Monday, September 14, 2020

SLIM and SLIC in the limelight with inventor forum 'Made in Sri Lanka'


Together with the Sri Lankan Inventors Commission (SLIC), the National Marketing Authority in Sri Lanka (SLIM) launched the 'Made in Sri Lanka' campaign in Gangarama to bring recognition to Sri Lankan inventors.

'Made in Sri Lanka' is an initiative aimed at supporting and inspiring inventors to come forward to showcase their innovations and products, and providing inventors with advice on how to best market and sell their innovations and products to prospective investors.

With Sri Lankans demonstrating their talents internationally, ranging from acting to athletics and entrepreneurship to engineering, there is no question about the skills they possess. They have shown their capabilities to both the nation and the world time and time again. Sri Lankans are inventive and imaginative and are capable of creating new ideas and original innovations that support both the country and the world.

However, although they have the skills, they lack the capacity needed to produce an income from their products in terms of financing, incentives and marketing expertise. Therefore they face many difficulties in selling their goods or transforming them into profitable companies.

SLIM has stepped up in collaboration with SLIC to help these inventors fulfil their dreams. The initiative 'Made in Sri Lanka' was launched to acknowledge Sri Lankan talent and pave the way for Lankan inventors to turn their inventions into successful businesses that would generate profits. Moreover, this marketing-oriented platform provides inventors with advice on how to connect effectively with investors and make their goods more appealing through knowledge-driven workshops.

The launch event was organised with about 100 inventors participating. In addition to the launch, the inventors got the opportunity to display and demonstrate their inventions and participated in a sponsored marketing experience workshop. The workshop instructors guided the inventors on selling the product, promoting the product and reaching out to investors.

Moreover, this marketing-oriented platform provides inventors with advice on how to connect effectively with investors and make their goods more appealing through knowledge-driven workshops. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a forum to put the young local inventors forward to showcase their inventions irrespective of the obstacles and difficulties they may have encountered from the COVID-19 fiasco.

OSL Take: The Sri Lankan government is in the process of conducting investor forums in many Asian as well as Western countries. Invest Sri Lanka forums that have taken place so far have managed to woo foreign investors into the state. The continuous macroeconomic growth recorded by Sri Lanka along with the future investment opportunities as a result of it would also undoubtedly woo foreign investors to the country.


PwC's Startup Accelerator and LIIN to develop a program for innovative startups

In an era where innovative business models such as Airbnb, Alibaba and Uber are increasingly challenging traditional value chains, Price Waterhouse coopers Startup Accelerator, and Lanka Impact Investing Network have joined forces to disrupt the startup ecosystem similarly. As a developing country, Sri Lanka, too, has increasingly looked to startups and their innovative methods to help change the business environment's monotony and help give Sri Lanka the vital boost it needs to raise and disrupt industries.

PwC's Startup Accelerator and Lanka Impact Investing Network (LIIN) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to direct, mentor and finance startups to achieve their full potential, thereby further strengthening the base of startups across Sri Lanka.

Moreover, both organisations will focus more deeply on the social innovation and sustainability aspects of the startups and entrepreneurs. PwC Sri Lanka Advisory Leader Channa Manoharan and Chandula Abeywickrema, Chairman of LIIN, signed the MoU to work together and use tools to enable startups to grow globally, regionally and internationally.

PwC's Venture Accelerator will use its industry experience to provide startups with the requisite advice on market analysis, valuation and investor presentations, and capital raising while also providing a variety of suggested startup advisory services to LIIN. The agreement also offers PwC the ability to participate in networking sessions organised by LIIN.

"Through this MoU with LIIN, our ultimate goal is to create a powerful and sustainable startup network that can move the ecosystem forward despite the challenges," said Manoharan. He added that startups could play a more constructive role in moving the economy of the country forward. Abeywickrema stated during the ceremony, "This partnership between LIIN and PwC is undoubtedly a step towards driving entrepreneurial DNA within the local ecosystem. We hope to help entrepreneurs achieve their ultimate targets and find game-changing businesses to invest.

LIIN was instrumental in establishing the country's first fundraising forum for social entrepreneurs. Also, LIIN plans to introduce a new programme that will encourage early-stage entrepreneurs and startups to get funding in a reasonably short period. The PwC Startup Accelerator, established in 2018, aims to contribute to the development of the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem via incubation, mentoring, advisory services, capital raising and knowledge partnerships.

