At least that is our ambition. Last January we supported the DDFC in their strategy development but while we were there, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) announced a consolidation process. The country was over-banked and the 58 financial institutes needed to merge into 20 institutes by July. Out of those 20 the CBSL would appoint 3 as micro finance institute. So that was the ticket we needed to aim for. Our strategy plan was outdated before we finished it.
Many potential merger candidates followed the past 10 months. But Sarvodaya has got a strong vision and mission based on Buddhist principles that we don’t want to dilute. After many negotiations they found a great partner in George Steuart Finance (GSF) and found an investor from Japan. The CBSL agreed and now we have got the micro finance ticket! The past weeks we supported them with the post merger integration plan of the 2 institutions. Eight committees with key people from both organizations have been working on the new strategy, culture, structure and business processes. The legal merger will take another few months. The DDFC and GSF will merge and get a new name: Sarvodaya Finance.
Sri Lanka is a special place for me. I am always astounded how much is possible. Last January we were pretty depressed about the forced consolidation process and see where we are now! Being there confronts me with my Western rational mind including all the limitations and objections that I have. By just being present to what is, without judgment, we have found our way out. We achieved already more than I ever dared to imagine.
PS: The chocolate from the Netherlands is in good hands: three of the grandchildren of the (retired) founder of the bank, dr. A.T. Ariyaratne. Instead of a hotel I prefer to stay at his place. We meditate together before I go nicely dressed up to the bankers.