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UNDP-led Private Sector Giving Facility launched



Event: Top row (L-R) Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, Resident Coordinator, United Nations in Sri Lanka, Dr. Anver Hamdani, Director Medical Technical Services, Coordinating In Charge/ COVID-19, Ministry of Health; Malin Herwig, Officer in Charge, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka; and Vimlendra Sharan, Representative for Sri Lanka and Maldives, Food and Agriculture Organization. Bottom row (L-R) Kasthuri Chellaraja Wilson, Executive Director, Group CEO, Hemas Holdings PLC; Dilhan C. Fernando, CEO, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company; Natasha Boralessa, Group Director, Brandix Apparel Limited and Rakhil Fernando, Managing Director, Daraz Sri Lanka

Hemas, Dilmah, Brandix and Daraz come together to provide emergency relief

The health and food sectors are two of the most heavily affected by the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka, with severe medical and food supply shortages, availability of basic pharmaceuticals and overall health and wellbeing continuing to be significantly affected.

In this backdrop, building on established partnerships and keen interests of various actors, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka has leveraged its experience to develop a giving facility, comprising of two mechanisms; Firstly, by channeling private sector funds towards procuring essential and non-essential medical supplies and address food security; and secondly, by channeling individual donations through a crowdfunding mechanism set up by UNDP.

In response, key private sector actors including Hemas Holdings PLC, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company, Brandix Apparel Limited and Daraz Sri Lanka have come forward to pledge their commitment through the facility to complement and strengthen the ongoing health sector efforts of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) and food sector efforts led and coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) among others. Sarvodaya, the United Nations Global Compact Network Sri Lanka and oDoc Sri Lanka will also come on board as Strategic Partners of the facility, a news release on the initiative said.

Speaking at the launch event held last week, H.E. Ms. Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, Resident Coordinator, United Nations in Sri Lanka stated, “Now is the time for the private sector to show solidarity and prove what we have known all along – investing in prevention is good for business. Therefore, we call on you to urgently support our Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) Plan to provide life-saving assistance to the women, men, and children most affected by the crisis and thus prevent a deterioration of humanitarian needs in the country.”

Reiterating the crucial importance of inter-agency collaboration for crisis relief, Mr. Dilhan C. Fernando, CEO, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company stated, “Sri Lanka will rise again as businesses, individuals, local and international agencies work together with the government to ease the pain our nation is suffering. Circumstances demand that we all act with the kindness and empathy that Sri Lankans are known for. With this mindset, we will face the present and future crises with strength. We are blessed to have the possibility of helping at this time, and thank UNDP Sri Lanka for initiating this collaboration while inviting every business that can help, to support the effort.”

Highlighting the key role the private sector has historically played in humanitarian efforts, especially in times of crisis, Ms. Kasthuri Chellaraja Wilson, Executive Director, Group CEO, Hemas Holdings PLC mentioned, “As Sri Lanka navigates its worst economic crisis, Hemas remains committed to support our people and our country. Being the leader in Pharmaceuticals we are committed to support the most impacted vulnerable communities, and enable access to medicines. Our partnership with UNDP is in line with these efforts and we will focus on providing essential and near essential medicine to communities across the island”

The launch event saw the participation of several high-level representatives from partnering organizations including Dr. Anver Hamdani, Director Medical Technical Services, Coordinating In Charge/ COVID-19, Ministry of Health; H.E. Ms. Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, Resident Coordinator, United Nations in Sri Lanka; Ms. Kasthuri Chellaraja Wilson, Executive Director, Group CEO, Hemas Holdings PLC; Mr. Dilhan C. Fernando, CEO, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company; Ms. Natasha Boralessa, Group Director, Brandix Apparel Limited; Mr. Rakhil Fernando, Managing Director, Daraz Sri Lanka; Mr. Heshan Fernando, CEO and Co-Founder, oDoc Sri Lanka; Mr. Rathika de Silva, Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network Sri Lanka; Ms. Malin Herwig, Officer in Charge, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka; and Mr. Vimlendra Sharan, Representative for Sri Lanka and Maldives, Food and Agriculture Organization.

