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Strong result from Dilmah in 2019/20 despite exchange rate hit



IPO investors richly rewarded with a Rs. 10,000 investment earning Rs. 8.6 million in dividends

Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company PLC (previously Ceylon Tea Services) has posted an excellent result within a challenging environment in the year ended Mar. 31, 2020, growing revenue eight percent and gross profit 14% over the previous year; but the bottom line declined two percent owing to what its chairman, Mr. Merril. J. Fernando called a “remarkable” 46% decline in the exchange rate.

Commenting that the outlook for the global economy appeared bleak, he said how long the corona virus will last God alone knows, adding “we can only pray for it to disappear soon and bring hope and comfort back to our homes and our lives.”

Dilmah, with the consent of its shareholders, has increased its contribution to the MJF Charitable Foundation from 10% to 15% of pre-tax profits to be spent towards addressing inequality and wider social and environmental concerns as a part of its core business. This will enable a significant increase in the foundation’s humanitarian operations.

The  company’s key numbers for the year under review were: revenue up 8% to Rs. 11.61 billion, operating profit up 25% to Rs. 1.98 billion, pre-tax profit up 17% to Rs. 1.99 billion and the after tax profit down 2% to Rs. 1.56 billion. Dilmah’s total assets stood at Rs. 17.3 billion against liabilities of Rs. 4.97 billion.

Fernando, in his chairman’s review in the company’s recently published annual report, had drawn attention to the extraordinary rewards enjoyed by investors in what was then Ceylon Tea Services over the years. An investment of Rs. 10,000 in a thousand shares at the company’s initial public offering in 1982 had yielded Rs. 8.6 million in dividends and the original1,000 shares had increased to 20,000 via several bonus issues.

He has noted that the cost of an original ten-rupee share in the hands of the investor has as a result come down to fifty cents and the original 10,000-rupee investment is now valued at Rs. 531,000 at the current market price of the Dilmah share.

“Such is the power of Ceylon Tea in the hands of committed investors in the industry,” he has said.

It is not only investors who have benefited from Fernando’s conviction that “business is a form of human service.” He has said youth from the plantation community assisted by the MJF Foundation’s scholarship program have produced among others doctors, magistrates and chefs.

He says that the tea industry which is being written off by many, offers enormous potential to investors who believe in it. Government authorities responsible for tea can turn it around if they have a realistic vision for the industry, Fernando said welcoming recent interest and initiatives by government in finding solutions to longstanding issues in plantations and exports. Such efforts wold deliver benefit to the country’s economy and Ceylon Tea.

“If the tea industry is strategically managed in the hands of capable people with proven expertise, export earnings could well reach USD 5 billion within the next five years. Bulk tea exports should be discouraged and value added exports should be generously incentivised for the social end economic benefits they bring,” he said.

“Part of the additional income from value added export must be used to advertise and promote quality brands. This is likely to encourage bulk tea exporters to change course.”



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INSEE Cement continues investment in mason development across Sri Lanka



Sri Lanka’s leading cement manufacturer INSEE Cement is driving transformation across the local construction industry with significant investments in empowering one of the sector’s key stakeholder groups; the mason.

‘INSEE Sathkara’, a multifaceted initiative to develop local masons powered by INSEE Cement is shaping the mason of the future – a professionally, socially and financially empowered individual contributing significantly to the advancement of both the local construction industry and Sri Lanka’s economy.

“The INSEE Sathkara initiative facilitates empowerment and development through up-skilling, social recognition and financial stability, an all-round approach that has successfully nurtured a new generation of masons that are fast adaptable to industry demands through newly developed skillsets, knowledge and capacities,” says Jan Kunigk, Executive Vice President, INSEE Cement.

INSEE Cement’s approach is to build a certified and skilled workforce with recognized credentials to bridge a gaping skill gap in the construction industry. The program ensures sustainable capacity development for masons backed by National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) in collaboration with the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA) of Sri Lanka.

INSEE Cement also launched a Mason Apprenticeship Program to provide 120-day training opportunities for masons to learn on the job, preparing them to enter the workforce with specialized skillsets.

