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Women in Management, IFC launch 11th Professional and Career Women Awards

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Marking its 11th year of honoring inspiring Sri Lankan women, Women in Management (WIM), in collaboration with Women in Work, a partnership between IFC and the government of Australia, today opened nominations for the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2021.

This will be IFC’s seventh consecutive year – fourth under the IFC-DFAT Women in Work program – in co-hosting the awards, which recognizes and celebrates Sri Lankan women who have excelled in their careers, businesses, and everyday life, inspiring others.

Spanning over a decade, the ‘Top50’ Professional and Career Women Awards has recognized over 470 Sri Lankan women representing a wide array of professions, including banking and finance, hospitality, media, legal, logistics, and supply chains.

“This year, the ‘Top50’ awards will recognize resilient women leaders in chosen fields and businesses – the ones who challenged their talents and skills to reach higher in their professions amid a pandemic,” said Dr. Sulochana Segera, Founder/Chairperson at Women in Management. “During the past 10 years, through the Awards, Sri Lanka has been able to understand and accept women’s business leadership not just as a gender representation, but for its important role in promoting economic growth and social inclusion in the country.”

While COVID-19 has exacerbated gender gaps, reversing decades of gains achieved across the world, it has also highlighted the importance of strong and steady corporate leadership. As companies look forward to a resilient recovery, they increasingly recognize the need to promote women’s leadership to achieve more inclusive, productive, and profitable growth across institutional spaces.

“‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards is an exemplary stage that helps bring hidden Sri Lankan talent to the fore. We have celebrated many exceptional women over the past years who were unafraid to think outside the box – which is exactly what Sri Lanka needs for a more inclusive and diverse economy,” said Sarah Twigg, Program Manager for Women in Work, IFC. “As we live through another unprecedented year with a global pandemic, it’s time to hear how Sri Lankan women persisted in the face of challenges and insisted on building a better future.”

In the course of IFC’s 50 years of operations in Sri Lanka, WIM has been a long-standing partner. Together, IFC and WIM continue to provide skills-building and training opportunities for women in senior and middle management as well as for entrepreneurs who lead, or work in, micro and small businesses in Sri Lanka. These initiatives, including the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2021, were initiated under the IFC-DFAT Women in Work program.

“Australia has a strong commitment to promoting equal participation globally, particularly in the time of COVID-19. In Sri Lanka, we see our Women in Work partnership with the IFC, and the partnership with Women in Management, as key to advancing opportunities for women. This is the fourth consecutive year we are supporting ‘Top50’ Professional and Career Women Awards in highlighting the achievements of Sri Lankan women,” said Amanda Jewell, Acting Australian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka. “It is exciting to be part of the Awards judging panel alongside many high-profile judges.”

With presence in Canada and the Maldives, the ‘Top50’ Professional and Career Women Awards sets the stage for the award winners’ own career or business trajectory, and importantly, encourages many other aspiring Sri Lankan women from diverse backgrounds to explore new opportunities, propelling them to reach higher in their chosen field.

The 2021 judging panel—chaired by Nadija Tambiah, Head of Legal, Secretarial and Corporate Social Responsibility at John Keells Holdings—includes Jayanthi Dharmasena, Managing Director of Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Ltd; Kishu Gomes, Group MD/CEO of Dreamron Group of Companies; Nisthar Cassim, Founding Editor and CEO of Daily FT; Rohantha Athukorala, CEO of Clootrack Sri Lanka/Maldives & Pakistan; Sandra De Zoysa, Group Chief Customer Officer at Dialog Axiata PLC; Sandya Salgado, Strategic Marketing Professional; Santosh Menon, CEO of KL.LK; Amanda Jewell, Acting Australian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka; and Sarah Twigg, Program Manager for Women in Work at IFC.



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‘Dollar reserves in SL plummet drastically, putting the economy in jeopardy‘

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Key personnel at CNCI forum

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.”

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Supuni Products gives back by way of welfare initiative, helps to uplift the needy patients with chronic illnesses

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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.

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Dialog Enterprise offers Dell Technologies Cloud IaaS in Sri Lanka

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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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