HNB partners LFSUS and Women’s Bank
HNB signed a loan agreement with the Sri Lanka Women’s Development
Services Cooperative Society (Women’s Bank) Ltd to assist in the
upgrading of housing improvements, housing infrastructure and community
infrastructure of the Kuruniyawatta community of Kolonnawa.
The Kuruniyawatta Project is an onsite upgrading project supported by
the UN-HABITAT’S Slum Upgrading Facility (SUF).
DGM - Corporate Banking of HNB R. Thenabadu presents the Rs.
11,000,000 cheque to the President of Women’s Bank - K.V. Rupa
Manel. Risk and Compliance of HNB Dilshan Rodrigo, Chairman of
LFSUS and DGM of HNB Chandula Abeywickrema and Secretary of
Ministry of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Dr. P.
Ramanujam, Project Finance Advisor of UN-HABITAT Angela Mwai
The project is designed to assist governments to lead and coordinate
technical cooperation and seed capital initiatives to develop bankable
projects that promote affordable housing for low- income households.
SUF is being piloted in four countries in Asia and Africa with Sri
Lanka being one of these four countries. Initiating the second SUF
project in Sri Lanka, the project finance advisor for SUF Angela Mwai
said, “In developing countries urban slums have been a developing
If we think about the urban slums around the world, they are mainly
located in central parts of the major cities. Therefore, for the urban
development upgrading urban slums becomes crucial.
The economic factor becomes a barrier in upgrading slums around the
world. However, LFSUS was established in order to facilitate the
financial issue with the participation of public and private
stakeholders”. The central objective of SUF is to assist developing
countries to attract domestic capital for their slum upgrading and
related infrastructure activities.
Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development
Dr. P. Ramanujam expressed his gratitude to HNB for the willingness to
grant loans to this project jointly with UN-HABITAT, LFSUS and Sri Lanka
Women’s Development Services Cooperative Society (WOMEN’S BANK) and also
he wished to thank, Deputy General Manager of HNB and Chairman of LFSUS
Chandula P. Abeywickrema who has been the “ Leading Light “ in the HNB
Banking Sector for inaugurating this venture to serve the community of
The main purpose of this project is to help the people specially in
urban rural areas to open up a new perspective in their lives, by way of
providing opportunities to develop their business, jobs and also to
assist in obtaining housing loans etc. We need institutes like these in
Sri Lanka which can contribute to and stimulate its national growth in
the country,” he said.
The Kuruniyawatta project is in the outskirts of the Shell-Gas Road
off Kolonnawa main junction within Kolonnawa MC. The total population of
the entire settlement is 235 and their livelihood options comprise
working as Municipal Council labourers, three-wheeler drivers, and other
small scale, low-income business men.
It is a multi-ethnic community inclusive of Sinhalese, Sri Lankan
Tamils, Indian Tamils, Sri Lankan Muslims, Malays and other ethnic
minorities. The proposed development of the Kuruniyawatta settlement
will take place on site as the same land will be utilized for the
development process. Since most of the infrastructure is available
within the settlement, the project will upgrade the existing houses
within the limited area space.
The project has been under the scope of the project partner Women’s
Bank as one of its sustainable development program. Women’s Bank is the
leading community banking system in Sri Lanka which is owned and managed
by women coming from very poor urban and rural communities. It pioneered
the group based saving and credit movement in Sri Lanka, starting in
1989. Women’s Bank is a Cooperative Society.
It is a self-reliant membership organization built, owned and
operated exclusively by the poor women in Sri Lanka. It is engaged in a
mission to put the resources, ideas and support of its own members to
raise their socio-economic and cultural status on the principle of
self-help and mutual help without depending on government and external
The Engineering Company has identified three main improvements to be
done in order to alleviate the living conditions of the dwellers and the
settlements. One of the issues in the settlements is that most of the
inhabitants’ existing housing conditions are poor and inadequate.
There is unhealthy sanitation coupled with insufficient
infrastructure for the whole settlement. The existing settlement covers
the basic infrastructure but the standards and the quality of these
needs to be improved. The hygienic conditions of the settlement are not
up to satisfaction.
Therefore, the flood risk and the infrastructure have also been
identified as significant measures to upgrade the settlement.
The 11 M loan given by HNB will be utilized through LFSUS for its
second housing loan project for the low income settlers. Each
beneficiary will receive an incremental loan to be paid within a three
year period. This will mark a change in their lives as they will be able
to gain a better living environment out of affordable housing loans.