Dilshan Rodrigo


Sri Lanka’s MSME sector must be helped to grow with access to funding

Financial services today

Shaken up like never before.

The road ahead

Fewer, larger and nimbler institutions will form the bedrock for the revival, sustainability and growth of MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), which are vital for the country.


The informal sector’s erosion, financial services consolidation, growth in pawning, strengthening production economy, QR-based payments and digital marketplaces.


Resilience, import restrictions boosting local industry, emergence of new entrepreneurs in digital marketplaces and freelancers marketing their services globally.


Lack of support for startups without collateral and not encouraging freelancers to bring back monies parked overseas.


Not preventing the relentless brain drain of youth and professionals.

Obstacles to growth

High interest rates, which deter investment.

Evolving customer behaviour

Embracing the digital lifestyle.

Digitalisation trends

Cashless, cheque-less and paperless access to financial services, loyalty to convenience and price, and social media being a key influencer and shaper.

Local growth barriers

No level playing field for banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs).

Credit crunch

Lack of credit reports or collateral when lending to borrowers at the bottom of the pyramid, and limited access to finance or capital.

Scope in Sri Lanka

The MSME sector accounts for 99.8 percent of business enterprises.

MSMEs’ contribution

Employing about half the national workforce and contributing more than 50 percent to the country’s GDP.

NBFI sector

The customer base of NBFIs comprises 80 percent of the nation’s business estab­lishments – but most can’t access banks.

Needs of the hour

Help business revival efforts, support entrepreneurs in their initiatives and strengthen supply chain linkages.

Revival mantra

Improve financial literacy and the movement of enterprises to digital marketplaces with increased exports.

Women entrepreneurs

Many lending enterprises favour granting loans to women due to their sense of responsibility, com­mitment and financial acumen.

Ways to overcome challenges

By improving value addition to their produce, fruit and vegetable sellers are retailing jams, chutneys, pickles and so on.

Financial services today

The financial services industry has taken a massive hit in the form of customer impairments, which has impacted earnings and capital.

The way forward

A fewer number of larger and more capable institutions should strengthen this vital industry, and support business revival and growth.

Industries and sectors that need attention

Agriculture, assembly, manufacturing, import substitution, exports and knowledge outsourcing.

Emerging payment technologies

QR-based payments, digital wallets and domestic cards will play a vital role in Sri Lanka becoming a cashless economy.

Digital security in business insurance

Necessary investments in digital security must go hand in hand with digital transformation efforts.

Competition drives innovation…?

Yes, the level of innovation in NBFIs has lagged behind banks in Sri Lanka unfortunately, which in turn are well behind their regional and global peers.

Opportunities to improve financial inclusion

The government should support infrastructure development such as facilitating transport cards and domestic, digital IDs and e-government.

Lack of progress

Unfortunately, we have been stalling without taking a cue from India, which has taken massive strides in this area.

Qualities needed for a career in finance

A passion for this vocation is the key.

Window of opportunity

Dealing with the poor and marginalised members of society – we can provide them with opportunities to make a difference in their lives.

Sectors that would benefit

The rural economy in general and the country as a whole.

Perspective on poverty

No one will choose poverty if we give them the ability, talent and motivation to develop.

Potential of digitalisation

To democratise everything from education and learning, to marketing products and services globally, and eradicate corruption in the process!

Vision for payment technology

A simpler and more secure and affordable payment solution for everyone.

Mantra for success

A passion to make a difference to the lives of others by committing to become a better version of yourself every day.

– Compiled by Dona Senara
Dilshan Rodrigo is the Chairman of HNB Finance.