Sri Lanka’s leading private sector bank, HNB PLC, further strengthened its commitment to the microfinance sector, with a series of enhancements to its offerings, with a key focus on the agricultural sector recognizing its vast-untapped potential as a driver of growth in the country.
HNB reinforced its extensive range of microfinance services with special programmes and strategies for customers delivered through capacity building projects and additional banking programmes. These new initiatives complement HNB’s long-standing ‘GamiPubuduwa’ (village awakening) support scheme for village-level entrepreneurs. In addition, efforts are being made to introduce technology-based digital banking products across HNB’s extensive product portfolio for microfinance clients.
“We are confident that these new measures will support many of our microfinance clients, as they seek funds and assistance to re-start operations and recover from the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” HNB Head of Micro Finance Vinodh Fernando said. “HNB remains strongly committed to further enhancing our offering to the microfinance sector, and the enthusiastic response from our customers indicate that we are very much on the right track.”
At present, approximately one-third of the bank’s microfinance portfolio is in agriculture with GamiPubuduwa entrepreneurs making up a significant portion of the customerbase. HNB intends to grow the share of agriculture within the portfolio by the end of 2021. This would provide an infusion of low-cost capital to the pandemic-affected sector while also enabling agricultural entrepreneurs to expand their operations and projects by obtaining microfinance lending products.
Notably, the addition of new services and facilities is an extension of those offered under one of the bank’s most successful microfinance programmes, GamiPubuduwa. The Bank has tailored the scheme not only to ensure that it meets the social and economic needs of the country but also that it continues as an economically sustainable project.
Beyond agriculture, other microfinance sector clients stand to benefit from HNB’s latest series of enhancements to its microfinance offering. The bank recently introduced new products (such as micro leasing to the Agri sector), enhanced the skills and increased the division’s staff, and introduced client capacity building programmes.
In addition, the bank focused on technologically empowering microfinance customers by introducing digital banking products (such as mobile and internet banking), promoting the importance of savings via special programmes and focused on the infusion of more low-cost funding to microfinance and particularly agriculture sectors.
More than 800 facilities have already been provided under the microfinance leasing facility launched by HNB in March 2021, indicating a positive response from clients. The launch of this product resulted from the bank’s leasing and microfinance divisions collaborating to provide clients with a superior offering via greater synergy.