Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited is the largest and most profitable bank, and by all accounts one of the best-performing companies in Bangladesh, according to the prestigious Forbes magazine.
The US-based business magazine has also found that the Islami Bank has tapped into what is called the country’s “Two Rs” approach: ready-made garments and remittances from workers abroad.
Helping with industrialisation in a labour-intensive sector has generated employment even as millions of migrant workers send wages back home–either way, new customers to be had, the global magazine added.
Small firms that the bank embraced have remained clients as they grow and go into other sectors like steel and power. It notably pushes to help women entrepreneurs, the Forbes said in its article titled ‘Islami Bank: Bangladesh’s Most-Watched Bankers,’ published in July 2016 issue.
Since its inception in 1983 it has grown threefold every five years. It has 10.7 million depositors, 27 per cent of Bangladeshi remittances and 23 per cent of the small and medium enterprises market. Assets, at $9.3 billion, make it nearly the size of AlliedBank in Pakistan or Asia Commercial Bank in Vietnam.
IBBL Managing Director & CEO Mohammad Abdul Mannan said, “According to the central bank’s observation, this bank is the most compliant bank in the country”. Even as it grew, Islami Bank did not venture into businesses that are considered haraam (off-limits), like smoking. The bank finances the import of fertilizers, for instance, but will not finance what’s used to grow tobacco, a big crop in Bangladesh, IBBL MD added.
Bangladesh’s former central banker Dr. Atiur Rahman said that in his seven-year tenure scrutiny of Islami Bank’s operations he never found a direct link to any terrorism-related activities.
Research director of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Fahmida Khatun said, while most of the 56 banks in the country are plagued by rising nonperforming loans, poor management and operational inefficiency–Islami Bank is one of the few that isn’t.