Sri Lanka's best bank for SMEs 2018: Hatton National Bank
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Sri Lanka's best bank for SMEs 2018: Hatton National Bank

Hatton National Bank

Most banks in Sri Lanka see lending to small and medium-sized enterprises as vital to their future – and rightly so. But no one beats Hatton National Bank in terms of its exposure and commitment to the sector.

The bank reckons it serves in excess of 100,000 SMEs, ranging from mid-sized outfits down to one- or two-person micro enterprises, which collectively account for about a third of all outstanding loans.

Hatton describes itself as a pioneer in this field: it disbursed SLRs137 billion ($884 million) to smaller firms in 2017, and has 10 SME-dedicated centres dotted around the country, with more set to open this year. It works hard to add new layers of service, recently introducing distributor financing and rolling out export lending products in alliance with the Export Development Board.

It is tying up agreements with multilaterals and national-level lending institutions, including Germany’s GIZ, that will let the bank lend at low rates of interest to smaller companies.

The bank’s digital prowess is also a key factor here, with Hatton partnering in 2017 with Webxpay, a Colombo e-commerce provider, to assist SMEs in their transition to the digital economy and cashless transactions.

Rajive Dissanayake, chief strategy officer at HNB, tells Asiamoney the bank is permanently committed to the cause.

“What excites us is SME lending,” he says. “ This country is reaching upper middle-income status, and there is huge scope for growing companies to take a bigger role in the local and the regional economy. We definitely want to be part of this story.”

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