Good Shepherd Microfinance is Australia's largest microfinance organisation. We offer a range of people-centred, affordable financial programs for people on low incomes at different financial stages of their lives. Our aim, together with those of our community partners, is to enable clients to realise their own economic wellbeing, as they define it themselves, through appropriate financial services. As a result, people feel valued, accepted, included and in control of their own finances and lives.
To enable economic wellbeing and resilience for people on low incomes, especially women and girls.
Human dignity, respect, social justice, audacity, compassion and reconciliation.
Trust between people enables us to live full lives. We feel connected and know that we belong. When someone looks you in the eye you sometimes know that they are motivated by goodness, kindness and generosity and that they care ...Read more
As partners in the community Good Shepherd Microfinance is making good progress against our stretching goals and priorities set by the Board and outlined in Count Me In for 2013 to 2018. The second year of this strategy saw ...Read more
of Good Money customers felt more positive about the future after their Good Money appointment
Financial conversations through StepUP
NILS loans were written this year
Women & Money: An introduction to financial abuse – Australia's first online training program on financial abuse launched
I had an Aboriginal client who moved from a remote region on the border of South Australia to metropolitan Adelaide. She moved because she couldn't see a future for her children there. She had real concerns about them falling into the cycle of alcohol and drugs and wanted to do something to stop it. She was very proud of her children and she had a really warm, comforting nature, but you could tell that she'd done it really tough and it was a huge thing for her to go miles away from her family.
She was referred to us by the Salvation Army for a NILS loan. She had excellent budgeting skills, and all her paperwork ticked all the boxes. The washing machine was delivered and she was very happy with the process.
She called about two months later to update her contact details. She had to leave her house because of domestic violence and she was now living in a shelter with her children.
She called again to say she was ok and that she'd worked out she could afford to increase her loan payments, she wanted to get her loan paid back as soon as she could. I found it really admirable of her to be so diligent in paying back, I think she was so grateful for the help and to be heard. Through all her troubles she didn't miss a payment.
Of course family violence affects all demographics. We had another client recently, a young girl in her mid-twenties. She had been holding down two jobs leading a very 'normal' lifestyle living with her partner and the violence seemed to happen quite suddenly. She was so badly beaten she was hospitalised for months. She had suffered extensive brain damage and was left permanently disabled. Her mother said she was lucky to be alive.
A domestic violence organisation was able to set her up
A domestic violence organisation was able to set her up in a unit of her own, but it was completely empty. After the incident her family couldn't get access to any of her things, so her mother called us to see if we could help. The young girl came to the interview determined to go through the process herself. It took a great amount of time and effort on her behalf, you could see the frustration within her, but she did it.
There were no problems with the loan, she had no debts but obviously she couldn't supply us with all the necessary documents because she had literally lost everything. In family violence situations we are able to make exemptions and alterations to the loan process if necessary – which is what we did in this case.
Her determination to be independent again and to start her new life was so inspiring. This case made me realise that every day brings you something different, you just never know what you'll be presented with.
There's a lot of ignorance around poverty in this country and South Australia has one of the highest rates of unemployment. NILS opens a door for people on low incomes and gives them safe access to funds to help themselves. There are so many parts of my job that I love, but that's the best bit and that's what I try and do every day.
There are nine dedicated family violence providers across NSW, QLD and VIC in the NILS network
Salisbury Community Organisation Against Poverty (SCOAP)
Our national No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) network continues to be a progressive example of people and community working together. Our life-changing no interest, no fee loan remains one of the only safe, fair and affordable alternatives for people on low incomes who are excluded from mainstream finance.
This year 22,191 loans were written totalling over $20 million.
Women were again the primary borrowers at 67 per cent of all loan recipients and the most common age of borrowers was between 35-44.
The average loan amount was $916 with the most popular items purchased being fridges and household furniture. This year however, loans for vehicle registrations almost tripled to come a close third.
Delays and changes to funding impacted on our microfinance provider network and resulted in a slight decline in the number of loans written from 24,378 in 2014 to 22,191 in 2015.
The low interest, no fee StepUP loan is for people on low incomes who have difficulty accessing credit from a bank. You can borrow from $800 – $3,000 with up to three years to pay it back.
Last year, in partnership with National Australia Bank, StepUP workers approved 2,609 loans.
The StepUP product is popular with a younger clientele than NILS, with the majority of clients being between 18-34 years old.
Like the rest of our financial products women are the principal loan recipients, at 58 per cent, and 6.4 per cent of StepUP clients identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.
Vehicles continued to be the most popular loan purpose with 69 per cent of borrowers using StepUP to buy a second-hand car which contributes to an individual's quality of life.
Our ground-breaking Good Money stores offer safe and affordable financial services to people on low incomes. The innovative retail-store model delivers a complete customer experience by offering all our financial products alongside services such as financial counselling and referral pathways for people experiencing financial difficulty.
