contact startups@icta.lk.



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Business

Seven factors of concern at upcoming Monetary Policy Review

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) is scheduled to announce its latest monetary policy review on 20th January 2022, with all eyes on dwindling foreign reserves and foreign currency exchange in the country.

In this context, First Capital Research has named 7 factors of concern that could be taken into account at the upcoming monetary policy review. They are as follows.

* Foreign Reserves USD 3.1 billion – Dec 2021

* Inflation CCPI 12.1% – Dec 2021

* GDP Growth -1.5% – 3Q2021

* Private Credit LKR 60.5 billion – Nov 2021

* 03M T-Bill rate 8.38% as at 12.01.22

Liquidity and CBSL Holdings LKR -364.0 billion and LKR 1.42 trillion

Balance of Trade (BOT) and Balance of Payment (BOP) USD -6.5 billion and USD -3.3 billion for Jan-Oct 21

First Capital Research’s Policy Rate Forecast – Jan 2022-Apr 2022 notes that they believe the CBSL may highly consider tightening the monetary policy rates in this policy review but given the concerns over economic growth, there is a probability of 40% for CBSL to maintain its policy stance at current levels.

“With high frequent indicators improving in line with expectations, we have eliminated any probability of a rate cut. We expect a continued increase in probability for a rate hike in order to prevent overheating of the economy amidst the given fiscal and monetary stimulus,” they said.

As per First Capital’s view, CBSL either can choose to hike policy rates by 50bps or 100bps or hold policy rates steady, while a rate cut is off the table due to the high debt repayment and the high domestic borrowing requirement.

First Capital believes that there is a 60% probability for a rate hike due to the remedial actions required in achieving external stability.

However, there is also a 40% probability to maintain the policy rates at its current level in order to further improve the high frequency indicators.30%, they noted.

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Sri Lanka’s dash brand enters international markets

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Multichemi International Ltd, which manufactures and distributes a wide range of products under dash, one of Sri Lanka’s leading detergent and household care brands, has begun exporting its products to several international markets in Asia and Oceania, with plans also to enter Africa. The dash brand includes a wide range of products in car care, household care, home fragrances and laundry care sectors. Multichemi International Ltd, which has been awarded ISO 9001:2015 certification, is a Sri Lankan pioneer in environment-friendly cleaning products, having launched the country’s first biodegradable, safe cleaning products over 28 years ago.

Amila Wijesinghe, General Manager of the Company said,”Having conquered the domestic market, we are now ready to capture the international market. We are confident that our products which are of high quality will receive a good demand overseas as well. The feedback we have received so far from our overseas customers is extremely encouraging. We are dedicated to taking our products to the international market, to bring in foreign currency to the country and help uplift the economy”,

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Business

Janaka Abeysinghe appointed SLT CEO

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Sri Lanka Telecom PLC has announced the appointment of Janaka Abeysinghe as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from February 1, 2022.

The incumbent CEO Kiththi Perera will be overseas on leave for a period of two years to pursue higher studies, according to a stock market filing by the company.

Abeysinghe joined SLT in 1991. In his present role, he leads the enterprise and wholesale business of SLT that provides integrated voice and data solutions to enterprises, government institutions, domestic telco operators and global wholesale carriers.

In his career at SLT spanning 29 years, he has held a number of senior positions, including general manager Enterprise and International Sales and has extensive experience in the areas of Enterprise Digital Services, Enterprise Communications Solutions, Data Communications, Business Development, Domestic and International Switching Operations and Global Wholesale Voice & Data Business.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Kansas, USA and a BSc degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering with a First Class Honours from the University of Moratuwa.

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