Five Years of Wimmera NILS: showing you the money

Good Shepherd Microfinance’s CEO, Adam Mooney, and Dr Anton Mischewski, General Manager Public Affairs visited Wimmera NILS on Wednesday 17 October to celebrate their 5th birthday.

Called ‘Show You the Money’, the celebration marked five years of microfinance in the Wimmera. As well as benefits to individuals and families in Wimmera, local businesses have had a significant $1,000,000 cash injection for products purchased with the loans.

The event took place at the Wimmera UnitingCare Community Centre in Urquhart Street on the ancestral lands of the Wotjobaluk, Wergaia, Jupagalk, Jaadwa and Jadawadjali peoples.

Wimmera Uniting Care has been an accredited NILS program since November 2007. The first loan was drawn in January 2008. By 2009, Wimmera NILS had introduced specific targeted programs for people experiencing Family Violence and for at risk local youth.

Alison Butler, Microfinance Officer, Wimmera Uniting Care was the MC with the most-est for the afternoon.

There were about forty people present including Robyn Murphy, the original NILS worker and one of the original NILS committee members. Mary Duffield, National Australia Bank, a key partner, offered her congratulations and pledged ongoing support.

Guests from around the district included: Wendy Middleton, CEO of Wimmera Uniting Care, the Major of Yarriambiack Shire, Cr Kylie Zanker, Peter Brown former CEO of Wimmera Uniting Care now CEO of Horsham Rural City Council, Chairman of Wimmera Uniting Care Board, Pam Clarke, Deputy Major Buloke Shire, Cr Leo Tellifson (who gave a fine impromptu piano performance of rag time and boogie-woogie standing up!), Venkat Peteti, General Manager Corporate and Community Services, West Wimmera Shire.

Community organisations represented included Disability Support Employment Providers, Community Axis and Western District Employment Agency, Workco, Business Horsham, the retail and service providers, volunteers and Tom Clarkson, who is on a 12 month mentorship through the Young Leaders for Tomorrow program.

In the past 12 months, to June 2012, Wimmera NILS have written 191 loans and have NAB capital totalling $430,000. To date, there have been a total of 787 loans: 745 as General NILS, 33 to Family Violence and nine to Youth. There has been $733,000 lent and spent in the Wimmera through NILS. A further $213,100 has been loaned through StepUp. 97 % of loan recipients have repaid.

The delivery of NILS in the Wimmera is made possible through the efforts of the many dedicated volunteers. Volunteer Recognition Awards were given to three of the original NILS workers: Graeme Kuhne, John Evans and Renae Bartlett. All of them have been with the program since its inception.

Wimmera UnitingCare has expanded Microfinance to include StepUP loans to help people back into main stream banking and finance.

Alison Butler offered three case studies as a reminder of the benefit of NILS.

One recipient was an 82 year old lady living in her own home in Yarriambiack Shire. An old age pensioner on $800 a fortnight, a friend had told her about NILS to remedy a solution to the absence, for two years, of a cooktop and stove in her life. Merely months later, her veranda blew down. Through her engagement with the programs, she was able to use a StepUP loan for $3,000 to make repairs.

A 63 year old man on Newstart lived with his elderly mother. His car had broken down and needed repairs, a certificate of roadworthiness and registration. Thanks to StepUP he was able to attend to these needs enabling him to look further afield for work.

The third case was of a 17 year old man who doing an apprenticeship. He needed a mobile phone for work but was unable to secure a phone contract. None of his family was able to set up a contract for him. Through a NILS loan he was able to buy a phone that has helped him stay in his apprenticeship.

For any inquiries to the Wimmera NILS program, contact Alison Butler on 03 5362 4000 or

*Please note: The AddsUP program is no longer available. 

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