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Good Shepherd Microfinance’s Adam Mooney on inspiring a culture of audacity

Former CEO of Good Shepherd Microfinance, Adam Mooney, spoke to Third Sector about innovation in the NFP sector

Within a constantly adapting sector, innovation stands out as a key driver in engaging with a diverse group of donors and clients.

Former CEO of Good Shepherd Microfinance, Adam Mooney, spoke to Third Sector on what the organisation has done to build a diverse workforce to generate a unique set of ideas and drive a culture of innovation and inspiration.

During his seven years with Good Shepherd Microfinance, Mooney grew the revenue of the organisation from $8 million to more than $21 million using innovative ideas, which enabled the foundation to service millions of financially excluded Australians.

“Innovation is crucially important to staying within the mission and purpose of Good Shepherd Microfinance in providing financial access to families at risk of poverty and for those with poor social and health outcomes,” Mooney said.

The organisation works to offer its financially excluded clients a set of people-centred and affordable financial programs that promote the economic wellbeing to cope with low incomes, especially for women who are often more at risk of financial crisis.

Mooney said the situations behind innovation, from creating and implementing ideas to an oversaturated market, have changed but the organisation has a team of people working with the existing changes. “With this innovation, existing programs are continuing to grow with our dedicated and established team,” Mooney said.

One program, Speckle, is an example of this innovation. It works as a fast online cash-loan for people seeking small loans under $2,000. In partnership with NAB, Mooney said it was the first time that people had access to a low cost alternative that is different and more innovative than anything else available on the market.

“Speckle is one such example of an innovative idea of adapting and making sure that all the predominant parts and features are available to our clients.”

With a team dedicated to pitching around eight ideas for programs, there is a focus on setting out to do things that are new to the market. As the majority of clients are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, senior Australians and female, it is important for the innovative team to promote culturally diverse program ideas.

“It is really important to go after public sentiment and to remain disciplined,” Mooney said. “There is a balance to the portfolio of programs to get them right and to not have a limit on the innovative organisational capacity to ensure they transfer.”

The programs themselves and the workplace in general brings a great set of different worldviews around cultural backgrounds and diversity of gender and age: “We are embracing the worldviews that exist outside of the typical Western philosophy.”

This is especially in relation to the more than 70 per cent of clients and the workforce that are women who are operating in a culturally diverse environment, created to promote a continuation of innovative ideas to tackle the economic imbalance.

“By having such a diverse and culturally different employee base, this has helped us to reach a fairly diverse group of clients,” Mooney said. “There is a culture of audacity and a willingness to try new things. It is important in an innovative team to not accept the existing systems and processes and have conversations around opportunities.”

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