Sri Lanka's best bank for SMEs 2020: Commercial Bank of Ceylon
Commercial Bank of Ceylon
Small and medium-sized enterprises make up an important part of the Sri Lankan economy, representing more than 75% of the total number of enterprises. To reach these companies, particularly the newest up-and-coming businesses, it’s necessary to venture outside Colombo and find plucky entrepreneurs in the furthest reaches of the country.
Under chief executive Sivakrishnarajah Renganathan, Commercial Bank of Ceylon’s efforts in this area have been outstanding, and its relationships with its SME clients are a testament to the bank’s leadership in the SME sector.
The bank has made a concerted effort to focus more on SMEs, going so far as to hire McKinsey last year to change the bank’s structure and centralize its approach to SME relationships. Beginning in 2019, the bank introduced the position of SME manager to its bank branches. Each manager monitors and works with between 20 and 30 SME customers.
To reach SME clients in remote areas, Commercial Bank of Ceylon has a number of mobile banks that can provide basic banking facilities. These units have helped to introduce banking to some parts of Sri Lanka’s rural population. In the Jaffna Peninsula, customers are able to deposit money and make loan repayments through the bank’s field cash collection in the northernmost part of Sri Lanka.
One of Commercial Bank of Ceylon’s impressive advantages is its Biz Club. Started at the end of 2018, the club takes the bank’s relationships with SMEs to the next level, inviting entrepreneurs to participate in a financial literacy programme, receive discounts on services and to network and learn about relevant information through newsletters, among other perks. As of the end of September, club members had been approved for SLRs8.6 billion ($47 million) in loans.
These efforts were particularly important in 2019 because SMEs were badly affected by the economic consequences of the Easter Sunday bomb attacks.
Commercial Bank of Ceylon reported a 4.7% increase in the value of its small and medium-sized enterprise loan portfolio as of the end of September. It is a leader of Jaya Isura loans, part of the government’s Enterprise Sri Lanka loan scheme; it had processed 450 such loans by the end of September 2019.
The bank’s agriculture lending portfolio grew 9% from 2018, with a low non-performing asset ratio of 2.94%.