Windmill client stories

Explore the inspiring stories of our clients, who achieved career success with a Windmill loan

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Shamira Madhany

Secretary, Chair, Loan Committee

Managing Director and Deputy Executive Director, World Education Services

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Saiqa

Saiqa

Pharmacist

Saskatoon

Pharmacist
Pharmacy
Saiqa
Saskatoon
Pharmacist
Pharmacy

When speaking with Saiqa about her career as a pharmacist, you can hear in her voice the genuine joy she has for her work. Saiqa studied Pharmacy in Pakistan and graduated with her degree in before moving to Canada with her parents and siblings in July of 2013.

When she arrived in Canada, Saiqa worked as a pharmacy technician in an unpaid position as a way of building her career experience. Her goal was to write the pharmacy exams and have her qualifications recognized in Canada so she could work as a pharmacist.

Pharmacist licensure exams are very expensive to write and because she wasn’t earning an income, Saiqa began to research financial support. A friend of her brother then introduced her to Windmill Microlending. She started with an email to Windmill and worked out a detailed plan outlining what she would need to borrow and how she would use it to further her career aspirations.  

She knew that the exams would be costly but also recognized that she needed time to thoroughly prepare. Saiqa used part of her loan to purchase online study materials for the exams, and part to cover living expenses so she could take a leave from her unpaid work as a pharmacy technician to focus on studying. The loan afforded her the opportunity to go into the exams with confidence having put in the time and resources to reach her goals.

Saiqa is now a fully licensed pharmacist and enjoys her work and her new city. She exudes gratitude for the opportunities that living in Saskatoon has afforded her. She says Saskatoon reminds her of Pakistan in many ways, as it is friendly and not overpopulated – both characteristics she likes in her new and old home towns.

Saiqa expresses that she felt supported by Windmill throughout the whole process. Expectations for the loan she received were clearly communicated and any questions or concerns she had were quickly addressed. Without hesitation, she recommends Windmill to others in need of financial support to attain their license to work in Canada.

Mary Jane

Mary Jane

Dentist

Edmonton

Dentist
Healthcare
Mary Jane
Edmonton
Dentist
Healthcare

Mary Jean, a dentist from the Philippines, had experience before coming to Canada, but struggled to restart her career.

In the Philippines, working in dental health can be a home-based business, which is what drew Mary Jean to this career in her home country. Her work allowed her to be at home with her young children and have an income. In 2005, Mary Jean and her husband, an engineer, moved their family to Calgary to pursue better opportunities for their kids.

In Calgary, Mary Jean volunteered at a local clinic as a dental assistant for several years. She challenged the Canadian dentistry exams in 2012 but was unsuccessful. Undeterred, she quit her job and focused solely on studying for the exams. 

She joined a study group through the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women and it was there that she first heard of Windmill Microlending. The possibility of securing a loan for her dental studies came at a good time. Her husband was the sole income-earner in the family and they had some outstanding debts, so a loan would alleviate a lot of stress. Mary Jean sat down with a Windmill representative and they came up with ideas on how Mary Jean might consolidate her debts. Together, they developed a budget that would allow her to concentrate on her studies and pay her dental exam fees.  

Two years and many hours of study later, Mary Jean once again challenged the first exam for dentistry and passed. She went on to take her subsequent exams and was licensed. Just two days after receiving her license, Mary Jean was hired and practicing dentistry in a busy clinic in Edmonton.  

Mary Jean is enjoying her renewed dental career and is appreciative of the support and advice she received from Windmill, in addition to the loan. Her son and daughter are thriving in Canada. Mary Jean’s daughter even talks of following in her mother’s footsteps and becoming a dentist herself. 

Omar

Omar

Pharmacist

Calgary

Pharmacist
Pharmacy
Omar
Calgary
Pharmacist
Pharmacy

Omar moved to Canada from Egypt with hopes of continuing his pharmacy career. Getting his Canadian license was a more challenging process than he expected. Test

In 2012, Omar left everything he knew in his home country to give his children a better education in Canada. He had brought some savings, but this only lasted for a few months. Omar knew that he would need to get licensed if he wanted to work as a pharmacist in Calgary but the licensing process was long and expensive.

His only option, as a newcomer to Canada, was to take a survival job to support his family. Omar worked in a variety of jobs, including long shifts as a security guard, but none of those roles made him happy. “I felt like I could do a lot more, but I wasn’t allowed,” he states. “I had to work from 6pm to 6am which was difficult and affected my family.

Omar realized that he needed to find a way of getting his pharmacy license. Improving his quality of life, and his family’s quality of life was essential.  As a newcomer, Omar had no credit history or assets in Canada. “I went to a bank about a student loan and they refused, saying I was not a student. I already had my degree.

A Loan from Windmill

Omar Story

One afternoon, Omar saw an advertisement for Windmill on a bus. He decided to visit Windmill’s website and fill out a loan application. This was not an application that he expected to get approved for because the bank had recently turned him down. Omar provided all the documentation that the Windmill team asked for and waited to see what would happen.

When his loan application was approved, Omar could not believe it. “It was really helpful,” Omar remembers. “I had to pay for my exam which cost more than $2,000.

The licensing process took 2.5 years and was a very challenging time for Omar. Each exam was only held twice a year so if he had failed one, he would have had to wait at least 6 months to re-sit it.

Paying $2,500 for an exam was tough but paying it back in reasonable amounts helped,” Omar says. “It helped me build my credit history.”

When Omar got his pharmacy license, it felt like a huge weight was removed from his shoulders. “I could demonstrate my experience and show that I deserve to work in this profession,” he states.

He was surprised, however, that he still needed Canadian experience to advance his career. He started as a part-time pharmacist and then gradually became a full-time pharmacist. Today, he’s a pharmacy manager. Returning to his profession took a lot more time than Omar realized.

Today, Omar knows he made the right decision to move to Calgary. His children are thriving and he is enjoying a lifestyle that he dreamed about when he arrived in 2012. His only regret is that he didn’t move to Canada a bit sooner. He wishes that he had made the move 10 or 15 years earlier.

I feel like I’m in a safe community,” Omar says. “There are many organizations in Canada helping immigrants. Windmill Microlending gave me the push I needed to get my license.

His advice for newcomers in the pharmacy sector is to network as much as possible. There are so many online groups dedicated to helping internationally-trained pharmacists get the advice and support that they need in Canada. Omar believes that persistence is the key to career success. “If you want to succeed in this country, you have to work hard. Trust yourself and your abilities.

Seun

Seun

Pharmacist

Calgary

Pharmacist
Pharmacy
Seun
Calgary
Pharmacist
Pharmacy

Seun had years of experience working as a pharmacist in her home country of Nigeria. In 2017, she immigrated to Canada and did not expect her lack of Canadian experience to be a barrier to building a successful career.

Before moving to Ontario, Seun decided that she wanted to get licensed as a pharmacist. She looked into the pharmacy licensing process in Canada. If she wanted to resume her career, she needed to pass three exams and those exams cost a lot of money.

In 2018, she got a job as a pharmacy assistant in a Shoppers Drug Mart store. She worked in that role while taking her exams. It was frustrating for Seun to be underemployed in Canada but she kept focusing on her end goal of becoming a licensed pharmacist. She passed her first exam in January and her second exam in May.

Seun decided to move to Alberta in 2019. It was around this time that she discovered Windmill Microlending and applied for a loan to help pay for her final exam. When her loan was approved, it took a huge weight off her shoulders.  

Without the Windmill loan, I would have had to borrow from family and friends. It helped me be independent and in charge of my life. It gave me peace of mind. I love that the loan is tailored to immigrants,” Seun says.

Seun completed a six-month internship in Calgary at the beginning of 2019. She was paid during that internship, earning a pharmacy assistant salary. That income helped cover her living expenses while she was studying for her final exam.  

picture of Seun, a pharmacist originally from Nigeria

In October 2019, she got her license after successfully passing her exam. Seun was also offered her first role as a pharmacist during this period, which was exactly what she had been working towards ever since she arrived in Canada.

