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United States supports Verité Research in identifying ways to improve youth entrepreneurship

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The United States has supported Verité Research in producing its latest youth labor market assessment. The findings were presented to the public via a webinar titled, “Improving Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka: Insights & Strategies” on November 19. It was supported under the U.S. government’s development arm the United States Agency for International Development Agency (USAID)-funded youth skills development and entrepreneurship project, YouLead.

The assessment focused on developing innovative methods to improve employment and entrepreneurship among youth in Sri Lanka. Findings focused on overcoming challenges relating to youth unemployment and low female participation in the workforce and to promote entrepreneurship among youth.

USAID Mission Director Reed Aeschliman noted the importance of strengthening the entrepreneurial mindset that can lead to more gainful and self-employment of youth in Sri Lanka. He further emphasized the importance of increasing women’s participation in the economy and taking effective steps to create more economic opportunities for youth to foster sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Executive Director Verité Research Dr. Nishan de Mel, who led the research team, noted that this study aimed to tap into the extensive body of research available to devise quick and practical solutions the private sector and other stakeholders can use to unlock employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for youth in Sri Lanka.

The report’s key recommendations are:

1. Moving youth to Own-Account Work (OAW) – The assessment recommends re-thinking the path to youth entrepreneurship by encouraging and supporting youth to become own-account workers before becoming fully-fledged businesses. Verité estimates that if Sri Lanka can successfully promote OAW among youth in Sri Lanka, through awareness building about OAW and supporting access to markets via the usage of digital platforms, the country may see the setup of 216,000 new micro and small businesses in the future. This can also eventually lead to the creation of almost 400,000 new jobs in the country.

2. A case for state supported maternity leave benefits – The assessment proposes Sri Lanka to shift towards a state-supported maternity leave program via tax concessions. That way it will reduce the discrimination that women aged 20-40 years face in the labor market stemming from mandatory employer-funded maternity entitlements. Verité estimates that this could cost as little as 0.25% of tax revenue (Rs 4.2 billion) annually, much less than other government welfare and employment programs. This can lead to increased economic participation by women, helping to inject more income to households, cushioning the impact of post-Covid job losses, and acting as an economic stimulus to the private sector.

3. Engaging disengaged young women: The assessment finds that disengagement from the labor market is a gender problem in Sri Lanka, with 89% of those disengaged being women. However, nearly one out of every three disengaged young women are interested in working and Verité Research proposes implementing Return-To-Work programs with flexible working options to target women who have left the workforce for family-related reasons but are now interested in returning to work. Verité Research estimates that it could lead to the addition of a potential workforce of 243,000 new workers for the Sri Lankan labor market.

Charles Conconi, Project Director YouLead, concluded the program by thanking the Verité Research team’s efforts and USAID for supporting this valuable research. He emphasized that Youlead is committed to engage in practical and evidence-based interventions to improve youth entrepreneurship and women’s employment in Sri Lanka.

The full research report can be accessed here:

Youth Labour Market Assessment Sri Lanka



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Rootcode wins Startup of the Year and People’s Choice Award at SAARC Startup Awards 2022

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Rootcode, one of Sri Lanka’s leading tech companies, recently took home the “People’s Choice Award” in addition to being bestowed with the “Startup of the Year” title at the SAARC Startup Awards 2022. This regional recognition marks a significant milestone for the Sri Lankan tech space and workforce. Rootcode’s mission to build great tech is well underway, and it is gaining traction faster than ever.

This is the first time a Sri Lankan tech company has made a name for itself in the regional competition, and it is a watershed moment that has focused the global spotlight on Rootcode’s distinct approach to fostering innovation in Sri Lanka. This is also the first time that a Sri Lankan company was able to take home two awards of those presented at the SAARC Startup Awards.

Global Startup Awards SAARC celebrates the spirit of entrepreneurship and promotes bridging boundaries through innovation in its regions, which include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, by recognizing them with its most prestigious awards program, attended by top-notch entrepreneurs, corporates, investors, and ecosystem builders from Nordic, Central Europe, SAARC, and ASEAN regions.

Every year, the SAARC Startup Awards bring together hundreds of South Asian startups, entrepreneurs, investors, co-working spaces, and accelerators to provide a platform to highlight trailblazers in the region’s startup world. Rootcode was chosen ahead of dozens of other regional tech startups in the competition.

Sri Lanka is a relative newcomer to the South Asian startup fraternity, and Rootcode’s ability to represent the country on the global stage not long after its inception is remarkable.

“We are extremely humbled and honored by the support shown to us at the SAARC Startup Awards 2022, and being recognized under two categories is a huge milestone for us,” said the CEO and Founder of Rootcode Labs, Alagan Mahalingam. “We have always been driven forward by excellence, collaboration, and integrity, which I believe is the reason why we have come so far and why Rootcode continues to grow every day.”

Rootcode is driven by its focus on helping businesses build great tech not just locally but globally, and its achievement at the SAARC awards stands as a testament to that. Despite the challenging times, this is a win for Sri Lanka.

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INSEE Cement felicitates Sri Lanka’s youngest Commonwealth medallist

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INSEE Cement awarded aspiring wrestler, Nethmi Ahimsa Fernando, who won a Bronze Medal for Sri Lanka at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, LKR 1 million cash reward, to support her to pursue her passion. Suranga Kumara, her coach, also received LKR 250,000 cash reward, in appreciation of his contribution towards Nethmi’s recent achievements. INSEE Cement has also pledged to support Nethmi’s aspiration to represent Sri Lanka at the 2024 Olympic games, while also providing the entire cement requirement for the completion of her new house, which is presently under construction, in collaboration with the Manusath Derana initiative.

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Textile maker Teejay knits strong start to 2022-23

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Q1 revenue more than doubles to Rs 23.9 billion

Teejay Lanka PLC has made a positive start to 2022-23 posting Group revenue of Rs 23.9 billion for the three months ending 30th June 2022. The Group achieved nearly half its full-year revenue of 2021-22 in just the first quarter of the new financial year as a result of the low base of the previous financial year due to the impacts of COVID, the depreciation of the Rupee and the passing on of yarn price increases during the last quarter.

In a filing with the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), Sri Lanka’s largest textile manufacturer said it had also recorded significant growth in pre-tax and net profit at both Group and Company level in the quarter reviewed.According to interim financial statements, Group profit before tax for the three months grew by more than Rs 1 billion or 291% to Rs 1.5 billion, while Group net profit for the period was up 301% to Rs 1.2 billion.

At Company level, revenue improved by 108% in the quarter under review to Rs 12.9 billion, while profit before tax grew by 323% to Rs 1.5 billion, and net profit increased by 311% to Rs 1.3 billion.

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