In 1981, the Good Shepherd Sisters saw an emerging need in the community for safe and affordable credit. One option they considered was loans with no interest, no fees, and no charges – an idea that had never been tried. Advisors warned of the potential risks – those on the lowest incomes would not be able to afford repayments. It would be a highly risky investment. In short: a No Interest Loans scheme wouldn’t work.
Instead of being deterred, the Sisters asked themselves an audacious question: “But what if it does work?” With this question, the first-ever Australian microfinance program was born.
“Good Shepherd took a risk starting NILs. We were told the loans wouldn’t be repaid, but we saw the harm of financial exclusion and felt compelled to act. Today, NILs is a powerful example of how collaboration across sectors achieves powerful results for Australians experiencing vulnerability.” Stella Avramopoulos, CEO, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand.
Proud Norrargga and Kokatha woman Eunice Bartlett, who was approved for a No Interest Loan to pay for desperately needed car repairs, said NILs has made a big difference in her life.
“It gave me back my freedom, to live my life, be there for my kids and grandkids,” Ms Bartlett said.
“I just couldn’t believe it was really no interest. Ever. The repayments for me are $40 a fortnight. The Good Money team (from Good Shepherd) were so helpful in ensuring I could afford to pay that within my budget. They didn’t want to stretch me or make me feel stressed.”
November 3 2023