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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Central Bank Sri Lanka
Central Bank Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's Central Bank releasing the monetary policy review for April 2016 on Tuesday said it has decided to maintain current policy interest rates as the Monetary Board was of the view that the current monetary policy stance is appropriate.

Accordingly, the Monetary Board has decided to maintain the Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) and the Standing Lending Facility Rate (SLFR) of the Central Bank unchanged at 6.50 percent and 8.00 percent, respectively while the Statutory Reserve Ratio remains at 7.50 percent.

The Central Bank noted that the short term money market rates and other market interest rates have risen reflecting the tight monetary conditions in the economy and expected the expansion of monetary and credit aggregates to moderate from the second quarter of the year.

The recent increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate and the removal of certain exemptions applicable on VAT and the Nation Building Tax (NBT) are expected to have a one-off impact on inflation, while the supply side disruptions due to prevailing adverse weather conditions could exert some upward pressure on inflation in the immediate future, the Bank said.

The full statement follows: 

According to provisional estimates of the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS), the Sri Lankan economy grew by 5.5 per cent, in real terms, in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the growth of 2.5 per cent recorded in the last quarter of 2015. Economic growth was mainly supported by the expansion of Industry and Services related activities, which grew by 8.3 per cent and 4.9 per cent, respectively, during the first quarter of 2016 in value added terms. Meanwhile, Agriculture related activities recorded a moderate growth of 1.9 per cent during this period. The growth rate recorded in the first quarter was broadly in line with expectations for the year.

As anticipated, inflation increased in the month of May reflecting the impact of the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) and the removal of certain exemptions applicable on VAT and Nation Building Tax (NBT), as well as the supply side disruptions due to adverse weather conditions.

Accordingly, the Colombo Consumers’ Price Index (CCPI, 2006/2007=100) based headline inflation increased to 4.8 per cent, year-on-year, in May 2016 from 3.1 per cent in the previous month, while the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI, 2013=100) based headline inflation also increased to 5.3 per cent, year-on-year, in May 2016 from 4.3 per cent in the previous month. Core inflation as measured by both CCPI and NCPI also increased in May 2016 mainly reflecting the impact of revisions made to the tax structure by the government.

In spite of these transitory price movements, inflation is expected to moderate in the period ahead and remain in mid-single digits in the medium term supported by appropriate demand management policies.

In the monetary sector, the year-on-year growth of broad money (M2b) decelerated to 18.2 per cent in April 2016 compared to 18.9 per cent recorded in March 2016. The expansion in credit to the private sector and the government remained key drivers of broad money growth, while credit to public corporations recorded a repayment during the first four months of the year. 

Credit extended to the private sector by commercial banks grew by 28.1 per cent in April 2016 on a year-on-year basis, although in absolute terms, disbursements in April 2016 were limited to Rs. 27.4 billion compared to Rs. 87.7 billion in the previous month. Short term money market rates displayed some stabilisation, while the upward trend observed in other retail market interest rates continued reflecting the gradual transmission of the monetary policy measures that were taken previously, amidst low levels of rupee liquidity in the domestic money market.

On the external front of the economy, the deficit in the trade account contracted by 2.4 per cent during the first four months of 2016, on a year-on-year basis, as the decline in imports was greater than the contraction in exports. Earnings from tourism were estimated to have increased by around 18.4 per cent during the period from January to May 2016, while workers’ remittances increased by 4.7 per cent during the period from January to April 2016. Gross official reserves were estimated at US dollars 5.6 billion by end May 2016.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

everjobs, Sri Lanka’s fastest growing job portal, recently embarked on a mission to give job seekers in smaller cities and towns to springboard to brighter career prospects with its Town Day campaign.

Sri Lanka Labour Force Statistics shows around 400,000 Sri Lankans are unemployed – which is 4.3 percent of the total labour force. Yet, a striking shortage of talent hinders economic development and prosperity. Around 40% of employers say lack of experience, counting internships, is the main barrier for entry level vacancies. To play its part against this trend, everjobs has devised its everjobs Town Day[TM] campaign. The goal is to support job seekers in smaller cities and towns in to boost their employability. The everjobs team is visiting the areas to encourage and assist young people to register with the site, and help to identify best fit opportunities.

Felix Lienau, Country Manager and Managing Director, everjobs Sri Lanka said, "I am very proud that this excellent initiative is being launched in Sri Lanka for the first time. I feel it is a huge step towards our vision of empowering job seekers with the skills and experience necessary to shape their future. The everjobs Town Day campaign aims at encouraging thousands of job seekers to pursue their professional ambitions with strong determination and passion to foster their dreams. I am firmly convinced that by giving wings to the ambitions of this talent pool in small cities and towns, we can transform their dreams into reality."

