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Businesses that Came Forward to Help Amidst the Pandemic

2020 Apr 18

As the world undergoes history-textbook events, many are left to feel scared and vulnerable with penetrating thoughts of helplessness. Thankfully, there have been companies and businesses all over our island which are supporting people that require essential services and are proving to be a tremendous aid in rehabilitating faith and hope in our country. 

While numerous organisations carried out different initiatives to support Sri Lanka’s fight against COVID-19, here are some businesses which stood-out in their efforts. 


1. Citrus Waskaduwa

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Citrus Leisure PLC offered it’s 150 room beach resort in Waskaduwa to be used as a quarantine facility if required by the government. Transforming the hotel into a space fit for the health ministry’s purpose was possible due to the plummeting tourism industry in Sri Lanka which had left the hotel rather vacant. The motives behind such a chivalrous act lie with the business’s charitable ethos to improve, develop and help the country. The resort is to be severely disinfected once it retires as a quarantine centre, in order to keep up with the international standards the resort is known for. 


2. John Keels Holdings 

Image Source: http://bizenglish.adaderana.lk/

The Colombo Stock Exchange behemoth John Keells Holdings PLC has proved to be of immense assistance during the adverse effects of the coronavirus. The brand’s dominating profile in the stock market was put to good use in the past few weeks as the giant funded equipment and consumables for the National Institute of Infectious Diseases’ very own Molecular Virology Laboratory. This deed was done in collaboration with South Asia Gateway Terminals Pvt Ltd. and Deutsche Bank to increase the volume of patients who can be tested within a specific period of time. 

A more recent act of goodwill by John Keells was done by Keells Supermarkets, one of the company’s subsidiaries, in collaboration with Ceylon Cold Stores, otherwise known as Elephant House. This past week, the businesses provided over 10,000 packs of essentials to selected areas across Sri Lanka to make sure that people don’t suffer during this time of emergency.


3. Hotel Dolphin

Image Source: https://www.serendibleisure.com/

Among many other luxury hotels, Hotel Dolphin has been offered as a centre for quarantine to Army Commander Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva. The four-star hotel with 154 rooms was offered as a place of lodging for nurses and other staff members who could not head back home. Hemas Holdings PLC, the owner of Serendib Hotels PLC and hence the owner of Hotel Dolphin, has communicated the proposal to National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) and is presently awaiting a response from them. 


4. PickMe Food

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PickMe Food has graciously accepted a partnership with Lanka Sathosa to deliver resources during the curfew imposed by the government. The delivery service covers locations across Colombo, Kotte, Malabe, Rathmalana, Kelaniya, Kandana, Gampaha, Negambo, Kandy, Katugasthota, Peradeniya, Kurunagala, Kaluta, Galle and Matara. 

PickMe Food also partnered up with Litro Gas Lanka Ltd. to deliver their LP gas during curfew in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. To order from either of these two businesses, you will need to download the PickMe Food app.

The Organization also collaborated with Sampath Bank to deliver cash to your doorstep through the application.


5. Akbar brothers

In an attempt to help the nation in its efforts to stop the coronavirus, the tea company Akbar Brothers have promised Rs. 100m for those in need through many relief measures. Plentiful bags of rations such as medical equipment and supplies of food have been given out to the local communities of its employees through places of worship such as temples and churches, guaranteeing that they don’t suffer during the rampant spread of the coronavirus. In addition to that, the tea exporter has donated Rs. 50m to the president’s COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund which has now reached a milestone of 380m rupees as of April 6th, 2020 with the help of numerous other donations from other kind hearts around Sri Lanka. Moreover, Akbar Brothers have confirmed its involvement in the construction of Chilaw’s very own New Health Centre which will provide medical assistance to those living within the area.


6. Union Chemists and Healthguard
For anyone with prevailing medical conditions, the curfew would probably sound like the end of it all as shops and stores everywhere close down for quarantine. Thankfully, the kind people at two large chain pharmacies are still waking up every morning to come to work and provide for those who require medication for any medical concern. Healthguard and Union Chemists are giants in the pharmaceutical industry in Sri Lanka and it’s a blessing to many that they remain open throughout the curfew, especially considering the wide range of medication and other healthcare items that one might possibly require. Their valiant efforts deserve commendation during hard times such as these.


