The Salvation Army has wheeled out its first ethical shopping truck in South Auckland in a bid to curb the "predatory" lending industry.
The Good Shop is a roving truck offering consumers in some of the country's most vulnerable areas access to honest financial advice and quality goods with no added interest, the Salvation Army said today in a press release.
The new initiative offers an ethical alternative to the booming lending industry, in which some mobile lending operators offer 800 per cent interest terms on necessities, the charitable organisation said.
The lending industry is continuing to thrive, growing 39 per cent, or by $1.5 billion, in the past five years.
"We knew we needed to start reform now," The Good Shop project manager Jodi Hoare said. "Every day we see people trapped in a cycle of debt by these loans, with no other options open to them and often with limited economic understanding.
"The Good Shop will positively disrupt the current mobile trading business model that can have extortionately high interest rates and repayment plans that exploit our people."
The project will also provide safe alternatives for people struggling with transport, unable to make upfront payments or can't obtain credit from mainstream stores to purchase necessities, she said.
"Not only will the initiative bring fair and ethical credit directly to the streets, it will also increase public exposure to financial education and undo some of the damage that has been done by predatory loan services in the community," she said.
Essential household items such as food, furniture, electronics, appliances and baby items will be made available for purchase through online shopping with computers on board the truck. Salvation Army staff will also be on hand to provide assistance to shoppers, as well as provide referrals to other services and welfare, including budgeting advice.
The Salvation Army plans to roll out the initiative across more vulnerable communities across the country, with a second The Good Shop vehicle already in the works for Wellington in mid-2019.