How do our Commercial Real Estate projects in Colombo actually benefit the war affected in the North and East?

May 19, 2017

 

At the end of the day, the purpose of us being in Sri Lanka, is to help those affected by the conflict. The people who had lost their homes, their livelihoods, the children who are growing up without parents, the societies that had been broken up by the conflict, the villages that now stand as ghost-towns - it is these people who really matter, because what is it if a person in Colombo being able to upgrade their Toyota to a BMW when a father is still struggling to get light-bulbs, where is the justice. But you don't only treat the immediate issue of the light bulb, you also have to improve the supply of light bulbs to that area, maybe negotiate import terms that reduce taxes on these imports, or even create a factory that can make them thereby selling them locally at even lower prices - it is the marrying of these varying scales of approaching the problem that heals the whole system, and can create a sustainable environment of stability, peace and prosperity.

 

So why do we build commercial projects in Colombo? This is part of our light-bulb factory idea - to leverage a positive local and foreign buyer and investor market for commercial development in the capital city, from which we have the ability to create jobs that will yield taxes to the Government, generate revenue from sales and operation of the businesses we build, and more importantly create a landmark of inspiration for those affected by the war that you can be a son of a refugee, come back to your mother's country, and build the best building in the country as a message of hope and belief. We are part of a bigger system of influencing each other to create a collective momentum for growth - we have to attack at the lowest hanging fruit to begin with to build this momentum so that we can get other people believing and acting, mobilising teams of people of enriched varied skills, all of which only add value to the melting pot of ingredients needed to redefine what Sri Lanka is and can be in the future. With this momentum, these revenues, the jobs, and landmark proving that anything is possible, we have stated our position in the country showing our intention at the highest levels of government and private enterprise.

 

And at the same time, we approach the direct issues of the war affected regions - education and housing. We are not dealing with healthcare as this is not our specialty. With our ground-up approach, we are aiming to make an impact on this region person by person, child by child, through direct mentorship through our flagship mentor app 'Appee', and in housing through our support of a new private affordable housing initiative. In addition to this, as can be seen from our portfolio, we are also planning to develop several smaller commercial schemes in the North and East, as a way of setting a precedent for high-quality development which can then pave the way for future equivalent development from other investors seeing us as a strong example. Again - what's the use of only educating our children in school if we don't the opportunity for them to practise what they learn at work. This is what we are trying to do.

 

These two scales seem like opposites with opposing ideologies, where some may question our philosophy to 'rebuild Sri Lanka' whilst building luxury apartments, but I only have one thing to say to that - "get a life". How can we do the house building, app development, or more socially beneficial projects if we don't have the revenue generating enterprises at the same time? How would we give job security to our teams or the financial support needed to push each initiative which take huge resources at the beginning? We understand, that to make a difference, to begin with, we have to be here, and to be here, we have to have a means by which to sustain ourselves. Like those airplane oxygen mask diagrams - put your mask on first before assisting others. This is our long term approach.

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