The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has won two coveted international awards – ‘Best Bank for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Banking’ and ‘Best Bank for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)’ at the latest awards event of the respected Asiamoney magazine.
This is the third consecutive year that Commercial Bank has won a double from this quarterly publication. The Bank was awarded the titles of ‘Best Bank for Small and Medium Enterprises’ and ‘Best Bank for Corporate Social Responsibility’ in 2020 and 2021, a spokesman said.
“These awards recognise the Bank’s achievements in two of the most relevant aspects of performance in the current context,” Commercial Bank Managing Director/ CEO Sanath Manatunge commented. “SME’s are the backbone of the economy and, given the challenges faced by our country, supporting them is more important now than ever before. We are committed to increase our engagement with SMEs, who need more support in the current depressed economic context. The second award relates to ESG, which has also become an area of critical importance to shareholders as well as customers and regulators. We are therefore delighted to win awards in these two strategically important areas from Asiamoney.”
The ‘Best Bank for SME Banking’ award recognises Commercial Bank for proactively identifying the timely needs of SMEs and micro enterprises and providing tailor-made products and services to assist this segment that has in the past two years been affected first by the pandemic and subsequently by economic shocks and funding issues. The ‘Best Bank for ESG’ Award was presented in recognition of the Bank’s strategic initiatives in the space of sustainable financing, financial inclusion and nationally-significant contributions via its CSR Trust, the spokesman added.
In 2021, the Bank’s SME loans portfolio grew by 10% in value to Rs 210.967 billion as at 31 December. In 2020 the Ministry of Finance declared Commercial Bank as the largest lender to Sri Lanka’s SME sector among all state-owned, private and specialised banks in the country, accounting for more than a fifth of all loans in terms of value and number. The Bank maintained this momentum in SME lending in 2021 too, during which it notably secured a US $50 million loan from the CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution, to further facilitate lending to SMEs and support climate projects in Sri Lanka.