Global Steering Group for Impact Investing sets its footprint in Sri Lanka

Posted Date : May 23, 2023

Awakasha Platform Launch

Chandula Abeywickrema to head the National Advisory Board for Impact Investments in Sri Lanka

The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) after much deliberation has set its footprint in Sri Lanka to forge a pathway in pioneering impact investments in the nation.

The Sri Lankan National Advisory Board (NAB) for Impact Investments has been launched and empowered to commence operations to facilitate the flow of global impact capital and sustainability finance to Sri Lanka from 3 May.

Serving as a crucial mechanism in facilitating this flow of impact capital and sustainable finance, the NAB will support and propel greater economic growth for Impact Enterprises and corporate businesses with strong sustainability DNA while aligning Sri Lanka with the world’s agenda of sustainable investments which brings vital economic and social benefits to the Sri Lankan society and the environmental fabric, whilst contributing to the nation’s progress and nurturing a more prosperous future for Sri Lankan people.

Although impact investments and sustainable financing are new to Sri Lanka, developed economies have been placing significant emphasis on this approach for the past 25 years. The establishment of Sri Lanka’s inaugural National Advisory Board (NAB) dedicated to impact investing in Sri Lanka as the network partner of GSG in Sri Lanka now presents a fresh array of opportunities and possibilities for local entrepreneurs and visionary investors to delve into the realm of impactful entrepreneurship and business propositions.

These ventures promise not only financial returns but also a multitude of benefits for the nation’s populace and the natural environment for which Sri Lanka is recognised.

Since November 2017, the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) has held the status of a registered UK charity and currently boasts a membership of 36 countries. Under the guidance of Sir Ronald Cohen as its Chairperson, the GSG unites leaders from the realms of finance, business, and philanthropy to address the world’s most urgent social and environmental challenges.

The GSG functions as an independent organisation with a mission to catalyse impact investment and foster entrepreneurship for the betterment of both people and the planet. Originally founded in August 2015, the GSG serves as the successor to and incorporates the initiatives undertaken by the Social Impact Investment Taskforce, which was established during the UK’s presidency of the G8 in 2013.

The NAB serves as a pivotal entity responsible for providing guidance, expertise, and strategic counsel to the global community of impact investors who will facilitate impact capital to Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, the NAB will undertake the critical responsibility of establishing and fostering an environment that is favourable for the initiation of impact investments, ensuring harmonisation with the overarching mission and objectives of GSG. Furthermore, the NAB will lay the groundwork, facilitate the formulation and adaptation of regulations and policies, champion good governance practices, and uphold transparency in the management of impact investments. Additionally, the NAB will actively foster stakeholder awareness, establish a capital reserve, forge strategic partnerships, and cultivate a supportive network, all to propel impactful investments in Sri Lanka.

By raising awareness among key stakeholders, the NAB seeks to educate and engage individuals and organisations about the potential of impact investments. Simultaneously, the establishment of a capital reserve will provide a dedicated pool of resources to fuel impactful initiatives. Through strategic partnerships, the NAB will collaborate with like-minded entities to amplify the impact and reach of their efforts. Lastly, by fostering a conducive network, the NAB will create an ecosystem that nurtures and accelerates impactful investment opportunities, driving positive change for Sri Lanka’s people, the economy, and its natural environment.

Chandula Abeywickrema is a highly esteemed senior banker, widely recognised as a global authority in financial inclusion, impact investing, and social entrepreneurship, has dedicated the past six years to engaging with the GSG team, including Chief Market Development Officer Krisztina Tora, GSG CEO Cliff Prior and the respected GSG Founder and Chairman Sir Ronald Cohen. This exceptional individual will assume the role of Chairman of the Board for the NAB. Other NAB members are a diverse group of leading business professionals with vast experience and a visionary approach to development and growth representing key business sectors.

Leading the NAB is Chandula Abeywickrema, the Founder and Chairman representing Lanka Impact Investing Network Ltd.

Dr. Lalith Welamadage, Board member, represents Lanka Social Ventures Ltd.

Sanjay Wijemanne, Board member, representing Hatton National Bank.

Prince Perera represents DFCC Bank on the Board of the NAB.

Romani De Silva contributes as a Board member, representing Alliance Finance PLC.

Achala Samaradivakara, representing the Community of Entrepreneurs, also serves as a Board member of the NAB.

Dr. Nirmal De Silva, an expert in the SME sector, represents the Sri Lankan Impact Investors.

Together, this dedicated team will work towards advancing impactful investments in Sri Lanka, leveraging their expertise and networks to drive positive change for the nation.

Benefits of GSG in Sri Lanka

GSG’s presence in Sri Lanka creates a supportive ecosystem for impact investing, unlocking new avenues for sustainable development, fostering inclusive growth, and positioning the country as a destination for responsible investments attracting both local and foreign investors.

Some key benefits that Sri Lanka will gain from the arrival of GSG include increased awareness and knowledge about impact investing, access to global expertise, catalysing investment opportunities, fostering socio-economic development, promoting long-term sustainability, and facilitating international collaborations and partnerships.

NAB Chairman Abeywickrema, is ecstatic about the role he played in persuading GSG to set up operations in Sri Lanka. He believes the combination of our geographical positioning and the ongoing transformations in Sri Lanka, brought about by the profound economic, financial, and political crisis experienced in 2022, presents an opportune moment to embark on new ventures and establish strategic partnerships. “By welcoming GSG into our nation, we position ourselves as an attractive destination for the inflow of capital, enabling us to invest in sustainable enterprises. Impact investments take the notion of sustainable financing to new heights. The local NAB of GSG will primarily focus on cultivating a conducive ecosystem and subsequently attract investors of the appropriate scale and nature, seeking long-term returns.”

As a nation, Sri Lanka presents a wealth of opportunities for sustainable investments. The sphere of impact investments in Sri Lanka revolves around key areas such as women and youth empowerment, educational advancement, sustainable agriculture, and eco-tourism. These sectors hold immense potential for generating positive social and environmental impact while ensuring long-term economic growth.

In the domain of women and youth empowerment, investments can be directed towards initiatives that promote gender equality, provide skill development programs, and create entrepreneurship opportunities. By empowering women and youth, Sri Lanka can unlock their full potential, leading to inclusive growth and socioeconomic progress.

Educational advancement is another crucial area for impact investments in Sri Lanka. Supporting initiatives that enhance access to quality education, vocational training, and technological advancements can pave the way for a skilled workforce, innovation, and knowledge-based economy.

Sustainable agriculture presents significant investment prospects in Sri Lanka. Embracing eco-friendly farming practices, promoting organic cultivation, and supporting agricultural innovation can foster food security, enhance rural livelihoods, and mitigate environmental degradation.

Furthermore, Sri Lanka’s breath-taking natural beauty and diverse ecosystems make it an ideal destination for eco-tourism. Impact investments can be channelled into sustainable tourism projects that preserve the environment, empower local communities, and offer unique experiences to visitors while promoting conservation efforts.

Such investments are bound to take Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan people to new heights of economic and financial stability while enabling fast-paced economic development.

The Sri Lankan NAB of GSG eagerly anticipates its role in contributing to the construction of a sustainable nation and propelling Sri Lanka towards a prosperous future. As the NAB engages with GSG, it envisions a future where impactful investments drive positive change, creating a more inclusive, resilient, and thriving society.