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Stronger Together: Industry Veterans Initiate Collaboration for Sustainable Tea Industry

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‘Stronger Together’ – a first of its kind initiative aimed at building collaboration among the Ceylon Plantation Community towards a more sustainable tea industry, was launched on March 17 at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The project was introduced with a ceremonial auction and the launch of ‘Wisdom in the Leaf’ publication authored by tea industry veterans and eminent scientists, of which the MJF Charitable Foundation doubled all proceeds, amounting to Rs. 6.9 million, for the benefit of the plantation community.

Wisdom in the Lea

f is an evolution of ‘The History of Ceylon Tea’ project which began in August 2003 as part of Merrill J. Fernando’s commitment to making ‘business a matter of human service’. This service to the industry preserves its knowledge, enhances the appreciation of fine Ceylon tea and offers wisdom and context to future generations of tea planters. It has evolved into what is today the world’s largest free and online information resource on Ceylon tea. The book is a tribute to the generations of men and women who have made Ceylon tea possible; it pays homage to labourers, tea pickers, factory workers, field & factory officers, estate managers, scientists, visit agents, brokers and tea drinkers.

Present at the event were the authors and contributors of the publication, from tea industry veterans to eminent scientists, and members from The Tea Brokers Association, The Tea Exporters Association, The Planters Association, and Tea Companies. The publication was intended to coincide with Merrill J. Fernando’s commemoration of 70 years in tea last year, however, due to the pandemic, the formal launch was delayed to his 71st year, which on his suggestion, has now grown into a tribute to Ceylon Tea. Going beyond this tribute, the MJF Charitable Foundation has put forward a call to action through the ‘Stronger Together’ initiative.

Addressing the essence of wisdom contained in this book and how the ‘Stronger Together’ project will benefit the wider plantation community, Tea Grower and Dilmah CEO – Dilhan C. Fernando said,

“You cannot look into the future without understanding the past. As we look to the future as an industry, this is the MJF Foundation’s open invitation for collaboration towards a sustainable tea industry, because we have a shared future … The ‘Stronger Together’ project will enhance the industry and country’s capability connected with health and nutrition, livelihoods, education and climate change adaptation amongst others … the intention is to strengthen collaboration, to understand the changing socio-economic and environmental dynamics of our plantations and work together, so that we can confront the challenges of the future and build a sustainable industry.” Supporting these sentiments, Anselm Perera – Founder and Managing Director of MLESNA spoke on behalf of the Sri Lankan Tea Exporters, expressing that, “If we don’t go forward as one industry, we don’t have the strength … we should support each other … we should bring forward demands that are common to the trade.” On behalf of the Plantation Fraternity, Dr. Rohan Fernando – Executive Director of Plantations & Business Development, Aitken Spence Group shared the following words,

“My humble appeal to you – The [Tea] Brokers Association, The Tea Exporters Association, The Planters Association, and the [Tea] Companies here – all associated, not only with the tea industry, but the entire plantation industry… There is a lot that all of us can do together. We can take the Ceylon tea industry to the next level and grow together to ensure that the next 150 years of tea in this country will be right up there – second to none in the world. I think we all owe it to the industry.” The MJF Foundation was established by Dilmah Founder, Merrill J. Fernando in fulfilment of his pledge to make making business a matter of human service, it’s activity is evident today in the work done to offer dignified empowerment to less privileged children, youth, women and men, with a specific emphasis on vulnerable communities including children with disabilities – approximately Rs. 300 million is annually dedicated to support these communities. The ‘Stronger Together’ initiative is designed to amplify the current efforts across plantations to build a united and sustainable industry.

 

 



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LOLC Al-Falaah unveils pioneering Wadi’ah Gold-Storage Facility with multiple customer benefits

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Sri Lanka’s most awarded and trusted Alternate Financial services brand, LOLC Al-Falaah recently unveiled their ground-breaking new product – the Wadi’ah Gold Loan Facility. This is the 1st time a Finance company in Sri Lanka is offering this facility. Al-Falaah Wadi’ah is a unique gold storage option offered to Al-Falaah’s valued customer base. All gold articles are tested for quality and authenticity using state-of-the art equipment by the company’s experienced staff without causing any damage to the jewellery. A unique ‘Gold Storage Certificate’ with the description of articles, including weight, quality and quantity along with the market value will be issued to the customer when obtaining this facility.

