Dianne Jensen finds out about the Wesley Mission Queensland No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) providing low income people with funds for essential goods and services—and how your congregation can participate.
When the fridge broke down, the single parent of two boys thought she would have to rent a new one. Instead, thanks to a no-interest loan through the Wesley Mission Queensland (WMQ) NILS program, the young mother was able to buy a new fridge.
“I have saved a lot of money that I couldn’t afford in the first place,” she says. “I compared renting to buying and have saved over $700 in rent/interest/fees and will pay back the loan in half the time!”
Another client, a pensioner, moved into a rental property without a fridge. She was using an esky until NILS lent her money to buy a fridge.
These are just two of the people assisted since WMQ became accredited providers for the NILS program in 2010. NILS is coordinated nationally through Good Shepherd Microfinance with capital provided by the National Australia Bank.
It works on a circular community credit model, providing amounts between $300 and $1200 to those on low incomes for the purchase of essential goods and services. Repayments are used to fund more loans.
Anna Hickey, WMQ senior community services accountant, takes up the story.
“NILS was first offered to clients alongside our emergency relief office in Brisbane. Seeing the potential to benefit more people, we have been expanding our service delivery. We currently deliver in four locations–Carole Park, Fortitude Valley, Chermside and Robina.”
While the amounts vary, even a little help can go a long way, says Anna.
“For many people on low incomes, paying for essential goods and services is a struggle, and the effects of going without can be huge. Without a fridge you can’t store fresh food, without a computer kids can be left behind at school and if you can’t afford the cost of a training course, education can stall before it even begins.”
Anna says that providing loans—rather than handouts—and helping people to budget their repayments are important parts of the scheme. More than 90 per cent of loans are repaid.
“By offering a loan, we are empowering people to make their own choices, providing them with an opportunity to move towards greater self-sufficiency.”
WMQ is looking for volunteers from congregations across Queensland to expand the reach of the NILS scheme. Volunteers will receive training and support to assist clients filling in application packs. All loan assessment and management is handled by WMQ.
To find out more contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07 3621 4384