Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sanasa Development Bank at work in the East

There are a lot of development projects running in the Eastern Province but none as sole as the work done by the SANASA Development Bank Ltd. (SDBL). It is a bank of helpful microfinance. Its unique move toward to development and high success rate made us examine further into the Bank's behavior so that other organisations too could get some tips on implementing development work.

SDBL Bank in Kalmunai
The SANASA group was developed out of a hundred year old cooperative group in Sri Lanka and the SANASA Group now has seven companies plus their network. It is neither a confidential nor a public body nor an NGO. It is a corporate bank promote cooperative venture as opposed to public or private enterprise. The bank is owned by 3,700 cooperative grassroot societies. For the last 30 years, SDBL has been working in a consolidated business way as a network. The network has 8,400 legally registered autonomous grassroot credit cooperatives that operate willingly under one dream.
The bulk clientele of SDBL comes from underserved income and social category of our community. The Bank's aim is to authorize such community by way of assisting them for self development aim at poverty eradication. Through micro financing, the bank gives the underprivileged the chance to earn their living by developing their own businesses. The bank provides a very low interest rate of 8% - 12% for micro financing with a borrowing limit of Rs. 5,000- Rs. 50,000 depending on each borrower's capacity. The bank finds its target group of low income and average income groups from all over the island counting the Eastern and Northern Provinces.
Recently, SANASA Development Bank has radically expanded its outreach in the Eastern region through its 4 branches in Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Pothuvil plus Kalmunai and through 26 microfinance release centres affiliated to those branches. SDBL has been able to serve a war torn community at their doorstep.

Clients in the Eastern Province

In Kalawanchikudi alone, SANASA Development Bank was able to reach 1,118 customers in less than 3 months, which is a huge achievement compared to usual banks. It is obvious that there is a clear need for banking amenities or microfinancing amenities among the community in the East. The bank encourage the people in the Province to deposit in whatever ability they can and provide loans to develop or start their own businesses.
'Eastern populace are prepared to get that step to rebuild their lives after decades of war. The microfinancing ability we give is an huge help to them. We do not need to give them grants, which is a short-term solution. We should help people to stand on their own feet and think long-term. Now people are infectious up fast as proven by our large customers in the East. It is a huge achievement for us. We are even in a place to tackle some of the growth thinking,' said Samadanie Kiriwandeniya, Assistant General Manager (International Relations).
Ms. Kiriwandeniya further stated that the microfinancing recovery rate was very high, almost 100% in some areas such as Kalmunai, even though the bank provides for the low income and medium income groups. As a bank, SANASA has a very good revival rate and Ms. Kiriwandeniya states that the secret to this achievement is due to the close relationship it maintains with its clients.
'SANASA is entirely relationship based. Even though a project is over we continue to maintain our connections with that community through our network. For over three decades, our network has remained intact,' she said.
SANASA Development Bank has a network dispersal across the country. It was since of this network that SDBL was easily able to go into the tsunami overstated areas and make a theatrical crash in a very small period. According to studies done by the bank previous to military operations took place, there are performance grassroot credit societies even in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. The bank hopes to set up branches in both these places as soon as war is over. Already there is a branch in Vavuniya and next year they hope to set up a branch in Mannar as well. Currently the bank is training human resources in the Eastern Province so that they have enough capacity to go into the Northern Province once the war is over. Thus they hope to adopt the same procedure as they implemented in the East.
SDBL is not solely working in the microfinancing area. During the tsunami, they were concerned in providing many types of livelihood help to people. They opted to reach as much people as likely through projects such as hygiene projects. In places like Muthur where people were ravaged by war as well as tsunami, SDBL opted to go into housing. They selected deprived communities such as women who lost their husbands and were absent with children and gave them living assistance.

SDB housing projects in the tsunami affected areas of the Eastern Province
SDBL has not simply treated the 768 sanitation units and 262 housing units as simple relief projects or CSR. Instead, SDBL has presented a total solution (livelihoods training/microcredit/ deposit facility and microinsurance facility) to all the recipients. Their development work functioned smoothly mainly because of their networks, the strong relationship they maintain with SANASA primary societies, and their time-tested development strategies.
Many international organisations have shown attention in partnering with SDBL in growth projects, but the bank is cautious in choosing its partners. It looks for helpful and socially leaning roots in its partners and will opt to connect at policy level instead of project level. It is able to work together with the government without conflicts since their projects are flattering to administration projects.
It is not without obstacles that SDBL have come this far. There are challenges that still exist when working in the East. The environment in the East is a confront as there are security problems and people do not like to travel to get service from district branches. It is only the people living in close DS divisions who opt to come to Batticaloa and get the service from the SDBL bough. Others opt to get loans from alike loan schemes at rates as high as 34% rather than journey all the way to receive loans at 8% or 12%. Since the situation is not steady, some do not want to think long term as a community and are to come for funding funds from INGOs quite than developing on their own. Finding partner organisations that have a long-term vision is also a confront as most organisations want to see impact very soon.
in spite of these challenges, the SANASA growth Bank is in service professionally yparticularl with look upon to the Eastern Province. It is placed 50th out of the 640 microfinance institutions in the world and is being on cause by international institutions as a model owing to their attainment rate. They are sure that by the time military operations are over and the North is liberated from the clutches of the LTTE, they will be able to go into the Province and extend their help to disadvantaged people to stand on their feet once again.
SDBL participated vigorously in the Workshop on self-assurance Building and Stabilisation events that was organised by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights in Sigiriya last week with this objective in mind.

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