In rallying the environmentally and socially conscious banks and financial institutions in the region, SDB bank was the proud host of the Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Chapter of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, on the 16th and 17th of November 2021. The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), founded in 2009, is a network of banking leaders from around the world committed to advancing positive change in the banking sector. This year’s regional gathering conducted virtually due to the ongoing pandemic, provided the platform for member institutions to share insights on the post-Covid 19 strategies that they have adopted to support people and businesses to remain resilient and catalyse a sustainable recovery.
With over half a million people driven into poverty by the Covid 19 pandemic in Sri Lanka – according to the estimates of the World Bank – and with GoSL being constrained due to lack of fiscal space to invest in economic recovery, the dialogue served to highlight the importance of the financial sector in mobilizing sustainable finance in emerging economies like Sri Lanka and the need for international cooperation to reorient capital to where it is most needed. Yvette Fernando – Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Thilak Piyadigama – CEO of SDB bank made presentations at this regional meeting on Sri Lanka’s progress on sustainable finance and digital finance that served to further enhance Sri Lanka’s position amongst international financiers.
In reviewing the proceedings of the event, Thilak Piyadigama, CEO of SDB bank noted, “It is a great honour for us to have been chosen as the bank to host this event in Sri Lanka. We would have loved to have hosted all the members in person in our beautiful country, but that is not advisable at this time. Thus, we decided on a virtual meeting. We discussed and drew attention to various pressing issues in the region including digitalization challenges, financing of renewal energy projects, asset quality challenges faced by the banking system in the region due to the COVID crisis, and access to finance for the missing middle (SMEs).”
Explaining further, Piyadigama added, “The meeting was structured to enable enhanced engagement of the participants. This helped to further facilitate cross learning amongst members in the region. The meeting also updated participants on the GABV’s work and obtained feedback about how to best showcase the Asia Pacific region during the GABV Annual Meeting 2022. Overall, we are very pleased with the levels of engagement we saw, as participants discussed furthering sustainable progress in the sector. We also take this opportunity to thank the GABV for expressing their confidence in SDB bank, by choosing us to host this international conference here in Sri Lanka.”
SDB bank caters to a wide clientele including a significant retail banking portfolio. However, the Bank’s focus areas are SME development, women empowerment through financing women-led enterprise and digital inclusion, with a view to taking digital banking to the masses, through its extensive network.
The collective goal of the GABV is to change the banking system so that it is more transparent, supports economic, social and environmental sustainability, and is composed of a diverse range of banking institutions serving the real economy. The Alliance connects banks, banking cooperatives and credit unions, microfinance institutions and community development banks and supports their work towards positive systemic change within financial systems.
ESOFT Metro Campus holds Graduation Ceremony 2021
The Annual Graduation Ceremony of ESOFT Metro Campus was held at the Bandaranaike International Memorial Hall (BMICH) on the 23rd and 24th of November 2021. A total of 1,800 students graduated at this year’s event. Successful students received their Pearson BTEC Higher National Diplomas, Pearson Level 7 Qualifications, London Metropolitan University (UK) Degrees and MBA’s, Kingston University (UK) Degrees and MSc’s.
It was held across two days and split into 9 sessions, to be in full compliance with health guidelines. In addition to the conferring of degrees, batch tops were awarded gold medals and special awards were made to the top achievers of the programmes.
Keynote addresses were by an eminent group of academics and industry leaders including Mr. Conard Dias CEO, LOLC Finance PLC, Mr. Thushera Kawdawatta – CEO, Axiata Digital Labs, Dr. Dayan Rajapakse – Chairman and Managing Director of the ESOFT Group, Dr. Sampath Wahala – Chairman, Sri Lanka Accreditation Board, Mr. Tishan Subasinghe – Managing Director and joint Managing Partner Moore Stephens Consulting (Pvt) Ltd and Moore Stephens Aiyar, Prof. A.A.C Abeysinghe – M.Phil. PhD Programme Coordinator, Senior Lecturer Faculty of Management & Finance, University of Colombo.
