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Sri Lanka’s Angel Fund shortlists five startups for investment

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The Angel Fund Investment Committee members who unanimously select the startups for investment.

The Angel Fund, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, has shortlisted its five early-stage startups for potential investment; Niftron, Traccular, Medica, Soulboner Clothing, and Ophir. This follows an intense application and selection process, spanning September, October, and November 2020, which initially attracted 80 applications. 

The Angel Fund, launched earlier this year by the Lankan Angel Network (LAN), was established with the support of ecosystem development partner Ford Foundation to catalyze the growth of Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem. Comprising 100 angel investors, including many high-profile entrepreneurs and corporate leaders, who represent more than a dozen sectors with proven competencies in over 20 functional domains, the Angel Fund is also distinct in that it features 20% of its investment from members based out of Canada, Dubai, Hongkong, Qatar, UK, and the USA.

The process was guided by the Fund’s high-profile Investment Committee (IC) consisting of angel Fund members Dumith Fernando, chairman of Colombo Stock Exchange/chairman of Asia Securities, Dumindra Ratnayaka, Chairman/Senior Consultant at Martin & George. The IC also comprises Nathan Sivagananathan, Co-Founder of Hatch Works; Anarkali Moonesinghe, former CEO of CIMB Sri Lanka; Mangala Karunaratne, Founder/CEO of Calcey Technologies; and Imal Kalutotage, Founder/CEO of NCINGA. Joining them as Independent IC Member is Shiluka Goonewardene, Principal – Deal Advisory – KPMG.

Angel Fund IC member Dumith Fernando stated, “The investment approval process for the Angel Fund was quite robust with seasoned experts from varied backgrounds participating in the Investment Committee. We were encouraged by the quality of the shortlisted startups that presented to us. We set a high bar for investment selection this time. And even among those founders who did not gain funding this quarter, we found several who would be investable with some tweaks to their business models and plan.”

Some shortlisted startups were:

• Niftron – A Blockchain-as-a-Service platform that allows for easy and efficient integration of blockchain with products or projects, enhancing ownership, transparency, and security.

• Traccular – A cloud-based IoT-enabled visitor management system that provides a scalable solution for companies looking for an efficient check-in and verification process to improve efficiency and security.

• Medica – A cloud-based patient and prescription management platform for doctors. From when a patient registers, to when they walk out with their medicines from the pharmacy, the entire process is managed within Medica, which aims to build a digital ecosystem for primary health care for Sri Lanka.

• Soulboner Clothing – A fun, casual Sri-Lankan streetwear line made for GenZ and the young Millennial. The brand focuses on creating a lifestyle and a community and boasts a customer base in many countries. 

• Ophir – A brand focusing on a range of chemical and synthetic-free, all-natural body care and spa products, which deliver the rich benefits of Camellia Sinensis, Ceylon Tea. Ophir taps into the skyrocketing global demand for natural skincare products, with the added advantage of Sri Lanka’s millennia-old fame resulting from its cornucopia of botanicals, spices, and herbs, as well as Ayurveda.

Independent IC Member Shiluka Goonewardene said, “The finalists for evaluation by the committee were all startups with good ideas and opportunities. The varied experience of the IC members enabled us to evaluate and shortlist the best participants for the funding stage. Overall, it was a great learning experience for me as well, listening to the presentations of the finalists and the follow-up discussions among the IC members.”

These startups will be featured at the LAN hosted Angel Roundup, an exclusive virtual event to be held in mid-December for the network’s angel investors. The event is partnered with Sri Lanka’s largest private-sector retail bank Hatton National Bank PLC, a long-term strategic partner for LAN

Commenting on behalf of the top five shortlisted startups, Ophir Founder Rohini Nordmann said, “The Angel Fund has been both rigorous and supportive of its participants. A winning combination for the investment seekers as well as the investors.”

Angel Fund IC member Anarkali Moonesinghe added, “The Angel Fund was created to bridge the gaps that exist within the startup ecosystem in terms of opening this alternative asset class to a wider audience as well as connecting these investors with incredible entrepreneurs. It serves as not only an avenue to secure funding at an early stage, but also affords startups access to an amazing group of individuals who can be true mentors while, also, opening doors to international markets and networks.”

The Rs. 100 million Angel Fund has plans to eventually invest in six to 10 high potential startups in total, gearing them up to scale domestically, and even internationally. It is managed by LAN’s fund management team, which continues to identify and evaluate opportunities for investment across the island, including in traditionally underserved regions. The fund is dedicated to investing in, and mentoring and supporting, early-stage startups across multiple sectors; from making investments at the early stages, to even helping startups identify sources for future funding. 



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Union Assurance expands Bancassurance footprint with Pan Asia Bank partnership

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The Chief Executive Officer of Union Assurance, Jude Gomes says the strategic partnership will pave the way for mutually beneficial and sustainable business growth

Sri Lanka’s No.1 Bancassurance provider, Union Assurance PLC, joined hands with The Truly Sri Lankan Bank, Pan Asia Bank, to expand the scope and reach of Bancassurance in the country. Pan Asia Bank has consistently introduced ground-breaking customer solutions to Sri Lankan consumers. This strategic alliance will offer an array of best-in-class insurance solutions comprising savings, protection, and investment coupled with comprehensive financial solutions. This partnership was officially signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Union Assurance, Jude Gomes, and the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Pan Asia Banking Corporation, Nimal Tillekeratne, on June 21st, 2022 at the Bank’s head office in Colombo.

