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Hajara Saleeth

Hajara Saleeth
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Hajara is a former Program Officer at SLASSCOM (Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies) and an MBA candidate of Staffordshire University - UK. She holds a BA (Hons) in Business Administration (First Class) from Staffordshire University - UK and currently pursuing studies on CIMA Strategic Level. Hajara is dreaming of a Sri Lanka with IT/BPM industry as the number one industry and she can be followed on Twitter via @hajara_. Views are personal.

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    Google Student Ambassadors have launched a Sinhala Translate week (#SinhalaTranslateWeek) to improve the translation efficiency of Google Sinhala Translator tool. Sinhala Translate Week will be held from 1st to 7th of September 2014. As per Google, the sole purpose of Sinhala Translate week is to get people to contribute to Google Translate through the newly introduced Google Translate Community.

    Google Translator is one of the widely used tools in the online community and it has introduced the Sinhala language to support the needs of Sinhala language users. The Google Sinhala Translate week seeks to improve the quality of the Sinhala translations, by crowdsourcing the words to the translator.

    If you are interested in helping Google improve its Sinhala Translator tool, here is the chance for you. There are three ways in which you can contribute for the Google Sinhala Translate Week.

    Translate and Win Prizes from Google

    If you have free time that you can allocate for translations, here is an opportunity for you. You can help Google to improve its translator tool by translating, matching, rating and comparing words. All what you need to do is to get yourself registered as a contributor and contribute during the week. You can get yourself registered here. Your contribution will help to enhance translation for millions of users who use Sinhala language.

    Contributing for Google Translate during this week also will allow you to win prizes from Google. Registered contributors with most number of contributions will stand chances to win. It does not stop there; this week will also allow you to be a part of the Google Sinhala Translate community by joining the Twitter conversation on #SinhalaTranslateWeek or engaging on dedicated Google Plus and Facebook Groups.

    Participate in a Translation Run

    Translation Run is an informal gathering of people who are enthusiastic about Google Translate, with the sole purpose of contributing, sharing knowledge, taking pictures, having fun, and posting them out to the public to let the world know that it is happening. During the Sinhala Translate Week, there are many Translation Runs happening around the country, predominantly based on universities and colleges. As of now, Translation Runs have been planned to be held at University of Sri Jayewardenepura, University of Moratuwa, University of Ruhuna, SLIIT and University of Jaffna. More details can be obtained here.

    Host a Translation Run

    Apart from participating in a Translation Run, you also have the opportunity to organize/host a Translation Run during the Sinhala Translate Week.  You can organize Translation Run in your university, institute, school or work place.  Hosting a Translation Run should be carried out according to the guidelines provided by Google. More details can be obtained here.

    If you think Sinhala language users deserve a better Google Translate, here is your chance to make the tool better. Contribute and help others to use Sinhala language online!

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    Ramadan season for Muslims started few days back and trend of Iftar is back in the town. Twitter community of Sri Lanka being so popular for exclusive events for Tweeps, is back with its very own #TweepsIftar. Iftar refers to breaking fast or ending the fast at the sundown after approximately 13 hours of avoiding food and beverages.

    The Tweeps Iftar 2014 is the third time that an event of such nature is being organized by the Twitter community of Sri Lanka. First ever Tweeps Iftar was held in 2012, in a very small scale with few tweeps gathering to break fast. However, Tweeps Iftar – 2013 was attended by a large number of Tweeps and received many positive comments. Check out our coverage on Tweeps Iftar 2013 here.

    Tweeps Iftar 2014 will be held on 25th of July 2014 (Friday) at CIOCONAT lounge (107, Barnes Place, Col – 07). The entrance fee is Rs. 1,000/= , subject to reduction based on securing sponsorships. The entrance will be limited only for prior registrations and having a Twitter account is compulsory to attend this event. You can get yourself registered for Tweeps Iftar here.

    The Tweeps Iftar 2014 is not limited to Muslims and open for all the ethnicities. The main aim of the event is to educate non-Muslim Twitter users about practices of Muslims during the Ramadan including rituals of break fast (Iftar) events while allowing them to network with fellow Twitter users. The event also aims to promote the ethnic harmony in a challenging time, by creating awareness about religious practices and sharing food and beverages with generosity.