Speaking on the importance of addressing the need of the hour, Ms. Natasha Boralessa, Group Director, Brandix Apparel Limited stated, “The Inspired People of Brandix pledge our commitment to thoughtful solutions to the food security challenge we face as a nation. Through our Manusathkara initiative, we already uplift the lives of our employees and the communities in which we operate in with our Model Village programmes across Sri Lanka, and with this partnership with UNDP, we will infuse much-needed inputs for short and medium-term relief assistance to restoring seasonal agricultural cycles. Our efforts will create immediate impact to tackle the challenges at hand, and also drive positive sustainable change.”

Speaking on mobilizing the private sector beyond Sri Lanka, Mr. Rakhil Fernando, Managing Director, Daraz Sri Lanka stated, “Given the country’s development to middle-income status, mobilizing funds from beyond Sri Lanka will be challenging, but a concerted effort with international organizations like the UNDP to raise awareness of Sri Lanka’s humanitarian crisis among the global community is an important first step. We need to work to start the required conversations, explore all possible options and leverage our technology, markets, networks and resources to mobilize private sector funds outside of Sri Lanka.”

Reiterating UNDP’s convening role in the facility, Ms. Malin Herwig, Officer in Charge, UNDP in Sri Lanka stated, “The giving facility will provide vital health and food sector support, liaising closely with relevant partners on procuring and delivering based on clear requirements, in strict compliance with UNDP’s globally renowned procurement guidelines. UNDP through its overall response efforts towards Sri Lanka’s recovery has leveraged its prior experience and strong relationship with the private sector to kickstart this facility, and looks forward to engaging with further private sector actors in working closely with fellow UN agencies, committed to empowering and strengthening vulnerable communities.”

The individual crowdfunding facility will be launched in the coming weeks, which provides the opportunity for individuals to contribute towards alleviating the impacts of the crisis, not only through addressing shortages in the healthcare sector but also by contributing to strengthening food security and other response measures in Sri Lanka.

Contact: | 0779804188 | 011-2580691 Ext. 1501  Get in touch: UNDP on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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StrEdge calls for SMART restructuring of businesses



In a climate of unprecedented economic challenges, restructuring of businesses, from public enterprises to SMEs is critical, says the leadership of the StrEdge Group of Companies. In a press statement, StrEdge Group, which is a cluster of home-grown enterprises covering consultancy in Processes, People, Finance and Technology, notes that Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Human Resource Restructuring, Financial Restructuring and Automation are crucial not merely to support rebuilding the country but also from a long-term sustainability perspective.

“Multi-dimensional restructuring is a prudent and a tested method to come out of the difficult circumstances the entire country is facing right now.  This will create results in national interest if all can adopt SMART methodologies, from entrepreneurs to government hierarchy,” Group Director /CEO StrEdge Advisory, Sumedha Wijesekera notes in the press statement.

StrEdge which brings hands-on experience restructuring multiple businesses from corporates to SMEs, believes that a proper analysis of the existing banking finance structures of a business cannot be undermined. “The rising finance costs and all the macroeconomic constraints coupled with prevailing uncertainties have warranted restructures from both the business perspective as well as that of the bankers’,” observes Wijesekera.  From a business perspective, such restructuring would enable solutions for cash flow constraints, save bank interest cost, promote sustainable growth and more importantly, businesses to be future-ready to capture the market potential in the next upward curve of the economy, he says.

 From the bank’s perspective, restructuring helps to offer better structures with effective monitoring to match the business requirements, prevent NPLs and build up strong and more profitable relationships by being able to act as an advisor in this setting.

Furthermore, it is very important to revisit the costing of goods and services in any organisation in view of increased raw materials prices, exchange rates, finance cost, loss of sales, diminishing margins and loss of capacity. Introductions of dynamic price mechanisms for each product and service channel of today’s businesses, will give a lot of clarity for the leadership to manage them successfully.

 The StrEdge Group which has in depth experience in BPR covering multiple industries including both banks and non-banking financial institutions, believes that SMART restructuring will help organisations re-align their processes with present and future demands, says StrEdge Group Director, Janaka Epasinghe. The current demand to achieve more with less resources, has triggered this as a need, he adds.  “Eliminating waste, increasing the service levels, reduction in costs, increased visibility, internal and external customer satisfaction and future-readiness are few of the results that can be derived with this activity.  Furthermore, this will strengthen the sustainability of any organisation,” Epasinghe remarks.

 Current economic constraints have taken a huge toll on the human resource which is the heart of any organisation, compelling to revisit the HR pillar for sustainability and growth, observes Epasinghe who notes that if organisations are not in a position to compensate with economic benefits, it’s always important to bring other interventions to maintain productivity.

