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Expolanka Holdings partners Sarvodaya to launch ‘Sabrina Yusoof Women’s Empowerment Initiative’

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In an effort to facilitate opportunities for Sri Lankan female-led entrepreneurship, globally diversified conglomerate Expolanka partnered with Sarvodaya to launch the ‘Sabrina Yusoof Women’s Empowerment Initiative.

The project primarily aims to fund low-income female entrepreneurs to establish and enhance their own business ventures, enabling more Sri Lankan women to gain financial independence, by generating their own stable, sustainable incomes.

The initiative will aim to offer selected MSMEs in the Colombo district with access to a grant in order to empower their businesses, and help them adapt to the emerging ‘new normal’. A total of Rs. 24 million has been allocated for the project.

The official launch of the project took place during a special ceremony attended by senior representatives from both organizations including Expolanka Group CEO, Hanif Yusoof accompanied with several board members together with Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement President, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne.

“The development of our nation can only truly start to take place when our nation’s women are fully empowered. With Sabrina Yusoof Women’s Empowerment Initiative, we aim to carefully target financial assistance, advice and technical support to women-led MSMEs that have the potential to grow, and create a positive ripple effect across society. In turn, these businesses can create more opportunities for Sri Lankan women to grow, and achieve their own financial independence. We believe this is the path to enriching our nation, and we are excited to be working with a partner as impactful as Sarvodaya, in order to help Project Empower reach its fullest potential,” Expolanka Group CEO, Hanif Yusoof stated.

The engagement will also see to the appointment of a joint committee, consisting of members from Exploanka and Sarvodaya to track the progress of these businesses and allocate additional funding as they progress.

The first batch of business partners were selected based on their Business Enterprise / Idea, the challenges they faced and the financial requirements thereon. The partners were operating in a range of industries from food, handicraft, garments, tailoring, footwear, stationary to beauty care and ornamental fish.

Commenting on the program, Sarvodaya President, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne said: “Our engagement with Expolanka aims to provide holistic support that will create an enabling environment for female-led enterprises to revive and thrive. This will be accomplished through the delivery of financial resources, as well as technical support that will help these ventures to adapt and build resilience in a post-COVID environment. Our vast infrastructure and competencies will be well augmented by Expolanka’s support, and passion for delivering success on this project.”

The launch of the project will be the first in a series of engagements that will be commissioned by the ‘Sabrina Yusoof Women’s Empowerment Initiative’ in order to catalyze opportunities for female entrepreneurs.

Project Empower was first initiated by the late Sabrina Yusoof, Head of Sustainability at Expolanka, who worked with tireless commitment, love and passion towards creating a more prosperous and inclusive Sri Lanka. These initiatives are dedicated in her memory, in honour and celebration of her life and in accordance with her vision.

Expolanka as an organization has always been in the forefront in supporting important socially driven, sustainable, entrepreneurship programs which is at the core of its Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives.



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Berendina bags Silver at the CA Sri Lanka 56th Annual Report Awards

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From left: Sarath Chandra Fernando - Director-BMIC, Charith Fernando - Deputy Managing Director-BMIC, Saman Manatunga - Acting Head of Finance-BMIC, Dilhara Jayasinghe - Assistant Manager Compliance & Corporate Relationship-BMIC, Ranel T Wijesinha - Past President CA Sri Lanka, Jagath Godakanda – Chairman-BMIC, Chaaminda Kumarasiri – Chairman-Annual Report Awards Committee 2021 and Chamila Cooray - Alternate Chairperson-Annual Report Awards Committee 2021

Berendina Micro Investments Company Limited, better known as BMIC among its microfinance clientele and partners, won the Silver award at the 56th Annual Report Awards organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka), under the category of Finance Companies and Leasing Companies (total assets up to Rs. 20 Billion). Over 70 companies, ranging from conglomerates, multinationals to non-profit organisations, and SMEs, were honoured at this year’s competition for their excellence in financial reporting. The gala event of this year held on 09th December 2021 at BMICH. Being the first Microfinance Company licensed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, BMIC is no stranger to this annual competition having won a prestigious Gold Award in 2017 and Merit Award in 2018.

The award from CA Sri Lanka is the fourth award to be won by BMIC during the financial year 2021, having won 3 international awards, namely, ‘The Best Microfinance Company in Sri Lanka’ and ‘The Best Agricultural Lending Company in Sri Lanka’ awards from the UK based Global Banking and Finance Review magazine as well as ‘Donor’s Choice Award’ at the international competition conducted by SCALE Green Creative Adaptation Awards in USA in 2021. Focused on poverty alleviation, BMIC as a Microfinance Institution (MFI) extends micro-credit facilities and enterprise development services that ensure long term sustainability and growth of business ventures of its clients, providing loans at the lowest interest rate compared to other MFIs in Sri Lanka. At present, BMIC manages a loan portfolio of over Rs. 3.1 billion and an annual turnover exceeding Rs. 900 million. It supports well over 70,000 microfinance clients through its 30 Branches in 11 districts. The CA award bestowed on BMIC is another testament to its commitment in continuously supporting its clients to overcome the obstacles during difficult times, while preserving its transparency in reporting, corporate governance, sustainability and social responsibility.

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SLIC repositions Business Club insurance with more focus on SMEs

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Sri Lanka Insurance last week announced repositioning of its Business Club insurance, a trade insurance policy which provides a comprehensive business insurance solution to fit for the diverse insurance need of small and Medium enterprises (SME).

“According to the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka SMEs are considered to be the backbone of the economy with a contribution up to 52% of the GDP. SMEs play a crucial role to battle the poverty in the country providing employment opportunities for the youth as the SMEs does not require capital than large firms. Further SMEs increase tax bases much quickly when compared to large firms,” an SLIC news release explained.

“Recognizing the importance and vital contribution made to the economy by SMEs, Sri Lanka Insurance went back to the drawing board to refine the “Business Club” comprehensive insurance solution to cater to the unique requirements of the businesses,” it said.”

“Therefor the insurance solution was developed to reinforce the success and safety of the businesses.”

The insurance plan will provide protection for any businesses be it retail, grocery store, supermarket, pharmacy or any other covering many perils inclusive of environmental dangers such as floods, cyclone, fire, lightning as well as other factors such as breaking and burglary, SLIC explained.

The release further said an array of main covers are available for businesses inclusive of fire and/or lightening, explosion, malicious damage, aircraft damage, earthquakes along with the free covers such as cost of removal of debris, loss of rental, architect, surveyors, consulting engineering fees, cost of alternative accommodation etc..

A range of additional covers are also available at an additional premium for businesses to choose. Money insurance during transit and while at premises, accidental breakage of glass cover, sign board cover, electronic equipment all risk cover are among the many additional covers offered.

Interested parties who’d like SLIC to assist in developing an insurance solution that covers the business risks can contact SLIC call center on 011 2 357 357.

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German fruit and tea importers stresses importance of packaging

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Jan Paul Bethke, a leading German importer of Sri Lankan fruits and tea, at a recent

EDB-organized event, urged Sri Lankan agri-product exporters to practice effective and superior packaging if they are to be successful in terms of capturing markets in Europe.

“If you package your product well, include a QR code (incorporating extensive details such as the farmer who grew products), and convey a personalized story, customers in advanced markets such as Germany and Europe would develop an affinity with your products”, Bethke noted.

He made these remarks at a Jan. 12 forum forum organized by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) on packaging and value addition strategies to enhance Sri Lanka’s agri-product exports to Germany, an EDB news release said.

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