Beyond the everjobs Town Day, everjobs aims to fight youth unemployment by providing 'readiness to work' initiatives and work-based training opportunities all over Sri Lanka, by tapping into Universities and educational institutions. 

About everjobs is a job portal currently operating in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. Launched in 2015, everjobs aims to become the leading job portal in fast growing markets finding the right match for both, employers and candidates. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mani Kulasooriya, CEO of CAKE addressing the staff at the opening ceremony of the new CAKE LABS Operations Centre
Mani Kulasooriya, CEO of CAKE addressing the staff
at the opening ceremony of the new CAKE LABS Operations Centre
Silicon Valley based tech company CAKE LABS recently unveiled their new Operations Centre, a state of the art facility in the Iceland Business Centre in Colombo 03. The facility that has been designed using latest industry trends such as open floor plans and hot-houses to aid communication, as well as sleeping rooms and games areas to facilitate relaxation, signifies the emphasis the company places on the key role operations plays in customer adoption of the CAKE restaurant technology platform.
A room for when employees need a break or some peace and quiet
A room for when employees need a break or some peace and quiet
The move comes in conjunction with the record growth in the customer base of the company this year. Commenting on the growth, CEO Mani Kulasooriya said, “This has been a huge growth year for CAKE. The total value of transactions processed through our system this year alone will exceed all of our previous years combined. Furthermore, if the current growth rate continues, we will double our customer base in 2016. The expanding of our operations is a direct result of this success, as they are the key to increasing our market share.”
According to Mr. Kulasooriya, maintaining quality of service while scaling has been the key to expanding the customer base, and the operations division has played an enormous role in this.
The Games Room
The Games Room
“Operations has been a cornerstone to securing traction in the market,” said Shanil Fernando, CAKE LABS SVP Engineering and MD, Sri Lanka. “You can certainly capture a market with a great product like ours, but you can’t retain your customers unless the product is stable. The POS for a restaurant operator is a mission critical system to run their restaurant. If the operators are encountering errors, then they will switch. That is where our proactive support team comes in.”
The CAKE LABS operations team distinguishes itself from its peers through its proactive approach. They studied how Tesla monitors their cars remotely and how Boeing proactively monitors live jet engines, and built a unique piece of technology where the team can identify potential errors in the field before they even take place. The team then performs fixes on the system before crashes occur, avoiding potential system-down time.
CAKEsters at work in the main work area
CAKEsters at work in the main work area
Furthermore, CAKE LABS has employed several engineering initiatives to maintain stability. One such initiative was the new payment gateway, as nothing is more damaging to an operator’s business than being unable to process payments. The new gateway employs redundant servers in multiple cities on the East Coast and West Coast of the United States, as well as multiple third party payment processors, so that it can keep processing payments even when infrastructure may be down in a given geography or when third party processors are down.

With these factors combined, CAKE LABS seems poised for exponential expansion in the coming months, both in terms of its number of operators, and the capabilities of the team. 


CAKE LABS (Pvt) Ltd is the Sri Lankan based engineering and operations engine behind the integrated restaurant technology platform CAKE. CAKE Corporation, based in Silicon Valley (Redwood City, CA, USA), is a part of the fortune 500 company Sysco (NYSE: SYY).

Friday, June 17, 2016

Kumudhini Rosa (Senior Advisor, GIZ VTN Project) at the podium. P Ranepura (Secretary, Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training), H.E. Jürgen Morhard (Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Sri Lanka and Maldives), Hon Mahinda Samarasinghe (Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training), Randa Kourieh-Ranarivelo (Country Director, GIZ Sri Lanka and Maldives), and Dr. A. U. C. Athukorala (Chairman, National Apprentice and Industrial Authority) at the head table.
Kumudhini Rosa (Senior Advisor, GIZ VTN Project) at the podium.
P Ranepura (Secretary, Ministry of Skills Development and
Vocational Training), H.E. Jürgen Morhard (Ambassador of the Federal Republic
 of Germany to Sri Lanka and Maldives), Hon Mahinda Samarasinghe
(Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training),
 Randa Kourieh-Ranarivelo (Country Director, GIZ Sri Lanka and Maldives),
and Dr. A. U. C. Athukorala (Chairman, National Apprentice and
 Industrial Authority) at the head table.
The establishment of the Sri Lanka-German Training Institute (SLGTI), a landmark project initiated by German Development Cooperation (GIZ) in partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka, was announced at a press conference attended by Hon Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training and HE Dr. Juergen Morhard, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The SLGTI, situated in Kilinochchi, is scheduled to be officially opened on 18 July by HE President Maithripala Sirisena.