The Chief Executive Officer of Union Assurance, Jude Gomes, hailed the partnership as a milestone that will expand the Bancassurance footprint in Sri Lanka. He said it will enable them to offer a new-age insurance experience to customers of Pan Asia Bank. “We are delighted to partner with Pan Asia Bank. This strategic partnership will pave the way for mutually beneficial and sustainable business growth,” he emphasized.According to Jude Gomes, Bancassurance is a growing field that offers an unmatched customer-centric experience. “I’m confident that Bancassurance, with its emphasis on service excellence, innovation, and digital leadership, will help narrow the protection gap and empower the Sri Lankan dream,” he stated.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Pan Asia Banking Corporation, Nimal Tillekeratne, commenting on the strategic partnership, said: “We are pleased to partner with Union Assurance and this alliance will facilitate solutions that offer long-term protection and empower the Bank’s customers. Ensuring a secure future is important in these uncertain times, and as a bank with 27 years of expertise in providing financial solutions for Sri Lankans, we believe it enhances our innovative and customer-focused value proposition further,” he added.

This collaboration offers customers of Pan Asia Bank easy access to a range of innovative insurance solutions while fulfilling their banking needs. Pan Asia Bank, one of the fastest-going commercial banks in the country, is known for its innovative banking products and services. The Bank continues to report solid key profitability indicators which rank among the highest in the industry. Going from strength to strength, the nation’s Truly Sri Lankan Bank’, Pan Asia Bank is continuously recognized by many local and global entities for its performance and sustainability.

Adding further, the Chief Bancassurance Officer of Union Assurance, Vindya Cooray, said it was a privilege to be partnering with Pan Asia Bank. She described the alliance as an important step in their Bancassurance strategy to stay ahead in the field and provide value to customers. “Our expertise in Sri Lankan bancassurance landscape, coupled with our digital capabilities will enable us to provide a comprehensive solution where customers could fulfill their financial as well as protection needs under one roof,” she stressed.

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BOI launches online visa recommendation accelerating its digital transformation

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Aimed at enhancing the Ease of Doing Business and accelerating digital transformation, the Board of Investment (BOI), announced on Friday the completion of the integration of the visa recommendation system in coordination with the Department of Immigration and Emigration and the Ministry of Defence to provide online visa recommendation for potential investors visiting Sri Lanka and all the enterprises that fall under the purview of the BOI.The BOI has already completed the online system up to the point where investors/enterprises could submit the visa application online and obtain the approved application from the BOI. For this, the investors were required to make three physical visits to the BOI head office. However, with the integration with the Department of Immigration, there is no need for the investors to visit the BOI at all.

Under the newly launched system, visa recommendations will be granted under three visa categories namely, entry visas, residence visas, and when extending visas. In addition, the applicants, who will be eligible to apply for this, are the investor, employees, and dependents of the investor, and selected employees.

One of the major benefits enjoyed by investors/enterprises out of the novel system, is the elimination of investors’ physical presence at the BOI saving their time. Investors can also monitor the online portal and review the status of the process. Upon the completion of the process, the applicants will be notified via an SMS and email alert. Then, the applicants can take the passport and relevant documents to the Immigration Department where they will be issued the visa. Furthermore, this system will also safeguard against misuse in submission of information, down to the strict assessment.

Speaking at the occasion, BOI Director General Renuka M Weerakone, stated “the implementation of the online visa recommendation system is yet another milestone in the journey of digitizing the entire investor experience to ensure seamless delivery of services to investors,”

“Here, let me make a special mention about the officials of the Department of Immigration, the Ministry of Defence and our IT team for their competence and corporation in making the entire process a success,” she said.

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Seylan enables easy payment plans for solar energy in partnership with Hayleys Solar

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In its bid to ensure that customers always receive convenient products and services that will enable and better their lives, Seylan Bank entered a partnership with Hayleys Solar to provide Seylan Credit Card holders with Easy Payment Plans (EPP) to purchase solar units. With the current energy crisis across the country, and the resulting escalating electricity costs, switching to solar power has become the most sustainable option. However, the high initial cost of installing the panels has limited people from using this alternative. With Seylan Bank’s partnership with Hayleys Solar, the option of transferring to solar energy becomes accessible and affordable to the public.

The easy payment plan for Seylan cards offers 0% installment options from 3 months through 6, 12 and 24 months for a minimum transaction of LKR 10,000 and a maximum of LKR 1 million. Customers are able to convert to the easy payment plan within 7 working days through calling the hotline on 0112008888.Speaking of the partnership Ruchith Liyanage, Head of Cards at Seylan Bank said, “Seylan Cards, as the ‘essential card for essential needs’, has always looked at supporting the essential financial requirements of our customers.”

The partnership between Seylan Bank and Hayleys Solar, the renewable energy arm of Fentons Ltd., which are both leaders in their respective industries, ensures the validity of the venture. Hayleys Solar is primarily focused on renewables and energy storage systems. With over a decade of market excellence, the company has successfully completed over 75MW of solar installations island wide making it the undisputed leader in Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) in Sri Lanka. Energynet, a solution provided by Hayleys Solar offers a wide range of off-grid, hybrid, and battery backup systems.

Hasith Prematillake, Managing Director of Fentons Ltd. says, “As challenging circumstances continue to prevail, it is imperative that we find ways to collaborate to foster practical, alternate renewable energy solutions.”

Roshane Perera, Director/Chief Executive Officer of Hayleys Solar, said, “We strive to develop solutions capable of meeting the nation’s evolving energy requirements. Energynet is one of those ideal solutions for the present power cuts and non-availability of fuel, as it allows the consumers to power up key appliances required to continue their daily lives in a convenient manner.”

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