Good Return is an initiative of World Education Australia Limited, an affiliate of the global World Education Inc network.
World Education Australia is an independent, not-for-profit agency fully accredited by Australian Aid (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). This accreditation qualifies us to receive grant assistance for our development work that broadly matches funds donated by the Australian public. It also means that donations over $2 are tax deductible for Australian residents.
World Education Australia is a member of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and a signatory to the Council’s Code of Conduct. The Code establishes standards of accountability, transparency, and governance that ACFID members are committed to maintain.
A world without poverty where people have access to resources and opportunities to improve their own lives.
Through responsible microfinance and skills development, we enable people living in poverty to grow their incomes and change their lives sustainably..
When World Education Australia (WEAL) began in September 2003, we were a sub contractor, providing technical assistance and consultancy advice to regional development projects. We used this track record to build our profile as a specialist in microfinance, livelihoods and related non-formal education services in support of Australia’s aid program. During the year we worked on projects in Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
2005 saw an expansion of WEAL’s overseas development activities, and an improvement in our financial performance. We participated in the UN International Year of Microcredit, which promoted more inclusive microfinance as a tool for alleviating poverty. CEO Guy Winship presented in Canberra to the Senate Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence. WEAL also conducted a training session on microfinance for AusAID staff. Program activities continued to focus on Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Laos.
In 2006, WEAL grew as Australians increased their awareness of the effort to reduce world poverty. We were different from other development agencies because of our focus on education, developing skills that equip people to escape a life of poverty. As an institution we strengthened our financial performance, generating a small but respectable surplus of $30,249. Our work continued with ongoing projects in Cambodia and other SE Asia countries, and also Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.
Our project work across Asia and the Pacific continued to grow. In addition to Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Laos, Bangladesh, and PNG, WEAL branched out to Vanuatu and Tibet. In Nepal, the Resunga Mahila project to bring literacy, livelihoods and microfinance to rural women was a success. By year end 15,330 women were actively participating in savings and loan groups, 8,377 had completed literacy and numeracy skills training, and over 11,000 women invested in a family enterprise.
This year we started to build Good Return, our brand and public face that allows us to engage directly with the Australian public. To support this ground breaking platform, we benefited from funding partnerships with leading Australian corporates such as Westpac. The year also saw recognition of WEAL’s program performance and institutional strength when AusAID granted us base accreditation status in June. In addition to our work across the region, we were retained to advise on a Community Education Program in regional Australia.
After years of growth, 2008 saw a sharp deterioration in the world economy. While the global financial crisis was heavily concentrated in the developed world, its side effects hit vulnerable people across many Asia Pacific nations. During the year, WEAL cemented its role as a project manager and technical adviser, supporting UN and other world agencies in the fight against poverty. In this we continued to run projects in Tibet, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste. But in parallel, we developed Good Return as the online loan portal that offered Australians a new way to help those living in poverty. This ‘peer to peer’ lending site fosters a personal connection between generous donors and individuals who seek credit to grow their enterprise.
2010 was a year of progress at WEAL, with the highlight being the launch of the Good Return website. We also continued to work in partnership with MFIs on the design and delivery of needs-based education and microfinance programs. In Nepal and East Timor, we trained more than 1,600 women in basic literacy and financial skills, and developed over 70 staff of our local microfinance partners. We also saw a new emphasis on sustainability. Our Skills for Life project with Accenture Australia helped to finance the spread of renewable energy technologies such as solar lighting and fuel efficient stoves to rural people in Timor Leste and the Philippines.
In 2011, Good Return financed our 1,000th borrower, a Nepalese woman farmer who used her loan to plant the spice cardamom. Good Return attracted 30,000 visitors to the website with valuable support from our corporate partners, including a long term grant from the Origin Foundation. Ongoing programs delivered training in literacy and livelihood skills to 1,400 women in East Timor, Laos, Philippines, Tonga, and Nepal.
While WEAL remains our corporate name, Good Return is now firmly our public face. In March, it reached the milestone of funding 2,000 women across the region. Our maturity was rewarded when the Commonwealth agency AusAID accorded WEAL full accreditation status, making us eligible for significantly more government grant support. AusAID and Australian public funding supported our Sustainable Livelihoods training of 6,215 women in East Timor, Nepal, Tonga, Laos and the Philippines. Our Sustainable Energy initiative encouraged development of supply chains that allow the rural poor to buy household solar power systems and fuel efficient cook stoves.
In 2013, WEAL celebrated its tenth anniversary. From a start-up development agency to today’s leading provider of financial and livelihood training, WEAL has come a long way. A milestone was reached in June, when Good Return funded its 5,000th borrower having disbursed over $1 million in loans. In Cambodia, Fiji, Laos, Indonesia, Tonga, the Philippines, and Nepal, the team continued delivery of our unique curriculum of education for the poor. We also expanded our capacity-building remit to strengthen the social performance of our MFI partners. This requires them to look beyond just financial goals. We ask them to introduce client protection and more transparent loan pricing procedures, and extend fair and affordable financial services to those not served by banks.