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    Some of the tweeps at TweepsIfthar 2013

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    Some of the tweeps at TweepsIfthar 2013

     

    Some of the tweeps at TweepsIfthar 2013

    Some of the tweeps at TweepsIfthar 2013

    The Twitter Iftar will include an awareness session on Ramadan season, catered to Non-Muslims who will be attending the session. Further, you can witness Muslims performing religious rituals, including the Maghrib group prayers. If you are a foodie, the most important element for you at the event will be the delicious iftar food and the dinner buffet. The Tweeps Iftar will serve Kanji, a rice porridge which is an exclusive item at Iftar. Tweeps Iftar will also serve more yum yum, including salads and a variety of vegetarian dishes too.

    In a nut shell, Tweeps iftar is all about promoting religious harmony, networking.. and of course FOOD!! Be there! Get to know more about Ramadan! Talk to fellow tweeps!! And most importantly, enjoy yummy food!!

     

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    The World Conference on Youth 2014 was held in Colombo last week where youth representatives and various stakeholders including government officials gathered from nearly 160 countries to discuss the issues of the youth community. The theme of the conference was based on developing the post 2015 agenda on youth development and various aspects related to youth development were discussed. These findings of the conference were documented in the Colombo Declaration which would become a primary input for United Nation in coming up with post 2015 youth development strategies. The conference emphasised on the importance of Information Technology (IT) in youth development and some of the highlights are discussed below.

    The Secretary to Sri Lanka’s President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga addressed the main plenary session on Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and highlighted the importance of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in youth development. He said “Throughout the years, ICTs has not had a more robust and loyal champion than the youth. They have effectively exploited ICTs to dictate the trends in a major growth industry, and fostered it to generate youth entrepreneurship as a solution for youth unemployment. Be that as it may, these are not advantages that youth all over the world enjoy. For those in developing countries in particular, ICT access comes at an unaffordable cost.”  The main argument put forward was the making ICT affordable for all youth as a mean to empower them in the development process. Mr. Weeratunga further stated that there is a powerful potential for ICTs to cut across many recommendations to strengthen their outcomes. However, it was also presented that the governments must go beyond simply enhancing access and become actively involved in training and creating programmes aimed towards the empowerment of young people.  In commenting on the IT and job opportunities, Mr. Weeratunga said that becoming ICT-savvy does not only open doors for job opportunities, but also motivates and enables young people to learn about their communities and become active in the local development process.

    Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka Mr. Lalith Weeratunga is seen speaking at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.

    Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka Mr. Lalith Weeratunga is seen speaking at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.
    (Photo credits : Official Photographer)

    The round table session on Poverty Eradication and Food Security discussed the importance of technology in achieving this aim. Mr. Anushka Wijesinha from the Institute of Policy Studies highlighted the ability to use technology to eradicate poverty. He noticed that youth participation in the agriculture industry has been dropping over time. However, citing an example from the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, he stated that the youth who are already engaged in the agriculture industry use mobile phone applications to support trading. Further, he also commented on the use of social media at the global scale in order to support the agriculture industry while concluding that technology is a great method to eradicate poverty and address food security.

    A section of the audience at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.

    A section of the audience at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.
    (Photo credits : Official Photographer)

    The outcome of the conference was the Colombo Declaration which included 97 recommendations for youth development. Among many recommendations that are related to IT/ICT, following recommendations are identified as prominent and expected to be implemented at a global scale:

    • Encourage the use of Information and Communication Technology in education the establishment of inter- and intra-regional youth innovation and technology centers, as a means of disseminating knowledge, skills development, innovation and connectivity, thereby enhancing infrastructure in these areas.
    • Increase recognition of non-formal education and vocational education, including volunteer schemes and Information and Communication Technology models and apprenticeships, as an effective means of empowerment and skills transfer.
    A section of the audience at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.

