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Connexus : Issue 37
"If the pilot is viewed as a success, we would be disappointed if the government didn't provide additional funding to bring more CDFIs into play." This may involve new start-up CDFIs with a targeted business model, or encouraging existing retail credit unions to diversify more into the sector, he says. "We also see a very natural role for some credit unions to support CDFIs at a wholesale level, through funding in the form of loan capital or grants and such towards the development of their business. Not all credit unions have retail funding issues and this is an ideal opportunity for them to play a valuable wholesale role on a scale that's achievable. "There's a clear alignment of values and principles between credit unions and CDFIs. Some would say the essence of our origins is the same." In the United States, the energetic CDFI sector has more than 1,000 organisations and there are about 80 in the United Kingdom. The other organisations in the Australian CDFI pilot are: Foresters Community Finance in Brisbane; Community Sector Banking, serving Indigenous communities in Western Australia and Queensland, and individuals and families in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia; Many Rivers Microfinance, catering to Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in regional and remote WA and NSW; and the national, internet- based Fair Loans Foundation. "Mounting a comprehensive program for nurturing CDFIs across Australia will entail securing the support of many stakeholders, as well as a significant lead time," says the scoping study. "Close monitoring of this demonstration project, including whether customers are migrating from welfare to CDFI services, and from CDFI services to mainstream products, will determine the extent to which desired social outcomes are being generated, as well as provide policy direction to government, the social sector and the finance sector on the best ways to foster the development of a CDFI sector." -- Steve Packer is a freelance writer. www.abacus.org.au 19 Connexus COMMUNITY Data Action Pty Ltd p:(08) 8201 1000 e:email@example.com "If the pilot is viewed as a success, we would be disappointed if the government didn't provide additional funding to bring more CDFIs into play."