Hope, self-esteem and 20,000 loans given to low-income Tasmanians

TASMANIA’S own no-interest community lending scheme, The NILS Network, has loaned more than $18 million to low income borrowers since the program was established in 2002.

NILS celebrated the landmark of its 20,000th loan recently by acknowledging NILS volunteers and loan recipients.

“We have reached 20,000 low income households with support for a wide range of items and services, including washing machines, medical/dental expenses, car repairs and education necessities,” NILS executive officer Rick Tipping said.

Kristy [last name withheld for privacy], who was the recipient of the 20,000th loan, used her loan to buy tablets for her children for a new school year.

“The computers will really help get them through their education,” Kristy said.

“The iPads will help them with their reading, writing and maths and I can also work with them to understand internet safety.”

Kristy has previously used NILS to purchase a fridge and an energy and water-efficient washer.

Kristy manages with a combination of part-time wages and some income from Centrelink, but she has to budget carefully.

“I’m really grateful that NILS exists to help me, and people like me,” she said.

“It means I don’t have the stress of borrowing from a payday lender and risk not being able to pay back the high fees and interest.

“A NILS loan is safe and easy to pay back in small amounts.

“And it feels great when you pay off a loan and know that NILS can help again if you need it.”

The NILS program charges no interest or fees, and money repaid to it is issued again in loans to other low-income people.

NILS has had a 97 per cent repayment rate over its 20,000-loan history.

“Lack of capacity to save for unexpected expenses is one of the most common reasons low income Tasmanians can never get ahead,” Mr Tipping said.

“No interest loans provide a safe and affordable answer to this problem.

“NILS is a wonderful partnership of the community sector, government and corporate supporters.”

For more information about NILS and how to get a safe no-interest loan, visit www.nilstasmania.org.au or phone NILS on 1300 301 650.

Caption: 20,000th loan recipient Kristy, left, with NILS executive officer Rick Tipping.