NDB Araliya Organises Non-Financial Service  Araliya forum in Anuradhapura

NDB Araliya Organises Non-Financial Service Araliya forum in Anuradhapura

As a responsible financial intermediary, NDB always strives towards delivering the best, most empowering and highly development- oriented financial solutions to its customers. As a part of its strategy, the Bank is dedicated to empowering women customer through various strategies, via NDB Araliya, to provide non-financial services such as workshops and forums that are specialised offerings focusing on empowering, educating and uplifting Sri Lankan woman.
Accordingly, a Non-Financial Service forum organised by the NDB Anuradhapura branch and the regional office, jointly with the NDB Araliya team was held in Anuradhapura, targeting female entrepreneurs who are Beauticians in Sri Lanka.

The forum participants gained the first-hand experience and knowledge of renowned beautician Nayana Karunaratna, who shared her insights and advice on topics related to beauty culture and development.

“NDB Araliya” is a bundled solution package offered, with the intention of easing off the pain points and providing effective solutions to achieve the goals of aspiring females. The bundle is an extension of NDB’s savings product dedicated to aspiring females, which was launched in 2017 and is a direct result of NDB’s Banking on Women strategic initiative, which is another core strategic pillar of the Bank’s 2020 strategy. Araliya is a market-research-backed initiative which addresses a market void, hence yields a distinct competitive advantage for NDB.
NDB’s bundled offer comprises loan facilities, overdraft facilities and credit card facilities, in addition to the savings product. Added benefits are branded debit and credit cards, business loans available for a wide range of purposes such as inventory financing, capital expenditure and business instalment loans, salary advance loans, salary transfers to employee accounts, etc.

The Araliya saving product also addresses the need for family protection, via a special insurance cover for the Araliya account holder, family or business. The initiative addresses a vast array of needs of each of the women’s segment such as financial support for business growth and financial security for the business and self in the entrepreneur category, efficient and time effective banking services and financial prosperity for salaried women and financial support for the family and ensuring family well-being for the female home-makers.

Araliya is NDB’s response to promote gender equality in access to quality financing in the Sri Lankan banking sector. It also actively promotes financial inclusion amongst needy and marginalised females spread across the country.

NDB Araliya often partners with the Bank’s CSR initiatives carried out targeting women, such as personal grooming sessions, business knowledge and technical skills sharing sessions, etc. No other Bank offers such a fully-fledged offering targeting the female segment, hence NDB has been able to secure competitive advantage in the women’s market with this initiative.

NDB will be conducting more such non-financial services throughout the year for women’s empowerment. NDB, as a Bank that holds three decades of excellence and experience in financially empowering Sri Lanka continues to take longer strides to reach out to and strengthen our Sri Lankan Women. NDB Bank, which is the first and to date the only corporate in Sri Lanka to officially be certified with EDGE Certification is a premier retail Bank with over 111 branches across the island, serving millions of Sri Lankans through a host of financial services. From its inception, the NDB Group which includes NDB Bank, NDB Capital, NDB Investment Banking, NDB Wealth, and NDB Securities has been a catalyst in the development of the nation, strengthening and empowering entrepreneurs, corporates and individuals from all strata of the economy. Customers across all group companies have benefited from the product and service offerings of the NDB Group.

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Otara in Rwanda

Otara in Rwanda

to name endangered baby gorilla

Sri Lankan entrepreneur, philanthropist and animal rights advocate Otara Gunewardene was invited by the Rwandan Government as an honorary guest to name a baby Mountain Gorilla at the annual Kwita Izina naming ceremony.

The Kwita Izina baby Gorilla naming ceremony, held on the first Friday of September every year, is based on a traditional Rwandan naming ceremony held for new born babies and has been a part of the Rwandan culture for centuries. The infant Gorillas are named by conservation, business, sports, fashion and show biz icons from around the world.

It was introduced in 2005 to raise awareness of conservation efforts, as the Government of Rwanda, through the Rwanda Development Board, has achieved great success in protecting the endangered Mountain Gorilla population and has worked diligently with conservation partners, the private sector and the community to conserve their natural habitat.

