Video Attached!!SLF Intl, USA Showcases 2021 Sri Lanka Day, One of a Kind Virtual Event!!!!! to the Global Audience

When 2021 Sri Lanka Day celebrations began many people logged in to the SLF Platform on August 20th from all around the world and entered the lobby were simply flabbergasted to witness such a detailed creation, with the information center, the Auditorium Exhibition hall, and the Networking lounge. The entrance to the Auditorium door opens and you are lead to the roof top in a elevator which is never seen any virtual event before. It was also breathtaking to see the creation of the virtual people moving around in the lobby and in their seats in the Auditorium and Networking lounge.

The attendees had the choice of deciding which segment of their interest and was able to enjoy it from the comfort of their homes.The five hour Amazing Cultural Performances from all over the world was viewed and enjoyed by many when some of the other Attendees were visiting and chatting with Vendors in the Exhibition Hall and the networking lounge was busy with people trying to connect.

The event continued on August 21st & 22nd, with excitement building up to win quiz prizes when our amazing live mc’s promoted enthusiasm and anticipation among the attendees to stay until the very end.

The “Pageant of Lanka” was showcased to give a feel of the original Parade that is hosted on the World Famous Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena.

We appreciate our Sponsors for their contributions to support the event as well as showcasing their products. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to all the volunteers for their valuable time to assist in many different ways.

The event ended with a Big Bang by the band “Sithara” to entertain the attendees with some nice Sihala Music.

Click on the link to watch the video:

Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson appointed as the Group ceo of Hemas Holdings plc

Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson was appointed as the Group CEO of Hemas Holdings PLC earlier today. She becomes the first female Group CEO of a public quoted conglomerate in Sri Lanka; effective from the 1st of October 2020. Effective 1st July 2020, Kasturi will also be assuming duties as Non-Executive Director of Hemas Holdings PLC.

A former student of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and an Alumni of Harvard Business School, Kasturi joined Hemas Holdings PLC in 2002, where she held many senior management positions, including Chief Process Officer and Managing Director of the Hemas Transportation Sector. In 2016, Kasturi took over as Managing Director of Hemas Pharmaceuticals, Surgicals and Diagnostics, where she was responsible for driving the company’s local and regional expansion. She also functions as the Managing Director of the Hemas Mobility Sector.

Kasturi serves on the Boards of Morison PLC, Hemas Consumer Brands and Capital Alliance Limited, as a Non-Executive Director. She is also the current President of the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) and is the first woman to be appointed as President of SLCPI. A main Committee Member of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), she is also a Member of the Sub-Committee on Economic, Fiscal and Policy Planning of the Chamber and serves as a Member of the National Agenda Committee for Logistics and Maritime of the Chamber. Kasturi has also served on the Boards of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Sri Lanka and the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka. Kasturi was recognized as being one of the twelve Top Women Change-Makers in the country in 2019, by the Parliament of Sri Lanka and USAID.

Hemas hosts Women’s Educational and Economic Empowerment Forum

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“Encounter, Embrace, Empower, Sustain…”

My name is Thushari Siriwardhane Aniban and I am the owner of; an online store promoting handcrafted, eco-friendly, sustainable products made exclusively in Sri Lanka.

Aliya Blue was founded with the purpose of providing a platform for the various artisans in Sri Lanka to showcase their unique products and skills to the world. It is an avenue for them to support, not just themselves and their families, but also their communities.

The inspiration came to me during my recent visit to Sri Lanka. As I was walking through the local marketplace in Anuradhapura. I noticed a woven bag hanging on a small vendor’s roof and fell in love with it. It reminded me of the “malla” my grandmother used to carry to the market when she did her weekly groceries. To me it was so beautiful and represented a simpler time when there were no plastic bags, and everyone used to carry a version of this bag to the market. As a nod to my grandmother, I thought why not start taking a ‘malla’ to the supermarket and leave the plastic bags at the store. It was the perfect solution – eco-friendly and uniquely stylish. From this initial thought, came the framework for Aliya Blue. Why not spread the message beyond the shores of Sri Lanka. With all the talk of what we are doing to our planet, these sustainable bags seemed another solution to mitigate the prevalence of plastic in our daily lives. These bags are re-usable and made from several natural materials such as reeds and Palmyra leaves growing in abundance in Sri Lanka.

