Hatton National Bank (HNB) Deputy General Manager – Marketing & Retail Banking Chandula Abeywickrema was invited by International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) to present the partnership initiative support for greater financial inclusion among the migrant workers and their dependents in Sri Lanka at the Annual Meeting for Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) held on 17 November 2011 at Rome.
FFR targeting remittance senders and receivers has been working since 2006 to empower migrant workers and their families. The overall goal of the FFR facility of US$ 22 Million is to increase the development impact of remittances by co-financing projects across the developing world in close collaboration with public, private and civil society partners. The FFR also facilitates the dissemination and replication of remittance-related best practices.
Abeywickrema in his presentation at the Annual Meeting for FFR of IFAD in Rome highlighted the macro level market of the migrant workers, the Diaspora and the impact of the migrant worker remittances on the Sri Lankan economy. Further he showcased HNB’s commitment, passion and contribution in partnering with IFAD to identifying this key sector for development and designing a pragmatic solution.
In his presentation, Abeywickrema emphasised on creating platforms for migrant workers and their families for sustainable revenue generation through self-employment, micro-entrepreneur opportunities and driving the public private sector corporate partnerships towards greater empowerment of this sector.
Coordinator, FFR Policy and Technical Advisory Division of IFAD Pedro de Vasconcelos said: “Abeywickrema’s input has been key to ensuring the meeting was a great success and feedback from other participants has been very positive. The meeting this year, has given us a great opportunity to showcase projects and the progress being made with donors and other key stakeholders, as well as to take a look at new opportunities and initiatives, partnerships and the plans moving forward.”
Richard Phillip, Representative of the Government of Luxembourg, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and IFAD and Christine Greider, Representative of the Government of Switzerland, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and IFAD also highly praised and commended on the thoughts and ideas put forward by Abeywickrema.
IFAD identified HNB to be one of the Banks in Asia as the recipient of the FFR grant and awarded capacity building assistance to design a sustainable program specifically targeting the migrant workers and their dependents in the rural Sri Lanka. The broader objective of the facility is to empower migrant workers to breakout of the cycle of poverty for sustainable revenue generation and improved social lives for the migrant worker and their families.
HNB embarked on this project having done extensive research among the senders and receivers of remittances in Sri Lanka as well as in the Middle East with the consulting partner, the Women’s World Banking (WWB) to understand the Sri Lankan migrant worker market and design a specially focussed and tailor-made product offering called HNB Adishtana.
Senders or receivers of remittances can open the Adishtana account where account holder has options of saving money under a general or planned manner with an initial minimum deposit of Rs. 1,000 in comparison to the initial deposit requirement of normal savings accounts, thus encouraging more savings among the segment.
Keeping in line with the aspirations of a majority who seek foreign employment to fulfill the dream of a home of their own the Adishtana account paves the way for special housing loans from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1,000,000 and loans ranging from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 1,000,000 to start small business enterprises together with business guidance and advise provided by the bank.
Moreover, all Adishtana account holders will be offered a life insurance cover of Rs. 100,000 where the bank will bear 50% of the insurance premium in the first year of the policy. In addition, the savings account is eligible for the Pathum Vimana Draw.
HNB Adishtana product offering was successfully pilot tested at HNB Customer Centers in Elpitiya, Galle, Kurunegala and Puttalam. The main launch to the entire network commenced on 28 November 2011. Adishtana is to uplift the living standards of the migrant workers and empower them to develop their lives to be independent.
Just as HNB has been a partner in progress of millions of Sri Lankans it would be a partner in the migrant worker progress as well. It strongly believes this to be a comprehensive savings product tailor made to incentivise the remittance market to initiate the savings habit, asset building and thereby to establish a financial safety net.