As a responsible banking entity that seeks to harness the potential of individuals and businesses in Sri Lanka, Seylan Bank, the Bank with a Heart, has identified SME Exports as a sector with much potential to contribute to the national economy.
Acquiring foreign revenue is one of the critical needs at present. While worker remittances have been a key contributor to the growth of foreign reserves, the drop in worker remittances and the use of unofficial channels to remit money has affected the country’s available reserves, driving down the country’s revenue sources. Within this context, increasing exports plays a key role in strengthening the process.
According to Malik Wickramanayake, Deputy General Manager – Operations, local exporters hold the key to helping Sri Lanka emerge from the crisis. Thus, Seylan Bank has made it a goal to encourage exporters, especially within the SME sector, thereby supporting the country to navigate through the hard times.
“We have identified local SME exporters as an area of focus because there is so much potential here. In addition, despite a significant portion of SMEs entering the export sector, they sometimes lack guidance on best practices to expand their business. Therefore, the bank has taken considerable efforts to empower SME exporters to become knowledgeable and competent trading partners for their overseas buyers,” explained Wickramanayake.
SMEs with demonstrable sophistication in dealing with foreign contacts along the export chain, will have greater success in retaining business, which makes sharing knowledge and expertise to develop these ventures a necessity. Led by Wickramanayake, the Trade Team at Seylan Bank has identified the infinite potential of exports beyond the traditional fare, and therefore have a diversified portfolio of SME exporters under their wing, ranging from cinnamon, tea, seafood and apparel.
“The department plays a mentoring role especially tailored for SMEs, since some of these entities are fairly new to the export sector. From guidance on increasing their bottom line, negotiating terms for export, and post shipment finance to assisting with imports of raw material required for exports, the bank imparts its proven expertise for the benefit of our SME clients,” he adds.
Furthermore, Seylan Bank provides comprehensive advisory services, as the bank has understood that the highly technical nature of trade can prove to be a barrier for entry for most SMEs. Exporters receive guidance on approaches and solutions to the diverse challenges they face in the trade process, from sorting out the immense amount of documentation to the practical aspects such as capturing the right export markets to get their businesses off the ground.
“It is important to fund and support local SMEs to bring foreign revenue into the country and Seylan Bank is dedicated towards facilitating this national enterprise. In addition to working closely to push our existing business partners to channel more funds through us, we are also exploring new potential groups we can establish relationships with,” concluded Wickramanayake.