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Australian Bank Unveils Microfinance Programs

To meet the different needs of the low-income Australians in Far North Queensland

National Australia Bank (NAB) together with Shelter Housing Action Cairns (SHAC) and Good Shepherd Youth & Family Services, a community based organisation, has launched Step UP (low interest loans) and Adds UP (matched-savings) programs in Far North Queensland.

Reportedly, these microfinance programs accessible through SHAC include: StepUp (new) – fixed-rate, low interest, unsecured personal loan for amounts between $800 and $3000; AddsUP (new) – a matched-savings plan to promote financial independence and open to people who have repaid their NILS (No Interest Loan Scheme) or Step UP loan. Once $300 is saved, NAB will ‘one-off’ match every dollar up to $500 and NILS (existing) – no-interest loans between $500 -$1000 for individuals living on low incomes, to buy essential household items.

Ms. Wynn Hopkins, chair management committee for SHAC, said: “Every day we see the connection between financial exclusion and homelessness, so we are delighted that this community partnership will extend the microfinance options for people living on low-incomes in Far North Queensland and can help to break the cycle.”

Our success with NILS has reinforced that there is a high demand for these programs, and demonstrates that with the support of our Microfinance Worker, borrowing and saving are achievable goals for people experiencing disadvantage. Now we can offer a range of safe and affordable savings and loan programs to meet the different needs of the communities we help,” she added.

Richard Peters, head of community finance & development team, NAB, said: “The impact of these programs cannot be underestimated. These products meet a very real community need and their expansion across Australia has provided thousands of low-income Australians with positive banking experiences as well as access to fair and affordable credit.”