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HNB celebrates 25th anniversary of world renowned Gami Pubuduwa in grand style




Hatton National Bank celebrated the 25th anniversary of its flagship microfinance scheme Gami Pubuduwa recently with a grand event which included the launch of a state of the art e-learning solution and an awards ceremony for its Field Force at the Field Officers' Conference 2014.
The e-learning solution is expected to greatly benefit youth in rural areas by providing access to enhance their entrepreneurial skills and improve knowledge to become a successful entrepreneur. The awards ceremony was held to recognize the best performing Field Officers over the past 3 years and 27 Field Officers were awarded at this ceremony.

Held at the Hotel Kingsbury Colombo the event was attended by nearly 200 guests and included the Chief Guest HNB MD / CEO Mr. Jonathan Alles, former Director HNB Mrs Pamela Cooray, Corporate Management of HNB and around 150 Field Officers. This was the culmination of a series of events organized throughout 2014 in order to celebrate the landmark 25th anniversary and to highlight the bank's presence and the contribution to the rural and micro finance sectors in Sri Lanka.

The world renowned Gami Pubuduwa Scheme (Village Awakening Scheme) was initiated in 1989 as the first ever micro finance programme launched by a Bank. Over the past two decades, the programme has penetrated deep in to Sri Lanka's rural areas, providing access to a whole host of Banking products and services including micro-savings, micro-lending, money transfer services and micro-insurance.

The intent of the Gami Pubuduwa Scheme is to extend credit facilities, along with a package of banking facilities, to the rural community. The scheme constitutes rural savings mobilization and social development alongside extension of credit. The scheme assists any income generating self-employment activity up to Rs. 5 million, with a maximum repayment period of 4 years. There are 108 Gami Pubuduwa banking units operating throughout the country, with most in rural areas.

The Gami Pubuduwa scheme has become one of the most successful microfinance programs implemented by a commercial bank and has been highly acclaimed by local and international agencies. With time, the Bank has tailored the scheme not only to ensure that it meets the social and economic needs of the country but also that it continues as an economically sustainable project. HNB has also been involved in organising trade fairs to establish market linkages for the products of Gami Pubuduwa clients and introduced modern technology by linking expert organisations with borrowers to improve product quality.

The core objectives of the Gami Pubuduwa programme are to develop a sustainable programme which will give new orientation to the development of the rural community and to encourage participation in rural awakening and regeneration activities by identifying their strengths and weaknesses while offering financial assistance as appropriate. The scheme has provided an opportunity to the unbanked population in rural areas who consider banks as places inaccessible to them to obtain financial and other assistance.
Gami Pubuduwa has developed a close relationship and eliminated the 'barrier' between the villagers and the Bank, promoting economic activity. In addition to this, it assists the village community to get involved in the economic progress of their villages and encourages them to move towards more productive activities by evolving a practical rural credit delivery and savings mobilization system.

The Gami Pubuduwa Field Officers (Gami Pubuduwa Upadeshaka) have played a crucial role in the success of Gami Pubuduwa by integrating themselves into the village community and acquiring first-hand insight into the lives and activities of rural society. Performing the roles of financial advisors and support persons, these 'barefoot bankers' participate in social, religious and cultural activities in the village and continue to build a strong relationship between the Bank and the community. By closely associating with the rural community, they are able to identify its strengths and weaknesses and make suitable financial proposals to promote successful micro entrepreneurs. Field Officers also engage in disseminating financial information and spreading awareness.

The responsibilities of the Field Officers are to identify Gami Pubuduwa customers, undertake Credit Evaluation of loans, supervise the progress of projects, visit the customers on a regular basis, prepare Credit Proposal for loans, provide financial and other services to customers, ensure proper end-use of loan funds and maintain a close link with village societies.

In 1995 the World Bank carried out a study on Gami Pubuduwa and published the discussion paper No. 369 lauding the Bank for its effectiveness in the use of field officers to understand the client, create a market for products of micro-enterprises and provide a wealth of information, facilitating sound banking operations. In 1998, HNB was the only invitee from Sri Lanka by the Micro-Finance Network in Washington D.C. at a forum on effective governance of micro-finance institutions.
HNB received a special award in 1999 from the Asian Bankers Association in Manila for a joint program with Care International under the Gami Pubuduwa scheme and thereafter received the winning award in 2008 for 'Empowerment & Entrepreneurship' under the 'Special Projects on Corporate Social Responsibility' category from the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

The award winners with the Managing Director/CEO, HNB, Mr Jonathan Alles former Director of HNB Mrs Pamela Cooray and Members of the Corporate Management.

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