Leading online payment gateway, WEBXPAY announced a milestone partnership with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to significantly expand access to digital payments for Sri Lankan Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).
The DFAT Partnership for Recovery is part of a series aimed at promoting regional economic recovery. Leveraging WEBXPAY’s ground-breaking payment gateway and integrated e-commerce solutions, the initiative aims to empower MSMEs across the island to plug in and benefit from Sri Lanka’s burgeoning digital ecosystem, with a special emphasis on gender and social inclusion.
“We are pleased to partner with WEBXPAY, to aid small and medium sized businesses in Sri Lanka, including women led enterprises, to have access to a safe and convenient way to accept card and mobile payments from domestic and international consumers.
“In addition to strengthening their financial and digital literacy skills, this partnership will also support MSMEs to continue to trade through the pandemic by taking their businesses online. It will also help them be more competitive in the digital economy in future. By supporting MSMEs to formally register, develop their online presence and plan promotions they can better sustain their business operations and be resilient to economic shocks,” Australian Deputy High Commissioner for Sri Lanka Amanda Jewell said.
By supporting small business to accept cashless payments and take their enterprises online, WEBXPAY and DFAT aim to support a rapid revitalisation of Sri Lanka’s rural economies that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will help to increase MSMEs’ incomes by reaching existing and new customers – and even export their products – all whilst strengthening their financial and digital literacy.
Throughout the programme, WEBXPAY will provide support the MSMEs to formally register, develop their online business and plan promotions to sustain the business. As a result, MSMEs will be able to track online sales, generate payment links, and maintain a database of their customers on the platform.
“The MSME sector touches the lives of every Sri Lankan. These enterprises are what keep the grassroots of our economy alive, but over the past year, most have faced a period of extreme difficulty. We are therefore grateful to the Australian Government and its people for not simply extending a much needed helping hand, but also doing so in a manner that could potentially lead to a new era of sustainable, grassroots-led economic growth,” WEBXPAY CEO & Founder Omar Sahib said.
Sahib noted that while traditional business models suffered, Sri Lankan e-commerce and online businesses have flourished during the pandemic. However, these opportunities have largely been confined to Colombo, the Western Province and a few other urban centers. Given their lack of experience and expertise with these new modes of business, rural MSMEs have usually been cut off from the ability to monetise on the surging demand for online services.
Sri Lanka’s MSME’s account for more than 90% of the total establishments in the country, in addition to being the source of 45% of all employment and accounting for 52% of GDP. However, the majority of these MSMEs are informal businesses. As a result, they tend to be reliant on daily cash-based sales and often lack planning and management skills. During the pandemic, this has led to an unprecedented disruption in daily operations.
Over the duration of the programme, WEBXPAY will also be carefully monitoring and researching the impact of these initiatives with a particular focus on its effectiveness in improving standards of living for rural communities, while also creating tangible positive benefits at a macroeconomic scale. In addition to creating new job opportunities and helping to eradicate unemployment in rural Sri Lanka, the programme will also measure its impact in terms of supporting financially independent female entrepreneurs. Additionally, the programme’s digital-first approach is also expected to help reduce carbon-emissions while promoting vibrant grassroots economic growth.
HNB renews partnership with Prime Group for exclusive home loans
Paving the path for aspiring homeowners, Sri Lanka’s leading private sector bank, HNB PLC, renewed its long-standing partnership with local real estate giant Prime Group to offer investors exclusive deals and benefits.
The partnership will offer customers a range of benefits, including special interest rates during the September and October promotional period. The exclusive offer extends to all properties across Prime Group’s extensive portfolio, including highly anticipated Prime Residencies projects, such as The Grand Ward Place, The Beachfront Uswetakeiyawa II and 43 by the Sea on Marine Drive, Dehiwala.
“Building your own home in Sri Lanka can be quite a challenge. The escalating costs of construction, driven by rising inflation, have added to the struggle. We at HNB remain steadfast in our commitment to empower every Sri Lankan to own a home of their own. As such, we are delighted to partner with Prime Group again to offer our customers affordable financing options and exceptional services,” HNB Assistant General Manager – Personal Financial Services (PFS), Kanchana Karunagama, said.
