Business News from Sri Lanka: The Commercial Bank of Ceylon recently hosted two Customer Awareness Programmes in Colombo and Negombo as part of the Bank’son-going initiative to support and empower members of its Biz Club and entrepreneurs in the SME sector.
The Colombo event themed ‘Awareness Programme for SMEs’ held at the Grand Crystal Ball Room of the Taj Samudra Hotel. Two keynote lectures regarding Taxation in the SME sector and Renewable Energy and Waste Management respectively were delivered by Mr Saman Dissanayake, the Deputy Commissioner – Large Entities Appeals and Objections Unit of Inland Revenue Department of Sri Lanka and Mr Nimal Perera, a Consultant and Energy Auditor.
Additionally, Janashakthi Insurance and Bileeta (Pvt) Ltd, external vendors invited by the Bank to demonstrate their innovative solutions for the SME sector made presentations on ‘Employee Group Protection Policy’ and ‘Entution’ – a world-class cloud-based Business Solution Package respectively.
The programme was attended by Biz Club members in addition to Commercial Bank officials Mr Janaka Sooriyaarachchi – Regional Manager of Colombo Metro Region, Ms Yasmin Weerasuriya – Senior Regional Manager of Greater Colombo Region, Ms Dharshanee Keerthirathne – Regional Manager of Colombo South Region, Mr Malika Silva – Manager of the Bank’s Development Credit Department, Mr Dilshan Fernando – Manager SME and others.
The second programme conducted at Golden Star Beach Hotel in Negombo was targeted at SMEs in Coconut Based Industries. Resource persons Mr Sampath Samarawickrama, the Director Marketing Development and Research of the Coconut Development Authority and Dr W. A. R. T. Wickramarachchi, Additional Director – National Plant Quarantine Service presented keynote lectures on ‘Export Market Opportunities for Coconut Based Industries’ while Mr Nimal Perera, Consultant and Energy Auditor presented on Renewable Energy and Waste Management. A third lecture on Trade Facilitation by Sri Lanka Customs was delivered by Mr Ashoka Balasuriya, Superintendent of Customs.
In addition, the participants in attendance were briefed on the ‘Employee Group Protection Policy’ by Janashakthi Insurance at the invitation of Commercial Bank. The programme was attended by several bank officials including Mr Sanath Perera – Regional Manager of Colombo North, Mrs Chandani Siyambalagastenne – Regional Manager of Wayamba Region, Mr Malika Silva – Manager Development Credit Department and Mr Dilshan Fernando – Manager SME.
The Commercial Bank launched its ‘Biz Club’ in 2017 with the objective of providing SMEs with extensive networking opportunities, support beyond lending and a range of other benefits including special bank concessions and a personalised VISA debit card. Members also receive economic updates and alerts on new business developments via email and free registration for Online Banking facilities including a waiver of the first year joining fee. Additionally, Biz Club members are entitled to free financial advisory services and invitations to exclusive business seminars which are beneficial to the development of their businesses.
Commercial Bank has been conducting such educational programmes for SME and micro entrepreneurs in many areas of the country even before the launch of the Biz Club. These programmes have benefited more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to date.
These programmes are supported by the Bank’s 16 Agriculture & Micro Finance Units which play a key role in helping the Bank to identify specific needs of people who require assistance to develop either their agriculture activities or micro businesses, and are dedicated to promote agriculture lending and micro finance.
Commercial Bank’s Agriculture & Micro Finance Units are located in Ratnapura, Narammala, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Kilinochchi, Bandarawela, Wellawaya, Hingurakgoda, Galewela, Achchuveli, Vavuniya, Kattankudy, Tissamaharama, Neluwa, Pottuvil and Akkaraipattu.
In addition the Bank also operates three Bank-on-Wheels programmes in the Northern, Eastern and Uva-Sabaragamuwaregions for inclusive finance especially targeted at rural communities.