Norma worked in the community sector and was forced to retire early due to a work accident. Damien worked in commercial banking, and became disillusioned with their values. They met at Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand.
“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 been a great advocate for NILS and for raising awareness of the dangers of rent-to-buy companies.
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.”
For more about the No Interest Loan Scheme, including your local provider, visit www.nils.com.au.