21 - Harnessing the vast untapped potential of newcomers to Canada
Newcomers to even the most welcoming countries, face significant challenges. From language and cultural barriers to finding affordable housing, all the way to the mental health challenges of being alone in a strange new place. And supporting newcomers during this difficult transition is not only a moral imperative but makes compelling economic sense. The better and more quickly newcomers adjust to their new home, the happier, healthier, and more productive citizens they will be.
And while some of these barriers are difficult to solve, some are not. Nowhere is this more evident than the employment barriers faced by highly trained and educated newcomers. Who among us hasn’t been in a cab or an Uber driven by someone who was an engineer or other high-income earning professional back home. This can happen for a variety of reasons but one is that many newcomers cannot afford the necessary certifications/licensing necessary to find employment in their field of expertise.
My guest today is Claudia Hepburn, CEO of Windmill Microlending (formerly known as the Immigrant Access Fund). Windmill is a registered charity that provides loans of up to $15,000 to over 1000 newcomers to Canada each year who are unable to afford the licensing or certifications necessary to find employment in their field of expertise.
In this episode, Claudia and I discuss the challenges that newcomers to Canada face, the types of places and industries newcomers come from and work in, and how the organization’s efforts lead Windmill clients to see, on average, a tripling of their income and a 97% repayment rate. And be sure to stay tuned to the very end where we discuss how the organization utilizes both charitable dollars and impact investment capital to fund all of its amazing work.