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HNB empowers local artisans and designers to shine at SLDF 2016


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Clearing a path for entrepreneurship among Sri Lanka’s design and traditional crafts industry, the country’s most innovative bank, HNB joined the Sri Lanka Design Festival 2016 as official banking partner and title sponsor for the festival’s dedicated Island Craft exhibition.   

Organised by AOD together with key industry and academic stakeholders, the festival took place from 3-6 November at the SLECC. SLDF is a pioneering annual design festival showcasing the work of a vibrant spectrum of designers, artisans and craftsmen spanning the breadth of Sri Lanka’s apparel, tourism and interior architecture sectors. 

In addition to its primary role as a platform for Sri Lankan talent, SLDF also provides Sri Lankan designers and artisans with invaluable exposure to some of the most prolific international artisans, designers, and academics in order to facilitate knowledge transfers and support the creation of new business opportunities, both locally and internationally. 

It is in this context that HNB stepped forward to serve as Official Banking Partner to SLDF 2016, in keeping with its role as one of the Sri Lankan economy’s key enablers of growth. The bank has long served as a partner in progress to micro and small and medium industries, including numerous dynamic design entrepreneurs.

Commenting on the significance of AOD’s partnership with HNB for SLDF 2016, Academy of Design Founder and Managing Director Linda Speldewinde said: “Our program to integrate contemporary design to heritage crafts is an island-wide one; and having a partner like HNB that has a huge network that reaches every corner of the country proved to be a great strength. I found it inspiring to work with HNB and their mission to give entrepreneurial education and financial literacy to rural communities to be a true passion of their team; this is why HNB were ideal bank partners for us to work with in taking design to enrich the heritage crafts at grass-root level. We were honoured to work with them.”

Similarly, the SLDF’s Island Craft exhibition – which HNB served as title sponsor to – provided artisans, including a substantial proportion of traditional rural artisans with a unique opportunity to shine through collaboration with fashion designers. During the segment, several pieces were designed to incorporate traditionally made Sri Lankan crafts and motifs, all of which were subsequently modelled for the gathered audience, which included over 140 artisans who have been directly facilitated by HNB with regard to funding and establishing their own small-medium scale enterprises. 

Commenting on the rationale behind the partnership, HNB Deputy General Manager – Retail and SME Banking Thimal Perera said: “For the Sri Lankan economy to grow, we must work to ensure that all of our nation’s resources and creativity are leveraged in sustainable and innovative ways.”

“A significant portion of our nation’s SME sector is based in both contemporary and traditional design and handicraft and we believe that with the adequate support and access to finance, these talented Sri Lankans can rise to new heights through events like the Sri Lanka Design Festival. HNB’s partnership with this year’s event is therefore emblematic of our commitment to support local artisans to develop their businesses into contemporary creative economies.” 

During the course of the festival, HNB also operated its own booth designed to spread awareness on options and opportunities for sustainable entrepreneurship within the design industry. 


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