Sri Lanka’s pioneering startup acceleration program, Venture Engine, will soon wrap up its submissions phase, with applications set to close on October 22, 2021. This date is fast approaching, so don’t miss out on the chance to participate in 2021’s program, which will help startups immensely in accelerating during these unprecedented times.
Geared toward Seed and Growth stage startups that are interested in scaling, the Venture Engine program is also open to entrepreneurs opting to submit new, early stage business ideas with huge addressable markets. Visit www.ventureengine.lk to learn more about the application process.
Founded by BOV Capital and the Indian Angel Network, Venture Engine is partnered by the Lankan Angel Network (LAN) with the Ford Foundation being the program’s Platinum Sponsor in 2021.
Held over October, November and December 2021, and providing much needed support for the local startup sector during this pandemic, Venture Engine returns for its tenth year with plans to help innovative and scalable startups solve a genuine pain point.
This year’s Venture Engine program will, for the fourth time, offer up a very special Impact Entrepreneurship Award that highlights for-profit Social Enterprises. This initiative is once again being promoted by Indian Venture Capital firm Aavishkaar, a Gold Sponsor for Venture Engine 2021. Other sponsors and partners for 2021 include ICTA, SL@100, Council for Startups, SLASSCOM, HATCH, Dialog Axiata PLC, KPMG, PwC, AOD, Shift and CPP.
Following the closing of the Venture Engine 2021 application process, selected participants will go through several rounds of filtering and workshops, during which they will pitch their ideas to a panel of investors and domain experts.
According to BOV Capital Co-Founder, and LAN Founder, Prajeeth Balasubramaniam; “Sri Lanka can become a very powerful Technology and Innovation Hub, and BOV Capital will spend the next 15-20 years focusing on this mission. Given the country’s highly skilled tech talent, along with its geopolitical location accessing over US$ 7 trillion in GDP across India, SEA and GCC within five hours flying time, we believe this idea of ‘coming from Sri Lanka and building for the world’ is very real.”
BOV Capital has helped in developing the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem since 2009, having launched Venture Engine program in 2012. Over the past decade, this program has become a powerful launchpad for Sri Lankan startups, helping them launch and raise their first round of capital, as well as also facilitating access to world-class mentors and learning. With its mission to help the next generation of Sri Lankan entrepreneurs, while building extraordinary companies, BOV Capital will continue to partner with Sri Lankan founders through a series of funds over the next 10 years. Its ultimate goal being to help transform Sri Lanka into Asia’s next technology and innovation powerhouse.
Since it first kicked off 10 years ago, Venture Engine has become Sri Lanka’s most successful platform for accelerating, and growing, the country’s most promising new business ideas. Over a thousand Sri Lankan startups have been vetted and mentored by this program since its launch in 2012. To date, the Venture Engine program has attracted Rs. 2Bn+ in funding for 35 of Sri Lanka’s most exciting startups. Some successful Venture Engine startups include InsureMe, Roar, ZigZag.lk, Takas.lk, Saraii Village, Stripes & Checks, Skrumptious, Kimbula Kithul, Strive, PlushBox, Nithya, Extrogene, OMAK Technologies, LiveRoom, Intellocut, BusSeat.lk, IgniterSpace, House of Lonali and 24-7 Techies.
‘Dollar reserves in SL plummet drastically, putting the economy in jeopardy‘
By Steve A. Morrell
Sri Lanka’s dollar reserves have declined from $ 7.15 billion in 2019 to $ 2.8 billion currently. The President conceded economic failures although reasons for such failure were not explained, chairman, National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) Canisius Fernando said.
Fernando added recently at a forum: “Forex reserves are insufficient to expedite payment of import bills. More so that cost incurred on container traffic for imports and or exports was on a rising spiral. In comparison to cost of container shipping recorded at $ 2,800 earlier, it is now $ 12,000, indicating a rise in multiples of 250.