PwC 's Startup Accelerator was a significant stakeholder in the industry and helped transform the local innovation environment, powered by an established team with exposure to the global network of PwC. With initiatives such as the NextLevel team at PwC Germany and the FinTech Startup programme at PwC India, PwC aims to use their experience and these global networks to work with the entrepreneurs.

OSL Take: Sri Lanka's ICT sector has seen massive improvements. The startup concept has revolutionised the country's business landscape. With more Sri Lankans having access to disposable income, the government's plans to enhance the ICT sector encourage an economic culture of consumer-spending. The opportunity for startups to flourish in such an environment are manifold.


Monday, September 7, 2020

Litro expands local LPG footprint to the grassroots level


Sri Lanka's largest gas importer, provider and market leader in LP Gas has announced agreement into a strategic business partnership with the Co-operative Development Sri Lanka to develop Litro Gas Points of Sale at selected Co-op outlets. 

This win-win relationship helps Litro to base its market share widely by taping into the rural segment in which the Co-op network is strongly present. Although local LP Gas demand is estimated to be around 100,000 cylinders per day from the domestic section, there is a high dependence from the rural sector on alternative cooking fuel such as firewood.

The partnership established under the leadership and vision of Anil Koswatte, Chairman and CEO of LGLL, who believes that LPG in Sri Lanka should no longer be a 'luxury commodity'. The Sri Lankan Co-op network is widespread across all parts of the country, and this is of fantastic benefit to us in achieving our vision of turning every household from using firewood that is hazardous to nature and health to safer, cleaner LP Gas.

He added: "It is a mutually profitable company. Litro is leveraging the elaborate network of outlets of Co-op while empowering Co-op in marketing and technology areas to provide customers with a premium service similar to Litro. This initiative is going to be a thriving state-owned enterprise and market leader with colossal and diverse experience and insight to boot.”

Under this programme, Litro Gas will finance the development of fully-fledged Points of Sale at selected Co-Op outlets following the strict guidelines for Litro Gas Health, Protection and Climate. This process expected to provide many Co-op outlets across the country with a much-needed facelift that gives them a modern, contemporary appeal and ambience.

Under the current development, 40 Multi-Purpose Co-operative Services (MPCS) Litro Gas Stores were established in the district of Anuradhapura and delivered to the Sri Lankan Department of Co-operative Development for management. The programme booted off in the Colombo District, with Koswatte recently declaring the Kolonnawa MPCS Litro Gas Outlet open.

OSL Take: Sri Lanka's domestic LP gas market is currently facing a shortage due to the shortfall in supply by the second player in the Sri Lankan market. The state-operated LP gas distributor is bound to make emergency purchases. Authorities in Sri Lanka are currently facing issues in its LP gas supply chain due to the existing duopoly. Foreign LP gas suppliers could explore business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka's LP gas market by either supplying LP gas or even looking at proposing the entry of a third entrant to the domestic market.


Govt. catalogues four coal, LNG power plants to stimulate power production


To jumpstart long-delayed generation plans Cabinet approved multiple power plants this week to be quick-tracked for completion including two 300 MW coal power plants, while also dusting off two 300 MW LNG power plants and considering renewables worth as much as $100 million.

No power plants have built-in Sri Lanka in the last five years. In 2014 the Norochcholai power plant's second and third phases were completed, adding 570 MW to the national grid. A 60 MW plant installed in the following year but since then power plants listed in the Sri Lankan Public Utilities Commission's (PUCSL) Long Term Generation Plan were limited to paper.

Over the past four years, repeated Cabinet approvals have struggled to see any implementation on the ground with a lot of confusion and cancellations. This week, Cabinet re-examined some of the previously listed plants, including the 300 MW LNG plant to be constructed in Kerawalapitiya as a joint venture with the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) with Indian funding.

Following high-level discussions between Sri Lanka and India, this plant was initially granted Cabinet approval in September 2018 as a 500 MW joint project with Indian company NTPC. According to a statement from the press issued at the weekly Cabinet briefing, Power and Energy Minister Mahinda Amaraweera's proposal also included the development of a coal-fired power plant. The plant in question involves a capacity of 600 MW as an extension to the existing Norochcholai power plant.

Another sizeable coal-fired power plant, however, will be in contravention of the President's Office's announcement this month that Sri Lanka would seek 80 per cent of renewable energy by 2030. Environmental severe issues about coal-fired power plants have also raised, and Sri Lanka is now among the countries most impacted by climate change, experts said.

