Farmers in Kokkadichcholai, Batticaloa, have received financial and technical support and equipment to facilitate their traditional trade of rice production, as the latest beneficiaries of Commercial Bank of Ceylon’s Dirishakthi Value Chain Development Programme.
The Bank embarked on this exercise to drive financial inclusion among smallholder farmers in this area in partnership with the Women’s Society in Kokkadichcholai. Its ultimate objective is to increase the production capacity in the area and enhance rural livelihoods. To support this mandate, the Bank also donated 30 paddy-boiling aluminum pans to selected farmers in the community. The livelihood of this community revolves around collecting paddy, preparing traditional rice and supplying local markets and individuals in the Batticaloa town.
The Commercial Bank Batticaloa branch along with the Bank’s Bank on Wheels – Eastern arm, the Bank’s corresponding Agriculture and Micro Finance Unit (AMFU) and the Development Credit Department (DCD) collaborated on this ‘Dirishakthi Value Chain Development Programme’ which culminated in a ceremony that was held in Kokkadichcholai, recently.
After donating the cooking utensils to the Women’s Society, Commercial Bank’s officials elaborated on the services offered by the Bank on Wheels operation and the Bank’s products and services available to the community.
Speaking at the ceremony, the President of the Women’s Society, Mrs P. Sakunthaladevi said: “Through the Bank on Wheels operation, Commercial Bank has been providing basic banking services such as account opening, cash deposits and withdrawals, micro loans, agri leases and other banking related services to our farmers on at least four days of the month. We are grateful to receive these services which have been instrumental in expanding our trade, enhancing productivity, and even improving our lifestyle. Of the 80 members in our Society, nearly 45 have obtained Dirishakthi loans from the Commercial Bank Batticaloa branch. This capital inflow boost has not only increased the income of these families but enhanced the livelihoods and quality of life of our community as a whole.”
The Women’s Society in Kokkadichcholai, soon to be registered as the ‘Padayanadavely Women’s Society,’ was established in 2019 with the support of Commercial Bank’s Bank on Wheels operation as a small association comprising 12 farmer members who were engaged in cultivation, traditional rice making, and animal husbandry.
A similar initiative conducted under the Bank’s Dirishakthi Value Chain Development Programme was the provision of assistance to the dairy value chain of the Mullaitivu Livestock Breeders Cooperative Society. This value chain consisting of farmers, milk collectors, producers, product transporters, and retailers to the end consumer were supported with banking services and access via the Bank on Wheels. Members of this community who had lost their assets including livestock during the conflict also had the opportunity to obtain loans to purchase cattle and develop cattle sheds.
The Bank also donated a set of cooler boxes to support a group of dairy farmers in Mulliyawalai. The coolers help preserve the freshness of the products and are essential in the safe transportation of dairy products. Following these measures, community members reported an increase in milk production and their income. They are now able to distribute milk to distant shops, while curd, ghee, milk toffee, and yoghurt produced from the milk is supplied to wholesale outlets in Kilinochchi and Vavuniya.
Commercial Bank’s Dirishakthi Value Chain Development Programme was launched to support micro entrepreneurs with a holistic intervention encompassing financing and empowerment activities that benefit not just individual borrowers but all participants in their value chains to drive success and growth from the grassroot level. Its In-Kind Grants initiative was introduced to support the identified value chains to improve their efficiency and sustainability while overcoming the challenges faced by rural value chains.
Under this programme the Bank identifies all participants in a value chain with the assistance of existing customers or Community Based Organisations (CBOs), provides financial services by reaching vulnerable players in the community such as women entrepreneurs and low-income individuals via coordinators of its Agriculture and Micro Finance Units who approach these members to provide personalised support. They identify obstacles which hinder the efficiency of the value chain and solve cash flow and capacity issues, provide fund transfer facilities to remit sales proceeds and to pay suppliers through the formal banking sector, and improve technical knowledge and entrepreneurship skills of value chain members with the objective of improving the quality of the products and services they offer.
Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 11 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches and 938 automated machines in Sri Lanka. Commercial Bank is the largest lender to Sri Lanka’s SME sector and is a leader in digital innovation in the country’s Banking sector. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.
