Success didn’t happen overnight for U Thant Zin, nor did it come easily. U Thant Zin is a paddy farmer in Auglan, Myanmar. For smallholder farmers like him, the lack of collateral and expertise in the agricultural sector remain significant barriers to obtaining financing. Defying the odds, LOLC Myanmar lent an agricultural loan to U Thant Zin amounting to US$ 670 in 2019. Currently, he is the proud owner of a 10-acre paddy field owing to hard work, perseverance, and multiple loans from LOLC Myanmar.
Ruth Olawepo, an owner of a clothing store, dreamt of expanding her business to other states in Nigeria and importing readymade abayas from Senegal. She decided to partner with Fina Trust Microfinance Bank Nigeria, a subsidiary of LOLC, and availed of a loan of US$ 12,000 in 2021. Since the first loan, she is now on her third cycle with the bank and the loan amount has been increased to US$ 24,000. She currently has three shops in Lagos Island Branch and also has outlets upstate.
The lives of hundreds of such aspiring individuals around the world are being transformed through LOLC’s services that promote financial inclusion. The term ‘financial inclusion’ implies having access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet people’s financial needs. The World Bank Group considers financial inclusion as a key enabler to reducing extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes that financial inclusion facilitates efficient allocation of funds among entrepreneurs, in turn, increasing aggregate output. As a result, the benefits of inclusive finance translate into higher GDP growth. For instance, Cambodia’s GDP in 2007 was US$ 8.64 Bn (Word Bank data), whereas domestic credit to the private sector as a percentage of GDP was 18.2%. Within a time span of 13 years, Cambodia’s GDP reached US$ 25.87 Bn, while domestic credit to the private sector grew to 139.6% of GDP, making Cambodia one of the fastest growing nations in the world, with an annualised GDP growth of 9.9% within this time period. During the same period, LOLC Cambodia’s gross loan portfolio grew from US$ 18.1 Mn to US$ 830.9 Mn by a CAGR of 37.6%.
Inclusive finance is critical for borrowers at the bottom of the pyramid as it gives them quick funding for entrepreneurial finance, unlike traditional finance, which is known for red tape and a slow credit financing process, with obstacles such as the borrower not being either eligible to get a loan or the lengthy loan processing times defeating the purpose of quick loans. The difference in LOLC’s inclusive finance services is that it provides quick financing, understanding the urgency of the bottom of the pyramid entrepreneurs and their lack of collateral. Committed to supporting the growth of micro borrowers, LOLC engages in continuous dialogue with borrowers and encourages significant adoption of technology to provide smaller ticket size loans.
This has significantly boosted the global economies – with the elevation of per capita GDP of the population.
LOLC’s ambitious global growth and expansion have been propelled by its passion to provide inclusive finance. The group commenced operations in 1980 with ORIX Corporation of Japan, and then set up a leasing company to pioneer leasing in Sri Lanka in partnership with IFC and BOC. At the time, it was providing asset-backed financing, since it was difficult to access financing through traditional financial institutions. LOLC grew rapidly and by early 2000 adopted an inclusive finance strategy to enhance access to its array of innovative financial products for people at the bottom of the pyramid. Within a short span of time, LOLC became the largest inclusive finance operator in Sri Lanka. LOLC’s unique business methodology is also referred to in academia, as reflected by its inclusion as a case study in the INSEAD Business School’s prestigious MBA programme.
LOLC expanded its horizons outside Sri Lanka in 2007 by setting up its first operation in Cambodia. Since then it has been on a phenomenal journey, expanding globally and serving the bottom of the pyramid populations in each of its markets successfully. As of now, LOLC’s financial model is empowering communities in 15 countries. By the end of 2023, it will have a presence in 22 countries. Its largest inclusive finance target markets are in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and potentially Latin America. LOLC is positioned to cover a population footprint of over 2.1 Bn in Asia, which provides a glimpse into its powerful influence. Similarly, it has a presence in 7 countries in Africa, covering a 482 million population base. By the end of 2023, LOLC is looking to enter Latin America, which will be another breakthrough market for the group. Accordingly, the group will be the only finance house with a scale that has the ability to cover most of the addressable inclusive finance markets globally.
LOLC has implemented greater digitalisation of its systems and processes and is able to on-board customers digitally at the field level by empowering field officers with mobile devices such as tabs, thereby eliminating duplication, since the branch can access data directly from the tabs in real time. This enables field officers to also access information in real-time and take quick decisions at customers’ doorsteps, thereby enhancing efficiency internally while shortening the time taken to approve and disburse loans.