Seun was interested in becoming a pharmacy owner. She worked hard, in her new role as a pharmacist, to learn more about the business aspects of running a pharmacy. There was a lot to absorb but she was excited to expand her knowledge.

In 2021, she took on a new role as a pharmacy manager in Calgary. In April of this year, after finishing her maternity leave, Seun decided to take a leap of faith and take on the responsibility of owning the Shoppers Drug Mart store in Canmore. This has been both rewarding and challenging but she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Owning a pharmacy has been a dream for Seun and she feels very grateful that it has become her reality.

She also decided to become a mentor in The Windmill Mentorship Program. “The Windmill loan was the step that made the licensing process possible for me. I wanted to give back. That's why I said yes to participating in the mentorship program,” Seun states.

Today, Seun’s life is incredibly busy as a store owner and as a mother. However, checking in on her mentee once a month is a priority for her. The licensing process can be challenging and everyone deserves to feel supported during that kind of challenge. It has been very rewarding for her to use her knowledge and experience to help another person thrive in their career.  

Seun’s advice to newcomers is to have a career plan in mind and be determined to stick to it. She believes every newcomer should assess their personal and professional goals. Asking lots of questions and connecting to a supportive community is also very important.  

A mentor can guide you through your journey so you don’t make mistakes,” Seun says. “Going through the licensing journey with a mentor helps you reach your goals much faster.

Kola

Kola

Architect

Saskatoon

Architect
Architect
Kola
Saskatoon
Architect
Architect

Discover Kola's inspiring journey as an internationally-trained architect in Canada. Learn how he overcame challenges, gained valuable experience, and utilized a Windmill loan to achieve his dream of becoming a licensed architect. Find inspiration and valuable advice for internationally-trained architects seeking career opportunities in a new country.

As a highly experienced architect, Kola expected that finding a job would be no problem. However, when he applied for jobs, he kept getting told that he needed to learn more about architecture in Canada.

He had brought 3 months of savings with him and he needed to find work to support his young family. When he realized that getting licensed as an architect could take some time and money, he decided to look into other ways of earning a living.

He took a job at a construction company so that he could learn more about the process of building a house. “I was deficient in certain areas of architecture in Canada,” Kola says. “The science of building is completely different.

Kola also decided to learn carpentry so he could see how insulation, concrete and other elements of constructing a house came together.

To bring in extra income, he worked at Walmart. Kola knew that this would only be temporary until he had the knowledge and certification to work as an architect in Canada.

A Loan from Windmill

Photo of Kola

Kola first learned about Windmill while completing a bridging program. He was interested to learn more about the organization and see if a Windmill loan could help him pay for his licensing exams.

To his surprise, his application was approved and he was able to proceed with getting his license. “If I didn’t take the loan, I would have had to wait a year to save for the program. It came at a good time,” he remembers.

In 2019, Kola passed his exams and got licensed as an architect. He could have applied for jobs straightaway, but he felt he had more to learn. He worked alongside a Canadian architect for 2.5 years and learned so much from that partnership.

For Kola, giving back is very important. He signed up for The Windmill Mentorship Program to support other internationally-trained architects. “I have introduced a few people to the program and they were helped too,” Kola states. “It’s always good to give back.”

Kola’s advice to internationally-trained architects is not to rush into anything. “Give yourself time to learn. Don’t be frustrated.

Bassem

Bassem

Immigration Instructor

Calgary

Immigration Instructor
Immigration
Bassem
Calgary
Immigration Instructor
Immigration

In his home country of Egypt, Bassem worked for the Canadian embassy and hoped getting a job in Canada would be easy. However, he realized he needed to start his career from scratch.

In 2009, Bassem moved to Calgary with plans to continue his career in the academic and non-profit sectors. He had a lot to offer prospective employers and was interested to see what kinds of opportunities were available to him in Calgary. “I expected that things would be amazing very quickly but no, I started from scratch,” he remembers.  

He started his ph.D in Political Science and Government at the University of Calgary. Bassem was able to get housing on campus for his family so there was no need to worry about finding somewhere to live in the city.  

Shortly afterwards, Bassem was offered a Community Advisor position at the University of Calgary. This was an excellent opportunity for him to network and organize activities for families that were also living on campus.  

His salary was not as high as he would have liked, but it gave him a starting point for getting Canadian experience. He wanted a reference that he could bring to his next job. “The current employer trusts the judgement of the last employer,” Bassem states.  

He started volunteering at local organizations where he felt he could make a difference and help other immigrants. At Immigrant Services Calgary, he translated documents from Arabic to English for new immigrants. Bassem enjoyed helping other newcomers settle into Canadian life.  

Bassem also took on a survival job while raising twins. He was juggling many priorities at the same time and this left him feeling exhausted. “I was at the bottom of my career, delivering newspapers after midnight,” he remembers.

A Loan from Windmill

Bassem Story

In 2013, Bassem decided not to continue with his ph.D. He looked into shorter courses that could enhance his career options in Canada. After doing some research online, he came across Windmill Microlending and thought that the organization could provide him with funds for one or two of these courses.  

He was surprised at how easy the loan process was. Within a couple of days, he had submitted all of the information that Windmill required and shortly afterwards he got the funds he needed to start a diploma in non-profit management at Mount Royal University.  

Getting a Canadian credential was important to Bassem. He was really passionate about the non-profit sector and felt that getting a qualification in this area would really help him.  

Once he received his diploma, he started working for non-profit organizations. He took a position as a Settlement and Integration Counselor at Immigrant Services Calgary. He loved working with newcomers and directing them to various resources that would help them adapt to life in a new country.  

Bassem volunteered at the Arab Film Festival in Calgary and developed a passion for the arts. He also co-founded the Calgary Egyptian Association to support the Egyptian community in Calgary. Opportunities were opening up for him to connect with like-minded people. “I want people not to feel alone,” Bassem says.  

He believes Canada has a lot to offer newcomers once they understand what they want to do after arriving. “Do plenty of research in the beginning,” he advises. “The resources are there.”  It’s been 14 years since Bassem and his family moved to Calgary and he’s enjoying what life has to offer. “Windmill helped me invest in the areas that I’m passionate about and what led to my success now.

Julie

Julie

Pharmacist

Edmonton

Pharmacist
Pharmacy
Julie
Edmonton
Pharmacist
Pharmacy

In 2018, Julie moved to Canada with her young family. In her home country of Nigeria, she had built up years of experience as a licensed pharmacist and was excited to see what career opportunities were available to her.

Before moving to Canada, Julie had researched the process of getting licensed in Canada. She knew that she needed to register and send in her documents first. In 2012, she began that process and planned to be back in 2013 to do her first exam. Unfortunately, Julie’s plans changed and she was unable to return at that time. She had the option to take the exam in the UK and decided to take it there. After finding out she had passed the exam, she decided to relocate to Canada.

A friend of hers had heard about Windmill and recommended the organization to Julie before she arrived in Edmonton. It seemed like a great resource that she could rely on during her licensing process – she still had 2 exams left and both of those exams had to be taken in Canada.

Straight after she had immigrated, she registered for a preparatory course in Edmonton and then sent in her application for a Windmill loan. “I never had doubts that I would get it,” Julie remembers. “I just came and applied! Luckily for me, I got the loan. It really helped me concentrate on reading for my exam and taking care of my kids.”

Julie was impressed with how quick and easy the loan application was. She was given a date of when to expect the funds and she had the money in her account by that time.

She took her second exam in November 2018 and was relieved when she passed. The following May, she took the last exam and passed that one with flying colours as well. “Everything is good in Canada. Everything works in Canada,” Julie says.

Julie found work very quickly after getting licensed and she was so grateful for that. During the licensing process, she signed up for a bridging program and a pharmacist she met at that program offered her an internship and soon after the internship became a full-time role.

In 2020, she took a remote pharmacist job with Alberta Health Service. Her role was to provide much-needed support to patients during the Covid-19 crisis. Taking that role made her realize how much she enjoyed working from home and how much she could save on childcare fees.

After one year in that role, Julie decided to look for new job opportunities in the pharmacy sector where she could continue to work remotely. She knew it would be challenging to work remotely as a pharmacist since the pandemic had ended. However, Julie was open to other opportunities.