    A section of the audience at the plenary session on “Mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: What We Want” at the World Conference on Youth 2014.
    (Photo credits : Official Photographer)

    It is interesting to notice that IT/ICT being given the due importance in the post 2015 development of youth. According to Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the U.N. Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, this was not the beginning or the end but an opportunity to cater to the issues brought forward for the benefit of the youth of the world. Hence, we can expect more and more development in IT/ICT fields in terms of supporting youth development which is crucial for the betterment of the society.

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    Twitter community of Sri Lanka is unique! They have been arranging various community building activities online as well as offline including events such as TweetupSL and Tweeps Iftar. The most recent event of Sri Lankan Twitter community was its blood donation camp, which was named #iDonateLK. Twitter in Sri Lanka is regularly used as a methodology to communicate requests for blood donors where Twitter accounts such as @BloodLK and @BloodNeedSL push updates on urgent blood requests and Tweeps regularly engage in such donations. Taking this practice a step further, few tweeps got together and organised #iDonateLK exclusive blood donation camp for tweeps to donate blood. This event was held on 6th of April 2014 at the National Blood Transfusion Service. This is the very first time the Sri Lankan Twitter community organised such an event, going beyond typical events of networking and fun.

    How did it Start?

    Like in the case of most the Twitter event, iDonateLK also started simply with a tweet, which was posted by Gayathri Seveneviratne (gsenev).

     

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    Proving the point that a simple tweet can do wonders, there were many tweets acknowledging the idea which led to another ‘social media for social good initiative’ by Sri Lankan Twitter community.

     

    Who was behind iDonateLK?

     

    Organising an event of this nature is challenging because all the coordination and communications happen online. But, there were tweeps to accept this challenge and be a part of this great initiate. The team behind iDonateLK include @milindat @MoAwesomeSauce @udithaumesh @SNSalgado @BuduMalli @nisald @Yeheshan @ShafrazKhahir, Vishmi and @gsenev. @dialogLK  was the sole sponsor who backed the event financially.

     

     

    What Happened at iDonateLK? 

    Proving the point that social media can be used for social good, there were many Twitter users who made themselves available on that day to donate blood. 44 donors succeeded in donating blood at iDonateLK and there were many who were turned down in the donor filtering process.

    The diversity was the most interesting element of iDonateLK where differences such as religion, age,  social status and gender did not have any impact on making social good through social media. They all came together as ‘tweeps’ to donate blood and support the needy people.

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    What do Tweeps Say about iDonateLK?

    As I told you before, organizing an event of this nature is challenging and we spoke to the main personality behind to iDonateLK, Gayathri Seneviratne @gsenev on her experience  and this is what she had to say:

    “I am excited and so extremely happy that we were able to record 50+ donors today. Why it is so is that first, it happened to fall on the day of the finals and promotion of the event was done solely through Twitter. A lot more than 50 turned out but most of them were rejected due to various causes. This meant that not everyone knows a lot of the prerequisites of donating blood and among other plans of having another event of the same caliber, we’re also hoping on building a system to improve this knowledge and awareness among the young people. I also want to thank the team for all their efforts both online and offline. On behalf of the team, I thank all the donors who donated and to everyone else who made an effort to be there.”

    Not only the organisers, but also the donors consider this event to be an exciting experience as they were part of a social good initiative.  One of the donors of iDonateLK, Udara Dharmasena (@udaraumd) says “It was the first pint of blood I have ever donated. I was not planning to donate yesterday since I’m barely passing the minimum weight required for blood donation. But suddenly I felt like giving and Umesh encouraged me. It’s a great feeling to donate blood and physically I didn’t feel that I have lost 450ml of blood from my system at all. Anyway It was a great effort by the tweeps of Sri Lanka. I’m very happy to be a part of this social good activity.”

     

    There were many first time donors and many were inspired fellow tweeps to donate blood. Sri Lankan Twitter community has embarked on something extra ordinary and this is not the end! The organizing committee of iDonateLK is certain that there will be many more similar events happening in the future. In the time of negatives about social media, Sri Lankan Twitter community has set an example that social media can be used to generate social good, if it is used in the right manner.

