Citi poised for emerging opportunities

Thursday, 5 December 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Citi Sri Lanka Country Head Ravin Basnayake 

It was in 1979, at the cusp of an emerging open economy, that an international bank saw immense potential in this little island nation. Citibank showed no hesitation in quickly opening its doors to ink its presence in Sri Lanka and showcased to the world the promise that Sri Lanka holds. It also affirmed its commitment that it was here to stay. Forty years on, Citi celebrates that commitment, having taken advantage of the significant opportunity it foresaw, adding value to Sri Lanka’s bid to become a regional hub for international trade. Here Citi Country Officer Ravin Basnayake details the positives of Citi’s presence, the bank’s plans and social stewardship in Sri Lanka:


Q: How do Citi’s global advantages translate into the Sri Lankan environment?

 With an international network that covers over 160 countries and jurisdictions, that geographic diversification is a significant advantage because our strength is to drive international flows. Whether in trade or investment, this strength in seamless facilitation makes us best suited to partner companies seeking opportunities outside Sri Lanka or for any global company seeking to come into Sri Lanka. 

Combine cutting-edge technology spanning from web-based or app-based transactional technology to robotic based processing and compliance related technology in our operational processes, and we bring our Sri Lankan clients on par with global clients. In addition, our global best practices, whether governance, compliance, ethics, transparency or accountability, are all infused strongly into our culture which augurs well for global business. 


Q: What global paradigms should Sri Lanka be aware of?

 Most importantly, with the current trade tensions between the US and China, the supply chain is shifting from traditional suppliers to new suppliers. Sri Lanka must take advantage of this shift to attract these buyers and act swiftly. With our 40-year experience in Sri Lanka, Citi is positioned to give Sri Lanka that competitive advantage. Soft technologies are also moving from the developed world to developing regions which with Sri Lanka’s technology related skills, poses a huge opportunity. With Citi being extremely strong in global technological advantages, our digital capacity can be the transformational forerunner in assisting our clients become dynamic players in international trade and commerce.


Q: What are your focus areas in social stewardship?

The Citi corporate stewardship ethos is to serve the community we are a part of. This is encouraged through the Citi Annual Global Community Day, where Citi Sri Lanka too engages in numerous community projects aimed at uplifting the community. A CSR platform we have been working on through two initiatives has been on youth empowerment which gained a youth outreach of over 5,000 in just two years across all Sri Lankan provinces. Youth Co:Lab is an initiative co-partnered by Citi Foundation and UNDP. The projects rolled out have been Technopreneurship for Social Innovation and HackaDev. 


Q: What are Citi’s plans for Sri Lanka in the mid-term?

 Our focus will be to grow our institutional and corporate banking business, using the surfeit of global products available. Being very focused on Sri Lanka’s growth trajectory, we see significant advantages in global trade for Sri Lanka, given its geographic location and being central to the best shipping routes from East to West. With this emerging potential, we can become a much larger player and be able to use the full spectrum of products we have.