The Commercial Bank of Ceylon, the largest financier to Sri Lanka’s small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, has launched a business club to provide the sector’s entrepreneurs extensive networking opportunities and a range of other benefits.
The first of its kind in the country, the Commercial Bank Biz Club will focus on bringing SME customers together in order to create new business opportunities, and to provide them support beyond lending, the Bank said.
Commenting on the launch of the Biz Club, Commercial Bank’s Chief Operating Officer Mr. S Renganathan said: “Commercial Bank recognises the pivotal role that emerging businesses play in our economy. It is these SMEs that grow to become large corporates over time. The Biz Club is an attempt at building a bridge that connects today’s emerging businesses with each other and the larger businesses of the world, enabling members to benefit by being part of a like-minded community. We wanted to recognise and value the SMEs for their immense contribution to the National Economy”
Four tiers of membership – Premier, Platinum, Gold and Silver have been created to enable the Bank to identify and support the specific requirements of different SME customers. These tiers enable the Bank to provide appropriate services to the each segment of customers and also allow the Bank to provide support to uplift their businesses to higher standards
The Biz Club will entitle members to special bank concessions and a personalised VISA debit card. Members will also receive economic updates and alerts on new business developments via email and SMS and free registration for online banking facilities. Members would also enjoy the convenience of not having to submit detailed project reports or credit proposals when applying for a loan, the Bank said.
Additionally, Biz Club members will be entitled to free financial advisory services and invitations to exclusive business seminars which would prove beneficial to the development of their businesses.
The Bank’s financial education programme for SMEs will include sessions on financial literacy and expert advice and assistance from relevant authorities on environment-friendly processes for production, waste management, and energy conservation.
With their personalised debit cards, Biz Club members can enjoy discounts on hotel reservations, zero interest rate payment packages on overseas travel, discount vouchers from selected merchants, Max loyalty rewards, and all other perks enjoyed by Combank card holders.
Commercial Bank has already conducted educational programmes for SME entrepreneurs in many areas of the country even before the launch of the Biz Club. The Bank has to date conducted 61 SME programmes which have benefited nearly 5,500 entrepreneurs. In May 2016 and March 2017 the Bank conducted two programmes specifically designed for women entrepreneurs in Matara and Gampaha, which was attended by over 300 participants. These programmes were supported by the National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA), which played a key role in identifying prospective women entrepreneurs for the programme.
The Bank has also set up 15 Agriculture & Micro Finance Units (AMFUs) which play a key role in identifying specific needs of people who require assistance to develop either their agriculture activities or micro businesses, and are dedicated to promote agriculture lending and micro finance. These AMFUs are located in Ratnapura, Narammala, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Kilinochchi, Bandarawela, Wellawaya, Hingurakgoda, Galewela, Atchuvely, Vavuniya, Kattankudy, Tissamaharama, Neluwa and Pottuvil.