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Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust scoops top prize

Dr Dale says she was hopeful of winning the category award in Community Innovation but was moved to tears when the microfinance initiative won the supreme award for Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand. Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust's no interest loans contribute to breaking the poverty cycle.

Key architect of the Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust, CPAG's Dr Claire Dale is elated at picking up the Supreme award at the NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards held yesterday.

Dr Dale says she was hopeful of winning the category award in Community Innovation but was moved to tears when the microfinance initiative won the supreme award for Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand. Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust's no interest loans contribute to breaking the poverty cycle.

"I want to thank the judges for their courage in recognising the importance of the Trust's work. It's so moving to have acknowledgement for work that has the potential to improve the lives and wellbeing of communities and future generations," says Dr Dale.

She was motivated to set up the microfinance scheme by the increasing numbers of people on low income in south Auckland amassing large debt for essential items such as car repairs using loan shark organisations.

"People become trapped in a never ending cycle of trying to pay off debt. Interest accumulates and missed payments result in further penalties until things spiral out of control."

Inspired by the work Good Shepherd Microfinance does in Australia, Dr Dale began setting up the trust in 2009 with the NZ Council of Christian Social Services and NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services.

Partnerships with other community organisations soon followed and once Kiwibank came on board in 2010, Nga Tangata was able to make small and interest free loans.

"The support of CPAG as well as the other community organisations has been invaluable. They recognise communities trapped in poverty need support to break out of the cycle. It takes only a minor set back for people on low incomes to reach crisis point."

Dr Dale hopes the growth and development of Nga Tangata Trust over the years will spell the end of loan shark operators.  "Every child deserves the opportunity to thrive and this can be achieved when communities have access to the right types of support."