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HNB facilitates access to finance for rural entrepreneurs in Anuradhapura under Citi-Ceylon Chamber


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Citi Bank in collaboration with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Hatton National Bank initiated the ‘Rural Economic Empowerment Program’ in June 2015 with the objective of empowering rural entrepreneurs through improving their financial literacy and business management skills as well as facilitating micro financing through mainstream banks. 

The first phase of the project assisted over 400 rural entrepreneurs in four rural villages in Matara and Ratnapura Districts. Satisfied with the success of the first phase of the project, Citi provided the financial assistance to continue uplifting of livelihoods of people in rural areas by implementing a second phase of the project targeting a few more remote villages. 

Citi is one of the leading foreign banks operating in Sri Lanka since 1979 and its decision to implement a second phase of the project signals its commitment towards promoting the worthy cause of livelihood development at grassroots level through sustainable financial inclusion. 

Citi Sri Lanka together with Citi Foundation has engaged in many CSR projects since its inception, demonstrating its dedication towards enhancing the economic opportunities for individuals and families of Sri Lanka.

Under the second phase of the project, Hatton National Bank provided loan facilities to 30 micro and small scale businessmen in Nochchiyagama, Nachchaduwa, Nuwaragampalatha and Galnewa DS Divisions of Anuradhapura District on 22 September. 

Citi-Ceylon Chamber Rural Economic Empowerment Program especially selected the remote villages in these four DS Divisions as the rural entrepreneurs in these areas needed assistance to improve commercial viability of their businesses. These beneficiaries were first identified by the Anuradhapura District Chamber of Commerce with the active support of Divisional Secretaries and relevant officials of the respective DS Divisions. 

Citi-Ceylon Chamber Rural Economic Empowerment Program first created awareness on the project and services offered under the program among the interested beneficiaries and they were subsequently trained on financial literacy, identifying commercially viable businesses and preparation of business plans for commencing new businesses or expansion of existing businesses. They were also given necessary guidance on ways and means of sourcing finance from the formal financial sector.  During the loan disbursement event held on this day, the beneficiaries with viable business plans were given loans by Anuradhapura, Nochchiyagama and Thambuttegama branches of HNB.  The beneficiaries, who received loans were engaged in micro scale food processing, ornamental fish cultivation, mushroom cultivation, making school bags, operating audio-visual businesses and running auto repair and maintenance workshops. 

Citi Sri Lanka Vice President and Head of Institutional Finance Group Asela Ratnayake, Citi Sri Lanka Head of Corporate Affairs Shanaka Waduge, HNB Deputy General Manager – SME and Development Finance Jude Fernando, senior managers of HNB in the North Central Region and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Senior Assistant Secretary General Chandrarathna D. Vithanage took part in the event, representing their respective organisations. Vithanage in his opening remarks highlighted that though the programme facilitates micro finance, this differs from a usual micro finance program as Citi-Ceylon Chamber Rural Economic Empowerment Program focused on providing an integrated package of services including improving financial literacy and business management skills, providing technical know-how and business development services and exposure to the best practices in order to make their chosen businesses commercially viable, which will help them access financial services from formal baking system.   

Fernando mentioned that the HNB has been supporting the rural entrepreneurs through ‘Gemi Pubuduwa’ program for over two decades and is privileged to partner with Citi- Ceylon Chamber Rural Economic Empowerment Program, which was funded by Citi and implemented by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. 

He reiterated that empowering micro and small entrepreneurs is of paramount importance for national economic development and HNB is happy to contribute towards uplifting entrepreneurs at the lower end of value chains with an integrated approach through this project. He requested all beneficiaries to use the financial facility offered on this day in a meaningful manner to help grow themselves and the economy. Waduge commenting on Citi’s Rural Empowerment CSR initiative, declared Citi Sri Lanka was proud to partner with HNB and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Elaborating on Citi Sri Lanka’s programs in line with its global initiatives, she stressed on Citi’s efforts to help nurture rural micro scale businesses lacking in adequate access to finance and technology. 

Explaining further she stated that Citi initiatives aspired to not only help individuals improve and expand their businesses but inspire them to contribute to the overall growth of the national economy. She said that Citi was encouraged by the progress achieved with the collaboration of Ceylon Chamber and HNB, who have been reliable project partners. Citi Sri Lanka, endeavors to see beneficiaries make use of the assistance and uplift their living status, their community and positively contribute to the local economy. 

The Citi-Ceylon Chamber Rural Economic Empowerment will continuously monitor the progress and extend necessary assistance to all beneficiaries, who were trained by the program as well as those, who obtained loans to help ensure successful operation of their businesses.  

 


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