Founded 25 years ago, hSenid has built a global reputation for its digital HR solutions and mobile applications used by small to large enterprises in Sri Lanka and overseas. In 2021, the company took its HR solutions business, hSenid Business Solutions, public to fast-track growth in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and African regions.
Chief Executive Officer Sampath Jayasundara discussed hSenid’s growth plans amidst an unprecedented economic crisis in Sri Lanka compounded by eroding sentiment in the health of the world economy due to rising inflation.
Sri Lanka’s economy has had a bumpy ride for several decades, but the corporate sector has demonstrated extraordinary resilience to build stable global companies that continue to grow and expand. hSenid is one such company in the tech industry. Can you tell us how the company is prepared to navigate the current crisis, unprecedented in its severity?
Our journey toward becoming a global tech company was not easy. However, we built a culture around excellence, innovation, purpose and resilience that gives us the impetus to continue our journey of growth, creating real value for our global clientele and enriching the lives of our people. Since the company’s founding 25 years ago, hSenid has experienced several economic crises, both domestic and international, notably the global financial crisis of 2007/8 and the Covid-19 pandemic, each a crucible that strengthened our culture, sharpened our focus and reinforced our resolve. As we contend with the ongoing debt crisis in Sri Lanka compounded by an unfolding food and energy crisis globally, we are confident that the company, together with its clients and people, can emerge stronger.
We concluded a successful IPO in 2021 to fund our global expansion drive, and those plans are on schedule. In the most recent financial year post-IPO, we reported over Rs1 billion in revenue, with half of that generated from our overseas clients, notably in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. We expect the share of the revenue from global clients to increase, growing faster than revenue from domestic clients as we expand overseas.
How are your clients reacting to the unfolding crisis in Sri Lanka, and the global economy is not doing too good either? How are you addressing their concerns?
The Covid-19 pandemic has made us much more dynamic and effective. Working with teams across borders, we demonstrated an ability to surmount any challenge to deliver beyond client expectations every time.
As the economic and political crisis unfolds in Sri Lanka, we are constantly updating our clients on every measure we have taken to contain any risks, reassuring them that we can continue to service all their needs uninterrupted.
Meanwhile, some of our clients are beginning to feel the impact of the spiking global food and energy shortage. They are facing cash flow difficulties, and because hSenid values relationships, we have adopted an accommodative and understanding approach, stepping up our support by helping them manage their resources better.
What is hSenid doing to reassure its people and motivate them to continue to deliver above and beyond client expectations?
Even though the company has grown beyond our expectations during the last few years into a strong team of 300, we still maintain a close-knit family culture. We engage everyone at an individual level to map their futures and find solutions to personal and professional challenges. The unfolding crisis is challenging all of us, but our people can rest assured that hSenid is with them every step of the way. We have extended the support to deal with the rising cost of living and made it easier for people to work from home with the flexibility to work around the power outages. hSenid has expanded its global presence, creating opportunities globally for people to collaborate on innovative solutions for our clients and be a part of a purpose-driven company. We have resources in Kenya, Uganda, Singapore, Philippines, Cambodia, Bangladesh and India and expanding to create more purpose-driven opportunities. So that is how we build the confidence of our people and, by extension, our customers, assuring uninterrupted superior services.
How is hSenid helping the community ride through the storm?
We are closely working with the tech industry body, SLASSCOM, on critical initiatives to support our people in this time, to build capacity and invest in growth.
Capacity building is crucial to sustain growth and unlock the potential of the tech industry. We need to grow the tech talent pool two-fold from the current base to over 200,000 to become a $5 billion industry. With the increasing number of migrations, the country’s education system must produce more IT professionals yearly. This is a challenge SLASSCOM is committed to solving, and companies like hSenid are doing everything in their power from collaborating with universities to developing curricula and providing internships, training, and jobs.
In the meantime, together with ICTA and other organizations, we are building a support structure for startups. We aim to support establishing 1,000 startups in Sri Lanka where some of them can also potentially go on to become unicorns.
The hSenid Group has set up a company called hSenid Ventures to invest in startups and other companies. Tech education is another area close to my heart, and we are actively supporting the tech education sector in Sri Lanka.
What are your plans for the immediate future? How will you ensure growth amidst the challenges and growing concerns about worldwide inflation spiking?
We will continue to invest in our core HR product, a global platform used in over 40 countries. There is a reason why hSenid successfully competes with other global tech companies. When a company engages with hSenid Business Solutions, they will get the best HR practices unique to their location and the industry they represent. We currently have expertise in over 20 industry verticals. For instance, any manufacturing company that purchases a hSenid Business Solutions HR system can rest assured of getting all the best practices we have instilled into our products, and the same goes for a smaller company looking to engage with us.
Further, we are committing considerable resources to develop our PeoplesHR Marketplace, a global B2B marketplace for companies that want to provide HR-related services to other companies. With PeoplesHR Turbo (DIY), we are initially targeting the startup and SME communities in the region who can get into using our HR solutions within hours. In the cloud environment, customers can subscribe to the basic configuration on their own and can start using the HR system for their internal requirements. So those are some of the areas we are investing in, from the product journey point of view.
At the same time, we are strengthening our global partner network in the Asia-Pacific region up to Australia and New Zealand, the African continent, and the Gulf.
We will aggressively grow our global business in these regions, targeting 3X growth using the IPO proceeds for mergers, acquisitions, and other initiatives. hSenid is ready to take up the challenge with some of the critical expansions we are doing in Sri Lanka and globally.
We are constantly ideating, incubating, and building innovative solutions which will become separate companies if they demonstrate a propensity to grow so that each of them gets the attention they deserve. hSenid Business Solutions remains the core, and the focus is to continue to grow our global HR solutions business.