"In Kerawalapitiya, acceleration of construction activities of a second LNG plant with a capacity of 300 MW proposed with funding from the Asian Development Bank," the Cabinet paper stated.

In addition to two LNG power plants and the massive coal power plant, the Government is also looking to accelerate the development of already under development hydropower plants and regeneration power projects. The focus will also give on the swift implementation of solar energy projects that can fund under an Indian Government grant of $100 million.

Cabinet also gave the approval to contract installation of new equipment in thermal power plants for a separate Cabinet report. The expansion of the Kelanitissa 132 kV Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS) thus commenced. The objective was to connect the 132 Busbar in the Kelanitissa grid substation with proposed gas turbines. The Cabinet of Ministers, therefore, approved the proposal submitted by the Minister of Power and Energy to grant the contract for the procurement, installation and supervision of two 145 kV Double Busbar (GIS) and the contract for the administration, evaluation and measurement of 145 kV Double Busbar (GIS) to the original supplier, Asea Brown Boveri Lanka Ltd.

OSL Take: With LNG exploration becoming a possible business prospect in the country, investors who become pioneers in capitalising on this stand to enjoy huge benefits. The Cabinet of Ministers, therefore, approved the proposal submitted by the Minister of Power and Energy to grant the contract for the procurement, installation and supervision of two 145 kV Double Busbar (GIS) and the contract for the administration, evaluation and measurement of 145 kV Double Busbar (GIS) to the original supplier, Asea Brown Boveri Lanka Ltd.


Ceylon Tea Trails receives multiple TripAdvisor awards


Travelers' Choice honoured Ceylon Tea Trails in the World and Asia categories at this year's TripAdvisor awards. With the largest online travel group with more than 50 million unique monthly users, the TripAdvisor awards are respected and coveted worldwide. Tea Trails stole spots in the categories for Top 25 Boutique Luxury Hotels in the World, Top 25 Small Hotels in Asia and Top 25 Romance Hotels in Asia.

Resplendent Managing Director of Ceylon Malik Fernando said: "We celebrate Ceylon Tea Trails listed among the world's best resorts. Ceylon Tea Trails was pioneering the idea of luxury tourism in Sri Lanka. This journey began when we began to think about ways to show visitors from abroad our beautiful Ceylon tea country. As our guests expressed to us how much they enjoyed their experience of the Tea Trails, we agreed to grow and to establish Resplendent Ceylon. We aim to continue to be industry pioneers and give the interested traveller a variety of experiences related to the history, culture and nature of Sri Lanka."

Ceylon Tea Trails includes five restored historic tea planters bungalows, Summerville, Castlereagh, Dunkeld, Norwood, and Tientsin, situated in the picturesque highland area of Sri Lanka at an altitude of 1250 metres. The 27 rooms and suites featuring period furnishings, gracious butler service and gourmet cuisine create an atmosphere that has made Tea Trails Sri Lanka the gold standard for luxury.

Cape Weligama and Wild Coast Tented Inn Yala set a fresh trend for luxury beach resorts and luxury safari lodges respectively, the 15-year journey that began with Ceylon Tea Trails. Cape Weligama has become one of the world's most famous beach resorts, included in Harper's Bazaar list of 150 best hotels.

Wild Coast Tented Lodge Yala is a leader in sustainable design and practise, and its creative architecture has won accolades. Most recently, named it as one of six resorts with the world's best sustainable practices.

Sri Lanka's tourism business is one of the fastest-growing economic sectors in the country with many business/investment opportunities. Sri Lanka has enjoyed top positions in many globally renowned travel publications as a must-visit destination. Hence all of these factors have resulted in many leading global brands in the leisure, hospitality and leisure industry sectors showing interest in Sri Lanka.

Also, the development of Sri Lanka's tourism industry will receive a further impetus by the productivity of Sri Lankan authorities to suppress the spread of COVID 19, making Sri Lanka a safe travel destination. Overseas businesses/investors could, therefore, explore business/financing opportunities in Sri Lanka's tourism industry.

OSL Take: Sri Lanka's tourism authorities have commenced promotional campaigns to attract visitors to the country following the setback faced COVID19. The administration of Sri Lanka has already introduced a relief platform to the tourism sector. Given all these developments, the country's tourism industry is showing signs of revival. Many foreign investors have already expressed confidence in the country's tourism industry, and it's growth potential. Therefore, international businesses/investors could explore business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka's tourism sector.