Shortly afterwards, she was offered a role with Telus Health. It was not a pharmacist role but her pharmacy degree was an asset. “I’m currently a senior product manager,” Julie states. “I’m working with them because they have a pharmacy app. I’m working on maintaining the app and adding new features. My experience as a pharmacist helped me get the job and I get to work from home.”

It's been 5 years since she arrived in Canada and Julie is so grateful for all the support she received during her time there. “People are willing to help,” Julie says. “Organizations are willing to help immigrants settle. Windmill was there, helping me with my finances.”

Julie decided to become a mentor in The Windmill Mentorship Program as a way to give back to her community. Her immigration journey had been so smooth and she recognized that this was not the case for every newcomer in her field. In her personal life, she was already mentoring a couple of pharmacists. It made complete sense for her to become a Windmill mentor.

She noticed that many of her mentees were very concerned about how they could pay back their Windmill loan. Her advice to them was to focus on passing the exam because once they did that, they would easily find work to pay it back. “The amount you pay monthly is so affordable,” Julie states. “I always tell people not to be afraid of a Windmill loan.”

Julie tells her mentees that a pharmacy license can be used in many different sectors, including IT. In a digital age, there are so many platforms that require pharmacy experts and those types of job opportunities are growing.

Her advice to newcomers in the pharmacy sector is to apply for a Windmill loan because it offers much-needed financial support during the licensing process. “What you see is what you get – the plan and the payment pattern,” she says. “I have some mentees who are afraid of the licensing process but I tell them to try and get their license so they have something to fall back on. That’s important.”

Julie believes mentorship is important for every newcomer and loves participating in The Windmill Mentorship Program. She has observed that many newcomers feel supported when they are paired with a supportive mentor who has been where they are and that gives them the motivation to achieve their career goals.

Parth

Parth

Business Sales Consultant

Calgary

Business Sales Consultant
Business & Management
Parth
Calgary
Business Sales Consultant
Business & Management

In 2015, Parth moved from Bangladesh to Canada to get some work experience abroad. He was excited to see what Canada had to offer.

Adapting to Canadian culture was a bigger adjustment then he realized. “Everything was kind of different to where I’m from,” Parth states. “Immigrant agencies are really helpful for giving information.”

He took time to learn about accommodation options, different banking institutions and the various forms of public transport that were available to him in Calgary.

Parth decided to apply for a few business roles which aligned with the work he had done back home but he found it was a very frustrating process. “Everybody was talking about Canadian experience. Finding a job was really difficult.”

He kept in contact with a few immigrant agencies in Calgary for support. One of those agencies, the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, told him about Windmill Microlending and how a loan might help him to advance his career.

Parth had already received an Alberta student loan to help him fund a bridging course but he still needed additional support to help him pay for his living expenses and other costs while he was studying. “It was really hard for me to do a part-time job and study at the same time,” he states.

A Loan from Windmill

Parth

He decided to apply for a Windmill loan and was delighted when his application got approved. “It was the right decision to apply for a loan from Windmill. It was very helpful.”

After he completed the bridging course, he still felt a bit stretched financially and asked the Windmill team if he was able to extend his payment plan from two years to two and a half years. This request was approved and he had greater peace of mind.

Getting the Windmill loan helped Parth to find work that he feels really passionate about. Today he is a Business Sales Consultant and feels that Calgary is the right place for him to be. “Calgary is becoming a tech city now,” Parth says.

One of his favourite things about living in Canada is the freedom he has to express himself. “I always wanted to live in a city that is full of transparency. Canada is a friendly country.”

He is now a proud father to a 1-year-old daughter and is excited for her to have the opportunity to grow up in Canada with so many opportunities available to her.

Parth’s advice to other immigrants is to apply for jobs straightaway instead of waiting for a while like he did. He believes persistence is key to getting results from any job search but also recommends reaching out for support if finding a job is challenging.

He is so grateful for the support that he received from Windmill. “I would recommend Windmill to any immigrant.

Peter

Peter

IT Professional

Toronto

IT Professional
Information Technology & Software
Peter
Toronto
IT Professional
Information Technology & Software

Originally from Nigeria, Peter moved to Canada to join his wife and children. As an IT professional, he wanted to pursue similar work but encountered many barriers in his search for a job.

Peter’s biggest fear was “starting from the bottom”, but after sending many resumes and hearing nothing back, he became very frustrated. He knew he was qualified for the positions he was applying for. “Getting a job was tough,” he remembers. Peter followed all the advice he was given about tailoring his resume and succeeding in an interview but nothing worked.

He attended various programs and seminars in search of support and advice on his career journey. When he found an IT and Infrastructure course at Humber College, this seemed ideal for providing the Canadian education that his resume lacked. The only problem was how to pay for the course. In addition to tuition, he had to consider other expenses such as course materials, rent and supporting his family.

Finding a Loan

Peter contacted friends and family to see if they would be able to lend him money, but unfortunately they were not in a position to help. He went to a few banks but was quickly put off by their high-interest rate. Peter was at a standstill unsure of how he would be able to repay a bank loan without a job. Peter looked through all the forms that Humber College had supplied and that was where he found Windmill Microlending.

“Windmill was the only way out,” Peter says. He applied for a loan and was surprised at how quick and easy the process was. His wife could not believe that the loan came with a very low-interest rate. Most importantly, he was given plenty of time to make the repayments. Peter’s luck was beginning to change.

Landing his Dream Job

Humber College advised Peter to add his new course to his resume, and this made a huge difference. Peter was now being called to multiple interviews and he did was update the education section of his resume. Two months after completing his course, he was offered a contract job that aligned with his skills and experience.

Peter wanted to go home many times, but something told him to keep going. His determination paid off. The loan from Windmill gave Peter hope that he could enjoy the kind of life that he dreamed of. “Now, I am enjoying the privilege of coming to Canada,” Peter says.

Peter believes newcomers will succeed in their career goals if they don’t give up. This approach worked for him, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Amaka

Amaka

Compliance

Quebec

Compliance
Accounting & Finance
Amaka
Quebec
Compliance
Accounting & Finance

Amaka moved to Quebec in 2018 in search of more exciting job opportunities in the accounting sector. In her home country of Nigeria, she had over 13 years of experience working as an accountant.

Quebec felt like the right place for Amaka to raise her young family. She had spent about 8 years living and working in the UK but Canada was the place she saw herself living long-term. She wanted her children to grow up bilingual and had always been drawn to the French language. Amaka was excited to see what kind of personal and professional opportunities life in Quebec had to offer. “It was a great opportunity for me to start my career afresh and try something new,” she says.  

When she first arrived, it was in the middle of winter. Amaka was used to winters in the UK, but a Canadian winter was far colder than she expected. “It was a shock, but I was able to adjust.” Amaka states. “I had never seen that much snow before.”  

The IT sector was growing in Quebec and Amaka decided to apply for a one-year IT course to see where it could lead. Accounting was still her main interest, but she was not able to afford the cost of getting her CPA designation. IT seemed like a more affordable option for Amaka and she knew there were so many paths that it could lead to.  

She soon realized that the IT course didn’t suit her at all. Building websites and databases for her career did not feel like a good fit. “It’s a nice career for those who like it,” Amaka says. “I really wanted to continue in my accounting career.”  

Amaka decided to return to accounting and doing her CPA exams was the first step she had to take. The exams were expensive and Amaka had no idea how she would be able to pay for it. “I have four kids, so funds were very tight,” Amaka states. “I do remember sending an email to CPA to ask if they had some kind of scholarship or loan or bursary that they could assist me with. Each of the exams is $1,500 and I didn’t have that kind of money.”

Amaka Success Stories

Amaka needed to support her children so she found a job working as an accounts payable. This was the kind of role she had done at the very start of her career, so it felt like a step down for her. The role didn’t challenge or excite her at all. She phoned her friend for advice on upskilling her career and her friend suggested contacting Windmill Microlending for a loan to pay for her CPA exams.  

