The Commercial Bank of Ceylon’s impactful efforts to support the local SME sector were recently acknowledged on a global platform when the Bank won the award for the ‘Best SME Bank’ in Sri Lanka from the New York-head quartered Global Finance magazine.
This award honours financial institutions that best supported their small and medium enterprise clients during uniquely tumultuous times by preparing them to thrive in the new, post-Covid landscape, the magazine said.
Commenting on winning this prestigious accolade, Commercial Bank Managing Director and CEO Mr Sanath Manatunge said: “According to the South Asia Department of the Asian Development Bank, SMEs represent more than 75% of the enterprises in Sri Lanka and account for more than 20% of exports, 45% of employment, and 52% of GDP. These are significant statistics that prove the SME’s indispensable role in the local economy. By supporting this vital sector, Commercial Bank contributes to the economic growth of the country. This latest award is not only an acknowledgement of our efforts in this regard but also a vote of confidence that identifies the Bank as a reliable financial partner that provides unique services to entrepreneurs.”
The Bank received the award at the annual Best SME Bank Awards ceremony hosted in London where financial institutions from 69 countries and territories and six US regions were recognised for their exceptional performance in meeting the specialised needs of the SMEs in their markets during the period in review between April 2021 and March 2022.
The Bank’s initiatives to assist the local SME segment include launching the “Dirishakthi” Micro Entrepreneurs loan scheme and Value Chain Development Programme to strengthen rural value chains. Facilities such as ‘Biz Loans’ and ‘Agri Gold Loans’ schemes, capacity building programmes, support to women entrepreneurs in the country, and continuous disbursement of COVID-19 support loans too played a role in the Bank’s SME-centric services during a challenging period.
The Bank accords special emphasis to supporting women in business under its ‘Anagi Women’s Banking’ portfolio designed in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The portfolio comprises of the ‘Anagi Women’s Savings Account’ and the ‘Anagi Business Loan for Women Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (WSME)’ and the Bank has pledged to introduce many more new products and services in the future. The Bank also conducts special seminars to empower women entrepreneurs with the knowledge they need to grow their businesses.
The editors of Global Finance selected the winners for the 2023 Best SME Bank Awards based on independent research, with input from industry insiders, executives, and technology experts. The magazine used a proprietary algorithm with criteria such as knowledge of SME markets and needs, breadth of products and services, market standing, and innovation, which were then weighted for relative importance.
Founded in 1987, the Global Finance magazine has a circulation of 50,000 and readers in 193 countries and territories. Its audience includes senior corporate and financial officers responsible for making investment and strategic decisions at multinational companies and financial institutions.
Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 12 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 269 branches and 943 automated machines in Sri Lanka. Commercial Bank is the largest lender to Sri Lanka’s SME sector and is a leader in digital innovation in the country’s Banking sector. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.
Commercial Bank’s Chief Operating Officer Mr S. Prabagar (left) accepts the award at the Best SME Bank awards ceremony in London.