Program Overview

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Our work is made possible by the financial support of philanthropic donors and foundations, along with corporates, Indigenous corporations and government partners.
Our clients that require microfinance to establish and develop their businesses are provided with a business loan from Westpac. This gives clients “a real loan with a real bank”.

Many Rivers’ is responsible for providing people with the initial and ongoing business support and for making the microfinance lending decision. Many Rivers guarantees repayment of microfinance loans to Westpac. If people have difficulty making consistent repayments, Westpac may assign responsibility for these loans to Many Rivers. We then continue to work with these clients to support them in repaying their loans.

Click here to see our program results since commencement.
As we continue to roll out our program nationally, we will have the opportunity to serve many more clients.

OUR VISION

Our vision is for an Australia where all people have access to support and finance for commercial activities. The people we work with typically possess the ideas and skills to establish sustainable businesses but, for various reasons, have lacked the necessary financial support to do so.

Initially developed through a series of pilot programs by global microfinance leader Opportunity International, Many Rivers Opportunities (as it was originally known) was established in 2007 and began operating in Grafton NSW.

OPERATING MODEL

Many Rivers’ Microenterprise Development Managers (MEDM) live and work in the region that they serve. MEDMs are responsible for providing micro and small business development support to people wanting to establish and develop their own businesses.

MEDMs are able to recommend the approval of micro and small business loans to provide a capital injection, if this is required, to enable Clients to establish and grow their businesses. Loans are provided following a successful evidence-based assessment, taking into account the individual’s character, capacity and cashflow. Collateral, as loan security, is not required. Loans require the support of two Many Rivers’ MEDMs and approval by our Head of Microenterprise Development.

Many Rivers will seek to support any person who has a “real” business idea and is “fair dinkum” in their desire to make this idea real. We do not differentiate by race, gender or creed.

We offer micro and small business loans of up to $5,000 for a sole business owner and up to $10,000 for businesses with additional owners. Many Rivers can provide larger loans once we have worked with and have gotten to know our Clients.
See Many Rivers Lending Policy.


We believe Many Rivers’ approach is unique because:

  • We go where we are invited – by the community and funding organisations;
  • We are very practical – focusing on how to get the business activity going, addressing personal and business readiness;
  • Our approach is personalised – driven by the individual’s needs and goals;
  • We spend time – to “unlock” client’s concerns and establish confidence and trust;
  • We can provide access to finance – trust-based lending, no collateral;
  • We provide fast loan disbursement – when the person is ready to start;
  • We provide a “real loan with a real bank” – through our strategic alliance with Westpac;
  • We “ride the bumps” – as the person’s business starts and develops;
  • We live and work in the region – providing business development support in the community;
  • We collaborate and work in partnership – with good existing service providers.

WORKING WITH WESTPAC

Westpac has given Many Rivers the authority to originate and approve the provision of Westpac microfinance loans to individual business borrowers. Lending criteria has been agreed between Westpac and Many Rivers. Your Many Rivers Microenterprise Development Manager will advise you when your loan will be assessed. The decision will be communicated within 2 working days.

Westpac is providing Many Rivers’ clients with access to loan funds through a Westpac business loan – helping build a credit history with a major bank. Many Rivers’ clients are typically unable to meet the credit criteria of mainstream banking directly and therefore often experience financial exclusion. Westpac business loans are interest bearing and are offered on an unsecured basis.

MEASURING SUCCESS

We measure success by comparing our client’s situation before and after a loan considering four factors:

  • Income is being generated by the business
  • An income-generating asset is owned by the business
  • The business is continuing after the loan is repaid
  • The client regards the business as their job

Our goal is that at least half of our clients positively achieve all four measures. This is currently being achieved across all of services.

OUR FUNDING

Our work is made possible by the financial support of philanthropic donors and foundations, along with corporates, Indigenous corporations and government partners.

In FY2017/18, Many Rivers’ funding was derived from the following streams:

  • 13% – Philanthropic donors and foundations
  • 39% – Corporate Partnerships
  • 48% Federal Government