One thing that did impress me about Windmill was the turnaround time,” Amaka states. “It was very encouraging and made me feel I was doing the right thing.” She was surprised that her loan application was processed and accepted so quickly. She was finally on the path to getting her CPA designation.  

After 7 months, Amaka applied for a financial analyst position. She was determined to find a role that felt more exciting and aligned with the years of experience she had in the accounting sector. “I needed to show them that I had lots of transferable skills,” Amaka says. “I had worked in multinational companies with diverse people preparing accounts. It was about me going into that interview and showing them I can do the job without Canadian experience.”  

When she got the financial analyst job, it confirmed to her that recruiters were interested in what she had to offer. After starting her CPA journey, Amaka noticed a lot of recruiters began contacting her on LinkedIn. Adding each exam to her LinkedIn page gave her credibility as an accountant online.  

In total, the whole CPA process took Amaka 18 months to complete. Before passing her last exam, she received a promotion at her company. “Having the CPA definitely gave me an edge,” she states. She will be starting her new role, as a Senior Compliance Manager, in a couple of weeks. Her hard work has paid off and Amaka is excited for what the future has to offer for her and her family.  

Looking back, Amaka wishes that she had not done the IT course. “I should have believed more in myself. I had imposter syndrome but it’s all part of the journey.” Today she is in a really fulfilling career and is very grateful to be doing what she loves in Quebec.  

Her advice to internationally-trained professionals in the accounting sector is to not worry about finding the funding to get certified but to focus on the end goal of returning to their careers.  “Get your qualification quickly,” Amaka advises. “Aim for the top. If you did it back home, you can do it in Canada.

Bryan

Bryan

Pharmacist

Calgary

Pharmacist
Pharmacy
Bryan
Calgary
Pharmacist
Pharmacy

In the Philippines, his home country, Bryan found it very easy to find work. He expected to have a similar experience in Calgary but adapting to Canadian culture was tough. “Coming to Canada is not as easy as it looks,” he says. “It was hard to adjust, especially coming from an Asian culture.”  

Before he emigrated to Canada, Bryan had worked for one year as a pharmacist in a hospital and was keen to continue his career in Calgary. He did some research and found out that it could take anywhere between 1-3 years to get licensed.  

Bryan hoped to find work in Calgary but it was a more challenging process than he expected. “I had to work for free to get Canadian experience,” Bryan remembers.

A Loan from Windmill

Bryan Success Story

He signed up for a government program for newcomers and it was there that he learned about Windmill Microlending. Bryan decided to apply for a loan to start the process of getting licensed. “It was pretty smooth compared to regular banks,” he states. “In the Philippines, it’s really hard to get a loan for anything.”  

Getting a Windmill loan would help him pay for his exams which cost between $500 and $1,500, with no guarantee of passing. Once Bryan received the loan, he felt a weight off his shoulders. “I had less pressure because I didn’t have to work part-time as well as study.” He was now one step closer to his dream of being a pharmacist in Canada.  

In 2016, Bryan became licensed as a pharmacist but he still found it a struggle to get a paid job in the field. He needed a resume with Canadian experience so he worked for a year in a hospital and after that he was finally offered a full-time job as a community pharmacist. Having a salary meant that he could now support his mother by helping to cover a portion of the rent and bills.  

Thanks to Windmill, I reached my potential and got to where I thought I was going to be when I first came to Canada,” Bryan states.  

Calgary, for Bryan, feels like home now. There is nowhere else he would rather be. “Calgary is very community-oriented. There are people supporting each other. I love being a community pharmacist.”  

One day he would love to own his own pharmacy but he’s happy with his life right now. He’s settling into married life and enjoys spending time with his parents as well.  

Bryan believes that Canada has a lot to offer immigrants, but it takes time. His advice to other immigrants is to work hard and don’t give up. “At the start, it’s hard. But don’t go taking shortcuts and it’ll be worth it in the end. You’ll be where you want to be. It’s all about hard work.

Jerome

Jerome

Physician

Calgary

Physician
Medicine
Jerome
Calgary
Physician
Medicine

In the Philippines, his home country, Jerome worked as a physician. After moving to Canada in 2015, his goal was to get a Canadian license so that he could return to his much-loved profession.

Luckily, Jerome’s degree was recognized by the Canadian medical system so he was not required to go back to school. He decided to get licensed as a paramedic from the Alberta College of Paramedics first, which would be a quicker process than getting a physician’s license.

Getting a paramedic license required funding so Jerome did some online research to see where he could get a loan. He knew that financial institutions were unlikely to lend him money because he was new to Canada. When he came across Windmill’s website, he was delighted to learn that Windmill provides career loans to immigrants.

He applied for a Windmill loan and didn’t encounter any problems with his application. It was a much easier process than he had expected. “I’m an immigrant and I don’t have credit history. Thankfully Windmill is here! Even without credit history they approved my loan,” Jerome states.

Jerome had no experience with managing finances and wanted some guidance in this area. He was assigned a client success coach at Windmill who helped him improve his financial management skills. Getting this kind of support gave Jerome the confidence to focus on his goal of becoming a physician in Canada.

He used the loan to pay for his exams and after getting his paramedic license, he took a paramedic job where he spent a lot of time working outside in winter – the cold was something he was not used to and it was very tough.

A Loan from Windmill

Jerome Success Story

Jerome’s dream was to become a physician and he took another Windmill loan to help pay for his studies. In February 2022, he passed all his exams and became licensed as a physician in Canada. This was the moment he’d dreamed of ever since he moved to Calgary and now it had finally happened.

Today, Jerome works at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Calgary and is living the life he dreamed of. “Thanks to Windmill, I am now practicing medicine in Canada.”

Jerome advice to newcomers is to reach out for support whenever it is needed. “Adjusting to a new country is difficult,” he says. “Don’t be hesitant in asking for help.”

Masoud

Masoud

Architect

Vancouver

Architect
Architect
Masoud
Vancouver
Architect
Architect

Masoud had over 20 years of experience working as an architect in his home country of Iran. After relocating to Vancouver with his young family, he struggled to find work in his field which greatly affected his confidence.

In 2012, when Masoud arrived in Canada, he spoke very little English. This language barrier was something that he became very conscious of while he submitted applications and had interviews with prospective employers. It was a stumbling block.  Another barrier that he encountered was his lack of Canadian experience. Masoud noticed that his experience and education did not resonate with employers in Canada. He soon realized that he needed a license to continue working in his profession, but this came at a significant cost.  With a young family to support, Masoud needed a job. For almost 3 years, he took on any role that he could find in order to pay the bills. He took on many survival jobs. Masoud was embarrassed that he couldn’t support his family in the way that he had been able to back home. At one point, he even considered returning to Iran. “I wondered if I took a wrong path,” he remembers. “I wanted to go back home. I didn’t want to be in Canada anymore.”  In 2015, a friend of Masoud’s was working for an architectural firm and recommended him to his boss. This recommendation led to Masoud’s first job in his field and it seemed like a breakthrough. He didn’t have the accreditation to work as an architect, so he was instead hired as a technician. This role paid considerably less than what he could have earned as an architect but it was definitely a step up from the survival jobs he’d had before. “It was very hard to find that first job,” Masoud says.

A Loan from Windmill

Masoud story

Masoud came across Windmill online in 2019 and was surprised to learn that the organization was committed to helping skilled immigrants like him return to their profession. He filled out an application and felt that the whole process was very easy and accessible. He was delighted to be eligible for a Windmill loan and quickly received the funds he needed to complete specific courses in his field. The prospect of returning to his career excited and motivated him. Things were looking up for him at last.  After some delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Masoud became a licensed architect in 2021. He particularly loved working on high-rise residential projects and looked forward to finally being able to utilize his skills and experience in this area.  Today, Masoud feels he has “mentally and financially recovered” from the hurdles he faced in his career after moving to Vancouver. He had a long journey to get to where he is now but it was worth it for him and his family.  It is important to Masoud to help other newcomer architects find the right path to resuming their careers. He is a mentor in The Windmill Mentorship Program and finds this work very rewarding. “Other people helped me before,” he says. “We should give back.”  Masoud also donates to Windmill and is so proud to give back to an organization that helped him return to his career. It brings him so much joy to know that his contribution helps other newcomers return to what they love doing.  Today, Masoud believes it’s easier for internationally-trained architects to find work. There are plenty of opportunities in every province and he believes that newcomers simply need to be persistent in getting their foot in the door. “Don’t give up,” he says. “Find the right path to get your license.”