    For full pics from the blood donation, see our fb album

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    Central Bank of Sri Lanka released its annual report for the year 2013 revealing statistics about the economic and the industry conditions of the country. As per the statistics provided by Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the gross inflows to the computer and information services sub sector increased by 7.2 per cent in the year 2013 which means that the industry has been growing at a significant rate. The annual report also reveals that the gross inflow from the IT, BPO and KPO industries account for USD 604 billion indicating that there is lot more to be done, in terms of achieving the industry revenue target of USD 1 Billion by 2016.

    Nevertheless, the annual report of Central Bank of Sri Lanka acknowledges that Software and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) such as BPO and KPO  have emerged as a sector with high growth potential in Sri Lanka, generating significant inflows in 2013 compared to the previous year. Further, it also states that Sri Lanka has been able to win the ‘Outsourcing  Destination of the Year’ by the National Outsourcing Association (NOA), UK in October 2013 as a result of increased inflows to the country. In addition to these factors, Sri Lanka is recognized for having the ability to produce skilled human resources needed for Information Technology (IT),  BPO and KPO sectors.

    Considering the activities of the government to support the IT, BPO and KPO industry,  the government has put  forward a proposal to facilitate corporate entities engaged in BPO services while offering a 5-year half tax holiday for the new companies who are establishing operations. In addition to this, a project proposal was made to develop an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zone at Hambantota as the emerging ICT Hub of South Asia.

    Download the full report here

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    Google is making its presence known in Sri Lanka in various ways starting from supporting entrepreneurs, assisting universities to many other activities including policy development. Under the Google for Education initiative, Google Students Ambassador (GSA) program is an exciting opportunity for undergraduate/postgraduate students to act as liaisons between Google and their universities. GSAs have the opportunity to enhance their professional development, leadership, and communication skills, and access to a unique network of Google Ambassadors across the world.  Google is calling for applications for GSA in Sri Lanka!

    What do GSAs do?

    Google Student Ambassadors get involved in various activities, which are exciting as well as learning experiences for the students.  If you are an undergraduate/post graduate student with a passion to learn about technology, this is an exciting opportunity for you, because one of the key focus areas of GSA is to learn about innovative Google products and programs. Are you a fun loving person with passion to organize and host events? GSAs also get involved in planning and hosting fun events in their universities. In addition to these, GSAs also act as a campus contact for Google teams, which means there is a potential to network and also be exposed to Google’s culture. Google wants to understand how universities work in the local context and such understanding is also facilitated through GSAs where they help Google better understand each university’s culture.

    GSAs also have the opportunity to participate in various student events organized by Google at international level. Search Summit 2013 was one such event, which was held in Hyatt regency Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and ten GSAs from Sri Lanka participated in this event. Check out our article on Experience of Search Summit 2013, written by a participant.

    Want to become a GSA? Here is what you need to have!

    • You need to be a full-time undergraduate/postgraduate student. This does not mean that you need to be an IT student. This could vary from majors in Computer Science to Anthropology, Business to Zoology!
    • You also should be able to commit 10 hours per month for Google evangelist work.
    • GSAs also require familiarity with Google products including but not limited to Google Docs, Chrome, Search, and YouTube. You need to be enthusiastic about Google products! You should be someone who is thrilled by technology. This means you need to know the Google product portfolio in and out!
    • GSAs also need have an active social media presence where you need to be an active user of Google+, which is Google’s own social media platform.
    • In addition to this, ideal GSAs are also involved with student organizations and activities.

    Have you got what it takes to be a GSA? Click here to apply.

    More information can be obtained here. Applications are open until 7th April 2014.

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    Sri Lanka’s IT/BPO industry has set its vision to achieve USD 5 billion in exports by 2022 while generating 200,000 jobs and creating 1000 Start-ups in this process. Various stakeholders have put various plans into place to achieve these goals. Considering the plans of the government, vision for IT/BPO and Knowledge Service Industry (KPO) is set to promote Information Technology (IT) as a major industry in Sri Lanka.

    This will include reforms in the education system to emphasize science and technology subjects and a fast-track skills development programme, together with fiscal concessions for IT and IT related products. Budget 2014 has brought in various benefits for the development of IT/BPO and KPO industry and SLASSCOM has published a report together with PwC explaining these benefits. Some of the benefits granted for IT/BPO/KPO industry, as explained these report are given below.

