It gives me great pleasure to report that, your Company, Bimputh Finance PLC recorded a year of exponential growth during the 12 months ending 31st March 2016, achieving its highest ever revenue, profitability and asset growth. With an active borrower base of nearly 140,000 the Company continues to be a pillar of strength to economically underprivileged families in rural Sri Lanka through its unique micro-financing model. The Company business and social performance during the year is testimony to the strength and soundness of our strategy, the resilience of our operations and the commitment of our dynamic team.
CONTEXT TO PERFORMANCE
Sri Lanka's economic growth moderated to 4.8% in 2015 (2014: 4.9%) against the backdrop of two major elections which resulted in uncertain policy direction and investors adopting a wait and see approach. Growth was driven largely by consumption, as expansionary fiscal and monetary policy, credit availability, budget mandated increases in public sector wages and low inflation contributed towards higher purchasing power. Sri Lanka's non-bank-financial-institutions sector performed commendably in this environment, achieving asset and top line growth of 26% and 20% respectively in 2015 underpinned by a 30% growth in credit assets. The NBFI sector continues to play a vital role in supporting the financial requirements of country's small and micro enterprises which usually fall beyond the risk appetite of banks.
Bimputh Finance's key focus area of micro-financing has long been identified as an effective instrument in increasing economic activity and enhancing income generating capabilities of impoverished households, contributing towards poverty alleviation. We welcome the long-awaited enactment of the Micro Finance Act in May 2016, which will provide a cohesive regulatory framework for operations of microfinancing institutions, thereby levelling the playing field and ensuring client protection.
STRATEGY AND PERFORMANCE
The Company's success during the year is largely attributed to the unrelenting focus placed on implementing a cohesive and well-defined strategy, aimed at aptly balancing our business and social commitments. Accordingly, we concentrated on the four key strategic pillars namely; growth, profitability, people development and corporate responsibility. The addition of 24 customer contact points to our island-wide network of branches and service centres enabled us to strengthen our geographical footprint leading to increased customer acquisition. The active member base thus grew by more than 160% during the year while the Company's outstanding loan portfolio more than doubled to LKR 6.77 billion. Continued emphasis on increasing employee productivity and enhancing operational efficiencies together with a smart funding strategy enabled us to widen our profit margins, resulting in the Company's profit after tax more than tripling to LKR 501.7 million during the year. Earnings per share for the year clocked in at LKR 4.66, compared to LKR 1.33 the year before.
COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY
Bimputh Finance's target market and operating model enables us to pro-actively embed sustainability thinking and practices at every level of our business. Our inclusive financial services are directed exclusively towards providing affordable funding to impoverished, self-employed women, enabling them to achieve economic self-sufficiency while uplifting the overall socio-economic status of their families. In addition to financial assistance, our sustainable value proposition comprises of continued investments in member training which provides opportunities for members to enhance entrepreneurial and business management skills, nurturing financial discipline and encouraging savings. During the year, we directly supported the expansion of around 135,000 micro businesses and cottage industries. Meanwhile our training initiatives directly benefited over 12,000 cluster members across the island.
THE STRENGTH OF OUR TEAM
Our remarkable performance during the year is underpinned by the commitment of our team of 686 passionate and highly motivated employees who drive our strategic priorities. Our business model necessitates a unique set of skills in engaging with customers at grass-root level and our employees have been instrumental in nurturing long-standing customer relationships. We in turn provide competitive remuneration and opportunities for skill development in a dynamic and challenging environment. During the year, we added 407 new employees to our team, invested LKR 13.8 million in training and development and further strengthened our employee value proposition.
We look forward to the next financial year with much optimism and will hope to maintain this growth momentum, profitability and social responsibility in a systematic and effective manner. We hope to further expand our geographical footprint in the next year while investments will be made in automating several key business processes which is expected to generate operational efficiencies and reduce costs. Staff training will also be a key priority as we continue to emphasise the development of our human capital. We also hope to pursue aggressive growth in several new lending products that were introduced during the year under review, such Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise loans and housing loans although microfinancing will remain as the Company's key area of priority.
My first year as Chairman has been both rewarding and challenging. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to Mr. Daya Gamage, the Company's visionary founder for the confidence placed in me and his long-standing efforts to bring this Company to its current position. I also extend my appreciation to the colleagues on the Board for their valuable insights and depth of discussions. I commend the efforts of a dynamic and passionate team who have delivered the results set before you. I also would like to extend my gratitude to our valuable customers, shareholders, funding partners and other stakeholders who have supported us throughout the years. Finally, I wish to place on record my appreciation to the officials of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, especially to those attached to Non-Bank Financial Institution Division for their continued guidance.
Mr. D.T. Kingsley Bernard