Jermaine David

Jermaine David

Transit Driver

Calgary

Transit Driver
Trades
Jermaine David
Calgary
Transit Driver
Trades

In his home country of Guyana, Jermaine worked as a taxi driver. He wanted to continue his driving career after moving to Calgary with his family.

After doing some research, Jermaine realized he needed a license to work as a driver in Canada. The cost of getting a license was far greater than he had anticipated. With a young family to support, Jermaine couldn’t see a clear path toward achieving his career ambitions.

He supported his family by taking on a number of survival jobs – working as a delivery man, shovelling snow during the winter months and taking on a construction role. Each of those roles taught him about Canadian culture and he enjoyed soaking in this knowledge.

The construction job, in particular, was a role that he was grateful for. He knew nothing about the industry and walked onto a site one afternoon asking for a job. The foreman took a chance on him, knowing that he had no experience, and Jermaine learned so much working on that site. “I thought that it was a good stepping stone for me,” he says.

In 2015, Jermaine learned about Windmill. His wife spotted an ad about Windmill’s services and thought that this could be a pathway for Jermaine to get his Class 1 driving license. Jermaine phoned the number on the ad and shortly afterwards he submitted all the documents needed for his loan application.

A Loan from Windmill

Getting the loan, he remembers, happened very quickly. He had no credit history and expected this to be an issue for him. “I never thought it would be so easy. It was so accessible,” Jermaine states.

Within a couple of weeks, Jermaine received the funds to go back to school. He was really excited to start the process of resuming his driving career to see where it could take him.

Jermaine failed his first driving test and needed almost $1,000 to retake the test. He reached out to Windmill and got the funds he required shortly afterwards. He was determined to get his license, no matter how long the process would take.

In October 2015, Jermaine received his Class 1 license. He began applying for driving jobs and got a truck driving job in the US. He had never driven a truck before and wanted to give it a try. Without the Windmill loan, he says he’d never have had the opportunity to return to what he loved most.

It was challenging for Jermaine to be away from his family for long periods of time, but he learned so much in that truck driving job. He forgot how much he enjoyed the freedom of being on the road.

Dealing with the cold weather was another challenge for Jermaine. He knew Canada was a cold country but the winter months were very tough. “I just tried to be positive about that,” he states. Canada had so much to offer him and his family and this was just one downside.

In May 2016, Jermaine was offered a driving job with the city of Calgary. He had tried to apply for a job with them before getting his Class 1 license and was unsuccessful. It felt good to finally be able to take on a role that he’d wanted for many years.

Six months later, he saw that the city was hiring a transit driver. Jermaine submitted an application and got the promotion. Driving a bus was something he’d always wanted to do and now he finally had a chance to do it.

Life now is very different for Jermaine. “I feel proud of myself,” he says. I took the loan and did exactly what I wanted to do. Windmill Microlending gave me a career path.”

Jermaine is now a Canadian citizen and really enjoys his work with the city of Calgary. He couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. Supporting his family by working in a job he loves is the best feeling he could ever have imagined.

He now has a Class 16 license, which means he can drive any type of vehicle. He’s interested in potentially taking another loan for heavy-duty equipment but feels it’s a lot of money and could take time away from his family.

Jermaine believes that any newcomer can achieve their career goals. “Have a plan and most of all, be dedicated to what you want to do,” he advises. He always knew that driving was the career for him and he is so grateful to Windmill for supporting him in his career goals.

The right support, he says, makes all the difference for career success. “As a newcomer, it’s not easy to get by if you don’t have some support.” He advises newcomers to utilize all the resources they can to get where they want to be. Anything is possible once a newcomer has a goal in mind and a plan to get there.

Muhammad

Muhammad

Dentist

Calgary

Dentist
Dentist
Muhammad
Calgary
Dentist
Dentist

In 2013, Muhammad moved to Canada from Pakistan. He wanted to continue working as a dentist but could not afford to get re-licensed.

Before he immigrated, Muhammad had done some research into the process of becoming a dentist in Canada. “I knew the exams would be tough and finances would be a problem,” he remembers.

Muhammad sold his dental clinic back home in Pakistan and gathered savings to live on for his first few months in Canada. He had decided to move to Calgary and was interested to see where this journey would take him. He wanted a better quality of life and hoped that he’d find it there.

The weather in Calgary took him a while to get used to – Muhammad was used to very hot temperatures and the cold was a shock to his system.

Muhammad was also surprised by how expensive everything was, from rent to food. He took a variety of survival jobs to pay the bills. He was a gas pump attendant, security guard and did some shifts in a warehouse. It was a very busy and stressful time for him, he often worked 6 or even 7 days per week.

The survival jobs did have some benefits for Muhammad as a newcomer. He enjoyed meeting his new colleagues and learning more about Canadian life in general. “Back home, it’s less diverse. In Canada, everybody is equal,” he says.

A Loan from Windmill

Four years later, Muhammad started to seriously think about returning to his profession. He did try one dentistry exam in 2015 but lost his confidence after failing it. At an immigration session in 2017, he came across a flyer about Windmill. After reading it, he realized he could be eligible for a Windmill career loan and decided to apply online.

Muhammad remembers that the loan application process was very quick and easy. He took a loan to help him take one course and one exam. He completed both and decided to apply for another loan to help him take another exam. “I had financial help and it was an interest-only repayment during the process. It helped reduce financial stress. I would really recommend Windmill Microlending to anyone with financial struggles,” he states.

He needed up to $50,000 to complete his relicensing process, more than he could get from a Windmill loan. He did some research and saw that CIBC was offering a line of credit for dentistry students. Once he applied and got the funds, he was able to apply for the rest of his exams and courses. The exams challenged him in ways he had not expected. “It was very tough,” he remembers.

The Covid-19 pandemic delayed him from taking his final exam. It was the very end of 2020 when Muhammad received his license and could resume his profession as a dentist. He was glad to finally be licensed but he also felt frustrated by the amount of time, energy and funds that he had to spend to continue his career. “I’d like to see the process improve,” Muhammad says.

One of the main reasons that he wanted to work as a dentist in Canada is the technology he’d get access to. He noticed, back home, that the technology was about two years behind. He was excited to utilize more digital dentistry in his work.

Muhammad believes that newcomers should be prepared to do survival jobs if they’re not immediately able to resume their professions. “Stay focused and keep working on your goal,” he advises.

He also suggests that newcomers should do a lot of research about Canadian culture before immigrating so that they have an idea of what to expect. Meeting like-minded people is very important and something he believes every newcomer would benefit from in the initial months of moving to a new country.

Life now is very different for Muhammad. He’s working in his dream profession and enjoying what Calgary has to offer him and his family. He got married in 2014 and had a daughter one year later and is now able to support his family in the way that he always wanted to. “I don’t have to struggle financially,” he says. “Everything is accessible to me.

The only regret that Muhammad has, looking back at everything he’s achieved in the past few years, is that he didn’t get back to his profession sooner. He spent four years in survival jobs that impacted his confidence and self-esteem. Now, he is living the life he dreamed of and believes that every newcomer deserves the opportunity to achieve their career goals.

Shekar

Shekar

IT Professional

Toronto

IT Professional
Information Technology & Software
Shekar
Toronto
IT Professional
Information Technology & Software

Chandrasekhar had built a very successful career in the IT sector, and expected to land a senior position when he arrived in Canada. He did not expect his lack of Canadian experience to be a barrier.

Originally from India, Chandrasekhar came to Canada in 2014 after years of living and working in Dubai. He loved Dubai but did not see himself retiring there in the future. He did some research and realized that his retirement options would be better in Canada. He also felt Canada was the ideal location for raising his young family, especially his daughter, who was recently diagnosed with ADHD. After researching the Canadian education system, Chandrasekhar was confident that his daughter could get the support she needed to thrive.