Before the introduction of the ceremony, infant Gorillas were named by park rangers, researchers and scientists, following in the footsteps of late American primatologist and conservationist, Dr. Dian Fossey, who named all the Gorillas she was studying back in the 70’s in order to accurately observe and learn about them.
This year, thousands of Rwandans and conservation champions gathered at Kinigi, Musanze, on the foothills of Volcanoes National Park to celebrate the 15th Kwita Izina baby Gorilla naming ceremony, aimed at raising awareness about Rwanda’s conservation efforts. It was attended by 1000 VIPs from around the world, 4000 invitees and 30,000 members of the community in Rwanda. All the honorary baby Gorilla name-givers were also given the opportunity to trek through the mountains and visit the Gorilla family they will be naming in their natural habitat.

Magnificent animals

The event generally spans a week and includes special activities related to conservation, educational exhibits and community projects held in the capital city of Kigali. Otara Gunewardene was chosen for her philanthropic and environmental advocacy work through her charitable organisations, Embark and the Otara Foundation. Embark focuses on improving the lives of street dogs in Sri Lanka, while the Foundation aims to conserve Sri Lanka’s environment and wildlife, to not only protect Sri Lanka’s rich biodiversity but to educate future generations to conserve what makesSri Lanka truly unique.

“It is an honour to be recognised by the Rwanda Development Board and to be given this opportunity,” Gunewardene said. “Having visited Rwanda with my family last year to address local entrepreneurs at the First Lady’s Imbuto Foundation, I was impressed by the successful conservation efforts undertaken by the country to save, not only the Mountain Gorillas, but their entire eco system as well.”

“These magnificent animals share 99 per cent of our DNA, but were expected to be extinct by the millennium due to detrimental human activity. The incredible efforts by the Rwandan government led by President Kagame, for whom conservation is a priority, is something to be admired. As a passionate wildlife enthusiast and conservationist I am so pleased to be a part of the Rwandan government’s efforts to protect the mountain Gorilla population.”

Among other popular personalities that joined Otara at this year’s naming ceremony were Rwandan President Paul Kagame as Guest of Honour, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, British supermodel, Naomi Campbell, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, former Manchester United Manager, Louis Van Gaal, former Arsenal FC Captain, Tony Alexander Adams MBE and Grammy award winning artist, Ne-Yo.

This year, the 25 baby Gorillas that were named are members of the Amahoro, Umubano, Hirwa, Igisha, Isimbi, Muhoza, Kwitonda, Sabyinyo, Susa, Pablo, Kuryama, Mafunzo, Kureba, Musirikali and Ntambara groups.


Mother of two

Otara Gunewardene, a mother of two, had the pleasure of naming the newest member of the Pablo family, Kira, derived from the names of her two sons, Kiran and Rakhil, which also means “bless you” in Kinyarwanda, the Rwandan language. As a result of Kwita Izina and other conservation efforts, the population of the endangered Mountain Gorillas has increased to 604 in 2016 in comparison to 480 in 2010 and the
region’s lowest of 242 in 1981.

“As we give names to 25 baby Gorillas today, we celebrate our conservation successes and thank the community, partners and friends from around the world for their invaluable support to protect these remarkable animals. And while Mountain Gorillas remain an endangered species and more work is needed to ensure their long-term survival, the most recent census tells us that the Mountain Gorilla population in the Virunga Massif has grown by 23% since 2010 to 604 individuals. This success is the result of governments, communities and conservation partners working hand-in-hand to protect the species and its habitat”, remarked the Rwandan Development Board’s Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza.

This unique species of Mountain Gorillas has been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) since 2006 and are found only in national parks across Africa, in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Today, Kwita Izina serves as a platform to celebrate the importance of conservation and the role ofsustainable tourism in protecting Africa’s rare and endangered species.

