Westpac Group has committed to increase its funding for its microfinance partner, Many Rivers, to support the expansion of services into new regions and recruit additional field officers.
According to Sinclair Taylor, Many Rivers Board member and Westpac Group employee, this reflects the success of the model in realising the aspirations of business owners who would otherwise be unable to access finance and business support they need.
"Many Rivers is doing incredible work to tackle disadvantage in communities right across Australia, in metropolitan, regional and remote areas," Mr Taylor said.
In addition to facilitating Westpac's microfinance loans, Many Rivers' Field Officers mentor and coach clients to help set them up for long term business success.
"Since commencing the partnership in 2008, the number of businesses established or expanded with a microfinance loan and business support from Many Rivers has risen to 808," he said.
"The success of the model is reflected in the fact that 63% of those businesses were still in operation at the end of June 2015. For the majority of those businesses no longer operating, the owners have transitioned into the security of alternative employment."
Through its partnership with Many Rivers, Westpac Group has provided more than 800 microfinance loans totalling $4.6 million on a non-profit basis, with a strong 86.5% loan repayment rate.
"Our people will also participate in a new mentoring program, volunteering their skills to Many Rivers' clients to help build the capacity of their businesses," Mr Taylor said.