Delivering the best value to its customers, HNB will offer special interest rates during the promotional period. Prospective homeowners can make use of convenient and flexible repayment options tailor-made to their budgets, together with doorstep mortgage advisory services provided by the Bank’s dedicated agents, who will assist with the legal documentation needed for the facility.
“As Prime Group, our mission is to empower Sri Lankans with the chance to achieve homeownership, allowing them to find stability and make the most of these challenging times. Therefore, it is a pleasure for us to partner with HNB in serving our customers,” Prime Group Director – Corporate Affairs Nalinda Heenatigala said.
SLT-MOBITEL empowers Apple iPhone users across Sri Lanka to embrace 5G revolution
SLT-MOBITEL is providing a groundbreaking opportunity, enabling customers with latest Apple iPhone devices to experience the best of 5G technology through its state-of-the-art 5G trial network. Apple users who have 5G compatible iPhone devices and with the latest iOS 17 update can now experience 5G when they are in a SLT-MOBITEL 5G trial zone.
Recognising 5G as a game-changer, SLT-MOBITEL was the first to trial 5G technology in South Asia in 2018 and has been at the forefront of the 5G revolution in Sri Lanka ever since. Recently, SLT-MOBITEL expanded its 5G pre-commercial trial network across main cities including Colombo, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Galle, and Jaffna, setting pathways for customers to seamlessly explore the possibilities of 5G technology.
Celebrating the new offering, SLT-MOBITEL is providing its customers with an amazing 10GB of free trial data on the lightning-fast 5G network. The trial data allows users to explore the capabilities of 5G without an initial cost and harness the full power of 5G technology, unlocking a world of new possibilities.SLT-MOBITEL extends a special invitation to customers who own 5G enabled iPhone 12 devices and beyond, to seize this exciting opportunity and become part of the 5G revolution by updating their eligible iOS device.
SLPA poised as an exemplary model for SOEs, says its chairman
Keith D. Bernard – the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), welcoming the attendees as chair, made this comments at the Annual Performance Review Meeting (APRM) of SLPA for the year 2022. The meeting was held on September 14, 2023, at its headquarters in Colombo.Entities incorporated under any statute other than the Companies Act must have an APRM every year where the annual report is presented. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was established under Act No. 51 of 1970.
In terms of the Guidelines for Corporate Governance of PED Circular No. 1/2021 dated November 16, 2021, it is important that the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) maintain continuous communication with their stakeholders at all times through mandatory requirements such as the Annual Report. Such disclosure of information ensures transparency and accountability without compromising any statutory or operational requirements of the entity.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman of SLPA expressed his perspective on the organisation’s future direction. He acknowledged SLPA’s recent achievements and progress in completing the East Container Terminal (ECT) and stressed the need for strategic planning with government support for the future.
“At present, SLPA serves as the regulator, operator, and landlord of our ports. In our capacity as the landlord, we possess assets throughout the country, and all commercial ports fall under the purview of SLPA. Additionally, we compete directly with private operators as operators ourselves. Therefore, we must carefully consider whether our role as operators should remain independent or involve collaboration with other operators. It’s crucial that we approach this strategically and define our precise role in this sector for the future,” he said.
Bernard also highlighted the significance of conducting a self-assessment in the pursuit of good governance within the organisation.
“We have commendable ministerial support and boast a talented team of dedicated professionals who tirelessly work towards the success of our port. While we have encountered challenges in the past, we are confident that, leveraging our strengths, we can overcome any hurdles. SLPA has the potential to serve as an exemplary model for the private sector, leading the way and becoming a guiding beacon for all institutions in Sri Lanka,” he said.
The Additional Director General of the Department of Public Enterprises – B.A.T. Rodrigo, commenting at the event, mentioned that in comparison to the other state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Sri Lanka, SLPA is the leading SOE amongst them and has been a role model to other SOEs. He wished SLPA would continue doing so in the future. He also thanked the Chairman, the Board of Directors, and the Management of SLPA for arranging the APRM adhering to the good governance guidelines.
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