The United States today provided $40 million in financing to SDB Bank in order to bolster Sri Lanka’s Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SME) sector and assist women entrepreneurs.
The loan is part of $265 million in funding the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is providing to Sri Lankan banks, including SDB Bank, DFCC Bank, and NDB Bank, to promote international investment and inclusive economic growth.
SDB bank will use the $40 million to provide over 1,400 loans, ranging from LKR 500,000 to 1 million each, to SMEs throughout Sri Lanka.
At least forty percent of those loans will be granted to businesses that are owned by women, or provide a product or service that empowers women, as part of DFC’s 2X Women’s Initiative. Many of the loans will also support Sri Lankan businesses impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Symbolically delivering the funds at a unique, socially-distanced ceremony today, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Alaina Teplitz said: “Not only will this funding help small and medium-sized businesses in Sri Lanka on their path toward post-pandemic economic recovery, but it will also assist Sri Lankan women access financing that will allow their businesses to grow. Empowered women are a critical component of any thriving economy, and we look forward to continuing to work with our Sri Lankan partners to ensure local women have the tools and resources they need to succeed.”
The United States remains committed to a secure and prosperous Sri Lanka, the statement said. In 2020, U.S. foreign direct investment was $13 million, bringing cumulative U.S. investment in the country to $274 million.
The U.S. remains Sri Lanka’s largest single export market and has committed significant resources through the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other agencies to promote economic and human capital development in Sri Lanka. USAID is also committing resources to strengthen small and medium enterprises – especially women-owned businesses in the informal sector. In 2020 alone, USAID programs supported the establishment of over 400 women-owned businesses.
The DFC is the development finance institution of the United States government, primarily responsible for providing and facilitating the financing of private development projects in countries around the world. The DFC’s 2X Women’s Initiative has mobilized $7 billion in private sector investment toward women’s economic empowerment and aims to provide an additional $12 billion by 2025 to advance gender equity in emerging markets worldwide. – ada derana