Extending a winning legacy that spans over 29 years in the field, HNB won the award for ‘Most Innovative Microfinance Bank in Sri Lanka’, at the recently concluded International Finance Magazine Awards (IFM) 2017 in Singapore.
Organised by International Finance Magazine with a view to celebrating individuals and organisations in the international finance industry that have had a significant impact in their respective markets through an emphasis on value addition and innovation, this year’s awards drew extensive participation from among Asia Pacific’s most respected industry leaders.
Following a stringent round of evaluations, HNB was presented with the award for innovation in microfinance, in recognition of its remarkable, holistic efforts to extend vibrant and genuinely valuable microfinance services to the widest possible spectrum of customers in Sri Lanka.
“A substantial proportion of Sri Lanka’s economy is built on the efforts of microfinance entrepreneurs and SMEs, and we remain confident in the ability of this sector to serve as an engine of unprecedented growth, provided they are facilitated with the necessary access to finance, knowledge, skills and other advisory services for such businesses to thrive. HNB’s approach prioritises the early identification of promising businesses with a view to forming lasting partnerships capable of unleashing and sustaining growth at every stage of the business.
“This award therefore stands as further vindication of HNB’s tried and tested approach to microfinance and we wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to our dedicated team of employees and field officers who have been at the heart of our success,” stated HNB SME and Midmarket Deputy General Manager Jude Fernando.
Standing as the very first Sri Lankan bank to enter the market with a branded product exclusively for the microfinance sector with HNB Gami Pubuduwa in 1989, the bank has utilised its invaluable experience as a true pioneer in the field to extend vital financial services to underserved communities across the island, while tailoring its approach to suite the unique conditions prevalent in the Sri Lankan market.
Coupled with an extensive emphasis on value addition, including microfinance loans bundled with life insurance cover, rural financial awareness building programmes, and the linking of rural entrepreneurs with export markets across the globe through ground breaking initiatives like HNB Avurudu Pola, HNB’s innovative microfinance model continues to set new benchmarks in the Sri Lankan market.
“Today there is a great deal of innovation and highly marketable products being created in Sri Lanka’s rural economy, however the main constraints that these businesses face is with regard to a lack of finance, technical expertise and exposure to consumers. In order to add value we have primarily focused on these areas, all based on a foundation of trust that is grown organically between our customers and our 150 field officers who are in constant contact with these businesses,” Fernando elaborated.
In addition to working directly with individuals, businesses and communities across the island, HNB has also partnered with reputed microfinance providers like Sarvodaya Development Finance and Berendina Microfinance to arrange lines of funding that are subsequently extended to micro entrepreneurs.
Similarly, the bank works with e-commerce facilitators like local firm WebXpay and international e-commerce market, Alibaba.com, to help introduce and improve exposure for rural entrepreneurs among an entirely new and previously untapped demographic of consumers while also providing export credit facilities for those enterprises that succeed in these new markets. Moving forward, Fernando reiterated HNB’s commitment towards delivering the optimal mix of microfinance and value-added services, which the bank plans to further augment utilising new technologies that will help bridge the gap and unleash a new wave of growth into Sri Lanka’s rural economy.