What are No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS)®?
Good Shepherd Microfinance’s No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS®) provides individuals and families on low incomes with access to safe, fair and affordable credit for essential goods and services. NILS® isn’t a payday loan and it’s not a bank loan. NILS® works through a process called 'circular community credit'. This means when a borrower makes a repayment to NILS®, the funds are then available to someone else in the community.
Good Shepherd Microfinance works with accredited community organisations across NSW and Australia to deliver NILS®. NSW Fair Trading supports community organisations accredited by Good Shepherd Microfinance with funding contributions for salaries and salary on-costs of employees to deliver NILS® in NSW.
Am I eligible?
To qualify for NILS® you must:
- have a health care card/pension card
- reside in your current premises for more than three months
- show willingness and capacity to repay the loan.
How much can I borrow?
Loan amounts are between $300 – $1,200 for essential goods and services. There are no fees and no interest. Repayments are set up at an affordable amount over 12 – 18 months.
What can I spend a NILS® loan on?
You can use NILS® loans for:
- household items like fridges, washing machines, stoves, dryers, freezers and furniture
- some medical and dental services
- education essentials such as computers and textbooks
- some other item as requested.
NILS® loans cannot be used to pay:
- by cash
- bond or rent arrears
- debt consolidation
How do I apply for NILS®?
To find your nearest NILS® provider, visit www.NILS.com.au, www.nilsnswfindascheme.org.au or call 1800 50 9994. Your provider will ask you to send in some documents and set up a meeting time with you. After your interview, your loan application will be assessed. If your loan is approved you will need to sign a loan agreement and confirm the repayment terms with your NILS® provider. The loan funds are paid to the supplier.
Why consider a NILS® loan?
When you take out a NILS® loan you will deal with a dedicated worker who can tailor the loan and the repayments specifically to your budget and circumstances. The service is free and confidential. NILS® workers listen to you and treat you with respect.
NILS® loans don’t have any fees and are interest-free. NILS® loans aren’t charity. They are a fair and affordable way to access credit. When you pay the loan back the money is available for someone else in the community to borrow it.
Alternatives to NILS® such as payday loans or rent-to-buy schemes have a lot of hidden fees and you can end up paying a lot more for the product than it’s actually worth. The interest on the repayments can also get you into a worse financial position than you are currently in.
Can I get more than one NILS® loan?
You can only take out one NILS® loan at a time. When you have fully repaid it, you can apply for another one.
Where can I find a NILS® service?
There are over 150 NILS providers currently operating in NSW. Providers are NILS accredited community-based organisations such as Neighbourhood Houses or local faith-based organisations. Visit the NILS website or call 1800 50 9994 to find your nearest NILS® provider.
What if I don't qualify?
If you’re not eligible for a NILS® loan or have other credit and debt issues, contact Fair Trading on 13 32 20 for further help and assistance. Fair Trading will be able to give you other options like talking to a free and confidential financial counsellor about how to get your finances sorted.
Indira’s washing machine broke down and couldn’t be repaired. She couldn’t afford a new one and had been doing all the family’s washing in the bathtub for a month when a friend told her about NILS®. Indira and her NILS® provider examined her budget and worked out a repayment plan for Indira. She chose a washing machine from a catalogue that was in the price range available under the NILS® loan and the washing machine was delivered to her home.
Indira is close to making her final repayment and is very pleased with the way she was treated.
Phil needed a new bed for his partner who is disabled. As he was on a disability pension, he couldn’t afford to buy it and he already had some other debts. He visited his local NILS® provider to see if he could get an interest free loan. The NILS® worker considered Phil’s budget and his current circumstances and realised Phil couldn't afford the NILS® repayments at this time. The NILS® worker did give Phil suggestions on how to improve his finances and Phil will soon be in a better financial position to come back to NILS® to apply again.