Lenders of particular interest to newcomers

Two non-profit organizations offer loans to newcomers for training and certification on favourable terms: Windmill Microlending (formerly Immigrant Access Fund – IAF) and Access Community Capital Fund. Windmill Microlending specifically targets internationally-trained professionals and tradespeople seeking to practice in Canada, with an interest-free loan program for refugees. Its loans cover certification expenses, as well as Canadian training and its related costs. . Its loans cover certification expenses, as well as training costs. The loans offered by Access Community Capital Fund are intended for all Canadian citizens, permanent residents and convention refugees in the GTA and Hamilton area, who are facing financial barriers.

Windmill Microlending

Windmill Microlending

Windmill Microlending can loan up to $10,000 to cover licensing or training expenses for newcomer tradespeople, skilled workers and professionals. Windmill Microlending’s vision is that skilled immigrants are able to contribute their expertise to Canada’s economic and social success, which is not always possible if they are stuck in unemployment or low paying “survival” jobs.

Since 2005, Windmill Microlending has provided about $21 million in loans to over 4,000 immigrants in different occupations across Canada. Anyone born and educated outside of Canada meeting the requirements may be eligible for a Windmill Microlending loan. Canadian credit history is not required, and a Windmill Microlending loan has helped many newcomers to build a positive credit rating.

For media coverage of Windmill Microlending, see:  Loan program makes dreams possible for newcomers aiming to upgrade their skills (Toronto Star, Oct 24/18.)

Loans for refugee newcomers – Windmill Microlending

Windmill Microlending also offers a loan specifically for refugee newcomers, in addition to its standard loan for immigrants generally. Whereas interest is charged on a standard loan made to a non-refugee immigrant, a refugee loan bears no interest. Both are repayable over a maximum of four years. Those not eligible for a refugee loan may still be able to access the standard loan program.

To be eligible for a Windmill Microlending refugee loan, the applicant must:

  • Have attained convention refugee/protected person status 3 years or less from the time of making an IAF application (regardless of current status);
  • Have trained/worked in another country in the field you wish to return to;
  • Lack access to comparable financial resources;
  • Be living in a province or territory other than Quebec; and
  • Not have an undischarged bankruptcy.

Windmill Microlending standard and refugee loans are character-based. Loans are approved on the strength of the applicant’s character and strength of their career development or learning plan. No collateral or credit history in Canada are required.

Permitted uses – Windmill Microlending

A Windmill Microlending loan may be used for:

  • Short-term (two years or less) training.
  • Exam fees with a professional governing association.
  • Travel expenses to write an exam.
  • Qualification assessments.
  • Professional association fees.
  • Books and course materials.
  • English or French language courses specific to employment.
  • Living allowance during study time.
  • Other related expenses.

Loan repayment – Windmill Microlending

Borrowers under Windmill Microlending loans have up to four years to pay back the principal. Generally, payments will be a set of minimum payments while completing a licensing/learning plan (to a maximum of two years). Minimum payments will then increase once employment is found or two years after the loan was received.

Borrowers will be registered with Equifax to begin building their credit history in Canada.

Applications can be completed entirely online and typically take one to three weeks to be approved.


Access Community Capital Fund

ACCESS Community Capital Fund is another organization offering loans in the GTA of up to $5,000 for training, even in the absence of a strong credit history. These loans are available to newcomers, including convention refugees, as well as all Canadian citizens and permanent residents facing financial barriers.

Eligibility Criteria – Access Community Capital Fund:

To apply for a loan, a successful applicant:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older;
  • Must be a Canadian Citizen, Permanent Resident or Convention Refugee, with the legal right to work in Canada;
  • Must live within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA);
  • Must be low-income (based on Statistics Canada’s household Low-Income Measures thresholds);
  • Must be in good standing with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA):
    Up to date on your taxes and not owing
    Have a payment plan in place with CRA and have made at least 3 consecutive monthly payments;
  • Must meet the criteria for low-income based on the Low-Income Measures thresholds (based on Notice of Assessment from CRA);
  • Must not be in active bankruptcy or consumer proposal
    Or have been discharged for at least six months (we will need to see discharge papers);

Must demonstrate at least one of the following:

  • Acceptance into a training program and cost of training program;
  • A job offer;
  • Need for tools and/or equipment, together with cost; or
  • Need for small business products/supplies, marketing material or equipment.