Q: How did LOLC Holdings perform last year amid the pandemic?
A: LOLC had an outstanding 2020; and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the group managed to balance all the risks and turbulence, positioning itself as the most profitable entity in Sri Lanka, win- ning numerous awards and salutations.
Last year, we witnessed the material deterioration of the country’s economy. Most banks and financial institutions faced serious challenges in the context of collections as many customers at the bot- tom of the pyramid lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic
As for LOLC, we re-engineered our businesses and processes to tackle the emerging challenges. An important reason for LOLC being unaffected is our classic risk mitigation business model comprising diversified portfolios of companies, industries and countries.
Our companies in Cambodia and Myanmar were not affected, and any loss of revenue in Sri Lanka was com- pensated by operations in those countries to an extent.
Q: And how can business weather the impact of the COVID-19 crisis?
A: I feel the worst is over, and vaccines will bring the pan- demic under control and we’ll see Sri Lanka return to busi- ness.
History indicates that the period after every recession is followed by massive growth. Therefore, I believe we might observe a surge in growth in the last quarter of this year, stimulated by people beginning to travel, which will have a positive impact on related industries.
Sri Lanka will be a preferred destination for travellers because of how the pandemic was managed.
Q: What are your views on working from home (WFH)?
A: WFH can work very well as long as standard operating procedures are established. For employ- ees, it offers the convenience of being with their families, and eliminates unnecessary spending on travel and eat- ing out, with access to home cooked meals and healthier lifestyles.
As for organisations, smaller offices mean lower overhead costs while effi- ciency and productivity will increase. LOLC has taken WFH seriously and is working to convert approximately 40 percent of its staff to this model.
Q: In your assessment, what are the urgent national concerns?
A: The most urgent national concern is the repayment of debt without rescheduling or defaulting as a blemish on Sri Lanka’s record would be damaging to the economy in the long term. We should also reduce imports, and stimulate the export and leisure sectors.
Low interest rates will stimulate economic growth, and encourage people to borrow and launch businesses. Presently, there aren’t many opportunities to invest. As such, the government needs to create more favourable opportunities for people to benefit from the low interest regime.
Q: So how do you view LOLC’s medium-term prospects?
A: LOLC’s footprint stretches across 12 countries includ- ing Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria and Zambia, and we aim to expand to up to 20 nations by the end of this year with a strong focus on Africa.
We will also introduce new treasury products and work to consolidate our digital platform further after observing the success of iPay – our payment gateway – which is experiencing increased adoption.
LOLC is looking at larger transactions, partly financing the construction of the international financial centre – one of the most iconic buildings in the Port City – jointly with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) with an investment of US$ 1 billion, which will be a long-term cat- alyst for Sri Lanka’s economic growth.
Our timely global expansion strategy, diversified revenue streams and dynamic workforce inspire us to look forward to delivering a consistent performance despite any external challenges in the future.
Q: Should organisational performance and envi- ronmental sustainability go hand in hand? A: As a firm believer in using advanced technologies for sustainable development, the group has actively engaged in innovation driven hi-tech projects through strategic partner- ships, pioneering the conversion of non-recyclable plastic into industrial fuel; graphite to graphene conversion tech- nology; and patented rice fortification technology to address the country’s nutritional and wellness requirements.
Moreover, LOLC has undertaken environmentally-friend- ly projects such as tree planting, solar projects and timber forestry to leave behind a greener planet for the next gener- ation.