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The Asia Foundation to train up to 5000 small biz in Sri Lanka

By: Staff Writer

February 13, Colombo (LNW): Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, is providing US$ 15 million to The Asia Foundation to launch the APAC Cyber security Fund in partnership with CyberPeace Institute and Global Cyber Alliance to bolster cyber capabilities of 300,000 underserved micro and small businesses including 5000 nonprofits and social enterprises in Sri Lanka .

Working with implementing organisations and universities across the region, The Asia Foundation aims to equip local communities and students via up skilling tools and cyber clinics to protect against online risks.

The initiative will span 13 locations, including Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Asia and the Pacific has become ‘ground zero’ for cybercrimes, recording the highest number of cyber incidents worldwide in 2023. The threats and impacts are more alarming for small businesses.

Research shows that more than half of small businesses in the region have experienced a cyber-incident in the past years, with malware attacks being the most common.

Incidents like this threaten operations, result in revenue loss, and negatively impact a business’ reputation. More than 70% of small business owners express fears that serious cyber incidents could potentially end their business.

In Sri Lanka, which ranked 81st out of 175 countries in 2020’s National Cyber Security Index, scoring especially low in protection for digital and essential services, the program aims to reach up to 5,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) covering 10,000 individuals.

Country Representative for The Asia Foundation in Sri Lanka, Dinesha De Silva highlights the essential nature of the program.

“In the context of Sri Lanka’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, it is imperative to recognise the critical role of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises as both the drivers of innovation and economic growth, and as prime targets for cyber threats.

The alarming rate at which a significant number of MSMEs are falling victim to malicious cyber-attacks cannot be overlooked, highlighting the urgent necessity to enhance their cyber defences.

 It is not just a strategic necessity, but a critical national investment to empower these enterprises with comprehensive cyber security education and awareness,” De Silva said.

Small Enterprises Development Division Director Sudheera Jayarathne, a local implementing partner of the program, also shared his thoughts on the potential impact of the program on MSMEs.

“The Small Enterprises Development Division is making constant efforts to develop businesses by applying modern digital technology for businesses and have identified the need to provide knowledge on Cyber Hygiene and Cyber Security to Small and Medium Businesses.

The opportunity to work in partnership with The Asia Foundation, supported by Google.org under this project will empower us to achieve our goal.”

With cyber threats on the rise, it is important for entrepreneurs and internet users to have the skills to understand and assess potential risks, and protect themselves and their business against malicious activities and other threats in the cyberspace.

Seeking to build a digital ecosystem that is inclusive and safe for all, the APAC Cyber security Fund, through The Asia Foundation, will connect small businesses and vulnerable groups to local training opportunities and resources to build and strengthen their digital defence. 

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