The stores are located at prominent sites in the heart of the community, allowing those who are otherwise excluded from mainstream financial services to access responsible lending in a supported and financially integrated way.
In partnership with NAB and the Victorian State Government, over the past three years the three Good Money stores in Victoria have written more than 2,400 loans for clients, with 1,128 of them written in 2014-15, as well as 5,573 confidential financial conversations.
This year saw continued investment from the Victorian Government of $1.6 million. This will ensure that NILS and StepUP loans, the AddsUp matched savings program, as well as referrals to financial counselling and other community services remain available to people in the surrounding areas of Collingwood, Dandenong and Geelong.
I was reading the Cairns Post and saw an advertisement for the StepUP loan. I really wanted a car. I needed it for my independence, so I thought I would get in touch and that's how I met Julie.
Julie has helped me a lot. She's a very, very kind-hearted lady and has a nice sense of humour. She's very easy to get along with and I am very happy to have met her, we have become good friends.
I'm a pensioner now. I would like to work, but no one wants to employ me – I am over the hill I guess! So, for me having a car is very important it makes me independent. It also saves me a lot of time and I can go anywhere I want, whenever I want. I wouldn't be where I am today without my car. I wouldn't be happy.
Financial organisations around Australia have made it very difficult for low income earners to have a loan or borrow money to meet their requirements.
We all have requirements for making life a little easier – a car is very important to everybody, particularly in Cairns where public transport is not very efficient and it's not possible to get everywhere you'd like to go.
These programs change people's lives. Not just by making essential items possible but by helping keep vulnerable clients away from payday lenders. I've seen them openly prey on people up here.
The hardest part of my job is saying no to clients when you can see they are really in need but you still have to say no. They rarely leave with nothing though. I can go through their bank statements and make suggestions where they can avoid fees or save money. Some clients act on that, they sort themselves out and when they come back with their finances more streamlined I'm able to take a new application to the loan committee and show they've taken my advice on board and followed through with it.
I can also help when they produce their income statement. I can see if they're getting the proper payment. For a lot of people as long as there is a payment every fortnight, they understand that they've been paid – regardless of the fact it may be incorrect.
Robert was someone who took my advice. I could see he was prepared to work with the program. I admire his honesty and his commitment. In this job I really enjoy the building of relationships with people, and Robert and I get along really well.
I probably do a lot more for clients than I am required to, but I can't let them walk out the door when I can see they're being ripped off. You find that if you don't do anything about it when you have them in front of you, once they walk out the door you may never see them again.
Shelter Housing Action Cairns (SHAC)
I used to work in the community sector. I studied for a Diploma in Community Welfare and became a Community Welfare Officer. I used to refer people to NILS, showing them how to apply and helping them through the application process.
After an accident, I had to take early retirement from work. Since then I've been living on a disability pension which means I've had to be careful with my money.
I needed a new fridge. I wanted something bigger and more modern, but it was a lot of money to pay out in one go and I couldn't afford it on my income. And then I remembered NILS loans!
I think it was meant to be that I met Damien. From memory he was only new then. He was very understanding and had that empathy, took in everything you said. Actually, from the day I first walked in everyone there was so nice.
Damien took me through the paperwork and within a couple of days I had the loan. Like I said he was very pleasant and understanding. Some people can work in jobs like that, some can't.
After having to leave your job – when you had no choice about it, you feel like everything has gone. When I was successful in getting that loan, it picked me up. I felt I was in control again.
Before working in Microfinance I'd been working in investment banking in London. Then gradually I came to the realisation I didn't want to do that anymore. I didn't want to sacrifice my own values, for the company.
When Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Prize I started researching Microfinance and joined the Microfinance Club UK. I attended seminars and heard experts from around the world come and speak about microfinance. Then I completed a university course and eventually moved back to Australia.
I started working at GSNZ as a NILS officer. The best part of my job was seeing the difference the product makes in the clients' lives. It's really rewarding.
Norma was the second or third client I'd ever had. She said she was quite nervous. She used to be a community worker herself, so she was normally the one sitting in my seat. She was very proactive and had all the information very organised and she managed her money very well. She said afterwards that the process was actually a lot easier and less scary than she was expecting.
Norma is very committed to helping people, you know that just by talking to her. She's had some bad experiences, but now she's out there making a difference as well and making our work a lot easier.
I've realised the loans and the conversations as well, have an extensive impact beyond just the approval process. You see people are really happy when they're offered a loan, but I guess you don’t see or quantify all the other things that go with it – like the injection of confidence.
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
NAB and Good Shepherd Microfinance have developed a valued and trusted partnership to build financial capability and foster financial inclusion.
We share a goal to reach one million people with microfinance by 2018. NAB's investment in our partnership is valued at more than $8 million including $2 million in direct program funding.