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Dear *|FNAME|*,

Welcome to the 4th edition of Microfinance Matters! Here we share our recent value-led work across our suite of community focused programs. 

Together we are playing a very important role in enabling economic wellbeing for people on low incomes. We appreciate your support in making a difference for many Australians.

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In this issue:

Diana’s Story – Single Mum provided a fair go 
The No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) enabled single Mum Diana to repair her car, making it easier to take her child with special needs to appointments. Accessing fair and affordable credit through NILS enabled Diana to get her car back on the road and her life on track.  Being able to comfortably manage the fortnightly re-payments guaranteed Diana’s successful completion of the loan, without the struggle. Diana said “I paid it off, and in the blink of an eye it was gone, I feel very lucky.”  Read Diana’s story…  

Outlook for 2014
Adam Mooney, our CEO, shares his outlook for the coming year. It promises to be an exciting and challenging year for Good Shepherd Microfinance and financial inclusion.  Adam highlights the positive impact of the Federal government’s funding plans, their development of a centre of excellence for not-for-profits, the Financial System Inquiry developments, and the G20 in Australia later this year. He also outlines upcoming opportunities and developments for Good Shepherd Microfinance’s programs and partnerships. Read more…

We support Financial Counselling Australia’s submission for ongoing funding
Good Shepherd Microfinance actively supports the vital role of financial counsellors across Australia. We also support Financial Counselling Australia’s (FCA) pre-budget submission for ongoing funding beyond 30 June 2014 to continue providing information, support and advocacy to people in financial difficulty. Read FCA’s submission…

OAM for Queensland volunteer’s work to NILS
For the past 20 years Fay Griffin, an Ipswich great-grandmother, has volunteered to deliver the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) in Queensland. Fay was nominated for an OAM from within her local community for this tireless and long-term work. The 80-year-old said she was the only one to volunteer to get the program up and running when it began in 1994. Upon receiving the nomination, Australia Day officials confirmed her outstanding efforts with Good Shepherd Microfinance. Read the article… 

AddsUP Savings Program reaches $500,000 in matched savings!
The AddsUP Savings Plan is a $500 matched savings program developed as a joint initiative between Good Shepherd Microfinance and the National Australia Bank.  It is designed to encourage Australians living on low incomes to develop financial independence through savings and further build on financial capabilities demonstrated through the completion of a No Interest Loan (NILS) or StepUP loan (low interest).
 
By December 2013, the program reached a total of $500,000 in matched savings. Want to know more about this impactful program, including how to support its growth? Read more…
Get ready for the 2014 National NILS Conference

Save the dates of 12 & 13 June for the 2014 National NILS Conference in Brisbane!  All supporters of NILS are welcome to attend. A great line up is being put together - keep an eye out for updates on our website and social media! 
 

Women’s World Banking Gender Performance Indicators
The recently released Women’s World Banking report shares their recently created evaluation framework and gender performance indicators. These allow microfinance providers, such as Good Shepherd Microfinance, to measure how effectively they are serving women.

The report also provides more evidence that women are consistently more likely to use their income to make productive investments in the things that really count, like essential goods and services. Read the report…
Good Shepherd Asia Pacific website launched
 
It is with great excitement we share that the Good Shepherd Asia Pacific website has been launched. The aim of the website is to further the network’s intention of: concertedly stimulating or retaining interest, attracting funding opportunities and partnerships, and increase the visibility of the essential and inspiring work that happens within Good Shepherd across our region.
 
For Good Shepherd Microfinance, this is an important opportunity to support and extend regional income generation projects through enterprise development (microfinance) which we are now scoping and hope to coordinate.
 
Amongst the information about projects, campaigns, photographs, and documents, are personal profiles of key people in the network, and their relationship with Good Shepherd. Read Adam’s profile, and the story of why he was attracted to being involved in Good Shepherd’s mission.
 
The official launch of the website will be on International Women’s Day, March 8th.

Committed to Reconciliation
On December 10 2013, International Human Rights Day and the 21st anniversary of Prime Minister Paul Keating’s famous Redfern address, Good Shepherd launched our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

The purpose of our RAP over the next two years is to ‘turn good intentions into action that works’ to strengthen relationships, demonstrate respect and undertake mutually beneficial opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.  All six Good Shepherd agencies in Australia have worked together through a focused working group to share our unique strengths in partnership with several Aboriginal stakeholders to develop these actions. Read More…

Watch our video outlining our commitment to reconciliation.
Financial System Inquiry - Treasurer announces members and final terms of reference

In December the Treasurer announced the members and final terms of reference for the Australian Financial System Inquiry.
 
The final terms of reference have changed slightly, however Good Shepherd Microfinance was not successful in having ‘financial exclusion’ specifically included.  However, we are comforted by the reference to an examination of the ‘cost, quality, safety and availability of financial services… for users’.
 
So far, there has been little coverage of this announcement, with an AAP article being picked up by News, Fairfax and the ABC.  ABC Radio’s World Today program had a good focus on this.
 
We will actively participate in this Inquiry in 2014.  There will be a mid-year interim review report and a final report in November 2014.

Rethinking Financial Inclusion – Adam Mooney at Harvard
This month, our CEO, Adam Mooney, will participate in a week long program called Rethinking Financial Inclusion, at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Adam’s learning will provide additional information and understanding for our published work about the business and economic case for financial inclusion which will be distributed in the coming months.
During his visit to the U.S., Adam will also meet with the Center for Financial Inclusion, Women’s World Banking, Deutsche Bank, Citi, Accion, Good Shepherd Services and others. Read more…

Insurance for Australians living on low incomes
Throughout 2013, Good Shepherd Microfinance worked with partners from the community, consumer advocates, insurance industry and government to explore the insurance needs of Australian living on low incomes.  We welcomed the release of the Insurance Council’s paper - The Understand Insurance Research Report in October 2013.  Recent discussions with Rob Whelan, Executive Director & CEO at the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) give us great confidence that we will be able to continue to work with the insurance sector to ensure that products are available that cater to the needs of individuals with low and limited incomes.

The ICA has also made available resources via the Understand Insurance website which covers almost every type of insurance – home, contents, car, travel, boat, business and even pet insurance.  This website is packed with useful resources, checklists and top tips, as well as real testimonials from everyday Australians who talk about their experiences with insurance, from a smooth claims process through to the consequences of not having insurance when something goes wrong.
 
It also offers useful tools to help you find an insurer or an insurance broker, or calculate the value of your home and your contents to help prevent underinsurance.  
 
Follow Understand Insurance on Twitter @UIAUS or like Understand Insurance on Facebook. www.facebook.com.au/understandinsurance
 
Watch this space for more news as we continue to work toward bringing appropriate insurance products to the market.