Representatives from the country’s Board Of Investment (BOI) and Export Development Board (EDB) joined Lankan Angel Network (LAN) board members, and other dignitaries, at the recently concluded WeScale Sri Lanka “Industry Night”.
Speaking at the event, Chief Guest Dr. Harsha de Silva MP noted the need for collaborative efforts between government institutions like the BOI and EDB, to ensure resources and goals are aligned and shared instead of efforts being unnecessarily duplicated. The country should also optimize its potential by better regulating and leveraging its trade history. Diversification of export products beyond just apparels was also required, with gender diversity promoted in the workforce. These actions, according to Dr. de Silva, would drive economic growth and create a prosperous future for Sri Lanka.
Keynote speakers Mr. Prasanjith Wijayatilake, the Executive Director for Investment promotion at the BOI, and Ms. Indumini Kodikara, the Director of Export Services at the EDB, also spoke at the event. Other dignitaries in attendance included SLASSCOM Chairperson Mr. Ashique M. Ali; LAN Chairperson Mr. Prajeeth Balasubramaniam; former LAN Chairperson Ms. Chandi Dharmaratne; LAN Board Members Mr. Nathan Sivagananathan, Mr. Sharhan Muhseen and Mr. Shiluka Goonewardene; Serial Innovator and Entrepreneur Mr. Heminda Jayaweera; Business Consultant Mr. Mevan Peiris; and Ms. Shan Corea, from Appe Lanka.
The following WeScale Sri Lanka participants were also present: Ms. Ruwini Jayarathne – Ruwini Jayarathne Jewelry; Ms. Achinthya Neligama – Ingrow Holdings; Ms. Draupadie Wickramasinghe – Maja a New Story; Ms. Upeka Premathilaka – Ample; Ms. Nabeela Yaseen – Stoned Jewelry; Ms. Shanika Sandeepani – AGC Innovate; Ms. Pulani Ranasinghe – Loons Lab; Ms. Safiya Sideek – Elements by Safiya and Ms. Tharika Keragala Arachchi – The Empress Kingdom.
A USAID-led program for Women Entrepreneurs (WEs) spanning Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, WeScale is organized and hosted in Sri Lanka by the Lankan Angel Network (LAN). The entirety of the WeScale program encompasses 12 weeks, and includes a 4-week intensive session where local founders can benefit from multiple opportunities to interact with domain experts, mentors and investors.
WeScale Sri Lanka’s recent ‘Industry Night,’ held at the Courtyard by Marriott Colombo, was the last in-person event of the Sri Lankan leg of WeScale. Now, the selection process has begun for WeScale+, which will continue until July 13, along with an in-person symposium that kicks off on July 10, 2023.
Speaking at the event, former LAN Chairperson Ms. Chandi Dharmaratne noted that programs like WeScale facilitated greater access to capital for startups, along with other types of support, which was essential for them to scale. By bringing together investors, industry professionals and startup founders, programs like WeScale have aided LAN in leveling up Sri Lanka’s already vibrant startup ecosystem. This in turn has also paved the way for this country to become a shining example for innovation and entrepreneurship in the Asian region.
Beginning with the 100 Women Entrepreneurs who entered the WeScale programs across Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the final phase will zero in on the program’s top 20 Women Entrepreneurs, overall, across all represented countries, with a mission to make them investment- and scale-ready. From Sri Lanka, five Women Entrepreneurs, out of 16 applicants, will move on to participate in WeScale+ in New Delhi, India.
Designed to support Women Entrepreneurs in scaling their tech-focused and -enabled businesses to the next level, WeScale is coordinated by the South Asia Regional Digital Initiative (SARDI), which is a part of USAID’s Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership (DCCP). Its partners include DAI and Accelerating Asia, along with LAN, Bangladesh Angels, India Accelerator and SAFAL.