St Francis Trust to offer interest-free loans

St Francis Trust - Poverty in New Zealand

Supporting people to become financially independent is behind an initiative to provide Dunedin people with interest-free loans.

The St Francis of Assisi Dunedin Trust has been formed to provide micro-loans to people in need of a helping hand, especially in a crisis situation.

The initiative by a small group of Dunedin Catholics, was prompted by The Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty.

The Advisory Group recommended reducing debt as a major way to improve the circumstances of disadvantaged children in New Zealand, and the Parish Priest of Forbury, Dunedin, Fr Gerard Aynsley asked the community whether it could help address the problem.

With it’s focus in South Dunedin, the St Francis Trust has formed a relationship with South Auckland based Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust enabling the St Francis Trust to provide

  • a no interest loans of up to $1500 to purchase a household asset, e.g. washing machine, TV or computer or for paying the likes of medical, dental, car repair or school uniform bills
  • a debt relief loan of up to $2500 to help pay off a high-interest loan.

Spokesperson for the St Francis Trust, Lynne Toomey said that loaning people money is legally quite complicated, but Nga Tangata through their relationships with the Good Shepherd Microfinance Trust in Australia, the NZ Council of Christian Social Services, the NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services, have excellent systems in place.

Kiwi Bank provides Nga Tangata with the loan capital.

Toomey says the trust is also keen to look at other ways of helping people with financial problems.

“We know we won’t be able to solve all their financial worries, but we’re particularly keen to help people look at all the options before taking on high-interest loans”, she told CathNews.

The St Francis Trust is also using the opportunity of providing the loan as a way towards giving people financial literacy, and is keen that people learn to budget for themselves.

“Those who get a loan are required to work with budget advisors for the duration of the loan”, she said.

To make the service more accessible, the St Francis Trust, through Church Resources, has set up an free call number 0800 086 177.

The St Francis Trust is keen for parishioners and members of the community to become directly involved in the work and development of the trust. Those looking to get involved are welcome to email:


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