Bank of New Zealand’s $50 million commitment to the future of microfinance has been welcomed by Good Shepherd New Zealand, a national leader in microfinance and financial inclusion.
BNZ has announced that it will make $50 million in loan capital available to support the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) and StepUP low interest loan program – programs that enable those living on low incomes to secure safe, fair and affordable loans to pay for life’s essentials.
Fleur Howard, Chief Executive at Good Shepherd NZ, said the NILS and StepUP programs were a valuable alternative for people who can’t access a bank loan.
“NILS and StepUP enable people to replace a broken fridge, buy a computer to study, or a car to gets them to and from work. All those things that you take for granted when you have access to a credit card or savings,” said Ms Howard.
“Without NILS and StepUP, these people would have little choice but to turn to other high cost finance companies that invariably, make the customer’s financial situation even worse.”
Ms Howard said BNZ’s commitment gave the NILS and StepUP programs certainty and would allow Good Shepherd NZ to plan for their future.
“This is a significant, long term investment in the future of inclusive finance in New Zealand. One that enables us to continue to grow our no interest and low interest loan programs.
“The size of BNZ’s commitment shows they’re committed to the future of microfinance in New Zealand and means we can explore new and innovative ways to support people experiencing financial exclusion.”
Ms Howard said she was excited to have a commitment from such a large corporate partner, and was looking forward to working with the New Zealand Government to extend the reach of NILS and StepUP and improve access safe, fair and affordable loans.
“We have the capital ready and waiting, now we just need to make sure it gets to the people who need it. The Ministry of Social Development was integral to the creation of NILS and StepUP and we’ll be talking to them about how we can build on the programs’ success.”
“NILS and StepUP are more than just loans – as part of the application process every client has a financial conversation which can help break the cycle of disadvantage. NILS and StepUP can be a game changer for clients and together with BNZ and the New Zealand Government we can change lives,” said Ms Howard.
About NILS and StepUP:
- StepUP is a low fixed-interest loan with no fees, for people on low incomes. You can borrow up to $5,000 and have up to three years to pay it back. StepUP Loans can be used for second hand cars, household appliances, computers, medical expenses and education costs.
- NILS interest free loans are up to $1,000 and can be used for essential goods and services such as beds, dining room furniture, lounge suites and fridges.
- Borrowers can access these loans by making an appointment for an interview at either the Manukau or Henderson Salvation Army sites.