CANBERRANS identified as coming from “vulnerable communities” will soon be able to finance business ideas by borrowing between $3000 and $10,000 through a new micro-credit scheme.The loan scheme, announced today in a statement from Treasurer Andrew Barr, targets people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, migrants, young people and women, as well as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
“We have identified people from these backgrounds as the most likely to be overlooked in having opportunities in developing their business ideas,” a spokesperson from Mr Barr’s office says.
Applications from anyone for micro-credit will be “considered on their merits”, according to the spokesperson, but priority will be given to the target groups.
The micro-credit initiative is a three-way partnership between the ACT Government, Westpac Institutional Bank and Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre, whose Brilliant Ideas program pioneered the idea in Canberra.
The ACT Government has chipped in $400,000 and Westpac are providing $300,000 worth of low interest and fee-free loans for eligible low-income earners who wish to start or expand a business.
The size of the loans will depend on the scale of the business and the viability of the proposal, according to the Treasurer’s office. Repayments will be “structured to be sustainable for the entrepreneurs”.
The micro-credit program will also provide people with training, individual mentoring, peer support and access to networking events, which was allocated funding over four years in the 2013-14 ACT budget.
Lighthouse’s CEO Anna Pino is looking forward to building on the success of the current micro-credit program, Brilliant Ideas, which has already produced a number of success stories.
“Micro-credit loans continue to provide opportunities to a range of people who never thought they would have a chance at improving their lot in life,” Ms Pino says.
“We are also looking forward to continuing our strong working relationship with the ACT Government and to building a similar relationship with Westpac.”