For Ajith Kumara Dissanayaka from Ambathenna, a mason for nearly 16 years, receiving all-round advancement through INSEE Sathkara has been truly life changing. “Five years ago, I was able to complete a course conducted by INSEE Cement and NAITA and received a Level 3 NVQ certification – my first professional credentials as a mason. This training gave me knowledge and insight that I had not received in over a decade of working as a mason, and it made me look at my profession differently. I improved my tile work skills, which also increased my income,” Dissanayaka stated.

This professional up-skilling has enabled INSEE Cement to create much needed social recognition and acceptance for Masons across Sri Lanka as a crucial link in the construction industry value chain. Mason Chats, Mason Meets and exclusive membership to the INSEE Concrete Society (ICS) has provided local masons industry inclusivity as well as recognition and rewards to encourage new avenues of income and entrepreneurship. Long-established ICS-member masons are also rewarded for their contribution to the local construction industry through ‘INSEE Garu Sara’.

To secure a stronger financial future for masons, INSEE Cement has introduced a comprehensive life insurance policy with disability, medical and accidental cover. This comes in addition to the pension scheme introduced to masons in partnership with the Employee Trust Fund Board (ETFB) of Sri Lanka.

“I joined the INSEE programme five years ago, and have benefited in ways I never imagined. The knowledge I gained about the industry, Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLS) standards and safety requirements have made me a better professional, and my clients respect me more because of it,” stated Ratna Ravindara, a mason based in Kandy with over two decades of industry experience.

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European ride-hail Bolt enters Sri Lanka



Bolt, the leading European transportation platform committed to making urban travel easier, quicker and more reliable; announced its entry to the Sri Lankan market, with a pilot launch of its service in Colombo, on November 25, 2020 with over 2000 drivers ready to start accepting rides. Bolt pilots its services in South Asia for the first time with the launch of operations in Sri Lanka.

Committed to affordable trips and happy drivers, the company has announced that it will be charging drivers no commission for using the platform and offer fares 20% lower than other competitors, for a minimum of six months. It builds on being smart about how to grow the company, and focusing operations on efficiency, allowing Bolt to pass the savings on to customers, passengers and drivers.

Bolt has chosen to enter Sri Lanka during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis with the firm belief that people still need to move around in the city and doing its best to fulfil the mission to help them do so. Currently available only within Colombo, Bolt services can be accessed by passengers by downloading the secure and free Bolt app from Apple App Store or Google Play Store and setting up a user profile. Any person with their own Car who wishes to join Bolt as a driver, can easily register with the company through by completing the relevant formalities or through the Bolt Driver App available on Apple App store or Google Play Store.

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Mobisec marks 6th anniversary as its future outlook remains strong



International footprint with branch office in Melbourne

Mobisec (Pvt) Ltd, an innovator in the mobile application sector in Sri Lanka is celebrating its 6thanniversary since its inception in November 2014.

Over the years it has served hundreds of thousands of customers across Sri Lanka through its telco and mobile applications. Starting with humble beginnings as a start-up, Ashen Gomez, Founder & Managing Director of Mobisec has worked diligently over the years alongside his wife Sumudu, the Co-founder of Mobisec to build the company and expand its services in different verticals.

The company marked its first international expansion in the beginning of this year by establishing a new branch office in Melbourne, Australia. Today, the company is home to a dynamic team of over 30 software development experts.

Founder & Managing Director of Mobisec Ashen Gomez said; “since inception, we have continued to create applications that revolutionize the way people connect with the technology. Our prime focus is to provide smart and reliable solutions for modern problems our customers are facing and help them improve the quality of their lifestyle.”

Company’s product portfolio expanded further during this year along with the three brand new products that were launched into the Market. “Baby’s Diary” is one of the Android Apps that was added to Mobisec’s product portfolio in the mid of this year and currently the App has crossed over 10,000 downloads. It’s an all-in-one parenting solution, which contains a variety of options to keep track on the baby’s activities while shopping for all the baby essentials. Since its launch, the App has gained widespread attention and it’s shaping to be a game changer for all new parents in Sri Lanka.

“We are pleased to say that the Baby’s Diary App is the first and only Parenting App developed in Sri Lanka exclusively for parents of new-borns.The challenges and struggles for a new parent have never been addressed through out the past and that’s where we strongly believed that the concept of Smart Parenting needs be introduced to the Sri Lankan market”, said PrasannaDahanayake, Product Manager/ Business Analyst of Mobisec.

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