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Bank Rakyat Indonesia goes 'ultra-micro' in search for growth

Top executive Sunarso vows to manage risk via big data and vast agent network

Sunarso, Bank Rakyat Indonesia's top executive, aims for it to stand out by diving deep into what is known as the "ultra-micro" lending sector. (Source photos by BRI and Nozomu Ogawa)

JAKARTA -- Bank Rakyat Indonesia, the country's largest lender by assets, was flying high prior to the coronavirus pandemic: Of the five largest banks by assets, BRI was the only one that had recorded 20 consecutive years of growth in annual net profit.

But as COVID-19 hit the sprawling archipelago and forced the government to restrict economic activity, BRI's streak came to an end. The state-owned bank was one of the worst affected, with its core customer base being the micro, small and medium enterprises that bore the brunt of the slowdown.

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