“The biggest bonus here is that even the workforce is ready to embrace changes despite the current challenging environment with a resilient mindset, which the leadership needs to capitalise on,” says the StrEdge Director.

 The foreign currency constraints and the lack of resources due to the brain drain in the IT industry have pushed certain organisations to successfully opt for less expensive technology solutions with the help from external and internal experts. “These interventions will give results within a shorter period of time with a very low budget.  Empowering the staff, cost reductions, visualisation, better service standards and increased profitability are some of the major benefits of these SMART technology interventions within a company,” observes StrEdge Tech Solutions Director/CEO, Udaya Samaradivakara. It will also help them to address multiple urgent needs from a people-process-finance and technology perspective, without waiting until times get better and this certainly will be a SMART option, notes Samaradivakara.

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Oil demand forecasts aren’t as bullish as they seem



Oil has become an attractive alternative fuel because gas prices have soared. But Europe is rapidly replenishing its natural gas stockpiles.Recent revisions to oil demand forecasts aren’t as bullish as they might appear. Don’t get too excited about prices going up just yet.

The International Energy Agency, the US Energy Information Administration and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries all updated their short-term outlooks in the past week. Two of them cut their demand estimates for both this year and next, with only the IEA breaking ranks to increase its forecasts. And it wasn’t just a minor tweak from the Paris-based agency. It revised oil demand higher for this year by a whopping 520,000 barrels a day, with most of that rolled forward into 2023 as well. On the face of it, that’s very bullish for oil.

But there are plenty of reasons to be cautious. First, let’s compare the actual outlooks from the three sets of analysts and put them in their historical context. The IEA’s revision sets its new demand number for 2022 roughly halfway between those of the other two agencies. It also brings its outlook pretty much back to where it saw things in March. So, although the IEA’s revision was big, it’s not out of line with others.

The other noticeable feature in the forecasts is that oil demand growth is disappearing fast, as the chart below illustrates. Global oil demand grew year on year by about 5 million barrels a day in the first quarter of the year — all three sources agree on that — but that increase is now evaporating.

That’s not entirely unexpected when you consider year on year comparisons. Oil demand at the start of 2021 was still adversely affected by the Covid pandemic, so a rebound at the beginning of this year was entirely reasonable. Then economic activity and travel eventually picked up later in 2021, so we would expect demand growth in the corresponding quarters of 2022 to ease.


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Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka hosts its 1st AGM



The Digital Marketing Association of Sri Lanka (DMASL), Sri Lanka’s national body of digital marketers hosted its 1st Annual General Meeting on the 4th of August 2022. Umair Wolid was ceremoniously inducted as the new President of DMASL for the year 2022/2023 at the event. Additionally, a new Executive Committee was also appointed during the course of the event.

The DMASL was formed in 2021 in an effort to drive the growth of the digital marketing industry. The association plays a pivotal role in recognizing, representing, and supporting Sri Lanka’s digital marketing professionals. Since its inception, the DMASL has implemented professional standards, ethical guidelines and ensured best practices for Sri Lanka’s digital marketing industry.

The newly elected President of the DMASL commented on the event: “I am truly honoured and grateful to have been selected as President of the DMASL. I look forward to working with the entire digital marketing fraternity to help uplift the digital marketing industry in Sri Lanka. The DMASL was created as a platform for individuals to expand their knowledge and provide guidance on running digital businesses in an ethical manner. I look forward to the upcoming year and all the opportunities and challenges it will bring”.

The newly elected EXCO committee for the year 2022/23 includes; Kabeer Rafaideen, Muhammed Gazzaly, Niranka Perera, Rajitha Dahanayake, Jaque Perera, Prasad Perera, Udara Dharmasena, Lalinda Ariyaratna, Infas Iqbal, Amitha Amarasinghe, Sanjini Munaweera, Umair Wolid, Gayathri Seneviratne, Arjun Jeger, Shalendra Mendis and Shehan Selvanayagam.

Over the next year, the DMASL is looking to improve upon its previous efforts and continue implementing training sessions, knowledge sharing, and networking activities which will bring together different sectors in the industry.. The association will also be looking into integration of digital marketing into businesses, as it is an important element in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery. Another key area of focus for the DMASL is working in tandem with selected Government Organisations to help strategize Digital firsts and Digital marketing driven projects.

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