The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has lent nearly Rs 250 million to small businesses and farmers in Sri Lanka’s northern region in the past four months, as part of a multifaceted on-going engagement to play a catalytic role in the economic and social resurgence of the area.
Combining the extension of banking services, capacity and knowledge building, promotion of digital banking and supporting community needs, the Bank’s efforts concentrating on the Northern area has seen its officials in a hands-on direct engagement with large numbers of existing and potential entrepreneurs both in the peninsula and the northern mainland.
In the latest connected activity, the Bank participated in a Programme for SMEs Development organised by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. The main objective of the programme, held at the Divisional Secretariat of Mannar, was to create awareness among small scale entrepreneurs about the banking facilities available to them and to build a bridge between banks and entrepreneurs who are in need of financial assistance to expand their businesses.
Commercial Bank selected and interviewed 10 potential entrepreneurs from among the participants and invited the selected individuals to visit its Mannar branch to explore possible support for their business ideas. The majority of the participants were women engaged in the dry fish and garments businesses, the Bank said.
Loans granted over the past four months to entrepreneurs in the northern region included large agriculture loans totalling Rs 206 million, Rs 33.7 million as short term agriculture loans principally to paddy farmers, and micro loans amounting to Rs 3.6 million.
“Our activities in the north showcase the Commercial Bank’s commitment to partner and empower individuals and communities to improve their economic status and capacity,” said Mr Jegan Durairatnam, the Bank’s Managing Director. “They also exemplify the multiple roles the Bank can play in stimulating economic growth through direct engagements in several areas, including building financial literacy.”
Among the recent activities conducted by the Bank in the northern region were a seminar by the Bank’s Agriculture and Micro Finance Unit (AMFU) of Vavuniya and Mannar for 120 sea weed cultivators from the Silawathurai, Mutharipputhurai and Arippu areas; a week-long campaign to educate the public about the products and services offered by the Bank for remittances, and to raise awareness about the dangers of using illegal methods to receive money from overseas; an event in Jaffna to educate the public on the features and advantages of the Bank’s Mobile and Online banking products, and participation in the Jaffna International Trade Fair for the fourth consecutive year.
The Bank also opened its 241st branch in Sri Lanka at Chankanai in Jaffna during this period, further enhancing its presence in the Northern Province of the country.
In the sphere of community support, the CSR Trust of Commercial Bank donated equipment to the Sub Fertility Unit of Killinochchi Hospital and provided new computers to the IT Lab it had donated previously to the SOS Village Jaffna.
The only Sri Lankan bank to be ranked among the Top 1000 banks of the world for four consecutive years (2011-2014), Commercial Bank has won multiple awards as Sri Lanka’s best bank over several years, and was adjudged one of the country’s 10 best corporate citizens by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in 2013 and 2014. The bank has been rated the Most Respected Bank in Sri Lanka by LMD for the past 10 years, has been the second Most Respected Corporate entity in the country overall for the past four years, and been rated No 1 in Sri Lanka for Honesty in 2013 and 2014 by the magazine.
(Above) Participants at the Central Bank organised event in Mannar for SME development and (Below) Commercial Bank staff promoting the Bank's remittance services in Jaffna.