CSE Director Board appoints new chairman
The Chairman of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) Dumith Fernando who has served in this role since July 01, 2020, has informed the Board of his intention to retire by rotation on June 23, 2022 at the conclusion of his current term as a Director. Subsequently, at its regular monthly board meeting held on May 19th, 2022, the Board of the CSE has elected Director Dilshan Wirasekara to succeed Fernando as Chairman with effect from June 24th, 2022. Wirasekara is currently Director and Chief Executive Officer of First Capital Holdings PLC.According to the Articles of Association of the CSE, it’s Chair is chosen from among the five Directors elected by the members of the CSE. The appointment of Wirasekara is in line with the CSE’s normal board succession practice.
The outgoing Chairman Fernando said that “We are very pleased with the advancement of the CSE in the last 2 years. The market has set records across capital raising, trading volumes and participation alongside significant wealth creation for investors. The CSE is also financially stronger than it has ever been, and I am pleased to hand over my role following the institution’s highest-ever profitability and capital reserves position. Credit for this is due to my fellow board members, management and staff as well as all those stakeholders who collaborated with us including our regulator the Securities & Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka and the stock broking and investor communities.”
Commenting on the appointment of his successor, he further stated “I have had the pleasure of serving as a Director with Dilshan for five years where he has been a critical and energetic member of the board. The board and I have full confidence that he will continue to work with all stakeholders to build on our recent efforts to transform into a modern-day multi-product exchange. I look forward to supporting Dilshan over the next few weeks to ensure a smooth transition.”Wirasekara thanked both the outgoing chairman for his leadership of the CSE over the last 2 years and the CSE Board for the confidence placed in him. He further stated, “I hope to continue the good progress at the CSE and look forward to working with the Board and the CSE team together with the regulator and the industry to advance our ambitious capital market development plans.”
SLIM Research Bureau embarks on a mission to promote fair trade in Sri Lanka
As corporates and consumers globally are shifting towards best practices such as sustainability, inclusivity, and most importantly, equality to all, “fairness” has become a significant part of how business and buyer decisions are made.With this in mind, SLIM Research Bureau, the research arm associated with the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM), recently signed an agreement with Fairtrade NAPP at SLIM Home, in aspiration of promoting fair trade and consumption of fairly traded products in the local market of Sri Lanka.Through this collaboration, SLIM Research Bureau and Fairtrade intends to launch a project – named “SRI-PROM” funded by AICS, the Italian Agency for Development Co-operation, and supported by Fairtrade Italy – that aims to contribute to the social and economic strengthening of rural areas in Sri Lanka, through the development of much more profitable eco-sustainable supply chains for small farmers.
Commenting on the partnership, SLIM President Mr. Nuwan Gamage stated: “SLIM is thrilled to enter into this milestone partnership with Fairtrade NAPP to instil globally accepted best practices within the corporate circle that help achieve fair, equitable trade relationships. The project will be the first step in inviting businesses across industries to become a trailblazer that sets an example both in Sri Lanka and around the world. We look forward to expand these efforts further in the days to come.”The modern concept of fair trade refers to the ethical and sustainable sourcing of products, where workers and farmers at the foundational level of supply and value chains are treated fairly. This, in turn, offers consumers a powerful opportunity to reduce poverty through their purchases.
Fairtrade International Programme Consultant for Sri Lanka, Standards Committee Chair, and Oversight Committee Asia-Pacific Representative Mrs. Iresha Sanjeewanie noted: “Fairtrade takes a 360-degree approach to address a number of different issues and developmental challenges faced by small-scale producers and workers. Though Fairtrade Standards are a glum eye-opener into the implications of unfair trade, in a broader sense, it advocates reform-oriented research and pushes to raise the bar in trade.”
Bank of Ceylon sponsors Annual Sand Paving Ceremony at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Temple Anuradhapura
Invoking the blessings of the sacred “Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi” situated in the historic city of Anuradhapura, on the country and on all its citizens, for peace, harmony and prosperity, the Bank of Ceylon conducted its annual ceremony of strewing fresh sand which is known as “weli Athirime Pinkama” in “Uda Maluwa” recently.
The ceremony took place with the participation of the Bank’s General Manager K.E.D. Sumanasiri, DGM Corporate and Offshore Banking Priyal Silva, DGM Human Resource Dhamma Wijeyawardhene, DGM Branch operations and Development Banking Nilantha Meneripitiyage, AGM North Central Province Mahinda Bandara, AGM Marketing Aruna Hettiarachchi, AGM North Western Mrs.Ruchindra Perera and other staff members. The event was organized by the Bank’s Assistant General Manager North Central Province (NCP) G.K.G. Mahinda Bandara and staff members of the NCP province with the guidance of the Atamasthanadipathi of Anuradhapura, the Most Venerable Dr. Pallegama Siriniwasa Thero.
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