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No more  anger or hate

No more anger or hate

Lewis Allen speaks the language of Love after tragic Easter experience

Lewis Allen, prominent international gem dealer visited Sri Lanka as the Guest of Honour for the FACETS International Gem and Jewellery Exhibition. His speech at the opening ceremony echoed the deepest feelings of love, empathy and forgiveness that are needed today in the aftermath of a tragedy, which many are yet to come to terms with. Extracts from his speech have been transcribed below to share the message among all.

The message that I want to convey today is that love and peace conquers everything. The world has enough hate, and the world has enough war, and the world has enough division, but I think all we can learn from the attacks on Easter Sunday on April 21is that if you fill your heart with love, then that conquers all the darkness in the world. After the tragedy I received many emails from relatives and friends asking, “How can people do this?” “How can people have so much disregard for other lives?” I also got so many emails filled with hate and anger, and some asked me “How can you ever go back to Sri Lanka?”

My answer was that I love Sri Lanka and my family loves Sri Lanka, and that the world doesn’t need any more anger, the world does not need any more hate. The world needs more love. If the people responsible for the tragic events of Easter Sunday had more love in their lives, they would not have done this.

I think it’s a blessing that my son Jason is still here; he was sitting next to my wife Monique when the suicide bomber blew himself up at the Cinnamon Grand breakfast. I believe that the universe and the world has big plans for my son Jason, and that kept him here because love conquers everything. As long as we treat people with love and respect then things like this will never happen.

Children’s hospital

I have always loved this country. It has a big history and it has helped me spiritually as well as in my business life. My friends here opened their homes after the tragedy and helped me to have the ceremony for my wife. They also helped me take care of the children and get Jason out of the hospital. They were by my side the whole time at the hospital when I was looking for my wife and son.

I have had so much of success selling Sri Lankan gems, and I wanted to give back to the country. So I approached some of my friends here with the idea of building a school in Ratnapura. However, they informed me that the area could really use a children’s hospital because there was no such hospital in Ratnapura. The poor sick children were often kept on the floor of the general hospital. So we came up with the idea to build it together with a few friends from the gem industry. It took a year and we opened the hospital on the 30th of June 2017.

My wife was never able to come to the hospital because the children had exams and other commitments. So on the Saturday before the Easter attacks we were in Ratnapura and we had gone up to the roof of the hospital, which has two floors and 107 beds, and we had the foundation to build the 3rd and 4th floors. We were talking about this addition. The head doctor told us that since the opening there had been 13,100 children treated at the hospital. The area had suffered a dengue epidemic and the doctor said that 3000 or so children had been treated.

My wife heard this and she was so happy. Throughout the drive back to Colombo she kept telling me about how proud she was of me and Punsiri and Priyantha and Subash and my friends for helping to make this world a better place and she kept asking me, “Are you going to build that 3rd floor?” and I said “Yes, I already talked to Punsiri about it and
we’re going to build that 3rd floor”.

Sunday breakfast

And then on Sunday morning she went down for breakfast at the Cinnamon Grand. That was our favourite hotel and my wife loved the Sunday breakfast there, and before she left for breakfast she said again, “I’m so proud of you and your friends in Sri Lanka for helping to make this world a better place, and you’re going to build that 3rd floor” and I said “Yes Monique, I’m going to build the 3rd floor, we’re going to do it”. About a half hour later a suicide bomber walked into the breakfast and my whole life changed.
But the blessing is that Jason was sitting next to my wife and he only suffered minor injuries. He’s here to help make this world a better place. And this country is going to come back stronger with more love and with more unity. Ever since I’ve been coming to Sri Lanka all the different people, and languages and religions, all my friends, Sinhalese, Muslim, Tamil, they’ve all got along in perfect harmony.

A part of the magic of Sri Lanka is that everyone can live together. Even yesterday when we were driving from the airport and I saw the lights on, and the traffic, and people working, I told my son Jason, “You see, life goes on, people get back to work. We’re all the same, all we want to do is provide for our families, take care of our loved ones and be happy and have a nice peaceful life”. So God bless Sri Lanka and its people, and I’m sure that love and peace conquers everything. Thank you.”

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