Eco Tablet completes four years in Sri Lankan market
Eco Tablet, a successful solution to fuel standardisation with the use of nanotechnology, completes four years in the Sri Lankan market. Eco Tablet, which was introduced to the Sri Lankan market in 2019, has gained the trust of customers from all parts of the country, and has had a successful journey to date. Made with a combination of nano technology and organic ingredients, Eco Tablet is the world’s number one fuel booster. It can be bought under the name of ‘Eco Racing’ for petrol vehicles and under the name of ‘Eco Diesel’ for diesel vehicles. Eco Racing increases the octane value of petrol by five to ten while Eco Diesel increases the cetane value by two to five times.
Eco Tablet (www.ecotablet.lk) has the ability to properly standardise fuel in accordance with quality certifications awarded by American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the only fuel standards organisation in the world. The fuel, which can be turned into ASTM condition by using Eco Tablet, is fully combusted in the engine and results in maximum fuel efficiency.
DIMO continues to lead as one of Sri Lanka’s premier workplaces
DIMO’s recent remarkable 11-year winning streak as a Top Great Place to Work in Sri Lanka under the Large-size Workplace Category and recognition as one of Asia’s Top 100 Workplaces by GPTW, are clear testaments to the strength of its employee value proposition, “making work enjoyable and rewarding.”
Executive Director and Chief Human Resources Officer of DIMO Dilrukshi Kurukulasuriya said that maintaining such a winning streak requires more than just good HR practices, it necessitates a strategic approach to employee satisfaction and engagement while turning the company’s employee value proposition into a reality.
The company’s employees are the cornerstone of this achievement, and their testimonials on different aspects of the work culture reflect the vibrant work environment and the deep sense of belonging within the DIMO tribe.
Rakhita Gunasekera, Chief Operating Officer (Chemical Solutions) at DIMO, emphasized a ‘Great Place to Work’ as an environment that encourages people to give their best without compromising on values. “This leads to cohesive growth. DIMO is such a place”, he added.
Ravinesh Senaratne, Deputy General Manager – Marketing (Retail), who began his career as a Management Trainee at DIMO said, “DIMO didn’t just hire me, it invested in me and entrusted me with diverse brands, products, and services from Mobility to Retail Sectors. The organization always assists me to reach the next level of growth while facilitating my career elevation.”
Current IMF negotiation process not tailored to address countries in crisis. President
Urges global leaders to make debt restructuring less complex and more effective
Advocates increase in concessional financing through multilateral development banks
Delivering the opening speech at the Head of State Dialogue at the Berlin Global Conference on September 28, President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed the need for a comprehensive dialogue between Western nations and China, the United States of America and China and the European Union and China, as a critical component of a robust international plan capable of addressing the global challenges anticipated in 2024.
The President also highlighted that initiatives such as the ‘Belt and Road’ have led to increased scrutiny of countries like Sri Lanka, potentially impacting the economic prospects of nations in the Global South. Nevertheless, he emphasized that Sri Lanka has a history of engaging with countries like the United States, India, and China, making such interactions a familiar and essential part of international relations.
He also expressed gratitude for the support received from India and Bangladesh in addressing Sri Lanka’s recent economic challenges. He underlined the contrast between advanced economies, which possess buffers and reserves to weather these shocks, and developing nations that lack such resources. He emphasized that this disparity was the starting point for the sovereign debt crisis.
The President cautioned that without immediate corrective measures, the world could be on the brink of another crisis. He acknowledged that many developing countries are burdened with substantial debt, highlighting the inadequacy of existing mechanisms like the IMF to address this new situation. He shared Sri Lanka’s experience when declaring bankruptcy, which led to a halt in foreign funding and triggered a political crisis.
President Wickremesinghe praised Germany for its significant contribution to the Green Climate Fund, which has been instrumental in addressing climate change mitigation and debt restructuring challenges. However, he stressed that the current funding available is insufficient to meet the immense challenges.
The President called for utilizing the $100 billion with the IMF as a starting point, emphasizing that it is better than having no funds at all. He noted that the financing needs for climate prosperity and clean energy technology to achieve net-zero emissions are substantial, even for countries facing economic hardships.
He stressed the urgency of global coordination and leadership to resolve these challenges, which have not been sufficient to address their magnitude. He highlighted the need for a new international financial architecture to replace the existing one, designed nearly 80 years ago. The President urged ambitious action to reform the international financial architecture, making debt restructuring less complex and more effective.
He advocated for a significant increase in concessional financing through multilateral development banks, emphasizing the importance of broader accessibility, even for middle-income nations facing economic vulnerabilities. The president pointed out that the current IMF negotiation process is not tailored to address countries in crisis.
He urged for a comprehensive dialogue between Western countries, China, and other key global players. He emphasized that 2024 is the year to act, given the reduced leadership capacity of the United States due to its impending elections.
President to honour senior journalist Edmond Ranasinghe tomorrow
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