Foreign delegates from the University Partners were present virtually and delivered their speeches and wishes for the graduates via video. The Virtusa careers team were also present on both days in order to provide career opportunities to the young and successful graduates. ESOFT prides itself in producing graduates who are work-ready and able to take on the challenges and opportunities presented by the new economy.
ESOFT has a rich history of 21 years and is the largest private sector higher education network in Sri Lanka, and offers a variety of programmes through an extensive island-wide network of over 40 branches and serves over 40,000 learners each year in a range of programmes from school leaver courses to postgraduate programmes.
ESOFT partnered with Kingston University London in 2012 to offer undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in engineering and soon established a dedicated College of Engineering in Katubedda. In 2013, they partnered with London Metropolitan University to offer a range of programmes leading to undergraduate and postgraduate awards in Computing, Business, Hospitality, and Travel & Tourism. A range of MSc programmes in IT and an International Doctoral programme for IT, Science and Engineering research areas, has also been introduced via Kingston University.
The ESOFT Group has won local and international awards from Pearson (UK), BCS (UK), NBQSA, National Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Sri Lanka in recognition of their academic excellence and business performance. Their pinnacle accomplishment was to be recognized by the Sri Lankan Government as a Non-state Degree Awarding Institution in 2019.
Coconut industry products raking in forex to the tune of $ 7000 yearly – State Minister
By Steve A. Morrell
Earnings from exporting coconut products amounted to $ 7000 annually. Such exports include jaggery and treacle, which are key products relating to the coconut industry, State Minister of Coconut, Kithul and Palmyrah Cultivation Promotion Arundika Fernando said.
Although coconut, as part of the plantation industry, was not given due recognition, it was now a distinct contributor to forex earnings and was of significant importance to the economy of the country, Fernando said.
The State Minister added: “Development of the coconut plantations includes value addition promotion to its various products, which are now key to sustaining the coconut plantations.
“Such development included propagation of 600,000 nursery plants for distribution among smallholders and large-scale plantations to add further progress to the industry. As a result, the coconut industry is part of the mainstream economy.
“The coconut industry made a substantial financial contribution to the economy of the country. Value addition in all products was key to development. Coconut products, used extensively in allied local industries, were contributors to value addition. This is efficiently handled by the private sector.
“Collaboration with the Jaffna University was on-going to develop kitul and palmyrah.
“Soil testing and further inputs were envisaged for development.
“Export markets would include Europe, Canada and the US. This is particularly true of kitul treacle and jaggery. Value of these exports would reach approximately $ 2 million.”
INSEE Cement’s 360-Degree Approach Eases Cement Shortage in Sri Lanka
Operating at maximum production capacity with optimized distribution channels for a number of weeks, INSEE Cement has successfully helped to mitigate the cement shortage that was prevailing in the local market. INSEE Cement’s concentrated and immediate contingency measures across its entire operation at the onset of the shortage ensured an uninterrupted market supply of cement, while also logging a record-high 700,000 MT production output during the third quarter of 2021 for the company.
“As Sri Lanka’s leading cement manufacturer, INSEE Cement took on the responsibility to ensure the local construction industry’s post-COVID-19 revival remained on its trajectory,” stated Gustavo Navarro, Chief Executive Officer at INSEE Cement Sri Lanka. “We continued to fully support government regulations and industrial policies to first stabilize the market, and were able to deploy our island-wide distribution and dealership network to ensure an uninterrupted supply across the island. The loyalty and patience of our customers gave us that extra encouragement we needed to overcome the challenge.”
INSEE Cement operates at a 3.6MT maximum capacity, with a 1.5MT production at the Galle plant, a 1.3MT output from the Puttalam facility and a 0.8MT import capacity at the Colombo Cement Terminal. To mitigate the shortage the company introduced two more additional import vessels to its logistics operation to accelerate production and distribution cycles.
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