The Sanasa Development Bank (SDB), one of the key players in Sri Lanka’s small and medium enterprises (SME) banking landscape, has announced 25 years of service to Sri Lanka while helping Sri Lankans grow and adapt to a changing world. The bank’s 25th-anniversary celebrations commenced with an official press conference, which was held at the Balmoral Ballroom at The Kingsbury Colombo on Wednesday (17), where the keynote speakers, SDB Chairperson Dinithi Ratnayake and Acting CEO Niranjan Thangarajah addressed the gathering, recounting SDB’s historic 25-year journey and outlining the future vision and outlook of the bank.
Present and future outlook
On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, SDB wishes to reflect on its remarkable journey thus far and maintain that the bank remains fundamentally true to its founding principles to date, even as its ethos and purpose have grown and evolved over time. Today, SDB has emerged as a futuristic, value-based, tech-savvy, and contemporary bank with a key strategic focus on the areas of SME development, women’s empowerment, and digital inclusion. Thus, while the bank remains grounded by its founding principles, SDB is now driven by its values, and a burning desire to empower all stakeholders, equitably, the bank said.
The bank’s rise as a facilitator of national economic development and a trusted authority on small-scale entrepreneurial and personal finance growth has garnered SDB a strong reputation for continuous digital banking expansion and as a preferred employer, all of which have contributed to the bank receiving numerous accolades recently, the bank stated. These include a top 50 position amongst Sri Lanka’s “100 Most Valuable Brands 2020”, as ranked by Brand Finance.
Listed on the main board of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), with a Fitch Rating of BB + (Stable), and a growing islandwide network, presently totalling 94 branches, SDB’s ascendancy as a national bank can be attributed to its differentiated retail, business, and development banking models; multi-segment customer base across rural, SME and urban groups; digitalisation of banking infrastructure; and a differentiated employee value proposition, the bank said.
These factors have led to the collective interest of the global investor community, allowing for strong, long-term investor partnerships with top local, and international finance organisations, and investors, including the “Nederlandse Financierings Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden” N.V (FMO), Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), and International Finance Corporation (IFC). Active support of this nature from top-tier organisations has helped to strengthen SDB’s standing among facilitators of SME development in Sri Lanka; a critical sector accounting for upwards of 50% of the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP), as per the bank.
The SDB story
SDB began its journey as a development bank in 1997 and was founded on the principles of the Co-operative Movement, which seeks to empower people at the grassroots level and transform rural societies through credit and savings and development financing. Since then, the bank’s sphere of influence, and scope of operation have grown, along with its vision and commitment to empowering all Sri Lankans.
In 2007, the bank celebrated its 10th anniversary, having expanded its branch network to over 25 locations across the island. In 2012, the bank was listed as a publicly traded company on the main board of the CSE. SDB successfully conducted its first rights issue of shares, which was heavily oversubscribed in 2014.
Embracing the digital banking revolution, 2019 saw SDB speak to digital natives and the public at large, through its acquisition of UPay, a next-gen digital banking platform, and the launch of SDB Mobile, the bank’s very own mobile banking app. In 2020, SDB bank made history by becoming the first in Sri Lanka to ever conduct a digital rights issue, reflecting the bank’s gravitation towards digital banking and technology, with the rights issue being heavily oversubscribed. Last year, in 2021, SDB received a tranche of $ 40 million from the USD International Development Finance Corporation, to pursue its goal of transforming Sri Lanka’s SME-banking landscape.
Marking 25 years
To commemorate the historic milestone of 25 years of service, SDB announced several planned activities. Most notably, in keeping with its commitment to sustainability, SDB announced the inauguration of its 25th Anniversary Forest Restoration Project in Ududumbara. This initiative, which will take place on 24 August 2022, will see the planting of a large number of new tree saplings on the day and will be an ongoing project, with over 25 hectares planned and demarcated for reforestation, supported by SDB.
Facing the future
Today, the bank is strongly positioned financially and in terms of expertise, experience, and other resources, to fuel economic development in Sri Lanka, with a keen focus on the SME sector, the bank stated. SDB has joined hands with prestigious global financiers and organisations that share its vision for an empowered and equitable society. In the present environment, creating new economic opportunities for all Sri Lankans and supporting export-oriented businesses, along with businesses that create value for Sri Lanka, will be focus areas. Working together with like-minded partners, SDB is moving to further its goal and vision to develop Sri Lanka’s SME sector.
A future-ready bank, providing holistic, 360-degree support to its customers, SDB is constantly catering to ever-changing needs, through a combination of financial support, and value additions to life and business, through mentorship and knowledge-sharing, focusing on areas such as value chain enhancements and financial management. SDB is also committed to a sustainable business model in terms of environmental, social, and governance sustainability. This commitment is reflected in the bank’s financing activities, giving preference to businesses and initiatives that take a sustainable approach, over those that do not. SDB has established itself as a financier that values every customer equally and supports the development of individuals and SMEs with a special focus on women empowerment and digital inclusion, the bank stated.