Social enterprise, Good Return, is set to empower workers across the Asia Pacific region living in dire poverty. Through the online lending portal, Australians can make a one-to-one loan to an individual in Nepal, the Philippines, Tonga, Fiji or Cambodia so they’re able to start or expand a small business, grow their income, and lift their family out of poverty.
But Good Return is not just about lending finances. The social enterprise works with microfinance institutions to deliver financial literacy and livelihood development programs to ensure long-term benefits to families and their communities.
Although the “donations” help these individuals rebuild their lives, Good Return moves away from mere charitable handouts and gravitates towards encouraging ownership and responsibility to pay back loans. As such, individuals develop skills necessary to become self-reliant.
“We empower individuals, families and communities to build their own capacity, helping to build independence and release human potential,” says Joni Freeman, Good Return Digital Marketing Coordinator.
“Our inspiration is a vision of a world without poverty, where people have access to resources and opportunities to improve their own lives.”
When the loan is repaid by the individual, Good Return reinvests it into their education programmes. AusAID then matches these funds – which means one “donation” can be used three times.
Good Return was founded by World Education Australia, an AusAID accredited agency in March 2010. World Education Australia had sufficient funds to help launch Good Return, and the “microfinance lending portal” concept attracted additional grants from organisations such as the Westpac Group, Accenture Australia, and Origin Energy.
Thus far, 5,331 microfinance loans have been fully funded (to 98.4 percent women); 26,655 family members have been reached with flow on benefits; and 19,093 individuals have participated in skills training (84 percent of whom are women). They have a repayment rate of 99.99 percent.
Good Return will be hosting a number of events in the upcoming months. Their “No one deserves a life of poverty” campaign is running throughout October. They are aiming to get 2013 Australians to sign their declaration and help “wipe out” poverty with a AUD$25 donation.
The next major campaign they will run is for International Women’s Day in March 2014; and they are also launching their ‘Career with Purpose’ program which aims to inspire people to live out their values through their careers.