Finding a job was very challenging for Chandrasekhar. “Job hunting is a job in itself,” he says. He submitted hundreds of resumes and met with recruitment agencies in the hope of finding work that aligned with his skills and experience. He had worked very hard to become the Vice-President of a leading bank in UAE, but this experience did not seem to resonate with Canadian employers.

“I thought when I came to Canada that I would have equal opportunities. I never thought that there was an elephant in the room called ‘Canadian experience’. This was something that was never talked about by anybody,” Chandrasekhar states.

He had met many immigrants who were working in survival jobs to pay their bills, but Chandrasekhar refused to turn his back on the career he had loved back in Dubai. His savings had almost run out, and he realized that going back home could be his only option. Chandrasekhar reached out to ACCES Employment to see if they could help.

A Loan from Windmill

He was advised to take a bridging course at Humber College, to enhance his resume, and it was there that he learned about Windmill Microlending. An affordable loan from Windmill helped him complete a bridging course and gain the certification that he would need to restart his career in Canada. Chandrasekhar was surprised to receive his loan so quickly after submitting his application. “My experience with Windmill was excellent. The entire process took two or three weeks,” he says.

After receiving his certification, he was offered a Director of Operations position with an e-payments organization. It was a more junior role than he expected but it was a step in the right direction. He was finally back in the IT sector, where his experience was valued and much-needed. Most importantly, he was able to support his family while doing what he loves. They were integrating into Canadian life, particularly his daughter, and this only confirmed to Chandrasekhar that moving to Canada was the right decision.

It has been eight years since Chandrasekhar came to Canada and he is a proud Canadian citizen. He cannot imagine living anywhere else to raise his family. There were many challenges for him to overcome, but his determination helped him to pursue his career goals. “Resilience is something that has been built into me, into my culture,” he states. Today he is working for a payments product company that serves financial institutions.

Chandrasekhar advises newcomers to remember why they came to Canada when challenges arise. He believes that community is important, and recommends that newcomers find a local community centre or join an online group to meet like-minded people.

Don’t expect a smooth ride. You need to understand that you are going to be an alien, and it is going to take some time for you to integrate into the culture,” he states.

Qingzhu (Kelly)

Qingzhu (Kelly)

IT Professional

Calgary

IT Professional
Information Technology & Software
Qingzhu (Kelly)
Calgary
IT Professional
Information Technology & Software

Moving to a new country is a challenge in itself, but Qingzhu (Kelly) faced additional struggles after moving to Canada by herself at the start of the pandemic.

Kelly, a vehicle engineer, received a provincial nomination from Alberta for permanent residency when the pandemic hit. She had gained years of experience in her home country of China and wanted a fresh start in Canada. Moving to Calgary without a support network during such a turbulent time was challenging for her. She had hoped her parents could help her with the move, but it was not safe for them to travel.

Kelly wanted to find a role that aligned with her experience but unfortunately had no success. If she had moved to Ontario, she felt she would have had more of a chance to get an engineering position. Employment opportunities in Alberta were predominately in the oil and gas sector. Finding meaningful work was important to her and she was persistent in her job search.

“I expected that it would be hard to find a job,” Kelly remembers. “I read stories of immigrants who used to have good salaries and high levels of employment in their home countries, and then when they came here it was hard for them to find a job.”

Kelly took a survival job as a waitress to make ends meet while she continued her job search. She saw many job opportunities in the IT sector and felt the need to switch careers. Kelly applied for an IT training course and was surprised by how much she enjoyed it.

Her concern was how she could balance her studies with her waitressing job. Kelly’s course coordinator recommended that she contact Windmill Microlending for financial support. She was surprised by how simple the loan application process was and how quickly she received funding for her IT program and living costs.

A Loan from Windmill

The Windmill loan meant that Kelly had a much more flexible schedule – she didn’t feel pressure to take on every waitressing shift offered to her. Instead, she focused on getting the most out of her IT course and thinking about the career opportunities that would be available to her once she had received her qualification.

Life after College

Kelly’s course ended with an internship and this internship was the start of her successful IT career. The company made her permanent as soon as her internship was over. She had not expected to pay back her Windmill loan so soon after finishing her IT program, but she was now able to do so.

“When I decided to move to Canada during a tough period, my life just started changing. Not just career-wise, but everything.” Kelly says. “That happened because I was brave enough to come here.”

Kelly’s advice to newcomers is to do as much research about the sector they wish to work in. She believes that anything is possible in Canada as long as a newcomer is willing to be open and try their best to achieve their career goals. She also feels that a survival job should not be out of the question if that is needed for a period of time. There are many valuable lessons that she learned during her time as a waitress. Every experience offers an important learning opportunity.

In China, Kelly didn’t take a lot of risks personally or professionally. She loves how much Canadian life has challenged her. In a short time, she was exposed to a lot of new things and was forced out of her comfort zone. She does not regret any decision she made since her arrival.

“My favourite thing about living in Canada is the freedom,” Kelly says. “Thanks to Windmill, I totally changed my life.”

Victor

Victor

Cybersecurity Specialist

Toronto

Cybersecurity Specialist
Information Technology & Software
Victor
Toronto
Cybersecurity Specialist
Information Technology & Software

Arriving in Canada from Mexico City in 2015, Victor was feeling uncertainty and stress about the direction of his career and life. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, he began re-evaluating his career goals but the costs of re-training were holding him back from making a change. When Victor first heard about affordable loans through Windmill Microlending, he says it sounded too good to be true – but in this case – it was true.

Even when Victor was back home studying fine arts, painting and sculpting, the vision he had for the canvas of his life was changing.

He wasn’t feeling fulfilled.

He didn’t feel safe or like he could be his true self in his home country.

Like many immigrants, Victor came to Canada to change his life and his future. Today, he says his life in Canada is almost picture perfect. He can focus on thinking about his future plans instead of just surviving.

It’s a future he believes made possible thanks, in part, to the support he received from Windmill.

A fresh start during a global pandemic

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Victor was without a job, feeling stressed and uncertain about his future.

He had been working in the public diplomacy department of an international consulate, but after being laid off, he needed a new direction for his career. After doing some research, Victor felt Canada’s emerging cybersecurity industry, would provide job security and plentiful job opportunities.

He had found a virtual cybersecurity boot camp, however the cost of the boot camp prevented him  from signing up.

Victor was referred to Windmill as a possible source of funding for the boot camp, but he was skeptical, at first. “Those kinds of offers always sound too good to be true. But in this case, it is true.”

Victor looked deeper into Windmill, saw that it was supported in part by various levels of government and other partners. He felt this showed the organization could be trusted, was legitimate and he moved forward with his application.

“From the moment I contacted Windmill, everything was very fast and easy. Windmill guided me through the entire process from application through to being accepted for the loan,” he says.

The first thing Victor did after receiving his loan from Windmill? Take a very deep breath. Much of the stress and anxiety he was feeling was relieved.

He appreciated that Windmill provided him one-to-one client success coaching and that his client success coach, Christopher, who he has never met in person, made a concerted effort to ensure his education, career and financial planning were on track.

“Christopher was super helpful and nice. I felt like I could turn to Christopher for advice when I was feeling stressed out. He was patient and took the time for all my calls and emails.”

A new career, a new stage of life

Victor now has what he calls a “dream job,” in cybersecurity.  “When I landed this job, I felt like my life was back on track,” he says.

Victor loves many things about living and working in Canada. From feeling safe and being able to bring his whole self to work, to the excitement he feels about his future in this country. He says his life has completely changed and credits Windmill for being there for him when he needed it.

“Windmill is a unique organization in the way that it benefits its clients. There’s nothing else quite like it. The way it helps people really has ripples in the water and they just get bigger and bigger over time.”

Anoopriya

Anoopriya

Software Engineer

Toronto

Software Engineer
Information Technology & Software
Anoopriya
Toronto
Software Engineer
Information Technology & Software

Arriving in Canada from India in 2018, Anoopriya and her husband knew no one when they arrived. The start of their journey was hard, without familial support or credit history to rent an apartment. Anoopriya wanted to continue her career as a Software Engineer but realized she needed to upskill to enter the Canadian job market.

