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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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Sampath Bank continues to partner Central Bank on promoting QR payments

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Sampath Bank PLC joined hands with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) yet again to raise awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt LANKAQR for their day to day transactions, Sampath Bank held a 2-day promotional drive at one of Colombo’s latest outdoor dining destinations, Dining Capsule at Baladaksha Mawatha, near Galle Face Green on the 23rd and 24th of January.

Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank PLC, took part in the ceremonial launch of this initiative together with other senior representatives.

The Bank offered 25% cash back on payments made with the LANKAQR-enabled Sampath WePay digital payments mobile application at Dunhinda Colombo, Roots, Grand Monarch, Street Wok, Lavinia, Spice Junction, Giovanni’s Pizza al Taglio and BoxBar outlets at the Dining Capsule during this period.

“Offering greater convenience and security, technology continues to transform the way we conduct our day to day transactions. This is becoming increasingly true in Sri Lanka too, where consumers and businesses are actively adopting digital payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC. “At Sampath Bank we have always focused on leveraging emerging technologies and delivering market relevant solutions that add value to our customers around the island. In line with this, we are delighted to partner with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka on driving the acceptance and usage of LANKAQR.”

“Across Sri Lanka, a growing number of merchants and consumers are getting on board the LANKAQR ecosystem and beginning to appreciate the value offered by QR based payments. We are witnessing this phenomenon with Sampath WePay, the secure, one stop digital wallet from Sampath Bank that allows users to store all types of financial instruments from any bank and carry out a wide range of real-time online transactions.

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Taking cashless transactions across the country

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The Central Bank of Sri Lanka in coordination with leading financial institutions and telcos in the country set in motion the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ promotional campaign with a monumental event on January, 23. The ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ initiative represents the second phase of an island-wide campaign commenced late last year to introduce LANKAQR as the standard for mobile phone and digital payments countrywide, in moving towards a cashless and digitally-savvy society plus greater financial inclusion across Sri Lanka.

Held at Diyatha Uyana, Battaramulla, the event was graced by the Chief Guest, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ms. Yvette Fernando, Deputy Governor CBSL and the chairperson of the National Payments Council, D. Kumaratunge, Director Payments and Settlements – CBSL, and Thilak Piyadigama, chairman – CBSL appointed LANKAQR Committee/CEO SDB bank, among other distinguished guests.

The Colombo-leg of the LANKAQR national campaign, drawing on the participation of numerous high-profile guests plus the island’s top banks and financial institutions, aimed to advance the program’s overall vision of promoting digital transactions as the new norm and included city-wide promotions, covering major commercial locations in and around the city.

Developed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, LANKAQR is a common Quick Response (QR) code standard, and its adoption by most major financial institutions in Sri Lanka is a progressive step on the path to Sri Lankans fully embracing a future that is inevitably digital, gradually leading to an entirely cashless mode of transaction.

The LANKAQR system will allow banks, financial institutions and telcos, through their digital payment apps and platforms, to facilitate fast, secure and low cost digital payments to any merchant or service provider. LANKAQR provides customers with a mechanism for payment for all their needs ranging from groceries, healthcare to utilities, and even the purchase of goods from street-side vendors, directly from their bank account through the use of any LANKAQR-compliant mobile payment app.

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SLT-MOBITEL gives ‘Power to Your Dreams’ with special connectivity offers

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SLT-MOBITEL is all set to launch the ‘Power to Your Dreams – සිහිනයට සවියක්’ campaign to provide the latest connectivity solutions to microbusinesses on the of January, 25 the company announced recently. This program will provide ICT solutions packages encompassing products and services essential for microbusinesses, at maximum affordability.

Understanding the connectivity needs of the microbusiness segment, the promotion provides them solutions that fulfil their requirements. Accordingly, communication, business networking, cloud technology, entertainment & IoT, communications devices and business infrastructure services for various market segments within the microbusiness ecosystem is provided utilising SLT-MOBITEL products and services such as voice & mobile telephony, 4G LTE, SLT Broadband, SLT Fibre and Peo TV services.

Speaking on the planned promotion, Sanjeewa Jayamaha, General Manager – SME Business Development, Sri Lanka Telecom stated, “Microbusinesses are the bedrock of Sri Lanka’s economic activity, supporting day to day transactions for millions of people. It is vitally important that they receive the full benefit of the connectivity solutions offered by the national ICT solutions provider, Sri Lankan Telecom. The brand unification of SLT-MOBITEL means now we can offer a full bouquet of products and services to our clients. This promotion will ensure that microbusinesses from various segments can now access the connectivity solutions most important for their businesses to thrive.”

Microbusinesses operating in entertainment and leisure, fashion and beauty, daily essentials, medical and health care, education, special occasion services, financial services, e-commerce and software development, professional services, construction support and transportation and delivery services will be able to benefit from bespoke packages crafted by SLT-MOBITEL with their specific industry needs taken into consideration.

 

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