This chance meeting in Anuradhapura led me through an intricate path, this is Sri Lanka after all, to a wonderful lady in Ape Gama in Kotte. She was so thrilled with my idea that she set me on course to meet several vendors throughout Sri Lanka. I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of artisans that made various types of bags using several natural materials that were growing in abundance around them, particularly in the rice fields. Majority of my vendors turned out to be women and it was inspiring to see them supporting their families singlehandedly, and the communities around them by employing other women. I also met a teacher in Kataragama, who traveled over one hour by bus to rural villages to teach women how to make these products. He gets a small stipend from the government for his teaching, but he mostly does it out of his passion for creating these unique bags and passing on his skills.

Through these travels not only was I able to meet artisans making bags but I also met several other craftspeople utilizing a variety of natural materials such as coconut shells and clay to make an astonishing variety of products. These products ranging from jewelry to household goods showcased the versatility of these materials as well as the amazing imagination of these artists. So, my store expanded.

I started talking to the vendors about their products and how business was going, and I kept hearing the same story. Business was bad, there were no tourists or locals traveling, and they were struggling to survive. This was after the tragic Easter Sunday terrorist attacks that took place in the island April (2019) and now the coronavirus. These artisans were creating beautiful products yet there was no real exposure for their talents. I had always wanted to give back to and help the less fortunate communities inSri Lanka, and this seemed like the perfect place to start. Not charity but a way to empower the craftspeople and their communities.

As such, we deal directly with the people who design & hand craft these products. Therefore, the monies paid go directly to the hands of these artisans. It was especially important for me and my company, that we support these entrepreneurs directly rather than purchasing goods from a third party.

I cannot emphasis enough that all the products you see on the website are handmade which means each piece is unique and there will never be a hundred pieces of one item. We buy what the artisan community produce. When you purchase an item from us, you can be rest assured you will be a proud owner of an item that is well made and in very limited production.

I am honored to say what started out as a simple idea of introducing Eco-friendly bags made in Sri Lanka to the US, turned into a showcase for Sri Lanka’s unique handcrafts. Thus, Aliya Blue was born.

Please visit us at and follow on IG & FB @aliyablueworld

Written By:
Thushari Siriwardhana

SAVE THE DATES!!!! SLF International Upcoming Webinars

Don’t Miss out upcoming webinars:

Business Webinar:
“Rescue & Relief Financial Resources for those Impacted by COVID-19″

Tax Relief programs:
Employment Division Department Inquiries and Questions
Small Business Association Coronavirus relief options
Running a Online Operations & Marketing and Promotions Online
Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act
Coronavirus and Housing
Financial Relief Resources

SLF Academy of Performing Arts Webinar:

All programs will be presented by our instructors!

Sri Lankan expats find new job opportunities in UAE, says Ambassador

Although a very small percentage of the Sri Lankan population in the UAE wanted to go back home due to the present health situation, many among them changed their minds thanks to new job opportunities, said a top Sri Lankan diplomat.

“Of an estimated 300,000 Sri Lankans here, less than ten per cent of them — around 25,000 — had registered with the Sri Lankan diplomatic missions a few months ago for repatriation. Now, many of them do not want to go as they have started getting new jobs after the economy opened up here,” Malraj De Silva, the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UAE, said.

Sri Lankans find new jobs:

When the embassy contacted 2,000 registrants last week, only 547 came forward for seats in repatriation flights arranged by the mission, De Silva revealed.

Most registrants are those who have lost their jobs and many of them want to stay back here after finding new jobs or at least some sort of job offers, he disclosed.

“Some new jobs may not offer them the same salary they used to get. Still I have advised them to stay back here. Because world economy will have a tough time at least for the next two years and we all have to keep our head above water,” the ambassador explained.

Sri Lankan community groups have been helping the community members to find jobs. “I have asked each professional in the community to help at least one compatriot to find a job,” De Silva said.

Repatriation process:

About the ongoing repatriation process, he said, “We knew from the beginning that a large number of people would not go as they had registered due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. However, with this new trend [people finding new jobs], we now estimate that only around 12,000 [roughly 50 percent of the total registrants] will have gone by the end of the repatriation mission,” the envoy explained.

Around 5,000 people have already left and an estimated 7,000 people may fly in the coming weeks, said De Silva who took charge as the ambassador in Abu Dhabi in May.

He heard touching tales of Emirati employers helping their Sri Lankan employees, especially pregnant women, during their difficult time. “This is a good example for human compassion,” the envoy said.