Kumudhini Rosa - Senior Advisor, GIZ Vocational Training in the North and East of Sri Lanka (VTN) Project introduces the Sri Lanka - German Training Institute (SLGTI) to be opened in July 2016.
Kumudhini Rosa - Senior Advisor, GIZ Vocational Training
in the North and East of Sri Lanka (VTN) Project introduces the Sri Lanka
 - German Training Institute (SLGTI) to be opened in July 2016.
SLGTI is part of the Vocational Training in the North and East of Sri Lanka (VTN) project implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (German Development Bank- KfW) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project is co-funded by the State Secretary for Migration of the Government of Switzerland. The VTN project was initiated in 2012 with the goal of improving demand oriented vocational training in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

SLGTI will function under the purview of the National Apprentice Industrial and Training Authority of Sri Lanka (NAITA). It is recognised as a national level training institute with equity of access for all citizens of Sri Lanka, regardless of ethnicity or religion. The centre as a common meeting point will facilitate the development of a mutual understanding and appreciation among students about the diverse cultural heritage of Sri Lanka.
 The institute will offer high quality vocational training in sectors of automobile technology, construction technology, food processing technology, mechanical engineering and electrical and electronic technology. The medium of instruction will be English.

H.E. Jürgen Morhard (Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Sri Lanka and Maldives), Hon Mahinda Samarasinghe (Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training), Randa Kourieh-Ranarivelo (Country Director, GIZ Sri Lanka and Maldives)
H.E. Jürgen Morhard (Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany
to Sri Lanka and Maldives), Hon Mahinda Samarasinghe
(Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training),
Randa Kourieh-Ranarivelo (Country Director, GIZ Sri Lanka and Maldives)
“These sectors have been identified for the opportunities available within them for well trained, skilled labour,” said Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training. “We are confident that SLGTI will provide the best opportunity for war affected youth in the Northern and Eastern regions of Sri Lanka as well as youth from other parts of the island to develop and enhance valuable industry-specific knowledge and market oriented skills. This will significantly improve their chances in a competitive job market.”
The training for an annual intake of 200 students will be provided at NVQ Levels 4 to 6 in keeping with the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) framework. To prepare students for this, 14 vocational training centres offering NVQ Levels 1-3 training have been identified as satellite centres in the Northern and Eastern provinces. These satellite centres have been upgraded to meet the standards set by SLGTI.

SLGTI will also cater to young people with G.C.E. O/L, G.C.E. A/L, and NVQ Level 3 and 4 qualifications. The institute’s training staff was supervised in the Training of Trainers (ToT) process by German Consultants; an initial batch of 22 trainers completed the ToT programme in June 2016. During the first years of operation an experienced German Principal will ensure the transfer of international best practices to the operation and administration of the institute.

The state of the art SLGTI facility in Kilinochchi is built on 25 acres of land allocated by the Sri Lankan Government. 8.4 million Euros was allocated through the KfW (German Development Bank) for construction, supply of equipment, machines and teaching materials. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has granted an additional 8 million Euros for technical assistance through GIZ. GIZ, in turn, has taken on the task of providing technical assistance, capacity development of qualified managerial staff, and trainers.   
At the launch Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, HE Dr. Juergen Morhard noted that the opening of SLGTI was a step forward in strengthening the bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Germany via committed and continued investment in the country’s development process.

“The GIZ has consistently expressed interest in improving vocational training in Sri Lanka,” added Randa Kourieh-Ranarivelo, Country Director for GIZ in Sri Lanka. “Over the years we’ve established a good rapport with the Sri Lankan government in providing technical and vocational training to help young people do better; SLGTI is a significant result of this effort.”
For over 50 years GIZ has provided services worldwide in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development, utilising experience in a wide variety of areas including economic development and employment, energy and the environment, and peace and security. GIZ services are utilised by the German government, governments of other countries and a number of global institutions including the European Union and the United Nations. In 2014 GIZ’s business volume exceeded two billion euros, with the presence of GIZ personnel in over 130 countries around the world. GIZ has been active in Sri Lanka since 1956, engaging in the sectors of education, social integration, private sector development and vocational training.

