The origin of our no and low interest loans
The Sisters of the Good Shepherd have a long history of making no interest loans to people in their communities. In Auckland in the 1990s, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd provided small, no interest loans to families from refugee backgrounds to help with family reunification costs. Prior to this, in Melbourne, the Sisters had been providing loans for essential household items since the early 1980s. All of these loans were provided with no interest, and people were trusted to repay them so the money could be loaned again to benefit others in their community.
Now, NILS (No Interest Loan Scheme) can be found in 600 locations across Australia, and in 34 locations across New Zealand. Good Shepherd NZ works with community organisations to deliver the loans, with support from the Ministry for Social Development. We partner with BNZ to meet the ongoing need for fair and affordable finance, and together we’ve established StepUP low interest loans to work alongside NILS for those who need larger loans for purchases such as cars.
What people say about our loans
When you can’t eat what you like, everything is very bleak and dark. I am now very happy.” Maria had always had trouble with her teeth, but due to expensive dentist costs and a limited income she was never able to prioritise her dental health. Maria used her StepUP loan to fix her teeth, and had enough money left over to ensure her car passed its warrant. Her car is her lifeline to her family and community. “I use my car to attend my hospital appointments and to visit my children every week.”
Maria had tried elsewhere for a loan. “I tried all my possibilities…. but they all wanted guarantees, asking if I owned my own house or business.” In mainstream financial services the loan Maria needed was small, but the outcomes would be life-changing. Maria found the loan process fast, efficient and easy to understand. Her StepUP loan gave her the confidence to smile again and kept her car on the road. “You changed my life”, Maria told Jodi, her loan worker from The Salvation Army.
Kamela was completely reliant on public transport and worked while studying so she could help her family with the bills. She really wanted to buy a car, but a visit to a bank to enquire about a loan was disheartening. Then at a financial literacy course being held at their church, Kamela’s mum heard about the StepUP loans provided by Vaka Tautua.
Fast forward a couple of months and Kamela is driving a Hyundai she bought with her StepUP loan. “I was nervous as I wasn’t thinking I’d get it knowing I am a student and helping my family and paying off bills and stuff. It was one of the best days of my life when I got the phone call saying the loan had been approved,” Kamela says. “Vaka Tautua has very friendly and awesome staff. “I was so grateful that Vaka Tautua offered me this opportunity and it got me what I wanted and helped me get to work and to church and to wherever I want to go. It’s amazing,” she says.
“I am not young, I am not working – there were many things stopping me from getting a loan.” Then a friend told Les about the StepUP low interest loan scheme. “I have been able to have a loan that I can comfortably afford to pay back and that has had a big impact on my life,” Les says. His car is not only comfortable, but ensures his independence. It means Les doesn’t have to put a strain on his family to visit or provide transport. He can be spontaneous and go for a picnic at the beach if he wants. “Just to have that freedom is worth a lot,” says Les.
The affordable repayments mean if Les follows budget he can even save money on his pension. Les explains the loan application process was simple. “I was told to bring in a bank statement and ID and talk to a gentleman – that was all that was needed. He made me feel at ease. They made it known to me that they would work out a budget which would tell them how much I could borrow and repay safely,” Les says. “And within a week I had a new car.”
Beth is a busy single mother of six children aged between one and 14. She took out a low interest loan for course fees to train in a new career. If I hadn’t been able to get this loan I wouldn’t have been able to do this course,” she says. “Going off the benefit is my main goal. I want to be my own boss,” Beth says.
She finds the loan repayments really manageable. “I have always been quite a good budgeter. I know what I have got coming in each week and what needs to go out. My repayments are around $18 a week and it isn’t much – I don’t really notice it coming out,” Beth says. “There’s no hidden fees or anything, its low interest and it shouldn’t take me too long to pay off because you are paying a good chunk of (principal) payments each month.” She found the loan application process easy and The Salvation Army loan worker was friendly and helpful.
Beth is proud her kids now see her studying. “It’s definitely an investment in my future,” she says.