Financial Resilience, or microfinance, provides financially vulnerable people with access to safe and affordable financial products including no interest loans, microenterprise development loans and matched savings. These products are not generally available to financially vulnerable people through mainstream providers of financial services. These loans and matched savings products are offered as an alternative to other high risk, high interest products such as payday loans.
The products are provided in conjunction with financial literacy education to improve financial capacity and lead to greater self-reliance, assisting people to build assets, develop savings and commence on the pathway to financial inclusion.
No Interest Loans (NILS)
The No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) provides access to fair and safe loans for eligible people, with no interest, fees or charges. The repayments are arranged with clients so that they are affordable. There is a range of NILS products available.
NILS loans – are loans available for amounts of up to 1,500 ($2,000 if affected by family or domestic violence) and can be used for a range of purposes including household items like a fridge or washing machine, car registration/repairs, furniture or computers. The repayment period is between 12-18 months.
Eligibility to access NILS:
- people and couples who have a Health Care Card or Pension Card or receive Family Tax Benefit Part A, or Veterans Affairs pension or have an annual salary of less than $45,000 net (singles) or $60,000 net (couples/families); and
- have resided at their current address for three months or more (exceptions possible).
NILS-CV (Household Relief loans) – are loans up to $3,000 for people whose income has been affected by COVID-19 and can be used for payment of rent or rental bond, utilities or rates. The repayment period is between 12-24 months.
Eligibility for NILS-CV (Household Relief) loans is:
- people and couples who have an annual salary of less than $60,000 gross (singles) or less than $100,000 gross (couples/families) at the time they use the service; and
- Their income affected by COVID-19.
NILS for women affected by family and domestic violence (NILS-DV) – are loans available for up to $2,000 to help women with the financial costs of establishing a new household such as relocation expenses, rental bonds, rental payments and essential household items. Women affected by family or domestic violence in the last 10 years and have the capacity to repay the loan are eligible. The repayment period is between 18-24 months.
More information on eligibility, finding a NILS provider, and how to apply can be found here: NILs No Interest Loans – Good Shepherd
Microenterprise Development: Microenterprise (small business) development organisations support individuals on a low income to increase their business planning and workforce skills, support the development of a small business (microenterprises – including providing one-on-one mentoring), and facilitate access to loans. Organisations are required to leverage funding from alternate non-government sources to build the sustainability of the organisation.
Eligibility to access microenterprise services is restricted to:
- people in receipt of an unemployment benefit; and
- women experiencing family or domestic violence for the purpose of assisting these women to become financially independent.
Microenterprise development services funded by DSS include:
Saver Plus provides an opportunity to have every dollar saved (up to $500) matched with an additional dollar for your own or your family’s education-related expenses for items such as computers, uniforms and books. On average, clients participate in the program over a 10-month period, with flexibility in the amount of time a participant can take to complete the program. Participation in four MoneyMinded financial education sessions is part of the program.
Eligibility for Saver Plus is for those in receipt of a Commonwealth social security benefit, allowance or payment.
More information about Saver Plus is available at Saver Plus | Brotherhood of St. Laurence (bsl.org.au)