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Westpac announces Australian first in microfinance loans matching program

 

11 March 2010

The Westpac Group has today unveiled an Australian banking first by agreeing to match microfinance loans by its employees to disadvantaged individuals in the Asia Pacific region and Indigenous Australia through a special new initiative with World Education Australia.

World Education Australia is an independent not-for-profit agency specialising in microfinance, financial and functional literacy and livelihood programs to improve the lives of the poor in a sustainable way. The Westpac Group has helped support the development of World Education Australia’s new microfinance online lending portal Good Return and will now extend its partnership to a formal matching loans program.

“The Westpac Group is very encouraged by the work being undertaken by World Education Australia and is delighted to be able to provide a formal matching loans program for our employees to support micro-entrepreneurs,” Westpac Group Executive of People and Transformation Peter Hanlon said.

Under the initiative, employees will be able to provide loans to micro-entrepreneurs from as little as $25 via the Good Return website (www.goodreturn.org), which enables anyone to select online the borrower they wish to help and fund. The total amount lent by employees will then be matched dollar-for-dollar annually by The Westpac Group to support other Good Return micro-entrepreneurs.

Good Return has plans to help over 16,000 micro-entrepreneurs over the next three years by providing access to appropriate financial services as well as necessary financial and livelihood development training.  Every borrower listed on the Good Return online loan portal is a genuine borrower who has traditionally been excluded from appropriate financial services.

“Sustainable banking goes much further than just providing finance. By supporting this initiative, The Westpac Group and its employees can help make a real difference in assisting individuals and communities out of poverty,” Mr Hanlon added.

“This initiative continues the evolution of The Westpac Group’s workplace giving program which has provided extensive support to a vast range of community organisations since it began more than 11 years ago.”

Later this month, The Westpac Group will match around $1.5 million of employee donations to approximately 600 Australian-based charities through its Matching Gifts program. Since the program’s inception, more than 1,300 Australian-based charities have received over $22 million from employees and The Westpac Group.