Sri Lanka and Germany share a rich history of cooperation in skills development spanning over five decades. Beginning with the establishment of the Ceylon German Technical Training Institute (CGTTI), the Apprentice Training Institute (ATI), the Sri Lanka German Railway Training Institute (SLGRTTI) and the Farm Mechanisation Training Centre (FMTC), to introducing the dual system and standardising training programmes, Germany continues to play a prominent role in Sri Lanka’s vocational training sector. Currently, Germany is one of the most important donor and technical partner for vocational training in the country. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

EPSI Technology Systems Product Manager - Chanaka De Mel
EPSI Technology Systems Product Manager - Chanaka De Mel
Sri Lanka’s pioneering total PC solutions provider EPSI Technology (Pvt) Ltd launched the world’s smallest PC - ASUS VivoStick PC. ASUS announced the international release of ASUS VivoStick on 8th April 2016. The PC in hand whenever or wherever it is needed, is designed to make a big impact both in terms of performance and aesthetic. 
VivoStick is a pocket-sized PC that turns any HDMI display or TV into a Windows PC or smart TV for work or play and is powered by an Intel® Atom™ processor with 2GB RAM, and has 32GB of onboard storage space. It has 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® 4.1, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, a HDMI port and an audio jack, plus an internal cooling fan to guard against overheating.

This remarkable ultra-miniature ‘stick' PC is incredibly slim, compact and light with a modern, elegant fountain-pen-inspired design. VivoStick gives users the full PC experience anywhere, allowing them to work, stream HD videos, or connect with family and friends via social media apps on their TV. Users can cast content to larger screen with ASUS HyStream, this app lets them mirror or stream Full HD movies, videos, or photos stored on their Android™ or iOS smartphones, tablets, or PCs to an HDMI-enabled TV in any home theater setup.
EPSI Technology, System Product Manager, Mr. Chanaka De Mel stated that VivoStick is a low-maintenance machine and a cost effective solution for business, commercial and educational use and is ideal for travelers. VivoStick can be used as a thin-client platform for call centers, computer labs in schools, or small businesses. Touchscreen support makes VivoStick PC an eye-catching proposition as a cost-effective, self-service guest computing cubicle in airports, hotels, malls, and tourist attractions.

EPSI Technology (Pvt) Ltd is a leading provider of total PC solutions. With over two decades of experience in the IT industry and in partnership with world renowned brands such as ASUS and ViewSonic, EPSI is recognisably rated as a leading IT company in providing innovative, high quality and technologically advanced products with excellent after sales service and support. EPSI adopts world-class practices, ensuring consistent quality across every aspect of its business, from its products and services to its business processes, relationships and stakeholder experiences.

