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SDB bank receives USD 40 million loan facility from US International Development Finance Corporation to nurture SMEs and female entrepreneurship 

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Thilak Piyadigama - CEO of SDB bank, Alaina B. Teplitz - US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and officials from SDB bank and US Embassy Sri Lanka.

Extending a helping hand during one of the most crucial times for the local economy, the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) recently finalised the official handing over of a USD 40 million (Rs. 7.5 billion) term loan facility to SDB bank to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), particularly female-owned ventures.

DFC is known for providing access to finance to over 10 million SME and microfinance borrowers in low-income and lower-middle-income countries worldwide and initiating over 800 projects around the world. Offering innovative financial solutions through debt financing, political risk insurance, equity investment and private equity investment funds, the corporation is focused on mobilising capital to solve critical development challenges.

Having approved the loan facility to SDB bank in January, 2021, the DFC recently released funds to the local bank, as part of its global initiative to finance advance development in emerging markets in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Indo-pacific and Latin America.

“The DFC gives this loan as part of the US policy to provide financial inclusivity to all, especially to reduce gender inequality and uplift female enterprises,” shared US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Alaina B. Teplitz. She noted: “The Sri Lankan economy is at a crucial juncture and requires long-term, stable funding to recover from the consequences of COVID-19. The US is keen to boost SMEs in Sri Lanka, mainly those that are women-driven, given the adverse impact felt by this segment due to the pandemic.”

SDB bank’s progressive approach to development and its keen focus on financial empowerment and SME development, including the upliftment of women entrepreneurs, led the bank to be selected for the loan by the DFC. The bank’s comprehensive product portfolio targeting women entrepreneurs, including unique female investment schemes and general SME loan offerings, are testaments to its commitment to uplifting this critical group of entrepreneurs.

Forty percent (40%) of the loan facility will be used exclusively for women enterprises, while 60% will be allocated to SMEs in general. The facility also includes a series of value additions, including a Capacity Development Programme to provide SDB bank’s employees access to modern technology.



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Business

‘Dollar reserves in SL plummet drastically, putting the economy in jeopardy‘

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Key personnel at CNCI forum

By Steve A. Morrell

Sri Lanka’s dollar reserves have declined from $ 7.15 billion in 2019 to $ 2.8 billion currently. The President conceded economic failures although reasons for such failure were not explained, chairman, National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) Canisius Fernando said.

Fernando added recently at a forum: “Forex reserves are insufficient to expedite payment of import bills. More so that cost incurred on container traffic for imports and or exports was on a rising spiral. In comparison to cost of container shipping recorded at $ 2,800 earlier, it is now $ 12,000, indicating a rise in multiples of 250.

“Additionally, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP +) affecting our trade with EU countries, placed Sri Lanka’s reputation at a risk, meaning that countries could veer away from Sri Lanka prompted by a possible inability to honor our trade commitments. The clear example being trade with the US. Rather than await goods and services transactions with Sri Lanka, that could invariably take three months, US economists and their trade sector opted to transact trade with countries in close proximity to US shores.

“Dearth of container traffic and rising cost for on- loading and off- loading of cargo seriously affect trade imbalances. Consequently, the credit worthiness of the Sri Lankan economy is affected, which in turn seriously affects the GDP.

“Worker wages which were static because of trade shut- downs caused demands for increased wages. Wage demands of Rs 1,500 from employees became a major phenomenon in most sectors. The question at issue was the hypothetical position of business establishments of about 4000 employees demanding increased wages. This would cause closure of those companies resulting in unemployment.

“The proverbial domino effect of such repercussions would cause further chaos in the economy.

“There was no proper policy in most sectors. Suspension of the import of fertilizer and consequent confusion would, in the short run, result in famine and food shortages. Already this was evident in the public panic caused by having to stand in line to purchase essentials. That the crisis is upon us and the question of a quick solution is not feasible in the current context of the economy.

“Foreign investors are lured by the possibility of cheap labour in Sri Lanka to establish their businesses here, but in this instance too, this is only a hypothetical situation but not the reality.”

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Business

Supuni Products gives back by way of welfare initiative, helps to uplift the needy patients with chronic illnesses

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Supuni Products first started in 2016 when the business proprietor, Supuni Lakmalie along with her husband only had Rs. 150 as investment. With that small amount, they purchased kollu (lentils) and kurakkan and ground them using a grindstone. This was the beginning for them and today, Supuni Products is a booming enterprise that specializes in ground spices and cereal, operating from the town of Nildandahinna, Walapane. Their products are of very high quality and 100% natural and consists of 15 different spice and cereal products including chilli, coriander, turmeric, pepper, curry powder, kurakkan, lentil (kollu) etc.

In 2018, Supuni Products received the opportunity to supply kurakkan flour and cereal to be included into the Poshana Malla, which is a nutrition package prepared for pregnant women, instigated by the government. The success of their business was such that they were able to gain an equity of over Rs. Four million during the past three years.

As part of a welfare initiative, they have also pledged to allocate one rupee for every kilogram of product sold, towards supporting patients with financial difficulties and require emergency surgery and for those with chronic diseases. While having had to run a business in the confines of their own home, the grant offering they received from the enterprise project allowed them to complete construction work of their new factory. She now hopes to expand the business, improve their supply chain, and create new employment opportunities.

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Business

Dialog Enterprise offers Dell Technologies Cloud IaaS in Sri Lanka

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Dialog Enterprise, the corporate solutions arm of Dialog Axiata PLC, is working with Dell Technologies Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) in Sri Lanka to offer Dell Technologies Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions to customers to innovate and scale rapidly, reduce costs and increase performance of business-critical infrastructure.

“Together, with our combined forces, we bring the only hybrid multi-cloud partnership in the country, giving access to private clouds as well as to our existing public cloud, and for on-premises infrastructure, robustly powered by Dell Technologies and VMWare. Envisioning a one-stop multiservice solution for all enterprise requirements, we strive continuously to keep to the changing landscape strengthening the cloud play in the arena,” said Navin Pieris, the Vice President – Enterprise Business and Large Enterprise Sales, Dialog Axiata PLC.

Rather than making capital investments in hardware, storage and servers to maintain them, enterprises can harness and scale IaaS resources when needed, paying only for infrastructure services they consume. Mitigating and allowing for any threat of data loss, the cloud partnership also offers cyber recovery as a service with a guaranteed uptime of 99.95%, end-to-end management of data centers and 24×7 support with zero operational burden on the customer. Ensuring the same standardization, self-service, automation and analytics capabilities that exist in the public cloud, the partnership facilitates secure private clouds for customers along with servers, storage and customized enterprise, private and/or public cloud solutions as required by enterprises.

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