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HNB Local Host Of Asia Micro Finance Forum

Jul 17, 2010 3:10:38 PM - thesundayleader.lk

FDC Executive Director Craig Wilson exchanging the Memorandum of Understanding with HNB Senior Deputy General Manager Nihal Kekulawala. Banking With The Poor Network Chairman and HNB Deputy General Manager Chandula Abeywickrema looks on

The Asia Micro Finance Forum organised by the Banking With The Poor Network (BWTP) is currently the largest Asia based micro finance network, which has been in existence for over 15 years, with over 50 members located in 15 different countries in Asia. The BWTP network consists of a unique diversity of membership that works towards building efficient large-scale sustainable organisations through co-operation, training and capacity building with the aim of achieving innovative, appropriate and demand-driven financial services for the poor.
The Banking with the Poor Network (BWTP) arose out of the Banking with the Poor project of the Foundation for Development Cooperation (FDC).  The Foundation for Development Cooperation is an independent, not for-profit international development organisation.  Established in Brisbane, Australia, in 1990, the mandate of FDC calls for it to conduct policy-oriented research, foster public awareness, mobilize broader Australian and overseas development cooperation, and support non-governmental development efforts.
The Banking with the Poor Network (BWTP) is to convene the Asia Microfinance Forum 2010 (AMF 2010) organised by the Foundation for Development Cooperation (FDC) with the lead sponsorship by Citi Foundation and Hatton National Bank as the Local Host.   The AMF 2010 will be held in Colombo from October 12th – 15th.
The Asia Micro Finance Forum is held every two years and is considered to be one of the largest gatherings of all stakeholders involved in microfinance activities in Asia. These include the practitioners, investors, policymakers as well as other capacity builders. The first Asia Micro Finance Forum was held in Beijing China in 2006 and thereafter the event took place in 2008 in Hanoi Vietnam.
“After experiencing three decades of war this is the first time that a conference of this magnitude will take place in Sri Lanka. The conference will take on the theme ‘Financial Inclusion – Achieving Asia’s Potential’.  We are expecting over 550 delegates to grace this gathering, where a majority will be represented from the Asian region. Amongst these delegates over 20 of them will include some of the largest leading global investors”, says Deputy General Manager – Marketing and Retail Banking, HNB and the Current Chairman, Banking with the Poor Network (BWTP), Chandula Abeywickrema.
HNB today takes pride in being the only commercial bank in the country to develop a sustainable microfinance strategy. Over the last two decades the bank has been capable of developing world renowned microfinance solutions which has contributed towards bringing to life over 100,000 micro finance entrepreneurs over the last two decades, whilst financing over Rs. 7 billion to this sector. The bank has also been successful in creating access to over 400,000 in micro level savings.
Speaking on the reasons behind why HNB is backing this forum, Abeywickrema said, “We are very proud of the fact that a forum of this nature has been supported by HNB which is a banking institution that has positioned its micro finance activities as that of one which is of paramount importance to Sri Lanka. Our microfinance programmes have become a brand which has been accepted locally as well as internationally. Our microfinance programmes have been recognised by renowned organisations such as the World Bank and US Aid to be one of the best models of bank downscaling in this sector. Therefore we feel that a conference of this nature will greatly benefit the economy of this country and create new opportunities for micro level development and new access to financial services, which is why we at HNB are playing a leading role in this forum.”
Today HNB is the leading commercial bank in the country to develop sustainable microfinance and inclusion strategies and thus create greater access to microfinance services to a wide spectrum of individuals. As the Local Host of this year’s event HNB will be the main banking arm of the conference assisting in all banking related activities of organisers. HNB will also be offering its banking services at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel where the conference is scheduled to take place. The bank is also planning to showcase the success story of HNB to the delegates participating in the forum.
HNB has during the last two decades taken leadership and many initiatives with regard to building better access to its financial services and thereby empowering the people to gain economic development, entrepreneur creations and value additions for capital buildup etc. Through this the bank hopes to graduate individuals from small, and medium enterprise levels to ultimately reach the large-scale entrepreneur status. Therefore being very much a part of events of this caliber HNB hopes to spearhead the microfinance sector towards new horizons.
For further information, log on to www.asiamicrofinanceforum.org.au