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$15,000 can change your life. That is why Windmill Microlending, a registered charity, is so successful in helping eligible refugees and immigrants to Canada change their professional lives for the better. 

It offers microloans to help pay for accreditation, training, career development, and education in Canada. The best part is that the interest rate is a manageable 6.7%.

With a million new Canadians welcomed and more coming this year, Windmill Microloans needs to become a household name.

The Case for Microloans to Eligible Immigrants and Refugees in Canada

Unlike most Canada-born residents, refugees and immigrants don’t have a credit history or credit score in Canada. They don’t have connections to communities and have not gone through the local education system.

But that doesn’t mean that skilled refugees and immigrants cannot get certified and help make life better in Canada for everyone. However, getting Canada-ready is expensive.

Face it: Canada Has A Shortage Of Doctors, Nurses, Skilled Workers And More

When you are a trained medical doctor from another country, you cannot immediately practice in Canada. You have to get accredited for medicine according to Canadian standards. That is where Windmill Microlending comes in.

Windmill invests in people with in-demand skills. Why? Because Canada needs their knowledge and know-how. Windmill just makes it easier to get these people onto the job market.

Who Is An Eligible Refugee Or Immigrant?

You have to already be in Canada to qualify. Of course, once you are here, Windmill Microlending serves all sorts of immigrant statuses.

You can be a naturalized citizen, a permanent resident, a provincial nominee, a temporary foreign worker, or a protected person or refugee.

Education requirements

Here is where it gets interesting. Eligibility depends on your skills and education. In fact, you need to show Windmill your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) as well as your diplomas and certificates.

Now, you don’t have to be a doctor to qualify. You have to prove that you have needed skills in the Canadian market. You can have:

  • Completed some form of training or schooling after graduating high school

And/or

  • Finish at least 1 year of work experience after high school and before coming to Canada
  • Proof that you require licensing, training, or relocation for your career in Canada. That means that you are registered for training and other programs that will help advance your career.

It is straightforward and simple. Unlike government programs, Windmill Microlending accepts people who demonstrate that they want to progress in their careers. 

That doesn’t mean that Windmill will finance a startup. Windmill is not a small-business loan. It is an investment in a person and their marketable skills.

What Windmill Microlending Pays For in Canada

Windmill loans can be used to pay for expenses that advance your career, such as:

  • Education and training for programs of 2 years or less
  • Licensing and qualifying exam fees
  • Books, course materials, and equipment
  • Living allowance while you are getting training, licensing or for relocation 
  • English and French language training costs
  • Professional association dues
  • Travel or relocation costs for training or employment
  • Getting certified from International Credential Assessment Service of Canada, World Education Services (WES) and other centres.

95% of Windmill Microlending Applicants Get Funding 

Unlike traditional bank loans, Windmill Microlending’s application and approval process is really generous. In fact, 95% of applicants get approved. 

Getting a Windmill microloan is refreshingly straightforward, transparent and supportive. It starts with a set of filter questions. 

Step 1: See if you are eligible when you take the Eligibility Quiz. It is short and online. If you don’t pass, don’t worry. You can speak with a Windmill representative to see how you can become eligible. 

Step 2: Create an account and make an application. You will need to provide your banking information, immigration status, proof of education/certification, photo ID, proof of Canadian address, and your (CV). You might also need to provide proof of a Career Success Plan or enrollment in an accredited program.

Step 3: Take a client success assessment

Step 4: Take the employability assessment

Step 5: Get a success coach and get mentored!

Step 6: Wait for the approval.

Windmill Microlending Services Also Teaches Clients Soft Skills and Financial Planning

Money is great. Although, you need to know how to manage it in a Canadian context. That is why Windmill Microlending also offers financial planning and budgeting tools to its clients. Just handing out money solves one problem. As we all know, managing finances is a learned skill.

Moreover, newcomers need guidance on Canadian norms, especially in regard to workplace and recruiting. That is why Windmill Microlending teaches its clients so-called soft skills. The programs include:  

  • Mentorship programs
  • Success coaching for clients.

The Payback Period

You have a maximum of 5 years or 60 months to pay back the loan. In fact, there is a clear schedule and a loan calculator on Windmill’s site that explains everything.

You start with a 3-month grace period and then pay only the loan interest for 24 months. Then you spend 36 months paying the rest of the loan.

Who Cannot Apply For A Windmill Loan?

Well, if you do not have an immigration status, you won’t qualify. Second, if you don’t have the required work and education experience, you won’t qualify the first time. That said, Windmill can help you get ready. 

Finally, any bankruptcy needs to be discharged. Also, if you have a consumer proposal, you need to demonstrate 6 months of consistent payments. Of course, if your debt management program has a clause that prohibits you from taking on more debt, then you cannot apply for a Windmill loan yet.

Windmill Microlending Is Different and That Is A Good Thing

Overall, Windmill Microlending is a charity, so it is a not-for-profit lender. It has public and private benefactors so it is not a bursary. You still have to pay it back, but the rate is low.

What really sticks out about Windmill is that they don’t want to keep clients in the debt cycle. The loans are small, the interest rate is low, and they invest in people who have a defined career path. Windmill sees the earning potential of skilled workers and professionals who choose Canada over all the other countries in the world. 

Stefani Balinsky avatar on Loans Canada
Stefani Balinsky

Stefani Balinsky is the Head of Content Strategy at Loans Canada. Her work and her commentary have appeared in major media including the Toronto Star, Financial Post, and Bell Media. She is a creative and analytical thinker with a way with words. Direct, empathetic and funny, she makes convincing and coherent sense out of complex ideas. She has many years of leadership experience in marketing, writing, mentoring, and fintech.

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