In rallying the environmentally and socially conscious banks and financial institutions in the region, SDB bank was the proud host of the Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Chapter of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, on the 16th and 17th of November 2021. The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), founded in 2009, is a network of banking leaders from around the world committed to advancing positive change in the banking sector. This year’s regional gathering conducted virtually due to the ongoing pandemic, provided the platform for member institutions to share insights on the post-Covid 19 strategies that they have adopted to support people and businesses to remain resilient and catalyse a sustainable recovery.
With over half a million people driven into poverty by the Covid 19 pandemic in Sri Lanka – according to the estimates of the World Bank – and with GoSL being constrained due to lack of fiscal space to invest in economic recovery, the dialogue served to highlight the importance of the financial sector in mobilizing sustainable finance in emerging economies like Sri Lanka and the need for international cooperation to reorient capital to where it is most needed. Yvette Fernando – Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Thilak Piyadigama – CEO of SDB bank made presentations at this regional meeting on Sri Lanka’s progress on sustainable finance and digital finance that served to further enhance Sri Lanka’s position amongst international financiers.
In reviewing the proceedings of the event, Thilak Piyadigama, CEO of SDB bank noted, “It is a great honour for us to have been chosen as the bank to host this event in Sri Lanka. We would have loved to have hosted all the members in person in our beautiful country, but that is not advisable at this time. Thus, we decided on a virtual meeting. We discussed and drew attention to various pressing issues in the region including digitalization challenges, financing of renewal energy projects, asset quality challenges faced by the banking system in the region due to the COVID crisis, and access to finance for the missing middle (SMEs).”
Explaining further, Mr. Piyadigama added, “The meeting was structured to enable enhanced engagement of the participants. This helped to further facilitate cross learning amongst members in the region. The meeting also updated participants on the GABV’s work and obtained feedback about how to best showcase the Asia Pacific region during the GABV Annual Meeting 2022. Overall, we are very pleased with the levels of engagement we saw, as participants discussed furthering sustainable progress in the sector. We also take this opportunity to thank the GABV for expressing their confidence in SDB bank, by choosing us to host this international conference here in Sri Lanka.”
SDB bank caters to a wide clientele including a significant retail banking portfolio. However, the Bank’s focus areas are SME development, women empowerment through financing women-led enterprise and digital inclusion, with a view to taking digital banking to the masses, through its extensive network.
The collective goal of the GABV is to change the banking system so that it is more transparent, supports economic, social and environmental sustainability, and is composed of a diverse range of banking institutions serving the real economy. The Alliance connects banks, banking cooperatives and credit unions, microfinance institutions and community development banks and supports their work towards positive systemic change within financial systems. Its members share a unified vision to use finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development, with a focus on helping individuals fulfil their potential and build stronger communities.