CCC launches online marketplace to promote export market


Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has revealed a collaboration agreement to incorporate an 'Online Market Place' established by Epic Lanka Technologies Ltd to support companies in promoting exports from Sri Lanka. The platform will integrate into the e-commerce system for the Chamber. 

"It is critical as our global economy grows that local businesses can compete in this marketplace. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce looks forward to bringing forward approaches that will increase opportunities for companies to participate in the global economy," CCC CEO Manjula De Silva said.

"The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce truly distinguishes itself by choosing the Doxpro Shopex online marketplace model, and Epic Lanka Technologies is thrilled to be working alongside them on this journey," said Thareendra Kalpage, CEO of Epic Lanka Technologies. "By making full use of the Doxpro Shopex Marketplace Platform capabilities, CCC is set up for marketplace success."

Sustainable commodity procurement has become a top priority for retailers in these main European Union markets, according to statistics obtained by the International Trade Center (ITC) – Geneva from EU countries such as France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Spain. High customer support given to the focus on environmentally friendly goods, fair and ethical trade and suitable employment in supplier industries, and these businesses projected to expand dramatically over the next five years.

On another note, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka will also be encouraged to register as partners in the value chain with Online Market Place to promote their products to exporters as well. Recently, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce established an SME Center to play a more active role in the construction of this dynamic economic sector.

Local exporters will be able to source the required products through the proposed online system, and the House will work closely with the Regional Chambers of Commerce and Product Trade Associations to attract suppliers from different parts of the country. Launch of the platform expected in October. In addition to the Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions based overseas, Foreign Diplomatic Missions in Sri Lanka and across 130 Overseas Trade Promotion Organisations, product details have been uploaded to the Online Market Place and promoted via social media.

OSL Take: The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has taken many steps to enhance the ease of doing business atmosphere in the country and offered many inducements to promote foreign businesses/investment in the country. Sri Lanka's geological positioning in the Indian Ocean, the ease of doing business environment in the country and the many trade contracts, as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the state, have made it an attractive business objective in the South Asian region. Foreign businesses/investors could make use of all these opportunities and services to set up base in Sri Lanka to participate with other countries in the area.


Australia committed to boosting cooperation with Sri Lankan universities, R&D institutions


On 20 February Australian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka David Holly and Australian High Commission for New Delhi Education and Research Counselor Brett Galt-Smith visited the National Science Foundation (NSF) to promote academic cooperation and collaboration between Australian institutions and Sri Lankan universities and research and development institutions.

He was appreciating Australia's immense contribution to strengthening research at Sri Lankan universities and research and development institutions through capacity building and skills enhancement. NSF Chairman Prof. Ranjith Senaratne discussed possible areas for expanding cooperation between the two countries which would be mutually rewarding.

The High Commissioner reiterated Australia's commitment to improving cooperation with Sri Lanka and highlighted the importance of establishing an overarching national structure to promote such collaboration.

During the convention several areas identified for cooperation, including natural resource management, agriculture, aquaculture, health and disaster management, in line with the national policy of Sri Lanka and core competencies of Australia. The NSF will be closely liaising with the Australian High Commission to take the two countries' partnership to a new level. In the discussion also participated senior NSF administrative and scientific staff.

At last week's auditorium on 'Bilateral Trade between Sri Lanka and Australia – Defining Sri Lanka – Australia Trade and Investment: The Mutual Interest' the High Commissioner made this statement while tackling the National Chamber of Commerce (NCC).

Australia and Sri Lanka have achieved 28 consecutive years of annual economic growth, according to the High Commissioner. Australia has the 11th highest per capita GDP in the world, and is the wealthiest nation in terms of moderate wealth per adult, and is the 6th most significant pool of investment funds under management in the world.

The High Commissioner also noted that Sri Lanka is now on the map for Australian tourists with 110,000 tourists in 2018 – the fifth-largest source of tourists. Australia remains interested in investing in Sri Lanka in areas such as higher education, premium food and beverage, dairy agro-technology, port development and related industries, and energy and resources.

OSL Take: The announcement by the Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka is a positive note on the growing bilateral and trade ties amongst the two countries. Due to the rise in trade among the two countries, Australian businesses/investors could look at manipulating the benefits enjoyed by Sri Lanka in global trade. Sri Lanka's geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean, the ease of doing business environment in the country and the many trade agreements, as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the state, have made it an attractive commercial destination in the South Asian region.