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Low-interest loans pay for education, training and other costs for joining the workforce

To help bolster the economy as it deals with an ageing population, Canada is increasing immigration numbers. In 2017, Canada attracted over 270,000 immigrants, with plans to increase that number to 340,000 a year by 2020.

The 2016 census shows that immigrants to Canada are highly educated. The percentage of immigrants with a master’s or doctorate degree is twice that of the Canadian-born population. They are also likely to be professionally experienced, as Canadian immigration policy prioritizes skilled workers who have potential to contribute to the economy.

Nevertheless, unemployment and underemployment of skilled immigrants costs Canada $12.7B a year according to the Conference Board of Canada. Obtaining Canadian credentials can be a significant barrier, as this process can be costly. Without Canadian credentials, many highly-skilled workers are unemployed or in low-paying jobs, making it even more difficult to afford the credentialing process.

Windmill Microlending is a registered charity offering a successful and innovative solution. It provides low-interest microloans of up to $10K to pay for education, training and other costs related to obtaining Canadian credentials. Since 2005, Windmill has supported 4,000 skilled immigrants and refugees with over $22M in loans. The organization is expanding to offer its service to many more newcomers across the country.

A few quick facts:

  • Clients of Windmill triple their income on average by the time their loan is repaid.
  • Unemployment amongst clients drops from 40 per cent to 10 per cent. 
  • The repayment rate for Windmill loans is 97.5 per cent. 
  • Many clients are unable to access mainstream credit because they lack a  Canadian credit history or collateral. 
  • 51 per cent of Windmill clients are in healthcare, including doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and medical technicians.
  •  18 per cent of Windmill clients are in engineering and IT.
  •  There are 105 countries of origin represented in Windmill’s loan portfolio, the top four being India, the Philippines, Nigeria and Iran. 

Windmill has offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Toronto, and serves clients all across the country. For more info, visit www.windmillmicrolending.org.

– Mary Ellen Armstrong


• Mary Ellen Armstrong is the National Director of Marketing and Communications at Windmill Microlending.  

Posted: Sep 30, 2018

June 2019

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

© CanadaBound Immigrant 2016