Sri Lanka’s most MSME friendly bank, HNB PLC, announced the launch of a Rs. 20 million grant fund to support 200 microfinance customers affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across the country.
The fund, established by the Bank through the HNB Sustainability Foundation, will offer microfinance customers up to Rs. 100,000 to upscale their businesses and work towards achieving SME status. HNB will grant funds in two phases to chosen microfinance customers with a view to revive and continue businesses impacted by the pandemic.
“I am very pleased to announce the launch of this vital source of funding through our Sustainability Foundation in support of microfinance entrepreneurs. 2020 has been extraordinarily challenging for all and this initiative comes at a most opportune and appropriate moment when businesses across the island are seeking the capital necessary to restart work,” HNB Managing Director and CEO and HNB Sustainability Foundation Chairman, Jonathan Alles said.
“Our expectation is that our customers will make good use of this grant, for working capital, recapitalizing their business and get back on their feet. As we have worked with the microfinance sector for more than three decades and SME sector since our origins, we have come to understand that we need to scale up our support by providing them with the necessary financial assistance and literacy to uplift them from the grassroots to become a SME,” he also said.
HNB’s Sustainability Foundation drives corporate citizenship through its strategic pillars, with the Bank’s Customer Centers across the island, undertaking location-based CSR projects involving the community and staff. The Foundation’s strategic pillars include education, healthcare, empowering entrepreneurship and the environment.
“It has been a long term goal of the HNB Sustainability Foundation to establish an impact fund to create more opportunities for customers at the grass roots by collaborating with partners locally and internationally. With this fund we hope to provide livelihoods and act as a catalyst in Sri Lanka’s journey towards sustainable development,” commented HNB’s Chief Transformation Officer/ DGM and HNB Sustainability Foundation Trustee, L. Chiranthi Cooray.
HNB has been closely linked to the growth of Sri Lankan enterprises since its establishment and by the 1980s, became the very first private sector commercial bank to enter the MSME sector with the specific purpose of fostering growth and wealth creation in Sri Lanka’s rural economy.
Utilizing its extensive network of Gami Pubuduwa officers stationed across Sri Lanka, HNB has successfully pioneered a vibrant model for microfinance that hinges on the cultivation of trusting and long lasting relationships with grassroots entrepreneurs that extend beyond access to capital to also include vital advisory services and training programmes designed to enhance financial literacy, strengthen enterprises, and facilitate export opportunities.
With 252 customer centres across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically innovative banks having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking.
Over the recent past, the bank was ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine.
Other prestigious accolades won by the bank include the Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka award for 2020 by the Asian Banker Magazine and a total of seven awards at the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Awards 2019 organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
The bank has been awarded Best Microfinance Bank in Sri Lanka continuously for 3 years (2017-2019) by International Finance Magazine. HNB’s long term national rating was revised upward by two notches to AA+ (lka) recently by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd.