Since Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war ended in 2009, the country has seen massive change. It now ranks 73rd in the world on the Human Development Index, higher than India at 135 and China at 91. Among the people of the island, this change has manifested itself in many different ways.
“I studied political science and did my masters in international relations,” says Lahiru Pathmalal, co-founder of Takas.lk, one of Sri Lanka’s largest ecommerce sites. Although Lahiru worked with NGOs and different conflict resolution organisations, he did not feel the dynamism necessary to change the face of the country. “It was all government work all over again,” he explains.
Takas.lk was founded in 2012 by Lahiru and Murtaza Moosajee. Other competition in the sector includes Wow.lk, an ecommerce site that recently entered the ticketing space for Sri Lanka’s cricket team and expanded its site to read in Tamil, Sinhala, and English. Ikman.lk is a popular classifieds site that connects sellers and buyers all over Sri Lanka. Despite the growing presence of ecommerce, however, it is still in its very early stages.
“Our most difficult challenge has been raising money,” Lahiru says. “It’s hard to show a proof of concept. How do you explain to people that ecommerce is here to stay? It is changing ever so slowly, but people are still critical of the entire framework of the country.”
A large part of Sri Lanka’s population is already online. “We have 5 million out of 20 million people on the internet,” says Lahiru. “There are 4G colonies across the country and Google’s balloon project promises to get internet to every corner of the country in the next few years.” ( Business Standard)