Get to know our story

Windmill Microlending is Canada’s only national charity providing affordable loans to help skilled immigrants and refugees leverage their talents and contribute to the Canadian workforce. Our work brings together invaluable resources, generous donors and talented newcomers to reduce poverty, inequity, and labour shortages in Canada.

How we started

Our journey began when the late Dr. Maria Eriksen, a Calgary-based clinical psychologist, was frustrated to see many of the janitorial staff at the hospital where she worked were internationally trained professionals. They could not practice in their professions due to obstacles such as the lack of credential recognition, limited Canadian experience, and high licensing costs. When she learned of these barriers for skilled immigrants and refugees, and thought about this terrible waste of human potential, Dr. Eriksen took action.  She gathered a group of six friends: Eleanor Chiu, Amal Umar, Aziza Kotadia, Kerry Longpre, and Corinne Tessier.

Their first task involved successfully fundraising to cover the Canadian accreditation exam costs for six skilled immigrants, ultimately laying the foundation for an innovative non-profit funding model.  

Founded in 2005, Windmill Microlending (formerly Immigrant Access Fund) opened its doors to newcomer applicants without credit ratings or collateral. Today, we continue to build upon the legacy of our founders, serving immigrants and refugees across Canada.

Our vision

is to ensure skilled immigrants are integrated equitably, contributing their expertise to
Canada’s economic and social success

Our mission

is to empower skilled immigrants to achieve economic prosperity by providing affordable loans and support

Our values

are focused on the framework of Passion, Empowerment, Simplicity, and Results

Our impact

Windmill exists to empower new Canadians, helping them build the careers they were trained in. Our clients gain and enhance their skill sets to succeed in Canada, rapidly moving from survival and odd jobs to middle-class salaries and higher. Our program aims to ensure that every dollar donated results in a life-changing impact for our clients. But our impact doesn’t start and end with a loan; we also provide personalized support to help our clients, from application to repayment and beyond.

Changing lives, one at a time

Windmill has impacted over 10,000 clients with the generous support of public funding and private donors. On average, our clients’ income increases over 3 times upon securing the career they were trained to work in and repaying their loan. As a result, they can build a brighter future for their family and contribute to our society.