Taking courses was her first step after arriving in Canada. She learned a lot about enhancing her resume and preparing for interviews at Skills for Change. It was there that Anoopriya first learned about Windmill Microlending. She found a bridging program at Humber College that would give her the training she needed to return to the software field.

A Loan from Windmill

Both Anoopriya and her husband were eligible for a Windmill loan. They were living on savings so the financial support could not have come at a better time. “It was really helpful for us, getting the loan from Windmill,” she states.  

She had expected a credit check when submitting her application. When she received her loan without one, it made her realize how different Windmill was from a bank or other financial institution. The low-interest loan and flexible repayment schedule was a welcome surprise for her. The team at Windmill were very supportive towards her and her husband.  

Her Client Success Coach Joyce provided her with the motivation to pursue her course and look into suitable job opportunities. With no friends or family close by, Joyce’s words of support were much needed.

Why Canada?

Anoopriya and her husband were drawn to Canada because of the employment opportunities there. Before arriving, they had researched the education system and felt their children would benefit from going to school in Canada.  

She had not realized, however, how lonely she would feel in a new country. Their initial focus was on finding long-term accommodation and full-time employment, which left little time for enjoying themselves.  

Once her husband got a job, three months later, they were finally able to move out of their Airbnb which helped. They now had a base for building their new life.

Life after College

Things changed for the better after Anoopriya received her accreditation. She felt more confident about applying for jobs and she had made new friends. Freedom, she remembers, was finally something she could enjoy on a daily basis.  

Her first job really aligned with her values and skillset. The office culture was really friendly. Everyone, from the CEO to her manager, were very kind and open to feedback. This was not a culture she was accustomed to, but she embraced it.  

Anoopriya’s advice to newcomers in the software field is to get Canadian education or experience as soon as possible. In her case, it landed her a dream job that still feels fulfilling.

Elda

Elda

Psychotherapist

Toronto

Psychotherapist
Healthcare
Elda
Toronto
Psychotherapist
Healthcare

Elda had high hopes of continuing her career as a psychotherapist in Canada after moving from the Philippines. However, she soon realized additional education was required before she could resume her dream job.

Elda loved being part of a psychotherapy practice in the Philippines but wanted to join her husband, who had already relocated to Toronto. She was willing to take any necessary courses or training required to continue her profession and be able to provide for her family.  

“I did a lot of research,” Elda states, “making sure I am well equipped to get back on track with my career. That was really a huge passion for me.”  

She first learned about Windmill Microlending through a bridging program and was delighted to be eligible for a loan. Elda felt that her loan application process moved very quickly, which helped alleviate her financial worries. Only one month had passed from the time she submitted her application to when she received her loan.

  It was only when her loan got approved that she realized how much it meant to her, and how much her life could change. “Financial security had a huge impact on my mental health,” remembers Elda.  

With the funding necessary to complete her bridging program, Elda was ready to take a further step toward gaining Canadian recognition as a psychotherapist. In July 2019, she registered with the College of Psychotherapists in Ontario after successfully completing her bridging program.

Canadian Life as a Psychotherapist

Elda’s good luck continued when, by the time she received her registration as a psychotherapist she had already secured a full-time job. Life in Canada has been very enjoyable for her so far.  

She has adjusted to Canadian life, and the ever-changing seasons, seamlessly. The weather in Toronto is very different from what she was accustomed to, so some wardrobe changes were needed! Elda feels safer in Canada than she did in the Philippines and is balancing her work with family life.  

“Windmill Microlending has helped me achieve a stable career and sustainable lifestyle,” Elda says.

Lakshmi

Lakshmi

Systems Administrator

Toronto

Systems Administrator
Information Technology & Software
Lakshmi
Toronto
Systems Administrator
Information Technology & Software

Having no credit history was a barrier for Lakshmi and his wife, when they first arrived in Canada. He had completed several pre-arrival programs to help him adjust to the Canadian job market but he encountered many barriers during his first few months in Canada.

Lakshmi enrolled in YMCA pre-arrival programs while still in India, his home country. He hoped that these programs would be enough to help him assimilate into Canadian culture but there were many surprises along the way. The initial months were tough for both Lakshmi and his wife. “We knew nobody here,” he remembers. Finding a home with no credit history or employment was very challenging. He wanted to enjoy life in Canada but there seemed to be endless barriers facing him.

Lakshmi was a senior system administrator back in India and he was interested in pursuing similar work in Canada. However, he needed Canadian education first. He applied for a bridging program at Humber College. During the registration stage, he received a pamphlet about Windmill Microlending and how a loan could help him complete his course.

A Loan from Windmill

For Lakshmi, not having a credit score was a barrier to anything he wanted to do. Renting a house or enrolling in a course seemed impossible. Windmill, he says, encouraged him to pursue his career ambitions despite his low score. His Career Success Coach Joyce offered much-needed assurance that his loan repayments would increase his score.

The trust that Windmill placed in him gave him the courage and support to complete his course and receive his accreditation. Lakshmi noticed that having his Canadian education listed on his resume was very attractive to potential employers. Things were looking up for him at last.

Life in Canada

Lakshmi’s life is very different now from the one he had in the first few months of moving to Canada. He is employed in a job that aligns with his experience and education. His job includes three weeks of paid vacation, which he never had back in India. Life feels much freer than before. “I see everything as an opportunity,” he says. Funds are easier to manage and planning for the future has become much easier.

Simon

Simon

Software Engineer

Toronto

Software Engineer
Information Technology & Software
Simon
Toronto
Software Engineer
Information Technology & Software

Simon enjoyed a comfortable life in his home country of Iran, but he wanted something more. He wanted to find a country where he could see a future for himself and his wife.

After a course in computer engineering, Simon was teaching part-time and building a business with his friend when he decided it was time to leave Iran and move to Canada. He knew he could make a lot of money in Iran, but he disagreed with some government policies there. Canada was where he saw his future home.

Trusting his Instincts

Simon and his wife settled in Hamilton, where Simon’s brother, was living and studying for a PhD, when they arrived in Canada. His brother suggested that Simon look for a job immediately, but Simon refused. He wanted to Canadian life to the fullest and made a promise to himself that he wouldn’t take a survival job.

He applied only to jobs he was passionate about. After two weeks and two interviews, he was asked some questions that he didn’t know the answers to. He recognized that his computer engineering knowledge needed an update.

Simon found the perfect IT course at Humber College. He didn’t know what to do – the cost of the course was half of his entire savings. He knew he had bills to pay, and more would be on the way. His brother urged him to find a job and not pursue the course. Simon decided to trust his instincts and apply for the course.

A Loan from Windmill

Simon came across Windmill Microlending after doing some educational courses. He sent in an application, not expecting any kind of response. He was surprised to learn soon after that he was eligible for a loan covering both his tuition in full, and his living expenses.

After a Skype interview, he received $7,000 CAD which only confirmed to him that taking the course was the right decision.

His IT course involved evening study and a long commute to Humber College, but Simon has nothing but fond memories of his time there. “I didn’t have anything, but I was enjoying learning,” Simon remembers.

Shortly after completing his course, Simon was offered a job. That job was a “starting point” for his Canadian IT career, but he wanted to work for a company with similar values to him. A few months later, he began working for another organization in Waterloo. This, Simon felt, was the first role that felt like the job he had moved to Canada for. All of his skills, experiences and training could be utilized in the role.

These days, Simon is based in Toronto and works as a senior software engineer with a large hospital network.

Simon never grows tired of the freedom and diversity Canada offers. He’s never felt treated as an outsider in any aspect of his life. “Still, after 7 years, it is kind of heartwarming for me.”

What advice does he have for newcomers?

“Accept the big change, and what you are not anymore.”

Elizabeth

Elizabeth

Pharmacist

Calgary

Pharmacist
Pharmacy
Elizabeth
Calgary
Pharmacist
Pharmacy

Becoming a pharmacist in Canada wasn’t easy for Elizabeth, but today she says she is living her “Canadian dream,” thanks to Windmill Microlending.