7. Trinco Blu by Cinnamon

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John Keels Holdings has offered its Trincomalee resort, Trinco Blu by Cinnamon, to be used as a quarantine centre by the government to help prevent the spread of coronavirus on a temporary basis if the need arises. The company’s chairman, Krishan Balendra, has written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa making this offer and is currently awaiting a response.  All hotels under the same management as Trinco Blu are offering their properties as lodging for nurses, chefs and other staff working in Colombo.


8. Manusath Derana

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Manusath Derana is one of the first humanitarian organizations in Derana’s Media Network which has always been committed to being a trusted catalyst of the philanthropic spirit. They’re dedicated towards easing the suffering of people affected by unfortunate circumstances. The brand’s non-profit operates on donations from sponsors and beneficiaries which includes both money and material support such as food, bottled water and sanitary items. Backed by numerous volunteers, Manusath Derana ventures across the island to support vulnerable communities in times of trouble.


9. Uber Eats

Uber Eats has been regulated by the government to be allowed to work with supermarkets and select private businesses to deliver groceries around Colombo. You will be able to select your groceries as you normally would with food, and that is through the official app. Users will also have the option of paying by either cash or card. The only complexity is that delivery remains within Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara. The alliance was first brought up by the Si Lankan government to help citizens stay home and abide by the laws that come with the curfew to curb the spread of the virus.


10. Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA)

The Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA) has started manufacturing two million face masks to support health authorities combating COVID-19. This is a donation from the SLAEA and about 20 factories have come forward to support the project free of charge. Hi Fashion Holdings, a subsidiary of the Hirdaramani Group, has started manufacturing COVID-19 test swabs and will be ramping up production to 3,000 swabs per day. This is aligned with initiatives of the Medical Research Institute of Sri Lanka (MRI) and National Institute of Infectious Diseases (IDH).


11. Unilever

Unilever Sri Lanka donated 4000 personal protection kits and a stock of thermometers valued at LKR 4.5 million. In addition, Dialog Axiata Pvt. Ltd. donated telecommunication and teleconferencing equipment worth 2 million that facilitates remote patient monitoring, with the aim of providing protection to the doctors, nurses and other medical staff treating COVID-19 patients.


12. 99X Technology

99X Technology, a software product engineering company headquartered in Sri Lanka has launched its ‘COVID-19 Action Center’ in the form of an online guide. It is an open-source encyclopedia for organizations seeking to adapt to this crisis. It has multiple resources, covering a range of topics such as procedures for working from home, preparing contingency plans, assisting sick employees, facilities management, and more. Also available are free-to-use COVID-19 infographics and links to a local Corona Virus Tracker as well as the WHO corona Virus Page.


13. STEMUp Educational Foundation

Locally, the STEMUp Educational Foundation, a local non-profit organization, launched two initiatives to encourage online learning. The first is the STEMUp Academy, which is a free community e-learning platform with content in both English and Sinhala. The second is a virtual series teaching kids how to code. Guru.lk, as well as volunteer organizations like the Sisterhood Initiative, are also providing free online educational support and learning materials for those sitting the GCE A Level’s in 2020.

14. Gamer.lk

Gamer.LK, a Sri Lankan eSports company, launched the ‘Play From Home’ initiative in partnership with Sri Lanka Telecom. The initiative will see Gamer.LK hosting lobbies and streams of locally popular games. Telecommunication operators under the TRCSL are offering extra and free data, credit and talk time to enable people to stay more connected during these difficult times.


15. Sri Lankan Airlines

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On the 1st of February 2020, when the Coronavirus was widespread in Wuhan, Sri Lankan Airlines Flight UL1423 was sent to Wuhan, under the instructions of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in order to bring back Sri Lankan students who were trapped in Wuhan at the time. The flight landed at the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport  following its extremely long turnaround flight from Colombo to Wuhan and the students were handed over to the care of health care authorities and other relevant institutions, to carry out necessary procedures. Sri Lankan Airlines is also planning on bringing back 113 Sri Lankan students who are stranded in Pakistan, once the curfews are lifted. At least 215 Sri Lankan students are stuck in India and Pakistan due lockdowns in the region and the initial phase of bringing them back safe to Sri Lanka is said to be happening on the 21st of April.

Honourable mentions to this list are the hundreds of companies and individuals that have donated huge amounts to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Healthcare and Social Security Fund thereby providing financial security to those running prevention and quarantine operations in Sri Lanka.

Also check out these other companies who have come up with different kinds of innovations to help fight the pandemic!

Sri Lankan Tech Innovations Rising during COVID-19