The 2020 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network was launched today at The Ecosystems Couch Conference. The GSER is the world’s most comprehensive and widely-read research on startups. Its release comes at a critical time when several startups in Sri Lanka are running out of funding and facing closure in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) engaged Startup Genome to benchmark Sri Lanka’s performance against more than 250 startup ecosystems globally in the report. It has identified the Sri Lankan government’s support for technology companies and competitive talent as reasons for startups to operate in Sri Lanka. The report recognized Sri Lanka for being the #2 destination among global startup ecosystems for affordable talent.

Reaffirming the government’s support, Chairman of the ICTA, Jayantha De Silva said, “The value of Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem has more than quadrupled from LKR 5.4 billion to LKR 21.8 billion in the past two years. ICTA is committed to facilitating the continued growth in ecosystem value and startup output. We, as the ‘Island Of Ingenuity,’ take pride in our product engineering talent pool which has delivered world-class products and gained investor confidence globally.”

Despite the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, local investors have also reassured their commitment to supporting local startups. Chairman of the Lankan Angel Network, Mano Sekaram said, “Over the past decade, regional VCs, foreign investors, and other parties have made significant investments into tech startups. With this backdrop, we’re excited to launch Sri Lanka’s first Angel Fund to further support the growing ecosystem.”

The report also identified the strong potential of Sri Lankan startups in the eCommerce and FinTech sectors. The annual domestic eCommerce sales and services is estimated to be at $40 million and expected to grow $400 million by 2020. New regulations by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has empowered Sri Lankan FinTech startups, which have also found new support with the launch of HatchX, which is Sri Lanka’s first FinTech accelerator and the first virtual accelerator in South Asia. The accelerator was launched in April 2020 and is an initiative by Hatch in partnership with the Lankan Angel Network.

Commenting on these findings, CEO of PayHere, Dhanika Perera shared, “The COVID-19 pandemic expedited consumer adoption of eCommerce out of necessity. PayHere recorded a remarkable 4x growth on daily payments processed for local eCommerce businesses. This shift in consumer behaviour has now convinced traditional businesses to move online.”

With an expanding footprint, the 2020 GSER provides insights and guidance to foster thriving startup ecosystems and leveraging them to restart economies following the COVID-19 lockdowns. “This is the time for policymakers, community leaders, and foundations to double down on their support of local startups — the #1 engine of job creation and economic growth,” said JF Gauthier, Founder & CEO of Startup Genome. 

For Sri Lankan startups, there are opportunities in several industries they can capitalize on to grow their business and the national economy. Sharing how these opportunities can be seized, COO of SLINTEC, Heminda Jayaweera said, “We can leverage the value of our raw materials and also utilize the highly advanced expertise of scientists and engineers we have in Sri Lanka,” he explained

Find out how more than 100 entrepreneurial ecosystems across the world stack up and view the full report here:

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