Sri Lanka’s first online woman-centric professional network

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Woman-centric professional platform WERK launches as corporate partners get on board

WERK, Sri Lanka’s first online woman-centric professional network, was launched amidst much anticipation on Saturday, 15 February at Hatch in Colombo. The well-attended event brought together invitees from various stages in their respective professional lives, paving the way for a promising line-up of projects from the new online platform.

Empirical -and considerable microeconomic- evidence from across the world has confirmed that an unlevel playing field between women and men in the workplace has substantial economic costs; highlighting the importance and value of gender diversity in improving not just a firm’s overall performance, but also the economic health of nations.

Closer to home, in its 2018 Country Report on Sri Lanka, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that Sri Lanka could raise its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by as much as 20% in the long run, just by closing the gender gap in its workforce. 

Additionally, gender diversity among business leaders has proven to lead to better decision-making processes, monitoring, and strategy involvement.

Committed to tackling this disparity by accelerating the career ambitions of women in Sri Lanka, Yusra Aziz-Eliyas and Amrit Rupasinghe set up WERK (Women Entrepreneurs Resource Kit), Sri Lanka’s first woman-focused online professional network. In embodying its mission of unlocking the combined power of female entrepreneurs and corporate women in Sri Lanka to create massive economic and social progress- the platform will provide networking, advice, resources and opportunities for women to take their careers forward.

The platform currently offers a smart directory for members to locate professionals by skills, title or company. Resources in the form of a host of online tools to automate and/or simplify everyday business tasks will be made available, as well as a constantly updated knowledge base of helpful information through inspiring interviews, non-fiction book summaries, and useful articles and tips. 

Testament to the underlying need for such a service, at the end of the official launch event membership stood at over 400 members representing over 380 small and large businesses, all looking to connect, learn, and rise professionally.

“The case for greater gender equity has never been more compelling,” says Yusra Aziz-Eliyas. “Through WERK we aim to facilitate for women to take their respective ‘hustle’ forward and eventually cement the app’s position as the largest knowledge base for women entrepreneurs and corporate women in Sri Lanka.”

While WERK already stands out from other community networks in the wealth of corporate partnerships it has acquired so far -all having realised the immense potential of this unique and diverse talent pool-, the platform is seeking to further enhance its offering through collaborating with more companies that align with its values. For the launch event alone, the principal sponsors included amanté and Hatch as well as launch partners Selyn, Crimson, Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC), SOZO Beverages, Clear, Rhoda Gifts, Shifani Reffai Photography and Limelight PR.

Furthermore, in keeping with the ethos of WERK, 10% from all corporate membership subscriptions will be donated towards upskilling women from underprivileged backgrounds and charities that provide support services to victims of violence against women.

In addition to varying discounts and offers these alliances provide for the WERK community -from bookkeeping to office attire, website building tools to software- WERK currently partners with a range of professional associations and organizations which also provide great resources for its members looking to advance their careers through educational workshops, networking events, mentoring programs, volunteer and employment opportunities, career services and support, and much more.

An online marketplace is also in the pipeline, where corporates can post collaboration opportunities with start-ups and freelancers. And although WERK is currently a mobile app, the team has plans of taking the experience beyond the confines of the online sphere. Upskilling workshops, mentoring sessions, talk shows and even a #WERKOUT conference are also being scheduled for the year’s agenda.  All-in-all a holistic online-offline experience conducive to helping women do better in the workplace.

Interested professionals looking to further their careers can sign up at www.werk.community. For sponsorships and corporate collaborations, click on the ‘Partnerships’ tab on the website, and for more information or ways to get involved, just drop an email at hello@werk.community.

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