Community Finance

Offering fee-free, low-interest, and no-interest loans to low income families to help them manage debt.

What Community Finance is all about

When you're in a tough situation, getting traditional bank loans can be difficult, which means you can be forced to take out loans with other providers at very high interest rates and fees.

We want to help people stay away from unscrupulous lenders, so we’ve committed $60m of capital to a community finance programme, in partnership with Good Shepherd,  Ministry of Social Development and community partners like The Salvation Army.

We offer people on low incomes fee-free, low-interest, and no-interest loans, called ‘StepUP’ loans and ‘NILS’ loans.

How to apply for a Community Finance loan

For more information or to apply for a StepUP or NILS loan visit The Salvation Army or Aviva

See how we can help you

Since 2014, Community Finance has provided hundreds of loans to help people with a range of issues. Customers have used the money for everything from fixing their cars so they can get to work, to paying for unexpected medical or dental expenses.

See what else we've been doing at

How the programme operates

BNZ’s Community Finance programme began operating from The Salvation Army Community Ministries sites in Manukau and Henderson.

In the 2016 New Zealand Budget, the New Zealand Government awarded Community Finance $4.2 million of operating funding over four years. The additional funding has allowed more Community Finance loan workers to be trained and the programme to be expanded.

Community Finance is now available in Invercargill, Christchurch, Wellington, Palmerston North, Rotorua and Whangarei. New community provider partners and new locations will be added through-out 2017.

At the end of 2016, we estimate that the $895,000 of lending to date has saved Community Finance customers more than $480,000 when compared with borrowing the same amount through alternative lenders.

The scheme also builds on a wide range of other financial literacy initiatives, such as SavY, Baby Budget, Bamzonia, and our Whanau Financial Literacy Programme.

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Nicky’s story

Nicky’s youngest son, Jai, suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was young and needs regular intensive therapy. Nicky was relying on public transport, friends and the occasional taxi to get Jai to his hospital appointments.

They needed a car but a traditional bank loan wasn’t possible, and then a friend told Nicky about StepUP loans.

“If it wasn’t for the StepUP loan I don’t know what would have happened,” says Nicky. “There were no other alternatives for us at the time.” 

“The process was fantastic and they worked with me so I could feel comfortable that I could keep up with the payments and not be left in any financial strife.”

Having her own car has made a huge difference to Nicky’s quality of life and that of her family.

“I was really excited once the loan was approved. It’s just made life so much easier. Being able to buy a reliable car has not only helped Jai, but made the day-to-day running of the house so much easier.”

Small Print

StepUP loans are a community initiative of BNZ and Good Shepherd, supported by the Ministry of Social Development. BNZ is the lender, but StepUP loans are only available via our community providers. See for further details and a list of providers.

If BNZ offer you a loan, you'll have 30 days to confirm the item(s) that you intend to purchase and provide evidence as to the cost. Approved purposes only (no cash loans). BNZ is the lender. Terms and lending criteria apply.