A special Savings Account designed to support micro entrepreneurs and promote financial inclusivity to this segment has been launched by the Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Sri Lanka’s largest private bank.
Linked to this new savings account branded ‘Divisaru’ (Prosperous Life), a micro loan will extend up to 25 times an agreed value of monthly savings, up to a maximum of Rs 125,000, the Bank said.
Intended to support micro enterprises in all sectors including fishing, livestock agriculture and similar pursuits, the Divisaru account can be opened with an initial deposit of just Rs 100, and requires a minimum monthly saving of Rs 1,000 to qualify for a loan.
Account holders will receive a specially designed Passbook and ATM Card to help identify the client segment and provide service, be eligible to open joint accounts, proprietorship or partnership accounts and will receive an interest rate that is higher than that applicable to normal savings accounts, the Bank said.
“It is our intention to organise and build a Micro Entrepreneur customer sector that will enable the Bank to focus its attention on the specific needs of this segment, and take a holistic approach in extending services such as savings, credit, leasing, micro insurance and fund transfer facilities,” said S Renganathan, Commercial Bank’s Chief Operating Officer. “We want to support this segment as much as possible and play a role in its transition from micro to SME and then to the large business category.”
Holders of Divisaru savings accounts will also be eligible to participate in the many workshops and awareness programmes that Commercial Bank conducts periodically in all parts of the country on financial literacy, enterprise development and capacity development for micro entrepreneurs.
The Bank has conducted programmes of this nature for SMEs and micro entrepreneurs in areas such as Narammala, Galle, Monaragala, Wellawaya, Badulla, Passara, Bandarawela, Welimada, Weligama, Koggala, Karapitiya, Matara, Batticaloa, Ampara, Kurunegala, Mannar, Jaffna, Vavuniya and Hingurakgoda in the recent past.
The Bank has established 13 Agriculture and Micro Finance Units (AMFU) to provide dedicated specialised services to the micro sector. These units identify and support people who need financial assistance for agriculture or micro businesses and provide guidance on how to improve those businesses and help resolve difficulties. The units located in Ratnapura, Narammala, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Kilinochchi, Bandarawela, Wellawaya, Hingurakgoda, Galewela, Atchuvely, Vavuniya, Tissamaharama and Kathankudy directly assist nearly 50 Commercial Bank branches with their engagement with micro enterprises.
With assets in excess of Rs 800 billion, Commercial Bank is the only Sri Lankan bank to be ranked among the Top 1000 banks of the world for four consecutive years (2011-2014) and has the highest market capitalisation among Sri Lankan banks. The Bank operates a network of 242 branches and 610 ATMs in Sri Lanka and has won multiple awards as the country’s best bank over several years; been adjudged one of the country’s 10 best corporate citizens by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in 2013 and 2014 and been rated the Most Respected Bank in Sri Lanka by LMD for the past 10 years.