ASUS is passionate about technology and driven by innovation. Its visionary approach, “We dream, we dare and we strive to create an effortless and joyful digital life for everyone. We’re always in search of incredible ideas and experiences – and we aspire to deliver the incredible in everything we do,” is the reason, ASUS is able to bring high-quality innovation and design to its products, and the reason for its widespread acclaim. In 2015, ASUS earned 4,368 awards from some of the most prestigious international organisations and media groups worldwide. ASUS has consistently achieved significant year-on-year growth and closed 2015 on a high with revenues hitting US$14 billion.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Gagan Singh, Chairperson – Jones Lang LaSalle Sri Lanka
Gagan Singh, Chairperson – Jones Lang LaSalle Sri Lanka
“Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” - George Bernard Shaw
One of the key aspects of planning commercial real estate is to understand how the traditional workplace has been replaced by new working methods. The era of using desktop computers, having a permanent workstation, individual landlines, and making copious print-outs is likely to become out-of-date very soon as new workplace methods are introduced. It is well-known that technology creates a decentralised organization but the balance between centralising and decentralising depends on the organisation concerned and also on its culture. It is noticeable that the Sri Lankan workplaces that JLL deals with rely on a plethora of hard and soft technologies such as smart phones, laptops, tabs, Microsoft links, email, cloud facilities, WebEx and online marketing channels such as ‘Facebook’, other such websites and software systems that are customised.
Interestingly, Sri Lanka is in the latent stage of becoming a fully-fledged digitalised economy. National internet penetration has reached over 25% ( in the last five years and internet use is higher in the Western Province with the proliferation of high-quality affordable smart phones. As a result, the use of smart phones for official purposes is also growing.
Agile working is made possible through technology
Agile working is made possible through technology
Value Creation due to Technology
One of the ways that workplace space is being revolutionised is through the agile working concept provided by technology that allows home-based and agile working to slowly infiltrate the Sri Lankan working environment. This impinges on three value generation aspects, especially for employees and for end-users. Firstly, certain employees who work from home, benefit by having a more balanced work life that gives them more flexibility, time with family and allows them to make use of time more productively. This, in turn, helps the organisation to reduce overheads and the employee to save on travelling time and associated expenses. A publishing company has said that the use of a virtual machine, a technology provided by Microsoft, creates a server that replicates a real server, is giving it a 25% cost saving.  A well-known Sri Lankan financial institution uses only Apple iPads and e-mails for online board meetings as opposed to using printed documents and this saves paper. Further, the use of cloud facilities has made certain organisations more secure on data security with all data consolidated onto one secure platform.
Key aspects of leading workplace standards
Key aspects of leading workplace standards 
Digitising Workplaces
It is widely known that, today, decisions are made in real time and this requires real time data which depends heavily on connectivity, reliability and disaster recovery of systems and a quick response time frame. For instance, if we look at a multinational company, we can see that their field staff depends on smart phones as point of sale to book orders from retailers and wholesalers by using a customized sales order application and that this makes their work more effective and efficient. In the event of a natural disaster that affects a manufacturing facility, the real time data and interconnectivity help its management make  quick decisions after consulting the regional / international divisions.
Effective workplace strategies
Technology confers enhanced productivity. However, it can also create work-related stress and mechanically driven tasks which can become monotonous over time. Therefore, certain soft facilities need to be implemented to improve the morale of employees and the majority of firms approached by us said that they provided club memberships with facilities such as badminton, fitness centres, photography groups, holiday bungalows, and so on. Such facilities could not be provided in-house due to the cost and lack of space.
Leading workplace standards
When considering leading workplace standards we need to look at three key aspects – Trust (The people they work for), Delight (In what they do), and Relish (The people they work with).
Siemens, a global technology company in Belgium, found out that 16% of its employees experienced high levels of stress and irregular working hours which impacted their performance. Hence, the company introduced a health programme that focused on awareness building and training through the following:
· Making available an instructional/educational video
· Arranging a two-day health seminar for managers
· Launching the Siemens social network platform “Fit@work”
· Introducing its “Individual development plan” for job security related issues

This resulted in low absenteeism and 90% of the participants recommending the programme. More than 250 employees joined the social network community and Siemens was awarded the title of “Employer of the Year 2014”.

  • To conclude, Sri Lanka is still at the embryonic stage in developing workplace strategies. These are visible in certain organizations, especially in call centres, Software developing companies, Business centres that have global affiliations and would work on shift basis or would share office infrastructure.
  • IT infrastructure needs to be adopted more broadly across all sectors not just amongst the BPO/KPOs.
  • Work at home could be implemented if efficient individual performance measurement mechanisms are implemented, along with clear HR policies that are coherent.
  • Workplace strategies will not only boost the transparency within the firm but also the efficiency by reducing human errors.
  • When fair and transparent HR policies are set for home or on flexible working hours it boosts the confidence level of employees, giving them comfort and appreciation. Simultaneously the employer can monitor progress to confer benefit to the organisation.

Reputed Eye Surgeon, Dr. Shamintha Amaratunga introduces Raman, a patient whose life has been improved by the wholistic approach taken by the doctor.
Reputed Eye Surgeon, Dr. Shamintha Amaratunga introduces Raman,
a patient whose life has been improved by the
wholistic approach taken by the doctor. 
 Radiant Eye Hospital officially launched its unique website on Thursday, 2 June 2016. The launch was experienced by healthcare professionals, stakeholders and members of the media.

Heading the team is the hospital’s founder Dr. Shamintha Amaratunga, an eye surgeon who has built a reputation for excellence in the field of eye care. Dr. Amaratunga has over 120,000 surgeries to his name. He is renowned for outreach programmes performing free cataract surgeries for the needy. To commemorate the occasion Dr. Amaratunga and his team conducted an eye camp completing 25 cataract surgeries free of charge on the launch day.

Dr. Shamintha Amaratunga (Chairman & Managing Director, Radiant Eye Hospital) & Nadee Gunawardena, (Director, Radiant Eye Hospital) look on as Andrew Evan (Founder, The Human Company – responsible for the website and branding of Radiant Eye) guides the audience through the website.
Dr. Shamintha Amaratunga (Chairman & Managing Director,
Radiant Eye Hospital) & Nadee Gunawardena, (Director,
Radiant Eye Hospital) look on as Andrew Evan (Founder,
The Human Company – responsible for the website and
branding of Radiant Eye) guides the audience through the website.
While fulfilling the responsibilities of an eye care facility in using the best methods to enhance the vision of a patient, Radiant Eye looks further. Its aim is to enrich patients’ lives through outstanding patient care, motivation and guidance. Radiant Eye endeavors to bring ‘visible change’ in patient's lives, even of those whose vision cannot be restored. The hospital is a one-stop facility for everything eye related, in all its subspecialties. With friendly service at its core it serves humanity with a passion.

