The Council for Business with Britain hosted its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 23 June. Hosted by the British High Commission, over 60 members attended to review the year and elect their council.

Welcoming guests to the event, chief guest and British High Commissioner Dr Peter Hayes said "As patron of the CBB, I am pleased to support this group in their ongoing efforts to promote bilateral business relations between the UK and Sri Lanka. Now that Sri Lanka is no longer held back by war the CBB will play a crucial role in developing partnerships between businesses in Sri Lanka and the UK"

CBB Chairman Mr Anil Wijesinghe of the AWS Institute of Education was re-elected and praised by colleagues for his tireless efforts on behalf of CBB. He added to the High Commissioners comments saying, "locally, the most significant development was the conclusion of the north-east war. Vast opportunities loom on the horizon with new markets opening up. However, the lingering ravages of the war remain a grave responsibility at an individual and corporate level". He went on to thank the general membership for their good will and support saying that without which "nothing is possible".

The Council for Business with Britain has a diverse membership of over 130 companies making it one of Colombo's most prestigious networking associations. The Council organise a series of events throughout the year for the benefit of its membership including monthly business briefing lunches and visits to places of commercial interest. This year members have taken a private tour of Parliament kindly hosted by the Honourable Speaker WJM Lokubandara and the new British High Commission building to see the international award nominated architecture.

The last year also saw the continuing success of the CBB website. Under the stewardship of Philip Goodstein, MD Brand Partners, the website proved successful in reaching companies both here and in the UK, promoting the CBB and its events as well as attracting new sponsors to the English Language Teacher Training Programme.

The Council have continued to support the English Language Teacher Training programme, now in it's fifth year and run on their behalf by the British Council in association with the National Institute of Education and the Ministry of Education. Aimed at improving the English language skills of pupils in schools, the programme concentrates on building the capacity of English language teachers so they can deliver lessons more effectively. The programme runs nation wide and has so far worked directly with over 400 teachers, benefiting an amazing 24,000 pupils (June 09 estimate).

Vice Chairman of the CBB and CEO of HSBC Nick Nicolaou said "The HSBC Group's global Corporate Sustainability programme gives education a high priority especially English language training for underprivileged children. We seek to open doors of opportunity for young people by helping to raise their academic achievement and improve their life skills with formal and informal learning. Hence the CBB ELT project was a natural fit to achieve our goals in Sri Lanka, and merit HSBC's support, and we are pleased to be the main sponsor of this programme".

CBB members have the opportunity to sponsor individual teachers in an area of their choosing and have the opportunity to share in that individual teacher's progress.

Looking to the future the Council hopes to build on its continuing success. Ambitious plans for a Sri Lanka & Britain business week in early 2010 hopes to bring together companies from Sri Lanka and the UK to forge ongoing trade & investment partnerships. This coming weekend's cricket sixes, an ongoing business lunch programme and plans for a charity ball in October make for an interesting and worthwhile upcoming programme.


(Seated L to R) – Mr Romesh David, (John Keells Holdings); H.E. Dr. Peter Hayes, (British High Commissioner); Anil Wijesinghe (Chairman, CBB/AWS Institute of Education); Andrea David (Ceylon Chamber of Commerce) and Nick Nicolaou (HSBC)

(Standing L –R) – Nirmali Samaratunge (Mackwoods); Manesh Fernando (Hilton Residence Colombo); Mohammed Ziauddin (Norfolk Foods); Shirendra Lawrence (MAS Active); Jenny Patterson (British High Commission);