    Branding Sri Lanka as the “Fast Emerging South Asian Knowledge Services Hub”

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    With many efforts being taken to position Sri Lanka as a knowledge service hub, the government has brought various initiatives through this year’s budget. One of the key elements in this is the proposed ICT Zone in Hambantota which is expected to take the IT/BPO industry out of the Colombo city. The proposed ICT Zone is expected to attract many foreign investments as well as the local investment while generating many employment opportunities. In addition to setting up the ICT Zone, the government has also unveiled plans to expand Nenasala center programs with an investment of LKR 1,000 million and this plan is also expected to improve the IT usages in the rural Sri Lanka.

    Retaining Human Capital and Sustaining the Growth

    The human resource availability is seen as a crucial element for the sustainability of the IT/BPO industry, since the country is heading towards a brain drain resulted through high level of migrations. There are various initiatives taken by the industry to bring back the Sri Lankan professionals who are working abroad in order to create the brain gain in the IT/BPO industry. To support this aspect of the industry, the government has a tax incentive on income taxes of professionals where the maximum income tax rate applicable to employment income of professionals such as Software Engineers, Accountants of a recognized professional body, Researchers, etc. will be reduced to 16%.

    Incentives to Nurture New Tech Start Up

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    The entrepreneurship in the IT industry is booming where there are many entrepreneurs starting up their tech startup ventures based in Sri Lanka. One of the major challenges faced here is that the lack of a conducive eco-system for startups, which combines various stakeholders related to tech startups. Nevertheless, the industry has set the target of reaching 1000 startups by 2022 and as a measure to support this growth, the government has proposed a 5 year half tax holiday for new partnerships or firms engaging in international services in the field of Accountancy, Commerce, Finance, Law, IT, Engineering and Architecture.

    Employability Training

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    Because Sri Lankan IT/BPO industry positions itself to be quality focused as opposed to cost leadership, the government has taken various initiatives to develop the quality of the human resources. The funds allocated to fast track skill development programs are expected to expedite with the establishment of a technical college affiliated to Moratuwa University in Homagama and an Information Technology center in Kelaniya University. Furthermore, the government has also decided to increase Science and Technology subjects in the main stream tertiary education to meet demands of the ICT industry.

    SLASSCOM PwC Budget Proposal Summary – 2014 IT/BPO and Knowledge Services industry can be downloaded here

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    The most highlighted event of the Twitter community of Sri Lanka in 2013 – #TweetupSL4 was held on 7th December at Mercantile Cricket Association Ground with the participation of over 500 tweeps. There had been many conversations around how good the event was.  Since there were many talking of the success of the event, we thought of  unveiling the hardworking committee behind this major event.

    #TweetupSL4 had  nine organizers who were from various backgrounds with one common element, which was their passion for social media. The organizing committee included @UdaraUMD @MoAwesomeSauce @GihanGamos @Gopiharan @UdithaUmesh @HimalKK @Chamara @rebelinpurple and myself (@hajara_).

    One of the founders of #TweetupSL, @UdaraUMD who is proud about the journey of #TweetupSL says:

    “It was the 4th time that I was involved in organizing TweetupSL. I never thought this event would go this far when we did come up with the first TweetupSL way back in 2010. It grew year by year and tweeple are always eagerly waiting to attend it.”

    He is right, none of the tweeps would have thought that #TweetupSL would become an annual event, but thanks to the anticipation of tweeps and committed organizing committee, it has become the most popular annual event among the Sri Lankan Twitter community. Another founding member of TweetupSL team, @rebelinpurple says,

    ‘It really is humbling and pleasing to see how far TweetupSL has come, from nearly 70 attendees in 2010 to the over 500 last month.’

