Cracking the Nut-overcoming the obstacles to rural and agriculture finance” is a conference organised by AZMJ, a US based global consulting agency involved in services to transfer international development and building local capacity focusing on rural agriculture finance in partnership with the World Bank (WB), FAO, Inter-American Development Bank and USAID. This conference will draw a large number of senior level experts and specialists at the global level, and will be held in Washington DC from June 20- 22.
The conference 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, deliberate and have a dialogue on the concerned areas and overcome obstacles to rural agriculture finance. The conference is named “Cracking the Nut” as rural agriculture has always been a tough nut to crack. Over 300 delegates are expected from all over the world-covering Asia, Africa, Latin America, USA and Europe and will include practitioners, private sector professionals, investors, capacity builders, funders, development commercial bankers and research professionals who work on rural agriculture development at the national and international level.
Hatton National Bank plc (HNB) Marketing Retail Banking Deputy General Manager Chandula Abeywickrema who was invited by the WB in January to speak at the WB’s Agrifin Forum on Small Holder Agriculture Finance is again given this important honour of being the keynote speaker at this high profile and timely conference that will be held in Washington DC. The organisers have recognised his expertise and over two decades of engagement in microfinance and smallholder agriculture finance sector not only in Sri Lanka, but also in Asia. Abeywickrema also spearheads HNB’s Microfinance and Development Banking Division. He is also the Chairman of Banking With The Poor Network-the largest Asia based microfinance network headquartered in Singapore and has given leadership, particularly in the last decade to champion smallholder rural agriculture finance in Asia.
In 2009, Harvard Business School invited Abeywickrema to speak at the Harvard Asia Conference in Boston. The invitation to do the keynote address at “Cracking the Nut” is an honour to Sri Lanka at a time agriculture is given prominence and in particular after three decades of ethnic war. It’s also an honour for HNB which has added a pioneering initiative to the field of agriculture. Abeywickrema’s keynote address will be titled “Private Sector perspective on Rural and Agriculture Finance.” He will probably highlight the approach taken by HNB in creating and increasing greater access to rural agriculture finance in Sri Lanka and HNB’s lead role in cost effective outreach.
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