Speaking about the new product, Mr. Shiraz Refai, Deputy General Manager of LOLC Al-Falaah said, “Gold is a favourite investment option at all levels within the concentrated community. The metal is usually pawned, sold or exchanged when in need of cash. As the conventional Pawning options and Gold Loan offering has limitations to cater to the specific needs, as well as contradict with certain beliefs of the community, a concept acceptable and practiced in the industry is introduced by LOLC’s Alternate Financial Services Unit to its valued customer segment”.

Accordingly, a unique feature has been introduced to the Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold Storage facility offering the Customer the benefit of obtaining an interest-free maximum Cash-Advance in the industry at zero mark-up against the gold storage certificate value for any emergencies. In addition, for the convenience of the customers, the Gold storage facility period is extended from 3, 6 and 12 months without any requirement for a deposit and the custodial fees are comparatively competitive. The stored gold articles will also be offered a free Takaful cover with a reassurance of highest safety and security.

The Al-Falaah Wadi’ah gold storage facility will be initially available at selected branches including Wellawatta, Akkaraipattu, Kalmunai, Pottuvil, Grandpass, Maradana, Mawanella, Matara, Nawalapitiya and Negombo. Al-Falaah aims to make the facility available across all LOLC Finance branches and dedicated Al-Falaah centers island-wide by the end of the 1st quarter of 2021.

Commenting on the new Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold loan facility, Nishantha Jayasekera, Chief Manager, SME Unit & Head of Gold Loan Business of LOLC Finance said, “The main aim of this facility is to give financial-access to the grass-root level clients who do not have direct access to banking & finance, but require small cash advances to develop daily businesses and self-employment. Through this product and its value added features, we hope to cover all segments of the population”.

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LANKATILES donates high-end ventilator to Colombo North Teaching Hospital

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A Rs. 4.3 million ventilator has been donated to the Coronary Care Unit of the Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, by LANKATILES, the country’s leading tile manufacturer.

The machine was described as a high-end, world-class piece of equipment suitable for all patient groups.

Present at the official hand-over were Mr Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director of Lanka Walltiles PLC and Lanka Tiles PLC, Dr. S. P. A. Liyanage Ranaweera, Director of Colombo North Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Sanjeewa Rajapakse, Consultant Cardiologist of the hospital.

At a time when state-of-the-art equipment is urgently needed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, LANKATILES reaffirmed its commitment to help frontline hospital staff in their efforts at reducing the spread of the virus and easing patient numbers.

The company said this was a commitment it is ready to stand by at all times in the interests of the country.

 

 

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Sampath Bank hosts Central Bank’s ‘MatarataQR’ event to promote QR code use

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Matara, April 3rd, 2021: Sampath Bank PLC recently hosted the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL) MatarataQR event, in a bid to drive awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt the use of QR codes in their day-to-day transactions, the event was held at the Sanath Jayasuriya Grounds in Matara under the patronage of the Chief Guest, Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Power and Guest of Honour, D. Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; along with senior officials from the CBSL, other commercial banks and financial institutions. Sampath Bank was represented by Nanda Fernando – Managing Director; Tharaka Ranwala – Senior DGM – Operations / Group Chief Marketing Officer and Ajith Salgado – Group Chief Information Officer.

At the event, the Bank actively promoted its ‘WePay’ mobile wallet which helped attract more customers while also onboarding new merchants. A 25% cash back was on offer for payments at over 200 merchants in Matara on the day, made via the LANKAQR enabled WePay digital mobile payment app.

“We are very proud to partner with the Central Bank to host this event that will highlight the safety, convenience and speed of getting onboard the LANKAQR payment standard to the people of Matara. These benefits, coupled with the advanced digital banking solutions offered by Sampath Bank, make it a simple choice to migrate to digital payment technology and we warmly invite the merchants in Matara to come experience the benefits of adopting this new method of payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC.

Sampath Bank is a 100% local bank that has deeply rooted itself in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. Established in 1987, the bank has become a state-of-the-art financial institution that continues to be a market leader today thanks to its constant innovation and customer focused approach to business. It has introduced many firsts to the Sri Lankan banking sector including introducing ATMs to Sri Lanka, extended banking hours and slip-less banking to name a few. The Bank is steadily transforming itself into a ‘tech company engaged in banking,’ from the traditional approach of a bank engaged in technology.

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