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Sri Lanka's best bank for SMEs 2017: Hatton National Bank

Hatton National Bank

Small and medium-sized enterprises make up 80% of all Sri Lanka businesses, employ 35% of its workers and contribute about one third of the island’s GDP. Eight years after the end of the civil war, the government has identified the sector as critical to binding and normalizing the economy.

HNB, as one of Sri Lanka’s premier commercial banks, has been a pioneer in banking SMEs. By the end of 2016, HNB’s SME portfolio was valued at Rs180 billion ($1.19 billion), and grew 24.4% over 2015. The bank introduced distributor financing for SMEs last year.

HNB’s commitment was demonstrated by it becoming the first commercial bank in the country to offer microfinance, an initiative that this year extended further across the island’s north and northeast, now recovering from 25 years of conflict.

CEO Jonathan Alles says HNB has directed its SME cells to roll out directly from the 46 branches HNB now has in these war-torn regions, alongside the bank’s dedicated microfinance arm, HNB Grameen, its partnership with Bangladesh’s famous Grameen Bank.

Such initiatives, as well as plans to offer a host of technology-led services for SMEs, will go a long way to achieving Alles’ ambition of becoming Sri Lanka’s “ most future-ready bank”.