Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre (Lighthouse) in partnership with the ACT Government launched the ACT Microcredit Loan Program in 2011. Originally an initiative aimed at improving the opportunities for women in the ACT, the program was expanded to support all low income earners in 2014 with Westpac joining the partnership. To date over 60 loans have been granted and around 45% of the businesses established are still operating. Other recipients have repaid their loans and re-entered full time employment. Eighty percent of loans have been granted to woman and to date there has been a default rate of less than 4%. This impressive record is starting to gain the attention of other organisations around Australia.
Aidan and Krishan used theirs to start an information portal, Kristen used hers to buy insurance for her pet-sitting business and Sam used his to get design work done for his property marketing business.
What do all these young entrepreneurs have in common? They all took advantage of an innovative initiative called the ACT Microcredit Loan Program. Through the program eligible participants receive free mentoring and business advice for a period of 6 months and microloans to help get their businesses off the ground or to expand an existing businesses.