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Sri Lanka@100 to help accelerate expansion of seven mid-market firms with U.S. support

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Funded by the United States, Sri Lanka@100 (SL@100) selected its first round of seven high-potential companies to receive cutting-edge business advisory services to accelerate their growth. SL@100, a private sector-led platform focused on the growth of mid-sized firm, will equip the seven companies with skills to optimize operations, increase profitability, and expand markets.  

“These seven firms are the first of many that the United States will support on their journey to rapid growth,” said U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Reed Aeschliman. “By helping Sri Lanka’s mid-market firms access the business services they need to thrive, SL@100 is fueling a transformation in Sri Lanka’s economy.” 

Stax Managing Director and SL@100 co-founder Dr. Kumudu Gunasekera added that “Sri Lanka’s growth is very much dependent on SMEs and their ability to accelerate their growth trajectory. I am very excited and encouraged by the quality of the firms that applied and their hunger to grow beyond our shores.”

Launched in September 2020, SL@100 promotes equitable and inclusive economic growth in support of Sri Lanka’s journey to become a high-income country within 100 years of independence. This initiative brings together advisors, investors, trade groups, and business development service providers to strengthen the capacity of mid-market firms in areas such as marketing, operations, financial management, exports, and access to capital. 

SL@100 will run two selection cycles per year to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) scale up operations. Co-founder of SL@100 & Stax Managing Director Ruwindhu Peiris commented on the impressive pitches these companies made, noting that he is “excited to be partnering with these companies that reflect the soul of Sri Lanka’s ingenuity and the hunger to rise to our full potential.”

The seven companies selected represent a wide range of goods and services from throughout Sri Lanka, including (in no particular order):

•DD Atukorala, a nearly 100-year-old business in Kegalle that grew and diversified from a bakery into restaurants and fashion stores;

•Industrial Stainless-Steel Fabrications, which supplies sophisticated process machinery to global markets including India, Nigeria, and Turkey;

•InsureMe, a one-stop destination to purchase any kind of insurance, which was selected for the 2020 Stanford Seed Transformation Program;

•Lanka Spice, the manufacturer and retailer of the McCurrie brand of spices and value-added jar products that is currently exported to Australia, Europe, Middle East, and North America;

•Randeepa Agrarian, an agricultural equipment provider based in Polonnaruwa, which has been certified as a Great Place to Work;

•Saaraketha Holdings, the first ecommerce platform for ‘farm-to-table’ fresh produce delivery in Sri Lanka that now links over 2,500 local farmers to non-conventional markets globally; and 

•UHE Exports, the manufacturer of Halpé Tea packaged in organic teabags from the tea leaf itself, which exports fair-trade tea and herbal products.

SL@100 is accepting applications for Round 2 at www.srilanka100.lk through Friday, February 19, 2021. 



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Business

‘JAT posts stellar Q2 – doubles PBT and commences manufacturing in Bangladesh’

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JAT Holdings PLC has posted exceptional financial performance for Q2 of FY 2022/23. During the Quarter, the Group also achieved a major milestone, delivering on its key IPO promise, by inaugurating its own end-to-end state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Bangladesh. Simultaneously, JAT Holdings PLC also recorded its highest-ever revenue for Q2 in history, doubling its profit before tax, compared with the corresponding period in the year prior.

Accordingly, JAT Holdings PLC noted a YTD revenue growth of 40% during the period, concurrently managing to increase gross profit margins amidst the most challenging economic environment in its history, clearly demonstrating the Group’s strategic and fiscal prowess.

Gross Profit margins grew during the period under review amidst a deepening economic crisis, material scarcity in global markets and foreign exchange outflow restrictions. The Group’s strategy of purchasing raw materials in bulk and maintaining adequate stocks for at least 6 months at all times, allowed the enterprise to benefit from economies of scale, while JAT Holdings’ prudent and effective waste management efforts helped to improve productivity and efficiency. As a result, operating profit also recorded a healthy growth of 111% during the period under review, supported by cost management efforts, which helped manage input cost inflation and foreign exchange volatility. Profit Before Tax (PBT) and Profit After Tax (PAT) also sustained their recovery momentum, while showing sharp rises in the quarter under review, contrasted with the corresponding period in the previous year.

Commenting on the business momentum, CEO Nishal Ferdinando said, “Supported by our new manufacturing facility in Bangladesh and expert manoeuvring in the Sri Lankan market amidst the toughest business environment we have endured to date, we are pleased to present rock solid financial performance to our investors, and exceptional value to all other stakeholders. Leveraging our excellent relationships with suppliers, we have secured raw materials and shored up our stocks to be able to meet upcoming seasonal demand. The capital raised at the IPO has enabled us to keep borrowing costs to a minimum amidst a tighter monetary environment, which has delivered a positive boost to our bottom line. We intend to move forward with the present momentum and continue to deliver exceptional performance during the remainder of FY 2022/23.”

