How Microsoft is helping Sri Lankan SMEs

In a bid to support the national agenda and implement measures to boost growth in the SME sector, Microsoft goes to great lengths to help local SMEs with access to funds, technology, and the technical know-how to expand their enterprises.

Over 50 workshops were held to uplift local SMEs in the last two years either directly by Microsoft or through its partner ecosystem, engaging over 500-plus businesses and featuring esteemed guest speakers who delivered dynamic Q&A sessions that touched on all key aspects of digitalisation and digital transformation.

The workshop series was launched in mid-2018 to help business owners access the capabilities and skills necessary to expand their enterprises and export to the global market. Aside from delivering valuable training and insights that promote innovation and collaboration in the workplace, the workshops also provided an overview of the tailor-made facilities and products that Microsoft offers SMEs.

The free workshops focused on business productivity gains in the latest versions of Windows 10, Office 365, and Azure Cloud Computing Platform that provide the best accessibility experiences, knowledge on how to make your small business more secure, and more.

Partnerships with government institutions and industry bodies

Governments today have to fulfil more roles than ever before: From traditional roles as providers of public order and public goods to more recent ones like convening, aggregating, and facilitating discussions among communities with diverging interests.

Faced with these growing demands, governments can either hire more in a bid to keep up or craft ways to distribute some of the burdens to businesses, civil society, and even individual citizens.
In 2018, Microsoft signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure, and Foreign Employment. The MoU is the realisation of the country’s eGovernment Policy and plans for digital transformation. The salient features of the MoU are the establishment and implementation of:

· The digital transformation blueprint for the Government of Sri Lanka
· Public sector capacity building and productivity enhancement
· A software procurement programme to ensure a secure and seamless collaborative working environment for the public sector for better citizen services
· A cybersecurity risk assessment across the government and security programme
· Skills development for students with special focus on the implementation of “smart classrooms” and digital education
· Technical assistance and expertise on the eGovernment Policy and Plan

In 2019, Microsoft then partnered with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce to help SMEs in over seven vertical markets discover the importance of trust, security, and compliance.

Partnerships with the Government of Sri Lanka have allowed the software company to “foster small enterprises to grow into medium-sized enterprises and medium-sized enterprises to grow into large enterprises and large enterprises to grow into globally competitive enterprises”, as stated by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

With the Ministry of Industry and Commerce stating that the SME sector is a hotbed for growth and development, Microsoft also believes that enhancing national and international competitiveness will be necessary to ensure success.

“SMEs in Sri Lanka have a strong potential for driving growth through technology adoption and we’re committed to providing business owners with the insights, tools, and support to promote innovation,” said Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives SMC/SMB Territory Channel Manager Ashiq Niyaz. “SMEs will also need to future-proof themselves with robust IT infrastructure to sustain growth and scale up their businesses. Microsoft will continue to play a pivotal role in promoting inclusive economic growth, regional development, employment generation, and poverty reduction.”

ScaleUp: Incentives for emerging SMEs

Microsoft also has global programmes to help grow, build, and connect start-ups, with a commitment of $ 500 million to Microsoft for start-ups globally. Microsoft for Startups provides technical, product, and go-to-market benefits to accelerate start-up growth.
In 2019, Microsoft welcomed PickMe, the taxi-hailing app developed and maintained by Digital Mobility Solutions Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., and software vendor Linear Squared (Pvt.) Ltd. to the ScaleUp programme. ScaleUp is an immersive programme with sales, marketing, and technical support, helping start-ups hone their infrastructure and build their businesses.

“At Microsoft, we recognise the importance of identifying and supporting businesses of the future. Programmes like ScaleUp do a fantastic job of supporting micro enterprises in their scale-up stage as we lend our support to small and medium enterprises. As a company with a mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more, Microsoft is committed to helping SMEs in Sri Lanka realise their full potential through technology,” noted Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives Country Manager Hasitha Abeywardena.

From idea to IPO, Microsoft is uniquely equipped to support start-ups at every stage of its journey. Whether it’s technology enablement, business growth through accelerators and venture funding, or connecting you with customers, learn how Microsoft can help you grow.

“We believe technology can only change people’s lives when they have access to the capabilities and the benefits it provides. We will continue to invest in our greatest assets – our technology, people, grants, and voice – to advance a more equitable Sri Lanka where the benefits of technology are accessible to everyone.”

Affordable productivity

With the endless possibilities that digital transformation can bring to Sri Lanka, Microsoft is committed to helping businesses accelerate their digital transformation journeys. The company is encouraging enterprises in Sri Lanka to accelerate their customer reach with 50% off on Office 365 Business Essentials and 20% off on Office 365 Business Premium.