Cossette Thompson describes herself as a simple lady who would prefer the world to go back to being simple. And what she does may sound simple enough, but the benefits of her work in the community are extremely valuable and far reaching.
Cossette works for the St Vincent De Paul Society’s StepUp Loan Program as a loan microfinance officer. She describes the StepUp Loan Program as providing small, low interest loans to those on a low income who have difficulty accessing mainstream credit from a bank.
A StepUp Loan is an unsecured personal loan offered in partnership with National Australia Bank and Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service and facilitated through St Vincent de Paul in areas of Queensland.
The StepUp Loan Program provides safe and affordable credit to people who are financially disadvantaged to enable the purchase of essential goods. Amounts of up to $3,000 can be borrowed and paid back over a three-year period with a low fixed interest rate.
When asked about what drives her to work every day, Cossette said, “Being financially excluded myself in the past, I believe everyone deserves a fair go and an even playing field to build wealth and move forward financially.”
Cossette is willing to support anyone to put in a loan application if it is for a valid reason, which begs the question - what is a valid reason to apply for a small loan?
Those who benefit from these loans are people living on low incomes as it enables them to borrow for a broad range of worthwhile purposes, such as buying a motor vehicle, purchasing furniture or white goods, medical or educational expenses.
To make the lives of clients better, Cossette believes that all contracts need to be written simply and in the client’s language so people fully understand what they are getting into. “For example, if I am entering into a phone contract and I stop using the service or lose my phone, I know I will still have to keep paying until the contract is finished. This is an example of language that is easy to understand.”
When asked about her vision for Queensland’s future and particularly for vulnerable people, Cossette said “Keep it Simple. I hope people will recognise they are becoming vulnerable and reach out or put a plan into place to lessen the impact.”
What Cossette loves most about her role as a microfinance officer is that she is at the grass roots level where she gets to see some of the results of her work.
The St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organisation that aspires to live the gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy, and by working to shape a more just and compassionate society.