#WeekendReads – Windmill Microlending, The Foundation’s newest PRI

Welcome back to the #WeekendReads series! On Fridays the Oakville Community Foundation will share reports, data and information to help you stay informed when it comes to the community, the charitable sector and more. Click here for previous installments.

By: Ameeta Vijay – Board Member and Chair, PRI Deal Review Subcommittee 

Last year The Foundation added a third Program Related Investment to its portfolio with Windmill Microlending, a charity that provides microloans to internationally trained immigrants and refugees so they can pay for the training or licensing required to restart their careers in Canada. Learn about the impact that this investment makes everyday in the lives of those living in our community and beyond.

What is a Program Related Investment?

Did you know that grantmaking isn’t the only way that community foundations can better their communities?

Program Related Investments (PRI) are just another way to give back to the community. They’re made for more than financial return with a focus on supporting a solution to a social, cultural or environmental issue. PRIs are a flexible financing tool that allow us to invest in solutions to social issues while recycling the dollars and earning some return. 

The Foundation currently has three PRIs in its investment portfolio: 

  • The Halton Children’s Aid Society’s Bridging the Gap program home, 
  • Food For Life’s facility expansion and renovation, 
  • Windmill Microlending.

This chart originally appeared in the 2020 Oakville Community Foundation Annual Report.

What is Windmill Microlending?

Windmill Microlending is Canada’s largest and most successful microlending program for immigrants and refugees. They are a national charity that helps immigrants and refugees who come to Canada with education, skills and experience with loans of up to $15,000 to obtain the necessary credentials to restart their careers in Canada. In 2020, The Foundation invested $50,000 in Windmill’s Community Bond, which ensures more funds go directly to their clients.

These loans are integral to help newcomers join the Canadian workforce in the fields that they have previously trained in or for which they received international accreditation. With the help of Windmill, the unemployment rate of their clients dropped from 41% down to 7% and their income increased, on average, by 3.3 times.

Their repayment rate is 98.5% and they currently have more than 1,300 active client loans in Ontario alone. More than 53% of their clients are training or gaining their accreditation to work in the health sector, 13% in natural and applied sciences and 10% in business, finance and administration.

The Foundation is thrilled to share that in 2020 Windmill Microlending served 56 clients in Halton, with 18 living in Oakville.

Click here to read Windmill Microlending’s 2020-2021 Impact Report.