Australian international aid and development not-for-profit organisation, Cufa Limited, today announced that it has merged with the Foresters Group, a not-for-profit micro-loan organisation providing emergency finance at a competitive rate for low-income households as a more affordable alternative to high-cost payday lenders.
Cufa, established in 1971 has been providing programs in Asia-Pacific with a focus on development in micro-enterprise, employment, financial literacy and establishing community-led financial institutions ensuring financial inclusion for those excluded from mainstream financial institutions. With the amalgamation of Foresters, Cufa’s CEO Dr Peter Mason explained “it is a union of two like-minded organisations, both having a strong social impact on economically disadvantaged individuals and communities through providing financial services and education with the aim of preventing people plunging into a spiralling cycle of debt.”
It is intended that Foresters will continue to operate under its name as it is well-respected in the market.
Foresters seeks to provide affordable small loans to the high number of households struggling financially due to the high cost of living and low wage growth which has dramatically increased over the years. According to the Australian Senate Report, released in February 2019, about 2.1 million Australians today are under severe or high financial stress living day-to-day, and almost half of Australians are living pay-to-pay with many people not able to afford unexpected financial emergencies. The report further stated that low financial literacy among consumers is an issue and many are unaware or have limited awareness of other product options.
The Report states that payday lenders charge annual interest rates of between 112.1 per cent and 407.6 per cent, with the majority tending to charge the maximum permitted by legislation. Dr Mason confirmed that “Foresters is committed to responsible lending and will continue to provide low-cost, fairer alternative loan products to the disadvantaged than that of the high-cost payday lenders.” The Report supports the provision of alternative financial products such as those that Foresters provides and recognises these could have far reaching benefits for financially stressed Australians and that the provision of these has scope for expansion in Australia. “We will be focussed on growing our product and service suite to provide further options to those who need us, including additional low-cost timely lending solutions, to ease the financial burden and improve their ability to manage financially”, he added.
Cufa’s Chair, Margot Sweeny OAM commented “as an organisation whose vision it is to alleviate poverty through financial education and financial inclusion we felt that this acquisition provides us with the ability to reach out to the many Australians suffering financial hardship and provide a pathway to financial stability”.
Foresters recent past Chair, Mr Paul Keehan said that the Foresters Board welcomed the merger of the two organisations and is confident that together the organisations will work to reduce financial exclusion of vulnerable Australians. He also sees this merger as an example of what should be happening more in the not-for-profit space – organisations with similar purpose joining to provide greater synergies and therefore concentrating more resources to delivering on their purpose.
Dr Peter Mason
0418 481 058
Director of Marketing and Fundraising, Cufa
Cufa is an Australian government-accredited not-for-profit international development agency committed to alleviating poverty across the Asia-Pacific. Cufa currently works in Cambodia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste and the greater Pacific. Cufa creates infinite value by reaching over 4 million people each year through grassroots programs focusing on education, enterprise, employment and economic institutions.
Foresters Group is an Australian for-purpose finance company – a fully integrated investment and finance intermediary that applies the mechanisms of the economy: finance, investment, asset ownership, to help people and communities to help themselves.
Foresters Group was advised by InterFinancial Corporate Finance and McCullough Robertson.
Foresters l www.foresters.org.au l 375 Wickham Tce, Spring Hill, QLD 4000 Australia LinkedIn: Foresters Group