HNB ‘champion business revival’ of pandemic affected MSMEs with Rs. 20Mn Grant Fund

Sri Lanka’s private sector bank with the largest microfinance portfolio, HNB PLC, has disbursed Rs. 20 million in grants to 200 micro entrepreneurs and businesses across the country, providing them much-needed support as they seek to rebuild their livelihoods from the devastation caused by COVID-19.

The timely intervention in support of HNB’s microfinance customers is part of the ‘HNB Oba Venuwen Api’ initiative launched by the Bank to assist the country in recovering from the pandemic. The Bank disbursed grants among 117 microfinance customers under the first phase of the initiative last year. Under the second phase of the project, HNB supported 83 microfinance customers this year.

“Both the human and the economic cost of the pandemic has been enormous and the brunt of this has been felt by small businesses and entrepreneurs,” HNB Managing Director and CEO and HNB Sustainability Foundation Chairman, Jonathan Alles said. “As a bank with a long history and extensive expertise in serving the SME sector, HNB is ready to partner in the progress of entrepreneurs in their time of need.”

These grants provide up to Rs. 100,000 to each beneficiary, for the purposes of reviving and continuing their business, re-affirming HNB’s enduring commitment to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector. The grants are drawn from a fund established by HNB’s Sustainability Foundation and are provided in two phases to a selection of microfinance customers significantly impacted by the pandemic.

The funds provided through the grants will be utilised primarily towards funding urgent working capital requirements, which had been severely depleted due to disruptions resulting from the COVID pandemic.

The initiative is also one of several from HNB’s Sustainability Foundation aimed at delivering on the Bank’s role as a leading corporate citizen. The Foundation also focuses on four strategic pillars:  education, healthcare, empowering entrepreneurship and the environment. With assistance from the Bank’s Customer Centres across the island, the Foundation also undertakes location-based CSR projects involving the community and staff.

HNB has been closely linked to the growth of Sri Lankan enterprises since its establishment and by the 1980s, became the first private sector commercial bank to enter the MSME sector with the specific purpose of fostering growth and wealth creation in Sri Lanka’s rural economy.

Utilizing its extensive network of ‘Gami Pubuduwa’ officers stationed across Sri Lanka, HNB has successfully pioneered a vibrant model for microfinance that hinges on the cultivation of trusting and long-lasting relationships with grassroots entrepreneurs. These extend beyond access to capital to include vital advisory services and training programmes designed to enhance financial literacy, strengthen enterprises, and facilitate export opportunities.

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