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1,000 microbusinesses backed with microfinance

30 July 2016

Westpac and microfinance partner Many Rivers recently celebrated the achievement of a major milestone: the number of businesses established or expanded through the Many Rivers program exceeded 1,000.


Many Rivers offers microenterprise development support and access to finance to aspiring entrepreneurs who, due to their circumstances, would otherwise be unable to access mainstream finance. The loans, which are provided by Westpac on a not-for-profit basis, enables them to establish or expand a business.


Westpac and Many Rivers have provided more than $5.7 million in business loans since 2009 to business owners in 25 locations across the country with an emphasis on regional and remote communities.


Recognising the success of the Many Rivers approach, Westpac announced a further $2.25 million in funding. This will allow Many Rivers to support more aspiring business owners across Australia.


David Lindberg, Chief Executive, Business Bank, Westpac said Westpac’s partnership with Many Rivers helped contribute to lasting social and financial outcomes for business owners and their communities.


"At Westpac, we believe backing business is essential for the prosperity and growth of our nation. This must include supporting the economic participation of people who have traditionally faced barriers to start and grow their businesses. Inclusion is particularly important in regional and remote Australia. We have chosen to partner with Many Rivers because it has made tangible differences to the lives of many people who are now self-employed and creating new jobs for others.


"As we enter our third century in business, we believe we have a role to play in shaping a positive future for Australia. Partnership with organisations like Many Rivers is critical to building sustainable businesses and communities for tomorrow," said Mr Lindberg.


Deloitte Access Economics' recent report titled 'Evaluating Many Rivers' Microenterprise Development Program' reinforces the powerful, tangible impact the program is having on local communities. Led by Professor Ian Harper, the report found that each new Many Rivers business has a higher survival rate than the national average for similar businesses. Other key findings included a decrease in the number of clients accessing welfare and an increase in the number of clients with personal assets over $50,000 from 23 percent to 38 percent.


John Burn, CEO and Managing Director of Many Rivers said real economic participation is vital to overcoming the structural disadvantages faced by many Australians.


"In many of the places that Many Rivers works there are limited job opportunities. Therefore, enterprise is critical to providing people with a trajectory out of disadvantage. Many Rivers provides multi-year, practical business support and encouragement. We support our clients to start in business, stay in business and thrive in business. The first measure of success is when a client generates their first income and the long-term measures are the economic and social benefits that arise when people feel valued and are supporting their families and communities.


"Access to finance and other banking products is essential to enabling our clients to establish and grow their businesses. We are delighted to continue our partnership with Westpac," Mr Burn concluded.


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