BNZ and Good Shepherd NZ have partnered to develop the Community Finance Initiative. This provides low and no interest loans to people with low incomes who have exhausted options with Work and Income, and don’t meet bank lending criteria.
There are two loans available, both with no set-up fees. The first is a no-interest loan of up to $1,000. The second is a StepUP loan of up to $5,000 and clients have up to five years to repay it. After a pilot in 2014 at Salvation Army centres in Manukau and Waitakere, the Ministry of Social Development provided funding to help the initiative expand. It is now in 12 regions across New Zealand.
Good Shepherd NZ aims to support women and girls to fulfil their goals, socially and economically. A fair, safe and affordable credit option for New Zealanders living on low incomes is part of that.
Community Finance has now initiated more than 2,000 financial conversations with New Zealanders living on low incomes. It has provided more than 500 loans, with a total value over $1 million. This is estimated to have saved customers almost $700,000 in interest alone.