“Additionally, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP +) affecting our trade with EU countries, placed Sri Lanka’s reputation at a risk, meaning that countries could veer away from Sri Lanka prompted by a possible inability to honor our trade commitments. The clear example being trade with the US. Rather than await goods and services transactions with Sri Lanka, that could invariably take three months, US economists and their trade sector opted to transact trade with countries in close proximity to US shores.
“Dearth of container traffic and rising cost for on- loading and off- loading of cargo seriously affect trade imbalances. Consequently, the credit worthiness of the Sri Lankan economy is affected, which in turn seriously affects the GDP.
“Worker wages which were static because of trade shut- downs caused demands for increased wages. Wage demands of Rs 1,500 from employees became a major phenomenon in most sectors. The question at issue was the hypothetical position of business establishments of about 4000 employees demanding increased wages. This would cause closure of those companies resulting in unemployment.
“The proverbial domino effect of such repercussions would cause further chaos in the economy.
“There was no proper policy in most sectors. Suspension of the import of fertilizer and consequent confusion would, in the short run, result in famine and food shortages. Already this was evident in the public panic caused by having to stand in line to purchase essentials. That the crisis is upon us and the question of a quick solution is not feasible in the current context of the economy.
“Foreign investors are lured by the possibility of cheap labour in Sri Lanka to establish their businesses here, but in this instance too, this is only a hypothetical situation but not the reality.”
Supuni Products gives back by way of welfare initiative, helps to uplift the needy patients with chronic illnesses
Supuni Products first started in 2016 when the business proprietor, Supuni Lakmalie along with her husband only had Rs. 150 as investment. With that small amount, they purchased kollu (lentils) and kurakkan and ground them using a grindstone. This was the beginning for them and today, Supuni Products is a booming enterprise that specializes in ground spices and cereal, operating from the town of Nildandahinna, Walapane. Their products are of very high quality and 100% natural and consists of 15 different spice and cereal products including chilli, coriander, turmeric, pepper, curry powder, kurakkan, lentil (kollu) etc.
In 2018, Supuni Products received the opportunity to supply kurakkan flour and cereal to be included into the Poshana Malla, which is a nutrition package prepared for pregnant women, instigated by the government. The success of their business was such that they were able to gain an equity of over Rs. Four million during the past three years.
As part of a welfare initiative, they have also pledged to allocate one rupee for every kilogram of product sold, towards supporting patients with financial difficulties and require emergency surgery and for those with chronic diseases. While having had to run a business in the confines of their own home, the grant offering they received from the enterprise project allowed them to complete construction work of their new factory. She now hopes to expand the business, improve their supply chain, and create new employment opportunities.
Dialog Enterprise offers Dell Technologies Cloud IaaS in Sri Lanka
Dialog Enterprise, the corporate solutions arm of Dialog Axiata PLC, is working with Dell Technologies Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) in Sri Lanka to offer Dell Technologies Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions to customers to innovate and scale rapidly, reduce costs and increase performance of business-critical infrastructure.
“Together, with our combined forces, we bring the only hybrid multi-cloud partnership in the country, giving access to private clouds as well as to our existing public cloud, and for on-premises infrastructure, robustly powered by Dell Technologies and VMWare. Envisioning a one-stop multiservice solution for all enterprise requirements, we strive continuously to keep to the changing landscape strengthening the cloud play in the arena,” said Navin Pieris, the Vice President – Enterprise Business and Large Enterprise Sales, Dialog Axiata PLC.
Rather than making capital investments in hardware, storage and servers to maintain them, enterprises can harness and scale IaaS resources when needed, paying only for infrastructure services they consume. Mitigating and allowing for any threat of data loss, the cloud partnership also offers cyber recovery as a service with a guaranteed uptime of 99.95%, end-to-end management of data centers and 24×7 support with zero operational burden on the customer. Ensuring the same standardization, self-service, automation and analytics capabilities that exist in the public cloud, the partnership facilitates secure private clouds for customers along with servers, storage and customized enterprise, private and/or public cloud solutions as required by enterprises.
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