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UK’s CDC Group commits $50 million to ComBank to bolster SME lending and climate projects

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Britain’s Acting Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Bruce Bucknell, CDC Group’s Managing Director and Head of Asia Srini Nagarajan and Commercial Bank Managing Director S. Renganathan.

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has secured a US $50 million (about Rs 10 billion at current exchange rates) loan from the CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor, to facilitate lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and support climate projects in Sri Lanka.

CDC’s investment will enable Commercial Bank to further strengthen financial support to local SMEs most in need of funding, enabling them to access necessary working capital to strengthen their operations, maintain employment, and grow their business, the Bank said. By focusing lending toward eligible businesses and customers, the investment will help increase social and financial inclusion across communities which will in turn drive economic activities throughout the country.

SMEs represent 80 per cent of businesses and provide about 35 per cent of jobs in Sri Lanka. Yet, these businesses struggle to access medium and long-term finance, a funding issue which is further exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19 on the country’s economy.

CDC’s investment will equally provide capital that will allow Commercial Bank to extend credit toward renewable and climate-supportive projects. Sri Lanka is facing growing energy demands and has set a national ambition to become energy self-sufficient by 2030 and reach 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2050. Through this loan facility from CDC, the Bank can increase support for the development of clean energy resources and energy efficiency initiatives, helping Sri Lanka to achieve national climate goals and bolstering the country’s efforts to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The partnership between CDC and ComBank, Sri Lanka’s first wholly carbon neutral bank, is strengthened by a joint commitment to advancing climate initiatives and making investments that help to promote climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience. The landmark investment marks CDC’s re-entry into Sri Lanka market and demonstrates the DFI’s three-pillared Climate Change Strategy through this first climate commitment in the country. Similarly, the investment will strengthen Commercial Bank’s own Green Financing strategy, supporting Sri Lanka’s commitments under the Paris agreement.

Bruce Bucknell, British Acting Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, said: “We welcome today’s announcement as a step towards financial empowerment for small businesses and communities throughout Sri Lanka. CDC and Commercial Bank of Ceylon’s partnership offers a blueprint for investments that could transform Sri Lanka’s economic future. This investment demonstrates the UK’s continued commitment to supporting Sri Lanka socio-economic development and our shared ambitions for a sustainable future through clean energy transition.”



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SLTMobitel-PEOTV and DP Education launch ‘Videsa DP Education’

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT, Telecommunications and Mobile Services Provider has teamed up with DP Education, to launch ‘Videsa DP Education’, a dedicated educational channel on CH.215 of SLTMobitel–PEOTV, ensuring school children from Grade Five to Advanced Level have access to a high-quality learning experience with Rewind TV.

The revolutionary services of SLTMobitel-PEOTV includes ‘Videsa’ a series of educational channels hosted on the platform, that comprise of 06 TV channels dedicated to individual grades covering grades 06 to 11, that enhance the knowledge sharing with curriculum-centered lessons from a panel of reputed teachers. DP Education, a unique online learning platform, leverages digital solutions to deliver quality education to empower students. Together, Videsa and DP Education, enrich the educational arena further with the ‘Videsa DP Education’ channel, a dedicated television space for the students at home.

This path-breaking partnership is a commitment by SLTMobitel–PEOTV to support the education of children, whose options are limited due to the challenges convergence posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative will use the home TV screen and mobile devices as a ubiquitous medium to impart knowledge providing access to quality education for students across the country.

Commenting on the initiative, Rohan Fernando, Group Chairman, SLT said, “We understand that parents are now faced with the challenge of keeping their children safe during the pandemic as well as having to deal with the ongoing disturbances to their children’s education. As a solution to ensure that their learning remains uninterrupted, we have already introduced six different channels for Grade 6 to Grade 11 students through our Videsa digital platform. Our latest initiative and partnership with DP Education has now enabled us to launch a dedicated channel with unique learning experiences in key subjects such as Mathematics, Science and English for students from Grade 5 to Advanced Level with the Rewind TV facility. We are appreciative of the exceptional efforts extended by Mr. Dammika Perera and his team at DP Education and are grateful for the opportunity to connect the two learning platforms together in unison to create a revolutionary learning experience for our children”.

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Thornton and Dane’s combined projects portfolio tops Rs 5.9 billion

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Thornton Engineering, the Nextventures owned civil engineering company, has announced the acquisition of a 100% stake in Dane Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. for Rs 350 million, creating a construction business with a combined portfolio of Rs 5.9 billion.

The new entity, Thornton and Dane Engineering, expects to add new construction projects with a cumulative value of Rs 5 billion within the current financial year, nearly doubling its projects portfolio, the Company said in its announcement.

“We are excited at the post-acquisition prospects for the new company, because we strongly believe that it is a good example for the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts,” said Thornton and Dane Director Dinesh Schaffter. “The combined strengths of Thornton and Dane create a formidable as well as extremely flexible engineering company that is capable of executing projects of varying scope and scale.”

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Capacity-building programs for SMEs

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Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries (SLCSMI), the apex body for SMEs in Sri Lanka has been at the forefront in supporting the SMEs during the pandemic. The chamber took several measures since the pandemic first hit the country in the first quarter of 2020. The Webinar series “Way Forward for SMEs” was a grand success among other initiatives, which was conducted with the participation of prominent scholars, leading business personalities as well as top rankers of state and private sector organizations.

The president of SLCSMI, Prof. Rohan De Silva said: “We are always there to represent and support the SMEs in the country and that’s our prime duty. During the first wave, we understood the need to share the knowledge and provide psychological support for the business owners to withstand the difficult times and that’s how the webinar series was born. Our initiative was well received by the businesses and our audience was not limited to Sri Lanka alone, as we witnessed participants from around 12 countries.”

Prof. Rohan further said that the chamber has looked at the possibilities of providing sustainable solutions to the SMEs beyond merely conducting knowledge sharing sessions and the Executive Committee has decided to introduce a range of Capacity Building programs to develop the SMEs. These programs include different solutions to address various gaps among the SMEs and the chamber intends to issue a valuable certificate for the participants of these programs.

The chamber has partnered with the Asia Pacific Institute of Money and Entrepreneurship Development (iMED) to design and deliver the programs and the details of the Programs will be unveiled at the launching event scheduled to be held on the 25th of September.

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