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More Help For Regional Communities

The Government is looking at new sources of funding for economic development in disadvantaged communities.

Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton told Parliament today that the Ministry of Economic Development has begun a Community Financing Review. Groups that could benefit from wider availability of community financing include:
 Disadvantaged individuals seeking saving mechanisms, transaction services and consumer credit.
 Small businesses seeking development finance.
 Micro enterprises operated by individuals or families who are seeking start-up/working capital and business skills.
 Community, iwi, social or charitable enterprises seeking project finance.

"My visits to 22 different regions has shown that while many communities have a strong sense of vision and energy, they often lack access to finance," Jim Anderton said.

"The review will look at ways to reduce risk for mainstream financing, and to provide access to development finance for marginalised communities that would not otherwise be bankable.

"The reasons these groups don't have access to finance are often complex and therefore there is likely to be a range of solutions. The importance of this project is that it is aimed at getting off the ground development projects that are not bankable with a mainstream institution."

The Ministry has already held discussions with credit unions and a major trading bank, the Reserve Bank, and small community funding partnerships. In addition, the review has studied community financing initiatives operating in Australia, the UK and the USA. These include social banks, community loan funds, micro-finance funds, mutual guarantee societies, credit unions and transaction centres, such as Palmerston's Pathway to Gold and Wairoadotcom.

Community financing seeks a greater social return than traditional private investment, because it is trying to get disadvantaged communities to increase their income, employment and empowerment.

Ends

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