A loan scheme established almost 20 years ago to enable low income earners to access an alternative form of credit has marked three million dollars in loans. The Josephite Foundation No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) was founded in Bathurst in 1999 by the Sisters of St Joseph.
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It enables low income earners to access an alternative form of credit to purchase essential household items.
The loans do not attract interest and there are no fees, and once the borrower begins repayments the funds are then available for someone else in the community to borrow.
Executive Officer with the Josephite Foundation, Kirsty Gilmore, said the NILS has expanded to other regional communities including Lithgow, Cowra and Young.
“So far we’ve loaned $3,004,000. Our first loan was in Bathurst back in 1999. What we aimed to do is give people on a low income access to fair and affordable finance,” she said.
She said often people who fall into this category aren’t eligible for personal loans and credit cards and are forced to borrow from pay day lenders or obtain the item on a rent to buy scheme, both of which charge exorbitant fees, and people can end up paying up to three times the amount of the retail price of the item.
“They feel they have no other choice, and they get sucked into the debt trap and can’t get out,” she said.
“With NILS, there is no interest, no fees and the repayments can be as little as $20 a fortnight.”
Ms Gilmore said borrowers use the money for essential household furniture, white goods and mobility aids, to name just a few examples.
“The loans really are life changing. We’ve had one lady take out 15 of them, and she has been able to update everything in her house,” she said.
Those eligible for a loan must live in the Local Government Area, and have lived at their current address for at least six months.
They must also have a current Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card, and can afford to repay the loan in small fortnightly repayments.
The scheme has also recently been opened to low income earners who are working.
To find out more about NILS, contact the Cowra Information & Neighbourhood Centre on 02 6340 1100.
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