Chandula to keynote rural agri-finance conference in Washington

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

HNB’s Deputy General Manager – Marketing and Retail Banking Chandula Abeywickrema will keynote a top level rural agri finance conference in Washington DC from 20 to 22 June.

The event organised by the USA based AZMJ is co-hosted by the World Bank, FAO, Inter-American Development Bank and the USAID.

His keynote address is titled ‘Private Sector Perspective on Rural and Agriculture Finance’ and Chandula will probably highlight the approach taken by Hatton National Bank in creating and increasing greater access to rural agriculture finance in Sri Lanka and Hatton National Bank’s lead role in cost effective outreach.

Chandula is also the Chairman of Banking With The Poor Network, which is the largest Asia-based microfinance network based in Singapore which has given the leadership, particularly in the last decade, to champion small holder rural agriculture finance in Asia.

The invitation to do the keynote address at the upcoming conference is indeed an honour to Sri Lanka, at a time agriculture is given prominence and in particular after three decades of ethnic war, as well as for HNB, which has added a pioneering initiative to the field of agriculture.

The organisers have recognised his expertise and over two decades of engagement in microfinance and small holder agriculture finance sector not only in Sri Lanka but also in Asia.

The event titled  ‘Cracking the Nut – Overcoming the Obstacles to Rural and Agriculture Finance’ is a conference organised by AZMJ, a USA-based global consulting agency involved in services to transfer international development and build local capacity focussing on rural agriculture finance in partnership with the World Bank, FAO, Inter-American Development Bank and USAID.

This timely and important conference will draw a large number of senior level experts and specialists at the global level. It aims to impact all the world’s leading agriculture development and finance leaders by uniting them in collaborative pursuit of learning and leverage of large scale changes and the deliberations and the intense dialogue on the areas concerning overcoming obstacles to rural agriculture finance.

The conference named ‘Cracking the Nut’ as rural agriculture has always been a tough nut to crack. Over 300 delegates expected from all over the world covering Asia, Africa, Latin America, USA and Europe will include practitioners, private sector professionals, investors, capacity builders, funders, development and commercial bankers and research professionals who work on the rural agriculture development at the national we well as international level.

The conference will also witness some of the experts and specialists in the field of Agriculture Finance and some of the key stakeholders addressing issues concerning the following areas:

Making markets work for rural and agricultural finance: Creating and enabling environment and overcome policy and market constraints     that hinder rural and agricultural development. What role can finance play in facilitating that development? Forging linkages between financial institutions and rural enterprises.

Forging agricultural finance innovations: What are some of the most successful approaches to financing agriculture and how can they be adapted to other environments?

Reducing cost of rural outreach: What technologies and innovative delivery methods can be applied to reduce transaction costs associated with serving rural areas?

Managing risk effectively: How can risk management be improved to increase access to finance, including savings, insurance, value chain approaches etc.?

Attracting private investment: What will it take to attract private investors and socially responsible investment funds to support the expansion of rural and agricultural development and finance in developing countries? How can we link green investors to rural and agricultural development?

Anita Campion (President, AZMJ), Calvin Miller (Senior Officer – FAO), Luis Alberto Moreno (President, Inter-American Development Bank), Renate Kloeppinger-Todd (World Bank), Mark D. Wenner (Inter-American Development Bank/Seconded to the World Bank), Micheal de Groot (Rabobank Foundation), Adrian Merryman (World Vision International), Brian Milder (Root Capital), Lorna Grace (Small Finance Big Grace), Mark Chiaviello (Standard Bank) and Rob Munro (Cardno Emerging Markets Group), are among some of the leading speakers who will be addressing the conference.

In 2009, Harvard Business School invited Chandula to speak at the Harvard Asia Conference in Boston. In January 2011 Chandula, was invited by the World Bank to speak at the World Banks’ Agrifin Forum on Small Holder Agriculture Finance.