Windmill Microlending: Microloans for major career transformations

April 26, 2024

A coach working together with a client to build a career plan for success

Calgary-based clinical psychologist, Dr. Maria Eriksen was frustrated to learn that many of the janitorial staff at the hospital she worked were internationally trained professionals. However, obstacles such as the lack of credential recognition, limited Canadian experience, as well as high licensing costs, prevented them from practicing in their trained profession. Dr. Eriksen viewed this as a huge waste of potential when she learned of these barriers for skilled immigrants and refugees and so she teamed up with five other women and took action.

Founded in 2005, Windmill Microlending welcomed newcomer applicants without credit ratings or collateral. Today, it is a national charity helping skilled immigrants and refugees to leverage their talents and contribute to Canada’s workforce.

Microlending is a type of financial assistance that issues smaller loans to individuals who may not qualify for loans offered by larger financial institutions. Windmill microloans are granted to individuals in Canada who require licensing, training, or relocation to achieve their career goals. Windmill Microlending seeks to ensure skilled immigrants are integrated equitably and can contribute their expertise to the economic and social success of Canada.

“We are committed to helping our clients utilize their skills and contribute to Canada’s economic success.”
Claudia Hepburn, Windmill Microlending’s CEO.

One of the many individuals who achieved success includes Peter, now an IT professional in Toronto. He came from Nigeria to join his family in Canada. However, it was difficult to find work despite being qualified for the positions to which he applied. Then, Peter discovered a course at Humber College for IT and Infrastructure; it was just the Canadian education that his resume needed. The problem that remained was finding a way to finance his education and other expenses like course materials, rent, and family support. Unfortunately, family and friends were unable to lend him the money and the interest rates at banks were too high. Through Humber, Peter came across Windmill Microlending and applied for a loan. Two months after completing his course, Peter landed his dream job.

Since 2019, the Donner Canadian Foundation has granted over $352,000 to Windmill Microlending. As of March 2024, the organization has approved and disbursed over $100 million in loans supporting over 10,000 new Canadians to transform their careers and lives.

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