    Organizing an event of this scale requires huge commitment and there was one person who kept reminding all the orgainzers about their pending duties. He is none other than @MoAwesomeSauce. If not for his follow ups, most of us would not have put in such an effort and he says:

    “Organizing an event of this magnitude isn’t easy and will never be easy. But then again, being able to work with an awesome team who contributed in any way possible to make this event a success, did help to pull it off. This year we faced many difficulties in terms of finding the time to dedicate ourselves to get this off the ground, finalizing a venue and date and finally securing the right sponsors. Once these major obstacles were overcome, it was smooth sailing ahead till the actually event took place.’

    There were new faces in the team who were not involved in organizing previous TweetupSL events. For them it was a new experience, but they were able to fit in perfectly well among all the odds. One of the newcomers to the team, @Gopiharan says:

    “At first I wasn’t sure whether I would fit into the team, but eventually I liked being part of something exciting. It was a great experience, even though my contribution was relatively low. For me, it was more about learning from the awesome team.”

    @UdithaUmesh also added:

    “As a person who is coming from an analytical and consulting background it was great to be a part of a volunteer driven nationwide event like TweetupSL. This set a different tone to my personal day to day activities which is why it was exciting. There was lot of experience gathered by being a part of this team. “

    For the organizers, it was all about the experience that they got and also the fun of being a part of a great team. @GihanGamos says :

    “It was indeed a pleasure to be back with the TweetupSL team in brainstorming and organising an entertaining and fun filled event. It was great to work with the team with new faces who did an immense contribution towards making the event a success. Look forward to many more TweetupSL events in the coming years to bind together a closer knit family of tweeps.”

    However, being an organizer of TweetupSL is not easy, when all of organizers are employed full time. For the participants, the event day was all about networking, but for the organizers it was all about making sure a smooth flow of the event occured. Commenting on the experience, @UdithaUmesh says :

    ‘Being a part of the organizing committee of an event like this is in one word was exciting. But I must say, on the day of the event it was exhausting.’

    And @Gopiharan believes that the learning experience should continue to make future events better :

    ‘The event may not have been perfect due to various challenges we encountered, but it sure has taught us what to avoid and where to focus more, if we end up organizing again.’

    This is not the end, concluding note from @UdaraUMD says:

    “May #TweetupSL live long !”

    In case you missed out in attending, view the video here

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    As many of you know, #TweetUpSL which is the largest gathering of the Sri Lankan Twitter community will be held on 7th of December at Mercantile Cricket Association (MCA). As the online media partner of #TweetupSL 4, Digit Magazine will be bringing back the memories of Sri Lankan Twittershpere by digging into popular hashtags that were used by Tweeps.

    Sri Lankan tweeps are known to create conversation around a topic which then converts into a popular hashtag among the community for a given time. The most important aspect is the fun element in these hashtags, where tweeps make it a way to have entertainment on their timeline. Sri Lankan Twitter community seems to be very democratic with voting rights for tweeps to vote for different categories of Tweeps. Since the voting for TweetupSL has already started, we thought of digging into a hashtag which is related to elections and politics - #TweepsAsCabinetMinisters

    The interesting point to note about  funny hashtags is that they initiated by a tweep, based on a current incident or a situational factor. #TweepsAsCabinetMinisters was initiated on 27th of January 2013 with the reshuffling and the expansion of Cabinet of Sri Lanka. As Sri Lanka is on its way to the Guinness record for the largest cabinet, Twitter community also made their own version of the cabinet which was initiated by Mr. Tweep @GayanMW.

    That was the birth of one hillarious hash tag! With this tweet, the hash tag started to get viral on Sri Lankan Twittersphere. These tweets were full of fun and creativity while communicating messages about many issues in the community.

    Some tweets were related to the lifestyles of tweeps, then converted to a ministry.

    Many tweeps were talking about celibrities, sports and many more random aspects of life.

    There were also tweets related to tweep’s full time jobs, which had made them masters to handle the ministries related to the field of work.

    Some of the hash tags also talked about the Twitter personalities and also the Twitter routine of Tweeps

    Once the ministers were appointed, these Twi-Ministers were also planning for their deputy ministers.

    Among these tweeps, there were also tweeps trying really hard to get certain ministries under them with ‘promises and manifestos’, which is very similar to normal situation with Sri Lankan cabinet.