Upon reviewing the facilities, it is evident that the comfort and convenience of its patients was at heart when plans were sketched. Creating a warm and relaxing environment, while borrowing the design language of hotels and resorts, it is a “visible change” to the typical hospital. The absence of unsightly signage is something unique around here. Coming out of the hustle and bustle of the city, the hospital is conveniently located in Dandugama in between Negombo and Colombo alongside the main road and close to the highway. It is equipped with ample parking. The greenery coupled with the hospital’s soothing colour scheme is a definite welcome to those who come to the hospital from the far reaches of this island as well as from overseas.
A band consisting of visually impaired musicians and vocalists perform at the launch
A band consisting of visually impaired musicians and
 vocalists perform at the launch

Radiant Eye Hospital houses state of the art technology, some of which are exclusively available there. These include the latest IOLMaster and Electro physiological studies for ERG. The Modular Operating Theatre is another engineering masterpiece with its machinery, maintenance of adequate air pressure, copper Lamina Flow air filtration system, antibacterial seamless materials for walls and the epoxy floor. Radiant Eye maintains high standards in infection control, which is often neglected in the health sectors of developing countries. Strict protocols on infection control are established, based on the AAMI (Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation) and the infection control manuals by Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists under the continuous supervision of a Senior Consultant Microbiologist.

Visual of Radiant Eye Hospital
Visual of Radiant Eye Hospital
Lying on foundations of simplicity, the website was developed to be a pleasure to use. Under the guidance of Dr. Shamintha Amaratunga all technical jargon was simplified to be understood by all. While following the latest movements in international website design the rather humble looking site has much to offer. It will also be used as a platform to educate and spread awareness to the public.

Dr. Amaratunga hopes to eventually develop Radiant Eye as an educational centre for both professionals and patients. “Right now, our focus is on a holistic approach to eye care that is accessible to different income groups,” he said. The launch was also attended by patients who shared stories about regaining vision after over 15 years and those that rebuilt their lives with Dr. Amaratunga’s support in managing vision impairment - a reaffirmation of the specialised eye care approach devised by Dr. Amaratunga and his team. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society has now ended the emergency phase of its operations for floods and landslides in the recent days, that affected closer to half a million people in Sri Lanka. From May 14, heavy downpours caused by a tropical depression in the Bay of Bengal have caused extensive flash-floods which, at their peak, affected over 420,000 people across 22 of the country’s 25 districts. 

As of now, 105 people are known to have died and many remain missing, most as a result of two deadly landslides in Aranayake, in the hills of Kegalle district.
During the emergency phase the Red Cross managed to reach over 200,000 people directly and indirectly through first aid, providing of food and dry rations, emergency evacuation, search and rescue, distribution of non-food relief items, psychological support and through providing support for people housed at temporary camps.

From 1st June 2016, the operation will move on towards focusing on longer term recovery and reconstruction needs of the people affected by floods & landslides. In the first phase the SLRCS with support from the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) aims to reach 40,000 people with aid over the next 18 months. The support will consist of providing relief items, cash transfers that will help households recover or diversify their livelihoods by establishing agriculture and livestock projects or small and medium-scale business ventures. Cash transfers coupled with guidance on safer shelter construction will also be channelled to families to make repairs to their homes. 

In Aranayake and Bulathkohupitiya the Red Cross is currently in discussion with Government Authorities in order to provide housing for the people who survived the landslide. A safer location needs to be demarcated by the Government and should be agreed by the people prior to the reconstruction efforts can take place.

Meanwhile SLRCS would like to thank the Three Armed Forces, The Police, The Civil Security Force, Media Organization and Journalists, Civil Organizations, The Corporate Sector, Non - Governmental Organizations, Sri Lankan Diaspora and more so the public of Sri Lanka for answering our call to assist the people affected by floods and landslides. The generosity demonstrated by all has helped us to assist the most vulnerable in this disaster.

