The Role of Hatton National Bank in Creating Access to Financial Services for Youth in Sri Lanka
Originally published in 2009 and updated in August 2011, this case study explores the role that Hatton National Bank (HNB), a prominent commercial bank in Sri Lanka, has played in providing financial services in rural areas and to vulnerable populations. Although literacy rates in Sri Lanka reached 94%, significant numbers of young people are unemployed. In response, the bank developed programs to serve the youth and rural poor by linking them to financial services to harness their entrepreneurial skills and to create economic opportunities. HNB focuses on serving the youth through two programs: 1) establishing Student Banking Centres in schools and 2) targeting youth in rural areas in their village microfinance programs to receive both financial and non-financial services. By setting up mini-banks managed by the students within the schools, HNB has created a financial service delivery mechanism that is easily accessed by youth populations. HNB’s microfinance program is managed by young professional barefoot bankers and loan officers who are encouraged to be role models and leaders for youth, in addition to providing loans and deposit-taking. Over 600,000 students have accessed services from HNB through the 200 Student Banking Centres with a total of nearly $40 million in savings deposits. One critical element of its programs has been financial literacy that supports youth’s ability to wisely manage the financial services. The success of HNB’s programs to reach youth demonstrate that it is possible to offer products and services that meet the needs of youth and contribute to the success of a financial institution with its eye not only on the present, but also on the future.