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Hamilton Community Foundation Invests $1 Million in Windmill Microlending’s Innovative Community Bond Program

Published November 7, 2019.

Investment by HCF supports a proven solution to under-employment of skilled immigrants and refugees.

Toronto – Windmill Microlending, Canada’s largest charitable microlender for newcomers, has received a $1 million investment from Hamilton Community Foundation. This is the largest social impact investment received by Windmill since launching its community bond program in 2017. Although Hamilton Community Foundation has supported many immigrant-serving organizations and projects through its granting stream, this is its first social impact investment in an immigrant-serving organization.

This investment will enable Windmill to offer 200+ loans, changing the lives of more than 200 internationally educated immigrants and refugees and their families. Windmill, which offers up to $15,000 in low-interest loans to help skilled immigrants achieve professional success in Canada, has supported 4,500+ newcomers across the country since 2005. A recent report from RBC found that under-utilization of skilled immigrants is costly, and that solutions could produce substantial economic benefits for Canada – perhaps as much as 2.5% in annual GDP, or about $50B.

“We are thrilled that Hamilton Community Foundation, a Canadian leader in impact investing, has taken such a big position in Windmill’s community bond offering. We look forward to helping many newcomers in the Greater Hamilton Area put their skills to work in Canada as a result of their investment,” says Windmill CEO, Claudia Hepburn.

“This investment exemplifies how we continue to use our assets not only to provide financial returns that support our investment strategy but also to support positive change locally and nationally,” says Annette Aquin, EVP Finance & Operations of Hamilton Community Foundation. “There is a lot of room for growth in helping newcomers overcome barriers to meaningful employment in Hamilton and across Canada.”

In 2018, the federal government announced its Social Finance Fund, a $755M program designed to give charitable, non-profit and social-purpose organizations access to new sources of capital. “With the federal government’s commitment to growing the impact investment marketplace, the Hamilton Community Foundation’s bet on inclusive prosperity shows that impact investment is gaining momentum,” says Hepburn.

Community bonds, issued by non-profit organizations, are for investors interested in using their resources to affect social change while earning a return. To date, Windmill has raised $6.8 million in community bonds since launching the program in November of 2017.

In Windmill’s case, impact investments are making a real impact on the lives of immigrants and refugees who arrive in Canada with education, skills and experience. On average, immigrants supported by a loan from Windmill more than triple their income. Last year, Windmill supported over 800 newcomers with new loans, and maintained its repayment rate of over 97%.

The costs of licensing and reaccreditation can be significant, even for immigrants who have years of experience in their field. Nationally, over half of Windmill’s clients are in healthcare, a field that includes some of the higher costs for training, exams and licensing. Windmill has supported hundreds of newcomers to continue careers in IT, engineering, education, law, trades, marketing, management, finance, transportation and many others. 

About Windmill Microlending
Windmill Microlending is Canada’s largest and most successful microlending charity for skilled immigrants and refugees. Windmill converts potential into prosperity by offering low-interest loans to help skilled newcomers obtain the credentials they need to restart their careers in Canada. Windmill has offices in Toronto, Calgary, Montréal, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Vancouver, and serves clients across the country. Windmill Microlending is a registered charity supported by donors, government, sponsors and granting agencies.

For more information:
Jeni Piepgrass
National Director of Development
403-620-9300
jeni@teamwindmill.org

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