As we now move away from the emergency phase we appeal to all to continue to be with the people affected by floods and landslides as they strive to return to normality and to live a dignified life.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Quickee headquarters in Colombo 2
Quickee headquarters in Colombo 2
Sri Lanka’s pioneering hyperlocal delivery network, Quickee, is set for unprecedented growth and capacity expansion following the close of its Series A funding round in late 2015 which has accelerated the popular start-up into high gear.
Backed by new investments, Quickee was quick to boost its branding efforts; with a re-designed logo, a revamped website – complete with a fully-integrated back-end system, and a sophisticated new mobile application expected to go live to market in June 2016. The company currently manages almost 4,000 deliveries a month within the Colombo suburbs a staggering number considering Quickee does little or no marketing.
Quickee takes on a new look
Quickee takes on a new look
The first hyperlocal delivery company of its kind in Sri Lanka, Quickee was established in March 2013 by Ashan Whittall and Mariam Moosa. The young entrepreneurs set about to solve a simple problem – Colombo had no viable delivery options for people at night. Whether it was a meal or simple items from the supermarket, the concept of express delivery (order placed and delivered under an hour) was new to Colombo. Since its humble beginnings, operating out of Mariam’s parents’ home, Quickee has grown organically over the years. Today, they field between 125 - 150 orders per day with a marketing spend of less than Rs. 10,000 per month. Though the past few years have seen a number of competitors attempt to enter the space; Quickee stands the test of time. While the industry has relatively low barriers to entry, most underestimate the challenges of managing a hyper local delivery business.
Dimitri Sheriff, Non Executive Director,
Dimitri Sheriff, Non Executive Director,
Given the significant acceleration of demand for its services, Quickee was able to conclude a series A round of funding in December 2015 upon which the company moved into dedicated offices, tripled its staff and rider count and doubled its restaurant partnerships. Supported by capital injections and guidance from its latest backers, Dimitri Sheriff, Nadinka Sheriff and Abbas Sethwala, Quickee is now working to cement its place at the forefront of a convenience-led retail revolution in Sri Lanka.
Having consolidated its reputation for express and reliable delivery in the Business-to-Customer space, Quickee’s success has been reinforced by its recent success in the Business-to-Business place. Quickee’s new management team has forged strong and lasting relationships with a wide network of partner establishments spanning a diverse selection of restaurants, e-commerce sites, supermarkets and FMCGs.

Ashan Whittall, Executive Director,
Ashan Whittall, Executive Director,
Quickee’s portfolio of services was most recently enhanced with the delivery of routers, phones and SIM cards for a leading telecommunication service provider, express delivery of premium pet food brands such as Pedigree and Whiskers, a marketing and distribution collaboration with Redbull and many more. Additionally, emerging local retail giant, Laugfs has also signed Quickee as its official delivery partner for its e-commerce offerings that will be launched in the near future. At the forefront is a collaboration to provide customers with on-demand express grocery delivery. Next, Laugfs and Quickee will be joining hands to offer express delivery of a household essential. Meanwhile, trials for on demand flower delivery have already begun and express laundry collection and delivery is expected to roll out in June.
When asked on what was next for Quickee, the new board of directors emphasised the expansion of their capacity as well as their reach. With demand currently outpacing supply, Quickee is on a recruitment drive. An incentivised and motivated call centre and riders is the heart of the business.
Nadinka Sheriff, Executive Director,
Nadinka Sheriff, Executive Director,
Requests to expand Quickee’s reach have been met by the board with caution. Quickee’s plan to be an island wide service is prudent, with a priority on upholding service quality. The Board has an eye for the future, recently making its first steps to trial and assess the feasibility of using airborne drones for intercity deliveries.

Currently open 18 hours daily (from 9am-3am) 365 days of the year, Quickee is set to become a household name moving forward. For more information visit:

Mariam Moosa, Executive Director,
Mariam Moosa, Executive Director,
Abbas Sethwala, Non Executive Director,
Abbas Sethwala, Non Executive Director,

Alvin Gomesz, General Manager, Maxus Sri Lanka
Alvin Gomesz, General Manager, Maxus Sri Lanka

