Newcomers to Canada arrive with education, skills and job experience, but struggle to continue their careers because they can’t afford the cost of Canadian credentials or licensing. Windmill Microlending aims to reduce the financial barriers newcomers face through affordable loans. The charity provides affordable loans of up to $15,000 to help cover these costs.
Paula Calderon, Windmill Microlending’s national director of client success, immigrated to Canada from Colombia in 2001. As an immigrant herself, she understands the financial struggles of moving to a new country.
“I went through the process of labour market integration and I believe in the economic contributions that immigrants provide to this country when they are successfully integrated into the economy… I truly believe that Canada benefits from the skills and experience immigrants bring with them.”
Newcomers Need Canadian Credentials to Continue Their Careers
Oshoke Aliu, who moved to Canada in 2018 from Nigeria, is one of the many newcomers who need to gain Canadian credentials to continue their careers.
Back in Nigeria, Aliu had 26 years of experience in the financial sector and enjoyed his work.
“I had a passion for helping people and seeing how they could meet their financial needs,” he says. “So I went into the finance sector and I moved more into mortgages so I could help people own their home.”
Despite having almost 30 years of experience in his field, he still had to take courses in Canada to ensure his credentials were recognized.
Newcomers Face High Costs to Gain Canadian Credentials
The costs that newcomers face to gain these credentials are hefty — exams, training, books, living relocation costs and professional association fees are just some of the expenses.
Calderon says accessing mainstream lending products is difficult for newcomers. Often, their income is low due to working one or more survival jobs, and they don’t have a Canadian credit history.
“Windmill helps people build credit and start a credit history in the country while they fulfill their career goals,” she says. “Then they can have access to more traditional financial options once they have established credit history.”
Windmill Microlending Helps Newcomers Continue Their Careers
Aliu was referred to Windmill Microlending by his pastor and instantly signed up.
“When we came to Canada I wanted to get a license to practice as a mortgage broker in Canada,” Aliu says. “So I went to them to get a loan so that I could meet my educational needs.”
He was approved for a loan to pay for his courses and started school in January 2019. Today he’s a mortgage broker in Saskatoon.
“[For] all new immigrants coming into Canada that want to continue their profession or want to move up in their profession, I would recommend Windmill to them,” Aliu says.
Immigrants in Saskatoon who need help with permanent residence applications, Canadian citizenship applications, family sponsorships, student permits and visit visas can also reach out to an immigrant and employment service.