SDB bank once again being recognized for its invaluable contribution towards the upliftment and development of the MSME sector, with the latest award it received as the “Fastest Growing MSME Bank in Sri Lanka” for the year 2018, by the leading UK based publication, Global Banking and Finance Review.

Global Banking and Finance Review, which strives to provide a balanced, informative and independent view of the global financial landscape, is a publication that is read in over 200 countries by top-tier executives and decision-makers. The Finance Awards hosted by Global Banking and Finance Review is a prestigious laurel for institutions operating within the financial community.

The award joins a rank of accolades garnered by SDB over the years in its growth journey to be the critical component in the local banking sector that it is today. Last year, Asia Securities in its financial review commended the SDB for its unique positioning servicing the unbanked rural economy by leveraging the bank’s access to co-operatives. The review further commended the SDB operation for maintaining the lowest OPEX per branch in the scope of its review and for its unconventional banking model focused on retired Government employees and MSMEs.

A specialized bank licensed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, SDB bank has been consistent in its efforts towards the empowerment of the MSME segment, which the bank in line with many global authorities has identified to be the backbone of the economy. It is in this context, that the SDB has granted in excess of 54,000 loans in the financial years of 2016 and 2017. The accumulative monetary value of loans handed out to this critical economic segment is nearly Rs. 20 billion as it stands presently.

Additionally, the Bank has played an unparalleled role in developing Co-operative businesses into MSMEs, spanning through a wide range of industries including, agriculture, dairy, garment and manufacturing. It has also facilitated co-operatives and MSMEs to scale up, by assisting them in developing their financial literacy, capacity building and value chain development by providing them with information about resource planning and management of challenges associated with scaling up, more so, in the context of the transformational shifts taking place in global commerce due to rapid changes in technology and a dynamic geo-political and regulatory environment.

In line with this vision SDB has assisted co-operatives to gain easy access to finances through society networks, in order for them to scale up to MSMEs, with SDB having ties with nearly 3,800 societies to date and offering inclusive financing options which are unique and easily accessible, even for individuals and co-operatives engaged in informal segments of business.

Nimal C. Hapuarachchi, General Manager/CEO of SDB stated that ‘Even though SANASA Development Bank commenced as unique bank with a focus on the unbanked rural economy, largely facilitating the micro-finance segment, over the years it has strengthened its position in the MSME sector, by moving into retail lending with a focus on small and medium enterprises, government employees, graduates and the female entrepreneurs of Sri Lanka, who run small businesses. We have also launched our ‘Uththamavi Loan’ for women entrepreneurs, in order to empower the women of our country to achieve financial independence and contribute actively to the economy. In par with this strategic change we have rebranded SANASA Development Bank as SDB.

He also stated that ‘The rapid expansion and the development of the bank, in the MSME sector and the retail banking sector, was largely facilitated by the investments from the Nederlandse Financiering – Maatschappij Voor On twikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO), SBI/FMO Financial Sector fund and International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, who invested US $22 million (approximately Rs. 3.3 Bn) in the Bank.’

Additionally, he stated that ‘This investment enabled us to rapidly develop key points in our value chain, by centralizing our loan origination system, operations system and recovery system. This enabled us to streamline our processes and make them more efficient, which in turn allowed our staff to focus on sales and customer services a priority. This has facilitated us in leveraging our unique position in the economy and our close ties with cooperative societies that gives us a unique advantage in reaching out to MSMEs in Sri Lanka in a more efficient manner, which is clearly evident through our rapid growth and performance’.

Furthermore, he stated that ‘The prestigious award we have received as the “Fastest Growing MSME Bank in Sri Lanka” has provided assurance to us and our investors, that the strategic shift of diversifying away from the microfinance sector to the MSME sector, has become a success’.

In line with the General Manager’s comments, Ms.Samadanie Kiriwandeniya, the Chairperson of SDB bank stated that ‘We have used our unique position in the Sri Lankan banking sector, to introduce financial products and services that will empower the youth and women in rural areas of Sri Lanka, who are struggling to start and stabilize their own businesses. We believe that these customers will grow rapidly in the future and add enormous value to the Sri Lankan economy.’

The commitment towards MSMEs and rural economies is a natural outcome of the positioning occupied by SDB as a Bank for the unbanked customer segments and geographies. Over the past 20 years, the SDB has been successful in working closely with co-operatives to reach its intended customer base and the impact created in these segments can easily be identified by way of the financial assistance granted to its stakeholders and also by the recognition received by the Bank through local and global financial institutions.