By Alvin Gomesz, General Manager, Maxus Sri Lanka

It has never been more imperative to address equality in the workplace. The case for equality in the workplace is backed by moral and social arguments and increasingly by business ones.
After extensive research in 25 countries, the Deloitte Global Centre for Corporate Governance noted a direct correlation between diversity and financial performance in a recent report. It reported that “Companies where women make up a third or more of board members significantly outperformed their rivals, with 53% more return on equity.” (Deloitte Global: “Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective”). A new report released in 2015 by McKinsey Global Institute found that “$12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality” if countries took the steps to bridge the gender gap. (McKinsey Global Institute Report, 2015).
A diverse and fair workforce – with people from different backgrounds, religions and genders – equals a vibrant working culture. While this is freely acknowledged on paper and has now transformed into a truism, it doesn’t always translate into practice. It is encouraging to see it being discussed and acknowledged but despite legislative efforts in numerous countries, gender diversity still isn’t a priority in the workplace. Worldwide, a meagre 12% of board seats are held by women while out of the world’s 500 leading corporations, only 4% are led by women.
Women represent 50% of the workforce across all levels at Maxus Sri Lanka.
Women represent 50% of the workforce across all levels at Maxus Sri Lanka.
Women form 57% of the population in Sri Lanka and the stats pertaining to gender diversity and representation in the workforce are sobering. For a country that has produced the world’s first female prime minister and the world’s first female executive president, there are only 13 women representatives among the 225 members of parliament (6%). A 2015 LBO article highlighted that while women outnumber men in government and private tertiary education institutions, the numbers aren’t reflected in the labour force. The article noted that the under-employment of educated women and low female participation in the workforce are critical issues that need to be addressed to propel the national economy.
The reasons for this issue are manifold. One is the “sticky floor syndrome”, where discriminatory employment patterns consistently relegate a particular group to the bottom rung of the job ladder. Coined by sociologist Catherine White Berheide, the “sticky floor syndrome” is often referred to low-paying, low-mobility positions with little or no growth opportunities.  The other is the “glass ceiling” – the artificial barrier which discriminates against women in middle-management positions. Other reasons also include the societal pressure for women to maintain the perfect work-life equilibrium between family and professional life, self-made barriers such as self-doubt, which hinder personal growth, unfair HR policies, industry biases and more.
200 senior women from Maxus offices around the globe participated in ‘Walk the Talk’ – a 2 day program aimed at building the next tier of organizational leadership.
200 senior women from Maxus offices around the globe participated in ‘Walk the Talk’
– a 2 day program aimed at building the next tier of organizational leadership.
In a competitive business climate, it is crucial to seek solutions to these challenges for businesses to reach its fullest potential and achieve its long-term vision. Many businesses have begun to self-reflect and realize the importance of workplace diversity and its social and economic payoffs.
For us at Maxus Global, a media buying and planning agency of industry leader GroupM, this introspection has seen tangible results. 40% of our global senior leadership are women while the company has a gender pay gap of only 4% - considerably lower than the rest of the industry. Our global offices have also pledged to review the pay gap and offer flexible working hours as well as maternity and paternity policies.
Led by WPP’s first female media agency global CEO, Lindsay Pattison, we have has taken concrete steps to build diversity. Our most recent initiative was "Walk the Talk," a two-day life-coaching program that took place in three regions in April 2016. The event was exclusively catered for 200 senior women to empower them and build the next tier of organizational leadership within Maxus across the world and also saw participation from our Sri Lankan office.
Dilhani Jayasekara, Associate Business Director at Maxus Sri Lanka, was one of two Sri Lankans who attended “Walk the Talk” in Phuket and will be tasked with introducing the learning acquired into a Sri Lankan context. Speaking about her experiences, Dilhani noted that
“As leaders of change, events like this help light the way to see how we can make a significant impact on the world. Empowering women helps create an equal corporate playing field, harnesses the best talent to achieve business goals and helps create a strong and vibrant business environment that people aspire to work in.”

It is noteworthy that Maxus in Sri Lanka has a 50:50 split, representing a gender balanced workforce at all levels - be it executive or at senior management. We are excited about supporting the learning our staff acquired at the event and implementing it across the board.
“At Maxus we believe in no limits for women and our mission is to empower everyone at Maxus equally to advance up the career ladder. It’s an honour to be a part of such an inspiring culture and at ‘Walk the Talk’, this feeling was only reinforced. The learning we acquired was illuminating and it was inspiring to be in the company of the strong, empowered women who are a vital part of the global Maxus family,” commented Amali Yapa, Senior Business Manager, reflecting on her experience at the event.

It is encouraging to see the debate about workplace diversity gathering momentum, going beyond words and seeing fruition through action. It is important to remember that gender diversity is not about creating partiality for women but levelling the playfield, augmenting talent equally and creating equal opportunities to drive the success of businesses. To achieve this, it is vital that managements, CEOs, policy makers and governments participate in the discussion. Fairness in the workplace and the labour force has financial impacts which ripple beyond a business and affects the narrative of a nation – it is time for Sri Lanka to work harder towards this.


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