John never expected to find himself in need of support with a background in Rapid Situation Assessment research in various countries across South-East Asia and across Australia. But, after a divorce and the discovery of chronic liver disease which is developing into cancer he found that “life can be cruel, especially with banks”.
John was told he would have to wait 5-7 years until he could apply for a loan because during his divorce he had a bad credit rating due to not being able to cope. He wasn’t even given a second chance, or extra support, even though until very recently he was well-treated client when he was someone with a steady income.
Suddenly left high and dry, John, like so many others, turned to pay day loans, borrowing $150 and paying back $250 or more each time from various different companies such as Dollars Direct, Nimble, and Money 3. Then, by chance, John walked into Good Money thinking it was another pay day loan company, only to be relieved his prayers had been answered. Going through the process he realised: "you are a person with Good Money. I'm not a number - I'm John."
Through John’s previous work, he was well aware of the power and success of microfinance throughout Asia, and was overjoyed to know Good Money was a microfinance model which was non-profit but partnered with government and corporate to ensure scale and success. Though, what he appreciates best of all is that it is circular community credit, so John “felt more committed to repaying, as I had a stake in it. The establishment was created and runs for me, not for the stakeholders.”
So suddenly, after a long period of alienation, struggle and believing he was going nowhere, the loan process overwhelmed John with gratitude: “they looked at me like a person, and were warm and friendly. I was feeling swamped and needed to hit the pause button. They made me realise I had options, and another chance by sorting out my issues with Centrelink and giving me a loan.”
So, John went searching for the essentials to get him back on track. He bought a washing machine for his apartment in public housing, and a television so that his ten year old son would enjoy staying with him on the long weekends and holidays. Suddenly, John felt like “things were getting back together”, he was so happy to buy his own new things, and helped with self-esteem, and his previous wife saw that he now had a good home to look after their son in: "that loan was a real life saver!"
Now, John often drops in to Good Money Collingwood to say hello, always walking away with a smile. John reflects that Good Money has “helped a part of my life come back to normalcy and start dreaming again. I believe in Good Money so much that I'd give $50 off Newstart to keep this place open if need be.”
About Good Money: Good Money community finance stores offer safe, affordable and responsible financial services for people on low incomes who are otherwise excluded from mainstream financial services. Three stand-alone retail shop fronts operate on main streets of Collingwood, Geelong and Dandenong in Victoria, with a fourth store to open in Adelaide early 2015. Good Money is a joint community partnership between Good Shepherd Microfinance, the National Australia Bank (NAB) and the State Government of Victoria. To find out more, visit www.goodmoney.com.au
We’re working with Carers Queensland, Carers South Australia and Carers Victoria to improve the economic wellbeing of people like Jess.