'Credit union got me out of the clutches of those offering ridiculous rates'
Young mother Laura Das found herself resorting to getting a loan from a moneylender.
The mother of five-year-old Jason said she felt trapped.
"I got a loan for Christmas. It was for €600, but the interest was 200pc," she says.
Weekly repayments amounted to €60.
Living at the time in Clondalkin, west Dublin, she also had an issue with the person doing the weekly repayment collections calling to her door. "There was no privacy. All the neighbours knew I had a loan from a moneylender," she said.
She says there was pressure put on her to take out a new loan when she was near the end of the repayments on her current one.
What got her out of a cycle of borrowing from the doorstep moneylender was the credit union in the area.
"I heard about the Microcredit scheme in Clondalkin Credit Union. They were brilliant. I got a loan for €2,000 with weekly repayments coming directly out of my social welfare."
Weekly repayments on this were €22.
Getting that loan meant she was able to move to rented accommodation for herself and her son in Athy, Co Kildare.
The loan was used for the deposit and the month's rent in advance she had to provide.
The childcare practitioner, who is 24, is most grateful to the credit union.
"I would not have been able to get the house in Athy without the Microcredit scheme," she said.
Ms Das availed of the Personal Microcredit offered by credit unions. It has a maximum interest of 12.7pc, providing loans of between €100 and €2,000.
Those with poor credit histories can avail of the loans, and there is a quick turnaround on loan decisions. Almost half the country's credit unions have joined the scheme since its pilot completed in 2016.
She has advice to others using moneylenders: "Stay away from them and go to the credit union."