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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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Latest model of OPPO F- Series tipped to launch in March

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It is learnt that OPPO is set to unveil the latest addition to their range – the F19 Series in early March 2021. A rectangular camera module with four lenses, LED flash, and AI support adorns the rear design of the F19 Pro while a smart band which may get launched simultaneously – is seen alongside, in a post revealing the series.

OPPO F19 Pro looks quite elegant its design & features a button on the right side which is believed to be the power on/off button. As per the poster image, there is no physical fingerprint sensor at the back panel, which suggests the phone might come with an in-display fingerprint sensor.

While OPPO might be working on the low-light camera performance, it is also suggested that it will have features like AI Colour Portrait Video, and Dual-View Video, which allow recording videos from both front and rear cameras.

Wrapped in Ultra Slim Body, the device is tipped to come in at least two shades.

The OPPO Smart Band could also be expected in Sri Lanka alongside the launch of the new F19 Series, similar to the OPPO watch which was released with OPPO F17 Pro. The Smart Band is said to handle message notifications which will include incoming call notification & call rejection, apart from having whole host of other features. Both products are expected to be in stores from mid- March 2021.

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Business

Dialog Axiata revolutionizes digital payment acceptance for small business owners

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eZ Cash, Sri Lanka’s Largest Mobile Money platform has enabled instant access for small businesses to accept contactless and remote payments using LANKAQR. With the Central Bank of Sri Lanka led initiative to digitize small value payments in Sri Lanka through an inter-operable, standardized LANKAQR, Dialog Axiata PLC (“Dialog”) is committed to empowering the nation with simple, easy solutions which add value to small businesses who are now able to self register for this service through their mobile phones.

Small business and self employed persons such as retailers, street vendors, three wheelers etc. with a Dialog mobile number can now download the eZ Cash app and use a simple registration process to sign-up for an eZ Cash Classic Wallet at no additional cost. On using the “MyQR” feature via the eZ Cash app, they can start accepting payments from their customers using their unique LANKAQR code. Payments can be accepted from any mobile banking app or payment wallet in the country which has enabled LANKAQR transactions, and proceeds will be received instantly to their wallet. Transactions using the LANKAQR payment network will be charged a nominal fee of 0.5% of the transaction value. Businesses are able to withdraw cash from the wallet at over 20,000 eZ Cash retailers located island wide or at any commercial bank ATM. Proceeds from the wallet can be used to settle over 100 utility or institutional payments to companies such as CEB, LECO, the Water Board, SLIC, AIA, Ceylinco Insurance, HNB Finance, CDB, AMW Finance etc. eZ Cash Wallet holders can also send money to an eZ Cash Wallet or pay for good and services at any retailer in the country which has enabled LANKAQR payment acceptance.

The revolutionary MyQR solution can also be used by online businesses to accept payments by posting a saved image of their LANKAQR code on their website or Facebook page. Businesses can also accept remote payments from their customers by forwarding their saved LANKAQR code via email and WhatsAapp so that customers can scan the image of the LANKAQR code and make payments through their bank’s mobile payment app which has enabled LANKAQR. Payments to the value of Rs. 10,000 per day can be accepted into an eZ Cash Classic Wallet while payments in excess of this value and up to Rs. 50,000 per day can be enabled through an eZ Cash Power Wallet. Customers can enhance their Classic eZ Cash Wallet to a Power Wallet by visiting any Dialog Customer Experience Centre or Service Centre.

 

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Business

Hirdaramani takes bold new steps in transparency

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The Hirdaramani Group has yet again taken bold strides towards energy accountability by being the first in Sri Lanka to receive International Renewable Energy Certificates (I-RECs) for its energy usage. With this robust tracking standard, the group hopes to add new layers of accountability and credibility to its operations, living up to the commitments outlined in the company’s own sustainability vision.

As Energy Attribute Certificates (EACs), I-RECs serve to increase transparency in the energy sector and provide clarity about the use of renewable electricity among end-consumers. The I-REC Standard (www.irecstandard.org) ensures that issued certificates comply with major international sustainability and carbon accountability standards and adhere to stakeholder expectations of industry best practice for the avoidance of double counting, double certificate issuance and double attribute claiming. The system also helps individual companies seeking to improve their environmental credentials, while raising awareness among consumers and industry players.

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