Small loans, big difference

How we make a difference
is really giving them an option
when there are often
no safe or affordable options.
My name is Tai Lee.I’m the community finance
store manager
here at Good Money in Geelong.We’re a part of the NILS network
of the Good Shepherd Microfinance,
and we have an aim of helping
1 million people before 2018.
There’s about 17% of adults
in Australia
are financially excluded,so if you look at that
as a total population,
that’s just under two out of 10.Because I’d worked my whole life,I guess I never thought
that I’d ever be in the position
of being where I was.But I walked away from the house
with virtually my clothes and a car.
It’s hard to get hired
as a single mum
because you take more sick days
than normal,
you can only go between
certain times of the day
because of school hours.I was by myself and trying
to make ends meet –
food and electricity
and just all the bills.
It was really super hard.Your everyday life
on a reduced budget,
it really does have a huge impact.Those pressures
not only become financial,
they become emotional.It wasn’t till probably
a month or two into the course
that I found out the fees were gonna
be as high as what they were.
I nearly went to water.I spoke to the student adviser thereand she put me onto basically the
NILS – the No Interest Loan Scheme –
to go and get some help,because I didn’t have that amount
of money just sitting in the bank.
The money had run out.I had the apartment to go to
but had no furniture.
I had nothing.The options are…I guess people go
to… You know these payday lenders?
You’ve got extraordinary amounts
of interest to pay back.
The NILS network of
the Good Shepherd Microfinance
are a safe and affordable optionthat are either low interest
or no interest at all.
There’s no fees attached to them.It’s really about
the client’s situation
and understanding
how we can benefit them.
I needed a car because I had no carand it was really hard, like,
getting my daughter to school.
I was embarrassed, um, sort of down,
didn’t really want to ask.
I nearly had to be prompted
for the questions.
But when they’ve come in,
we go through and we talk to them.
They open up to us.So they’d say, “If you are
struggling, come and speak to us.”
So it wasn’t like
they just gave you the loan
and kicked you out the door.We make sure that the client
feels valued.
The help and assistance
Good Shepherd Microfinance show you
as you walk in the door,it was just…
I found it quite amazing, you know.
It wasn’t just the loan,
it was they cared.
I went home and gave them a calland just told them a little bit
about basically what I was getting
and why it was
that I wanted the loan.
So she sent
the information pack out.
I called back. I said I wanted to
make the appointment straightaway.
We want to make sure that they have
the ability to repay the loan,
but more importantly,
we want to make sure
that what they’re using the money
for is really gonna help them.
Within the week, I had a cheque,
um, basically for the TAFE,
and I took it in
and my fees were paid.
So that was a relief.And then I ended up getting
the washing machine.
My first new appliance.It’s an enormous relief to think you
can buy food, you can fill it up,
put whatever you like in it
and it will last.
I didn’t know there was
anything available like that,
and that’s the big thing.I think that people need to knowthat that’s out there
and you can get help.
So, I was just telling people
about it.
Anyone I could hear,
anyone that would listen,
’cause I knew how great it was and
I know how much it changed my life
and benefited my life
that I wanted that for others.
As soon as they’ve walked out
the door,
you can actually see them lift.They can…you can see them
take hold of their situation.
There’s a future for everybody.I don’t care how far
people are down, there’s a future.
It gives you that feeling of safety
that you’re gonna be OK
and that you can do whatever it is
that you want to do.
That’s essentially
what the loan had given me,
was I can now achieve things.To be able to go in and offer thema safe, affordable option
sounds small,
but on that individual,
it can have a huge impact.

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