Launch of the UNDP-led Private Sector Grants Facility – The Island


Hemas, Dilmah, Brandix and Daraz unite to provide emergency relief

The health and food sectors are two of the hardest hit by the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka, with severe shortages of medical and food supplies, availability of basic pharmaceuticals and health and welfare. be in general continue to be significantly affected.

In this context, building on established partnerships and keen interests of various actors, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Sri Lanka has used its experience to develop a grant facility, comprising two mechanisms; First, by channeling private sector funds towards the purchase of essential and non-essential medical supplies and ensuring food security; and second, by channeling individual donations through a crowdfunding mechanism set up by UNDP.

In response, key private sector players including Hemas Holdings PLC, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company, Brandix Apparel Limited and Daraz Sri Lanka have come forward to commit through the facility to complement and reinforce ongoing efforts. the health sector of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) and food sector efforts led and coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) , among others. Sarvodaya, the UN Global Compact Network in Sri Lanka and oDoc Sri Lanka will also join us as strategic partners in the facility, according to a press release on the initiative.

Speaking at the launch event held last week, H.E. Ms. Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, said: “Now is the time for the private sector to demonstrate of solidarity and to prove what we have always known – investing in prevention is good for business. Therefore, we call on you to urgently support our Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan (HNP) to provide life-saving assistance to the women, men and children most affected by the crisis and thus prevent a deterioration of humanitarian needs in the country.

Reiterating the critical importance of inter-agency collaboration for crisis relief, Mr. Dilhan C. Fernando, CEO, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company said, “Sri Lanka will recover as businesses, individuals, local and international agencies will work with the government to ease the pain that our nation is suffering. Circumstances demand that we all act with the kindness and empathy that Sri Lankans are known for. With this mindset, we will face present and future crises with strength. We are blessed to have the opportunity to help at this time, and thank UNDP Sri Lanka for initiating this collaboration while inviting all companies that can help support the effort.

Highlighting the key role that the private sector has historically played in humanitarian efforts, particularly in times of crisis, Ms. Kasthuri Chellaraja Wilson, Executive Director, Group CEO, Hemas Holdings PLC, said: “As Sri Lanka goes through its worst economic crisis, Hemas remains committed to supporting our people and our country. As a leader in pharmaceuticals, we are committed to supporting the most affected vulnerable communities and enabling access to medicines. Our partnership with UNDP is in line with these efforts and we will focus on providing essential and near-essential medicines to communities across the island.

The launch event saw the participation of several high-level representatives from partner organizations, including Dr. Anver Hamdani, Director of Medical Technical Services, Coordination Officer/COVID-19, Ministry of Health; HE Ms. Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka; Ms. Kasthuri Chellaraja Wilson, Executive Director, Group CEO, Hemas Holdings PLC; Mr. Dilhan C. Fernando, CEO, Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company; Ms. Natasha Boralessa, Group Director, Brandix Apparel Limited; Mr. Rakhil Fernando, Managing Director, Daraz Sri Lanka; Mr. Heshan Fernando, CEO and Co-Founder, oDoc Sri Lanka; Mr. Rathika de Silva, Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network Sri Lanka; Ms. Malin Herwig, Head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Sri Lanka; and Mr. Vimlendra Sharan, Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Speaking on the importance of meeting the need of the hour, Ms. Natasha Boralessa, Group Director, Brandix Apparel Limited said, “The inspired people at Brandix are committed to finding thoughtful solutions to the security challenge. food we face as a nation. Through our Mansathkara initiative, we are already improving the lives of our employees and the communities in which we operate with our Model Village programs across Sri Lanka, and with this partnership with UNDP, we will inject much-needed inputs in the short to medium term. emergency aid to restore seasonal agricultural cycles. Our efforts will create an immediate impact to address the challenges ahead and will also result in positive and lasting change.

Speaking on mobilizing the private sector beyond Sri Lanka, Mr. Rakhil Fernando, Managing Director of Daraz Sri Lanka said, “Given the country’s development towards middle-income country status, mobilizing Funding beyond Sri Lanka will be difficult, but a concerted effort with the international community of organizations like UNDP to raise global awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka is an important first step. We must work to start the necessary conversations, explore all possible options and leverage our technology, markets, networks and resources to mobilize private sector funds outside of Sri Lanka.

Reiterating UNDP’s convening role in the mechanism, Ms. Malin Herwig, Head of UNDP Sri Lanka, said: “The grant mechanism will provide vital support to the health and food sector, liaising closely with the relevant partners for procurement and delivery based on clear requirements, strictly adhering to UNDP’s globally recognized procurement guidelines. UNDP, through its comprehensive response efforts for Sri Lanka’s recovery, has leveraged its previous experience and strong relationships with the private sector to launch this facility, and looks forward to engaging with d other private sector actors by working closely with other UN agencies, committed to empowering and strengthening vulnerable communities.

The Individual Crowdfunding Facility will be launched in the coming weeks, providing an opportunity for individuals to help alleviate the impacts of the crisis, not only by addressing shortages in the health sector, but also by helping to strengthen food security and other response measures in Sri Lanka.

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