HSBC supported ‘Cocoshel’ receives international recognition from Enterprise Asia

Wednesday, 2 January 2013 00:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

HSBC Sri Lanka became the only bank in South Asia to be awarded the prestigious ‘Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Award 2012 (AREA)’ under the ‘social empowerment’ category for its partnership project, ‘Cocoshel’ at a glittering event held at the Taj Palace in New Delhi, India.

AREA recognises and honours Asian businesses for championing sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship. It also highlights the participants’ leadership, sincerity and ongoing commitment in incorporating responsible and ethical values, legal compliance, respect for people and individuals, involvement in communities and protection of the environment into the way they run their businesses. The participating countries included Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The ‘Cocoshel’ project is a true success story built around village women striving towards a sustainable livelihood. The project was launched in 2009, as a supplementary project to regenerate a tropical rainforest in Mahausakande, Kiriella, following HSBC’s partnership with the Ellawella Charitable Trust.

About 50 women living in the village of Hindurangala where the Mahausakande project is located came together in 2008 to form a Women’s Society. They were then trained to manufacture a variety of handcrafts from recycled and re-used materials that included greeting cards to shopping bags from old newspapers; seed chains to kitul products that covered a range of designs. After many such experiments, in 2009 the group decided to specialise in items made from discarded coconut shells.

Today, they are able to produce handmade fashion accessories to meet with international standards and have shipped their first consignment of ‘Cocoshel’ products to Germany. With the support of HSBC the ‘Cocoshel’ line first retailed at Odel, and thereafter reached the shelves of Barefoot Gallery in Colombo and Kalaya in A member of the women's group at workPelawatte, Battaramulla.

Nalini Ellawella, Co-Founder of the Ellawella Charitable Trust stated, “‘Cocoshel’ is an outstanding example of what can be achieved with the inspiring leadership of the private sector and the commitment of social responsibility programs.

Women play a prominent role as major change agents for rural communities and empowering them would accelerate the pace of development. We are truly grateful to HSBC for the assistance and support given in helping these women gain international recognition for their produce.”

HSBC has a long standing commitment to supporting the community and the environment in which it operates, and believes it is fundamental to a thriving society and sound economy, upon which the business success depends on.

Nick Nicolaou, CEO for HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives, commented, “We are honoured to have won the South Asian Award for Responsible Entrepreneurship for our efforts in Sri Lanka in helping to empower the women in Hindurangala through the ‘Cocoshel’ project. ‘Cocoshel’ is uniquely Sri Lankan and an innovative idea of handmade jewellery from discarded coconut shell that is combined with copper. We hope ‘Cocoshel’ will continue to grow in scale and become an iconic brand in both local and international markets and many more organisations and partnerships will blossom in time to come, with rare and commercially viable products.”

Enterprise Asia is the largest non government organisation in Asia to hold the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards (AREA) and Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards (APEA) that recognise and honour Asian businesses for championing sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship in the following categories: green leadership, investment in people, health promotion, social empowerment, SME CSR and responsible business leadership.

The enterprises’ should demonstrate their commitment, advocacy, integrity and leadership in incorporating responsible and ethical values in their businesses such as protection of environment, investing in stakeholders, empowering the community, taking care of their well-being and legal compliance into the way they operate their businesses.