Amana Bank, Sri Lanka’s only full-fledged Islamic lender, plans to double its branches by expanding in rural areas, forecasting a six-fold growth in demand, stated Gulf Times.
The company, which started in August 2011, will add five outlets this year to its existing 14 and nine in 2013, Colombo-based chief executive officer Faizal Salieh said.
Sri Lankan Islamic banking assets could reach $1.5bn from $250mn now, he added, without specifying a timeframe. Amana posted a net profit of 178mn Sri Lankan rupees ($1.4mn) in the nine months through September and had assets of SLR18bn, according to Salieh.
Amana is targeting unbanked individuals and the small-to-medium sized enterprises that are driving the nation’s growth, Salieh said.
The $59bn economy expanded 8.3% last year, the fastest pace since records began in 1959, as the government boosted spending on roads, ports and power plants following the end of a 26-year war in 2009.
“Islamic finance is at an infant stage in Sri Lanka but it’s developing,” Suresh Perera, a tax and regulatory principal with KPMG Sri Lanka in Colombo, said in an interview recently. “There’s demand from the Muslim population involved in trade and business and there’s also interest from non-Muslims.”
Of the country’s 21.5mn people, about 8% are Muslim, compared with a majority of 69% who are Buddhist, according to the CIA World Factbook. In neighboring India, which has no Islamic finance policies, Muslims account for 13% of the 1.2bn population, the world’s third largest.
Amana’s website shows it has branches concentrated across central Sri Lanka from the west to east coasts, including the capital Colombo and the cities of Kandy, Kattankudy and Mawanella.