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The Commercial Bank of Ceylon recently conducted an awareness programme for 110 micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) in the food and beverage sector, to equip them with the knowledge necessary to develop their businesses to enter the export market.
The Bank identified entrepreneurs with the potential to succeed as exporters to participate in this ‘Diribala Exporter Development Programme’ named after the Bank’s flexible Diribala Development Loans scheme designed to cater to the requirements of small and medium scale agricultural, industrial, and business ventures. This programme was not limited to existing customers of Commercial Bank and half of the participants were introduced by the Industrial Development Board (IDB).
The programme represents the commencement of a series of initiatives planned to promote small and medium enterprises, encourage exporters, and develop the local export sector, the Bank said. With the awareness programme, the Bank’s goal was to identify local manufacturers who are potential exporters and educate them to produce goods in accordance with standards necessary to penetrate international markets, and to promote local producers to become indirect exporters or suppliers to direct exporters.
Besides preparing local MSMEs to be export-ready and strengthening the value chains of export-oriented enterprises, these initiatives are also aimed at improving foreign exchange earnings which is a dire need for the country, the Bank said.
Resource persons for the programme were from the Industrial Development Board (IDB), Export Development Board (EDB), National Plant Quarantine Service of the Department of Agriculture and Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI).
Mrs Uchini Alwis, Enterprise Promotions Manager at the Technical Services Division of the IDB highlighted segments of the Food & Beverage Industry which have higher export potential and a vast array of production variations. Dr Thushara Wickramaarachchi, Additional Director at the Department of Agriculture National Plant Quarantine Services (NPQS), educated the participants on region-specific regulations and compliance requirements. Mrs Kethaki Pelpola, Assistant Director at the Regional Development Division of the EDB focused on basic business attributes required to be an export customer. Mr Rasika Waduge, Deputy Director at the SLSI detailed the importance of Standardising and Certification of products and the increased value proposition added to products at market by such processes.
This inaugural ‘Diribala Exporter Development Programme’ organised by the Development Credit Department of the Bank took place at the Commercial Bank auditorium at Union Place, Colombo, under the purview of the Bank’s Deputy General Manager of Personal Banking – Mr Delakshan Hettiarachchi, who focused on the importance of local manufacturers grooming themselves to become exporters in this dire economic situation of the country.
Commercial Bank has conducted more than 130 awareness programmes and skills development programmes for MSMEs in different sectors of business in many areas of the country since 2011. These programmes have benefitted over 13,500 entrepreneurs and youth to date.
These programs are supported by the Bank’s 19 Agriculture & Micro Finance Units which play a key role in helping the Bank to identify specific needs of entrepreneurs who require assistance to develop either their agriculture activities or micro businesses. These units are dedicated to promoting agriculture lending and micro finance. Additionally, the Bank’s 14 Regional SME Managers are dedicated to serving the SME segment of the Bank. Commercial Bank provides services to all segments including micro-entrepreneurs, SMEs, and large corporates.
Commercial Bank’s Agriculture & Micro Finance Units (AMFU) are located in Ratnapura, Narammala, Nawalapitiya, Marawila, Anuradhapura, Kilinochchi, Bandarawela, Wellawaya, Hingurakgoda, Galewela, Achchuveli, Vavuniya, Chenkalady, Deniyaya, Tissamaharama, Udugama, Pottuvil, Elpitiya, and Akkaraipattu.
Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 12 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 269 branches and 943 automated machines in Sri Lanka. Commercial Bank is the largest lender to Sri Lanka’s SME sector and is a leader in digital innovation in the country’s Banking sector. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.
The Diribala Exporter Development Programme in progress.
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