HNB supports rural businesses: revives Gami Pubuduwa Pola to showcase successful MSMEs

Celebrating over three decades of service and support to grow microfinance customers across the island, Sri Lanka’s leading private sector bank HNB PLC, revived its annual trade fair and exhibition for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) The Gami Pubuduwa Pola 2023.

Organised by the bank to showcase up-and-coming businesses in its portfolio, the trade fair returns after a two-year hiatus following the disruptions brought on by the pandemic and the economic crisis. HNB MD/CEO Jonathan Alles, graced the event as the Chief Guest at the ceremonial opening of the trade fair, accompanied by Guests of Honour, CBSL Director Regional Development Department M. S. K Dharmawardena, Ministry of Finance, Project Director- SMELoC, Vasanthi Wijerathna, together with HNB Executive Director/COO Dilshan Rodrigo, HNB Deputy General Manager, Wholesale Banking Group Damith Pallewatte, HNB Head of Microfinance Vinodh Fernando, as well as the Corporate and Senior management of the bank.

“I am thrilled to share the success of the recently concluded annual Gami Pubuduwa Pola 2023, where we showcased the incredible achievements of our microfinance customers. Over the past 34 years, we have remained committed to supporting businesses at the grassroots through the many challenges we have faced over the past two years. This event is a testament to our unwavering dedication to their growth and development.

“The initiative is a platform for our microfinance customers to shine. It was truly inspiring to witness the diverse range of businesses that have flourished with our support. From agriculture to handicrafts, retail to services, our microfinance customers have displayed remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and hard work. We are grateful for their trust in us and are committed to continuing our support, tailored to their unique needs. We believe that uplifting small businesses at the grassroots is crucial to reviving the economy and creating sustainable growth,” HNB MD/CEO Jonathan Alles said.

Drawing on its experience of more than three decades, the bank successfully supported over 473 microfinance customers to achieve SME status over the past two years.

HNB further supported microfinance customers to face the challenges brought on over the past three years across different platforms, from offering grant funds and moratoriums while rescheduling and restructuring loan facilities.  Key among these initiatives is HNB’s flagship ‘Oba Venuwen Api’ grant fund project  which has supported 400 microfinance customers rejuvenate their businesses with Rs. 40 million over the past two years. HNB further strengthened rural businesses by creating and facilitating new marketplaces and organising workshops to improve financial literacy. Several beneficiaries of the grant fund also showcased their products at the Gami Pubuduwa Pola.

Similarly, the bank was also selected as a partner financial institution by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to disburse a component of the USD 13.5million in funds allocated to the SME-Line of Credit (SMELoC) Emergency Response Scheme. The initiative aims to support and strengthen Sri Lankan MSMEs affected by the ongoing economic crisis with working capital credit facilities, with a special emphasis on agriculture, tourism and export sectors.

“Our experience in the microfinance segment has given us a unique perspective and a strong connection to the grassroots of Sri Lanka. We understand the challenges and opportunities faced by our microfinance customers, and we have been offering customised financial solutions. The Gami Pubuduwa Pola 2023 celebrated their resilience and perseverance, and we are proud to play a role in their achievements,” said HNB Head of Microfinance Vinod Fernando.

With 256 customer centres, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically innovative private banks. Consolidating its legacy in sustainability, good governance and corporate excellence, HNB was crowned the Best Corporate Citizen for 2022 at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Best Corporate Citizen Awards. The bank secured four additional accolades, including being among the Top 10 Best Corporate Citizens and taking home the Governance category and Sustainability Champion for the Finance sector titles.

Additionally, HNB was ranked among the World’s Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine for the sixth consecutive year in 2022, in addition to being crowned the Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka for the 13th occasion at the prestigious International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards 2023 hosted by the Asian Banker Magazine.