Sustaining its unblemished track record in performance, the LOLC group crossed the rupees trillion mark, with total assets reaching Rs.1.008 trillion, as at December 2018.
This significant achievement is on account of the group’s consistently resilient financial sector – both local and international, coupled with its strategic investments in non-financial sectors—leisure, plantations, construction, healthcare, trading and manufacturing.
Nine months’ post-merger, LOLC Finance PLC (LOFC), the flagship finance company of the group, together with Commercial Leasing and Finance PLC and LOLC Development Finance PLC (formally known as BRAC Lanka Finance PLC), contributed 29 percent to the total assets, with a combined asset base of Rs.297 billion.
The total lending book of the three finance companies reached Rs.216 billion, while the total interest income reached Rs.44 billion for the nine months ended December 2018, an increase of 6 percent, compared with the comparative period.
LOLC said the equity of these companies is well above the regulatory requirement.
LOLC’s maiden overseas investment, PRASAC Microfinance Institution Limited (PRASAC), the largest microfinance company in Cambodia, has made a significant contribution to the group. In 2007, LOLC was invited to invest Rs.62 million to acquire a 19 percent stake in PRASAC, a key performer in the dollarized Cambodian economy.
This was the first step taken in line with LOLC’s long-term vision to propagate its unique business model in microfinance beyond the shores of Sri Lanka. The value addition of this investment is further reinstated when LOLC increased its holding from 19 percent to 70 percent over the years. Today, PRASAC has a lending book of Rs.354 billion, Rs.236 billion in deposits, Rs.435 billion in total assets and a customer base of 400,000. With a staggering profit contribution of Rs.10 billion (for the nine months ended) to the group, PRASAC stands strong with LOLC at the helm. LOLC rapidly expanded its regional microfinance footprint to Myanmar, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines, over the years. In 2014, LOLC Myanmar Microfinance Co., Ltd was established as the fourth foreign operator in response to an initiative of the Myanmar regulators. The group made its second investment in Cambodia in 2014. LOLC Cambodia PLC (LOCAM) is the fourth largest microfinance and the second most profitable microfinance institution in Cambodia with an outreach of 236,000 and an asset base of Rs.112 billion. Today, LOLC holds 97 percent of LOCAM, a 24-year-old microfinance institution that was first established by an NGO. In 2017, the government of Pakistan and the Sultanate of Oman invited LOLC to take up the major shareholding of their joint venture, Pak Oman Microfinance Bank Limited (PakOman), in recognition of LOLC’s outstanding contribution to the microfinance community.
Today, PakOman is rapidly growing to become an important player in Pakistan, an economy with a population of over 200 million. The group’s technical expertise in areas such as effective and focused risk management, stringent credit evaluation and fintech-driven processing, will provide a steadfast hand for PakOman in its goal to uplift and empower bottom-of-the-pyramid entrepreneurs. The group ventured into Indonesia in early 2018, acquiring a controlling interest in PT. SaranaSumut Ventura. With a population of over 265 million and more than 40 percent households classified as ‘very poor’, the company is poised to accomplish its long-term vision of alleviating poverty by empowering women and micro entrepreneurs. LOLC concluded 2018 with its investment in the Philippines. LOLC ASKI Finance and LOLC Development Bank, both carefully identified for its strategic locations, where the former will penetrate the northern part and the latter with the central and southern part of the Philippine archipelagos. Today, the foreign investments in the financial services sector account for Rs.560 billion as total assets in the books of LOLC and have contributed a PAT of Rs.12.7 billion to the group for the nine months ended December 31, 2018. The lending portfolio of the foreign businesses amounts to Rs.450 billion with a deposit base of Rs.280 billion. Therefore, LOLC is determined to further penetrate the Asian markets whilst exploring the opportunities in other regions such as Africa. LOLC said contrary to the conventional microfinance models, its microfinance model works in a customer- friendly way that allows budding micro entrepreneurs to graduate to the SME sector in a short time span. The group’s extensive knowledge on SME clientele plays a major role in designing bespoke hybrid products that differentiate their product mix from the peers. This has also driven LOLC in maintaining its pioneering momentum, with innovative products such as micro insurance – a first of its kind in the country. Thus, LOLC’s microfinance model has been endorsed by many international independent organisations, whereby LOLC Micro Credit Limited (LOMC, now merged with LOLC Finance PLC) was the first Sri Lankan MFI to be awarded Client Protection Principles Certification from the SMART Campaign (a global initiative which exists to ensure strong client protection practices in the microfinance industry), while LOLC Cambodia PLC was the first organisation in Cambodia to be certified. Receiving further acclaim for its exceptional performance, LOMC was selected as a business case study by INSEAD Business School in its MBA programme, following an independent study on the company’s remarkable growth, commitment to empowering women and communities and outstanding social stewardship reflected in its business model. PRASAC has also been recognised by MIX as a S.T.A.R. MFI, whilst both LOFC and LOCAM are rated the coveted Platinum Grade by the Global Impact Investing Rating system for their impactful business conduct. Over the years, LOLC has functioned as a catalyst in transforming communities to step up livelihoods, revolutionized industries through increased mechanization, contributed to GDP by fuelling economic activities in the countries which it operates, above all, uplifted societies through its sustainable inclusive financing approach. This extraordinary role is reinstated by LOLC’s longstanding international funding partners and DFIs such as the Dutch Development Bank – FMO, The French Development Agency-PROPARCO, German Government Agency - DEG and the Asian Development Bank. With over four dozen international funding partners, with some relationships spanning over 25 years, LOLC has been the entry point to Sri Lanka for most of these lenders. Aligning itself with the growth sectors of the Sri Lankan economy, the LOLC group has also been an effective player in the development of the non-financial sector through Brown and Company – a 144-year-old conglomerate – with exposure in leisure, agriculture and plantation, power generation, marine and manufacturing, home and office solutions, pharmaceuticals and healthcare. The strong foothold in the plantation sector through Maturata and Gal Oyahas also yielded extended benefits along the value chain from its sister companies such as AgStar PLC and Browns Agriculture. The latter in particular has substantial market share and several strong brands (TAFE, Yanmar, Massey Ferguson) under its agriculture equipment portfolio.
The group also extends its portfolio in the construction sector, with strategic investments in Ajax engineering, the market leader in manufacturing glass and aluminum doors/windows and Sierra Group, a dominant figure in the engineering and construction industry. Furthermore, the Browns Battery Unit is the sole distributor for the Exide, Lucas and Deganite brands of batteries and remains the market leader in automotive batteries with over 70 percent market share and a well spread distribution network of over 700 dealer outlets. The local leisure portfolio holds four operational hotels including the five-star property Eden Resort and Spa in Beruwela, Paradise Resort and Spa in Dambulla, Dickwella Resort and Spa in Dickwella and Calm Resort in Pasikudah. The pipeline is promising with international strategic partners onboard for the two hotels under construction, which once completed will be one of the largest resorts in the country. There have also been strong inroads made in the Maldivian leisure sector as the LOLC group has secured some of the most sought-after real estate in Male and other atolls, assuring a diversified leisure portfolio to the group. These varied investments are made with the long-term vision to strike a strategic balance and to offer an additional competitive edge to an already diversified portfolio of the group. “It is a great achievement for our group to cross the trillion mark in total assets. Now, we have a balanced and diversified the investment portfolio and will pursue to invest further into selected markets in Asia and other emerging regions with the objective of enriching the livelihoods of the small and medium entrepreneurs,” LOLC Group Managing Director Kapila Jayawardena said.1