Sri Lankan population in UAE:

Of 300,000 Sri Lankans in the UAE, almost 100,000 of them are doing white-collar jobs. There are mid-level employees, blue-collar and household workers in the community, he said.

Majority of them — about 220,000 — are living in Dubai and Northern Emirates, and around 80,000 in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

While interacting with skilled workers, he has found that some of their certifications do not meet the requirements in the UAE job market. “I have requested the Sri Lankan government to look into this matter and do the needful to provide the required certifications to Sri Lankans going for overseas jobs,” De Silva revealed.

He wants more Sri Lankan professionals such as doctors, engineers, architects, quantity surveyors and shipbuilders to come and find jobs in the UAE.

40th anniversary of bilateral relations:

When Sri Lanka and the UAE celebrate 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year, the ambassador believes that the relations could be improved further.

The UAE is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner in Middle East. “We can still look into the possibilities of enhancing economic relations.”

He wants to attract UAE investors to Sri Lanka’s emerging sectors such as renewable energy and healthcare. Tourism is another potential area. “Only 7,000 Emirati tourists have been visiting Sri Lanka annually. We would like to attract more of them. Once they come and enjoy the hospitality of our people, it will help improve people-to-people relations as well,” De Silva said.

Sri Lanka has effectively controlled the new coronavirus and the country is planning to open the tourism sector when the next season starts in October, the ambassador said.

Sri Lanka EDB, Foreign Ministry accelerate efforts to boost exports

The Export Development Board (EDB) and the Foreign Ministry are working closely together to increase the country’s export revenue and mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the export industry.

In a joint statement, they said Sri Lanka’s export income which stood at US$ 277 Mn in April 2020 has increased to US$ 1,090 Mn in July 2020 and is projected to grow in the coming months. There are several joint initiatives taken by the EDB and the Foreign Ministry to enhance exports.

This includes identifying new market opportunities, creating awareness by disseminating market alerts, addressing supply chain issues, enhancing capacity building through webinars, and creating business linkages to support existing exporters to sustain their exports.

During the COVID-19 lockdown which began in late March, Sri Lanka’s Missions and Posts overseas continued to share updates and developments relevant to the markets they covered. These updates included available market opportunities as well as changes to trade and policy regulations during the pandemic which enabled Sri Lanka’s exporters to adapt accordingly.

The functioning of this mechanism also enabled Sri Lanka’s exporters to share their supply capability information with buyers swiftly, via the Foreign Ministry and its network of overseas Missions. The export opportunities that were identified and made use of in this manner related in particular to face masks, protective gowns, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), rubber gloves, hand sanitizers, tea and food products. EDB being the facilitator for Sri Lankan exporters made efficient arrangements to circulate market updates rapidly among exporters via email and its website, and made use of IT based solutions to connect exporters and importers by organizing a series of webinars in collaboration with foreign trade chambers with the assistance of Sri Lanka’s Missions overseas.

Although lockdowns are easing in several countries including Sri Lanka, the EDB and the Foreign Ministry continue to collaborate with the assistance and support of the network of Sri Lanka Missions overseas to connect buyers and sellers virtually, assessing and responding to market trends. Virtual trade fairs and displays in year-long virtual shopping malls are being considered as alternative ways to physical trade fairs to link exporters with potential overseas buyers.

Webinars were organized so far for the Electrical & Electronics, ICT/BPM, Printing, Boat & Ship Building, Coconut, Ceramic and Porcelain, Logistics and Supply Chain, Marine and Offshore Engineering and Ayurveda and Herbal products sectors which will eventually resulted in virtual Business to Business (B2B) meetings.

With the objective of assisting SMEs in Sri Lanka under the concept of “One Village One Product” (OVOP), EDB and the Foreign Ministry are coordinating with Sri Lanka Missions overseas on attracting investments from migrated Sri Lankans living abroad.

While these measures are being pursued to overcome the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Sri Lanka’s economy, and achieve the revised export target of US$ 10.75 Bn in 2020, further steps will be taken to work closely with other relevant local partners as well as partner nations and organizations to explore new opportunities and utilization of technology to achieve the Government’s economic objectives.

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SL New Cabinet to be sworn in on Wednesday!

The new Cabinet will be sworn in on Wednesday (12), according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The swearing-in ceremony of the new SLPP Cabinet will be held at the Auditorium, Magul Maduwa, in Kandy under the patronage of the President.

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