    Similar to the situation with any cabinet reshuffle, we also noticed many clashes and fights for few popular ministries such as food and beverages and SRK related activities.

    Tweeps were also suggesting that @PresRajapaksa should check out these #TweepsAsCabinetMinisters tweets to get an idea of the preferences of the citizens.

    And this is what happened!

    It is about fun! But at times, it goes beyond that! The note below, sums up all :)

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     - Interview with Sajith Udayanga, Overall Winner of Digit Ideamart Awards – 2013

    Taking another step towards fostering the IT/Mobile industry of the country, Digit Magazine together with Dialog Axiata organized a mobile application development competition for application developers of Dialog Ideamart. Many developers took part in the competition with their innovative application ideas and their effort to succeed is commendable. The limelight of the event was grabbed by Sajith Udayanga, who won two awards, namely the Best Application Award and the People’s Choice Award. Today we interview Sajith to reveal his story to the success in mobile application business.

    Q: Hello Sajith! Congratulations on being the overall winner at IdeaMart – Digit Mobile Application Development Competition. Tell us about yourself.

    A: I am Sajith Udayanga. I’m an undergraduate of the Department of Sports Science and Management, Faculty of Applied Science at Sabaragamuwa University. I was a student at Ananda College. I have a keen interest for programming and field of mobile application development. It has been about two years since I entered mobile application development field. Now I have around 25 mobile applications successfully operating.

    Q: Give us a brief introduction to your presence on IdeaMart.

    A: I began to work with dialog Ideamart a few months ago. I have created several successful mobile applications along with Ideamart. The 2 main applications I have created are Lovers chat and Find my Kid. Basically lovers chat application is build under “couple chat concept”. It allows two partners/friends to chat unlimitedly only for Rs. 1 per day. If anyone wants to register for this application all they have to do is type REG JM and send 77220. Find my kid application is built carrying the idea of safety. It allows the user to track the location of the child or any other desired person. This application may become useful in emergency situations. Find My Kids application won 2 awards at Digit-Ideamart award ceremony 2013; the people’s choice award and best application award. To register for this application type REG FM and send to 77100.

    Q: What makes you/your applications stand out from the rest?

    A: My applications are built according to the requirement of customers. I focus on touching the areas of daily needs through my applications. Applications are user friendly and the customers can give feedback on the quality of the service and the problems they face while using my application. This approach allows my applications to standout from the rest.

    Q: How do you evaluate the feasibility of your idea?

    A: When I generate an idea for an application, I practically consider whether it could be utilized in daily life and whether it would meet the requirements of potential customer base. Then I would talk about my idea with friends and have their suggestions. Sometimes I tell my ideas to a sample of my potential customer base and evaluate whether my application would become practically useful to them.

    Q: How do you reach out to your target market? What are the marketing channels you use?

    A: Main-marketing channel I use is social media. Apart from that I use leaflets and my friend network as my channels too.

    Q: Behind every success story, there is a list of challenges and barriers. What are the challenges you are facing at the moment as a developer/entrepreneur?

    A: I have faced several challenges in this field. Sometime I find it hard to reach customers. Basically marketing is a quite big challenge. The initial cost for marketing is high. The means to reach customers are usually costly that I find as a challenge. Apart from that meeting the needs of dynamic customer base is another challenge.

    Q: In your opinion, what are the elements of the formula for a successful entrepreneur?

    A: I think to be a successful entrepreneur one should always be alerted about the markets and always update himself/herself about market and strategies. Taking the risk, which is calculated well, is another aspect. And it is important to look at the things in daily routine and activities differently to understand the opportunities.

    Q: Where do you see yourself in another 10 years time? Tell us about your future plans for your business?

    A: I have aim to start a software and mobile application developing company of my own. In ten years time my vision is to be a successful, competitive and leading mobile application developing company in Sri Lanka.

    Q: What is your message for developers who want to become entrepreneurs?

    A: If you want to reach out your dreams, always be a leader not a follower. Think further about the life experiences and see the opportunities it generates. Always be prepared to take the risk, which is well calculated. And finally remember to have a backup plan in your initial ideas fail.