The Group’s WHITE by JAT range of brilliant white paints grew rapidly, driven by a unique hybrid marketing strategy. Commencement of manufacturing in Bangladesh, coupled with the opening of JAT Holdings PLC’s R&D Centre, another fulfilment of an IPO pledge, helped to drive business momentum during the quarter

Discussing the Group’s strategy and future plans, Founder and Managing Director Aelian Gunawardene added, “Just over a year on from our IPO, I’m pleased to communicate to investors that we have fulfilled the pledges made in our prospectus. We have completed and commissioned our ultramodern end-to-end manufacturing and warehousing facility in Bangladesh, located strategically in close proximity to seaports and our key markets in that country, Dhaka and Chittagong. Our Research and Development Centre is now operational, staffed by teams of experts who will help us to engineer better, cleaner and more efficient products in the future. I am also very pleased to state that the Group as a whole has come together to look after our people amidst the present crises, providing relief allowances and other benefits to help cushion the blow. We are excited about the future and look forward to growing and defending our position as Sri Lanka’s market leader for wood coatings and an emerging giant in the region.”

Since its founding in 1993, JAT Holdings has established itself as a market leader in Sri Lanka for wood coatings and as one of the country’s most promising conglomerates. This is further attested to by accolades such as being ranked amongst Sri Lanka’s ‘Top 100 Most Respected Companies’ by LMD for four years consecutively and also ranking among the ‘Top 20 Conglomerate Brands’ by Brand Finance.

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Business

Bourse driven along positive trajectory by Expolanka and Lanka IOC

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

CSE trading activities were positive yesterday at the beginning and mid- day shares edged up driven by Expolanka and Lanka IOC, market analysts said.

After margin calls selling pressure reduced in the market and the neutralization of macro- economic conditions created positive sentiment for the stock market, analysts said.

Analysts said that the market was driven by Expolanka and Lanka IOC on positive sentiment. Last Friday, Expolanka pushed -up the market following the announcement of its expansion plans. The market generated a turnover of Rs 1.1 billion in its first hour of trade, compared to a daily average of Rs 1.2 billion. The Expolanka share price appreciated by Rs 19 or 12 per cent. Its share price shot up to Rs 182.25 from Rs 163.25 at the end of trading.

Amid these developments both indices moved upwards. The All- Share Price Index (ASPI) gained by 161 points, while Sri Lanka’s most liquid index grew by 101 points. Turnover stood at Rs 2.45 billion with two crossings. Those crossings were reported in Lankem Development, which crossed 1.4 million shares to the tune of Rs 41 million, its shares traded at Rs 29.30 and Lanka IOC 120,000 shares crossed for Rs 22.2 million and its shares traded at Rs 185.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were Expolanka Holdings Rs 1.12 billion (6.3 million shares traded), Lanka-IOC Rs 336 million (1.7 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 193 million (33 million shares traded), ACL Cables Rs 86.2 million (1.1 million shares traded), First Capital Holdings Rs 67.5 million (3.4 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 61.1 million (168,000 shares traded) and Lankem Development Rs 32 million (1.1 million shares traded). During the day 77.1 million share volumes changed hands in 20000 transactions.

The country’s manufacturing and services sectors contracted in October as per the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) compiled by the Central Bank.

The Manufacturing PMI saw a decline of 4.2 index points in comparison to September driven by decreases recorded in all the sub-indices. The Services PMI gained by 3.3 index points due to the declines observed in new businesses, employment and backlog of work.

Nevertheless, business activities and expectations for activity continued their increasing momentum during the month.

Yesterday the Central Bank- announced US dollar buying rate was Rs 360.29 and the selling rate Rs 371.29.

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ComBank introduces digital receipts for CRM & ATM withdrawals

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The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has introduced digital receipts for ATM transactions, another green banking initiative that is not only environment friendly, but enhances convenience to customers, cuts down on transaction charges and reduces paper wastage.

The Bank has announced that the Bank’s Credit Card or Debit Card holders who use its extensive network of Cash Recycler Machines (CRMs) or Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) island wide for cash withdrawals will be issued a digital receipt instead of a printed physical receipt, via a Short Message Service (SMS) delivered to the customer’s registered mobile number with Commercial Bank.

The SMS will include a link to view the digital version of the receipt which can also be downloaded on to the computer or mobile device in PDF format for future reference, the Bank said. Customers who use digital receipts will be exempt from the Rs 5 charge levied for paper receipts on each CRM and ATM withdrawal.

Commenting on the introduction of the Digital receipts service for CRM and ATM transactions, Commercial Bank’s Deputy General Manager – Marketing, Hasrath Munasinghe said: “While encouraging paperless transactions and fostering environmental consciousness among customers, digital receipts also tackle the problem of littering.”

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