- Focused on revitalization of rural economies, promoting gender and social inclusion
- Targeting rural job creation, eradication of unemployment, improved standards of living
- Lower barriers to MSME participation in digital ecosystem, island-wide e-commerce proliferation
- Aims to empower more women to be financially independent entrepreneurs
- Commences research into impact of e-commerce on rural entrepreneurs, women-led businesses
Leading online payment gateway, WEBXPAY announced a milestone partnership with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to significantly expand access to digital payments for Sri Lankan Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).
The DFAT Partnership for Recovery is part of a series aimed at promoting regional economic recovery. Leveraging WEBXPAY’s ground-breaking payment gateway and integrated e-commerce solutions, the initiative aims to empower MSMEs across the island to plug in and benefit from Sri Lanka’s burgeoning digital ecosystem, with a special emphasis on gender and social inclusion.
“We are pleased to partner with WEBXPAY, to aid small and medium sized businesses in Sri Lanka, including women led enterprises, to have access to a safe and convenient way to accept card and mobile payments from domestic and international consumers.
“In addition to strengthening their financial and digital literacy skills, this partnership will also support MSMEs to continue to trade through the pandemic by taking their businesses online. It will also help them be more competitive in the digital economy in future. By supporting MSMEs to formally register, develop their online presence and plan promotions they can better sustain their business operations and be resilient to economic shocks,” Australian Deputy High Commissioner for Sri Lanka Amanda Jewell said.
By supporting small business to accept cashless payments and take their enterprises online, WEBXPAY and DFAT aim to support a rapid revitalisation of Sri Lanka’s rural economies that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will help to increase MSMEs’ incomes by reaching existing and new customers – and even export their products – all whilst strengthening their financial and digital literacy.
Throughout the programme, WEBXPAY will provide support the MSMEs to formally register, develop their online business and plan promotions to sustain the business. As a result, MSMEs will be able to track online sales, generate payment links, and maintain a database of their customers on the platform.
“The MSME sector touches the lives of every Sri Lankan. These enterprises are what keep the grassroots of our economy alive, but over the past year, most have faced a period of extreme difficulty. We are therefore grateful to the Australian Government and its people for not simply extending a much needed helping hand, but also doing so in a manner that could potentially lead to a new era of sustainable, grassroots-led economic growth,” WEBXPAY CEO & Founder Omar Sahib said.
Sahib noted that with while traditional business models suffered, Sri Lankan e-commerce and online businesses have flourished during the pandemic. However, these opportunities have largely been confined to Colombo, the Western Province and a few other urban centers. Given their lack of experience and expertise with these new modes of business, rural MSMEs have usually been cut off from the ability to monetise on the surging demand for online services.
Sri Lanka’s MSME’s account for more than 90% of the total establishments in the country, in addition to being the source of 45% of all employment and accounting for 52% of GDP. However, the majority of these MSMEs are informal businesses. As a result, they tend to be reliant on daily cash-based sales and often lack planning and management skills. During the pandemic, this has led to an unprecedented disruption in daily operations.
Over the duration of the program, WEBXPAY will also be carefully monitoring and researching the impact of these initiatives with a particular focus on its effectiveness in improving standards of living for rural communities, while also creating tangible positive benefits at a macroeconomic scale. In addition to creating new job opportunities and helping to eradicate unemployment in rural Sri Lanka, the program will also measure its impact in terms of supporting financially independent female entrepreneurs. Additionally, the program’s digital-first approach is also expected to help reduce carbon-emissions while promoting vibrant grassroots economic growth.