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