Elizabeth says one of her biggest learnings as a new immigrant has been openness to the advice and experience of others. Without that openness she wouldn’t have achieved her career goal of being a pharmacist in Canada.  

In her early days here, like so many other newcomers, Elizabeth was struggling financially. She was working as a bakery clerk, earning minimum wage, at a grocery store, despite her pharmacy training and education from back home. Her limited income made it difficult to cover costs such as child care and expenses like exam fees to earn her Canadian accreditation.  

Elizabeth made preparations for the Canadian accreditation process before she left Nigeria but something she wasn’t prepared for was the high cost of completing qualification exams. “Before arriving, I knew the steps involved to convert my Nigerian licence to a Canadian licence but I underestimated the cost of the whole process,” says Elizabeth. “Finances were my main challenge. I was earning $11/hour, and I had another child after completing my first set of qualifying exams. I was using my employment insurance (EI) money to pay for the second set of exams. My career coach at Bow Valley College told me about Windmill, known then as Immigrant Access Fund, but I was against the idea of going into debt.”

In her time of need, Windmill was there

Elizabeth’s financial situation was getting worse and she needed money to pay for her third and final qualifying exams. There was no more EI money available and she had been rejected for funding from a government support program. “I was stranded. Living from hand to mouth,” Elizabeth says.  

Her persistent career coach, once again, brought up Windmill as an option for her during this challenging time. “This time around, I could not say no. I had no money to pay for the exams, I knew I was eligible for a Windmill loan since my career coach had spoken at great length about the requirements. I met with Robert at Windmill, and within seven days, I had money to pay for classes, exams, materials and a laptop to use to study. After my exams were completed, I still needed more funds for child care, and like the previous time, the money was approved in a week,” she says.

Living her Canadian dream

Windmill helped Elizabeth overcome her financial challenges and grow her career, and today, she is a licensed pharmacist with the National Community Pharmacy brand. Her family has grown and their life in Calgary is more comfortable than it was in the early days.  

She advises new Canadians to stay open-minded and do their research about the tools, resources, programs and services available to help them establish themselves and launch their careers.  

Elizabeth’s only regret is she didn’t say “yes” to Windmill, sooner. “New immigrants can use a Windmill loan to pursue their career and live a better life in Canada. Windmill is like a life jacket,” Elizabeth says. “It prevents you from sinking into oblivion and remaining stuck in a survival job. It helps you to stay afloat and achieve your dream career.”  

Anoop

Anoop

Social Worker

Brampton

Social Worker
Social Work
Anoop
Brampton
Social Worker
Social Work

As a social worker, Anoop understands the importance of supporting those who are in need. When he and his family arrived in Canada from India, his master’s degree wasn’t recognized or valued by employers. In a difficult financial situation, Anoop needed help and after being referred to Windmill Microlending by his university professor, he found it.  

Anoop believes he wouldn’t be where he is today without Windmill’s support. That is “achieving a Canadian dream,” working in his chosen profession, providing for his family and helping others through his work.  

When Anoop first applied to Windmill, he was working in a textile sorting plant and says he had a lot to learn about the Canadian financial system and how loans worked in Canada. Thankfully, he had an understanding and supportive Windmill client success coach to walk him through his loan application and support him on his path to accreditation in his new country.    

“Joyce was empathetic. She really understood the immigrant experience and was patient and very responsive to my questions about the process and procedures,” says Anoop.  

Anoop shares his newcomer success story, supported by Windmill.

Anoop believes the Windmill loan application and repayment process was efficient and flexible. When he compares the level of service and interest rate he got from Windmill to what’s offered by a traditional bank, he says there is no comparison.    

“Windmill gave me the opportunity to pay back my loan six months after the completion of my [academic] program. I was able to find a job in those six months and when I got the job, I started paying for the loan. As an immigrant, I don’t think I would ever have that opportunity at a regular bank,” he adds.  

Today, Anoop is working as a registered social worker and improving the lives of vulnerable people in his community, thanks to the coaching he received from Joyce and support from Windmill.  

What would he tell other new Canadians about his career journey?  

“To get a job in your profession is very significant. Windmill’s support and resources help you start your life and career in Canada. Windmill wants their clients to be successful,” says Anoop. “They help people to help themselves. You can truly fulfil your dream through Windmill.”  

Binal

Binal

Dentist

Mississauga

Dentist
Dentist
Binal
Mississauga
Dentist
Dentist

Already established in her dentistry career back home in India, Binal arrived in Canada in 2014, and within days, she began working in a sandwich shop to support her family. Things were difficult with long shifts, behind the counter, where she handled and served meat-based products despite being a lifelong vegetarian. But Binal’s life “changed forever,” when she connected with her Windmill career success coach, Robert, who helped her on the path toward becoming a licensed dental professional in Canada.

Binal, a dentist from Mississauga, Ontario calls her Windmill Microlending Career Success Coach, Robert, “an angel in my life,” who helped her and her family at a time when they truly needed it.  

She says the Windmill loan application process was simple and responsive. Robert was there to answer her questions, provide financial and career advice through the entire process, which she completed from home.  

When she got a call from Robert that her Windmill loan had been approved, she felt a great sense of relief.  

“My Windmill loan really changed my life. I was preparing for my final exam to get my credential to become a dentist. We were in a dire financial situation and Robert shared with me the good news.”  

Binal was on maternity leave at the time and was struggling to pay for her professional accreditation exams and no financial institution would extend her the funds needed to complete the licensing process.  

She had been referred to Windmill Microlending by one of her dental instructors so Binal applied for a loan and was approved within five business days.  

Binal’s Windmill loan helped her pay for childcare while she studied as well as her exam fees. It also meant she wouldn’t need to return to long shifts at the sandwich shop.

Back to a career she loves

With the financial pressure relieved thanks to her affordable loan, Binal was able to successfully complete her exams and is now back working in her chosen profession, bringing smiles to her patients.  

Her advice to other skilled newcomers is to find out if they are eligible for a Windmill microloan.  

“Windmill has a quick and straightforward application process. It really can change your life, forever,” says Binal.  

Though she looks back fondly on her life in India, she is excited to be living, working and raising her family in Canada.  

She says her early years in a new country proved challenging but with Robert and Windmill’s support, her future is bright and her potential is unlimited.

Moez

Moez

Pharmacist

Calgary

Pharmacist
Pharmacy
Moez
Calgary
Pharmacist
Pharmacy

Thinking that pharmacy was practiced in the same way in India and Canada, Moez didn’t believe that he’d be able to get back into the field he loved.

Biology and chemistry have always interested Moez. Since pharmacy integrates both, that’s what he wanted to study. After receiving a bachelor’s of pharmacy in India, Moez discovered that, in his country, pharmacists have non-clinical roles. He was disappointed.

“Working in a pharmacy in India is like working in a convenience store. You give out medications. That’s it. There is no patient counselling, no injecting or medical care plans, which were the things that motivated me to become a pharmacist,” indicates Moez.

Discouraged, Moez left the field. He worked in sales in the pharmaceutical industry for less than a year before quitting his job. He didn’t see himself as a salesman but rather as a healthcare professional with clinical skills.

In 2015, Moez moved to Canada after getting married to a family friend through an arranged marriage. She lived in Calgary, and that’s where he landed. Unfortunately, they got divorced soon after.

To make ends meet, he had two jobs. He worked part-time at a Canadian chain of casual dining restaurants attending the drive-thru and packing orders and full-time at a fast-food restaurant, but this is not what Moez wanted to do.

In 2017, after realizing that pharmacy in Canada was different from what he experienced in India, Moez decided to get back to his field by becoming a pharmacy assistant. He applied to a few colleges and got waitlisted because he was late in the intake process.

“I couldn’t wait another few months for the next intake. So, I decided to find out if I could do pharmacy again. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to study after eight years of not studying or practicing and, that’s when things started falling into place,” remembers Moez.

With Directions for Immigrants help, Moez figured out what he needed to do to work as a pharmacist in Canada. He needed to meet the requirements of the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC): get his academic credentials assessed, complete the Evaluating Exam, register as an intern with the Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) and complete 1,000 hours of internship, write the Qualifying Exam, Parts I and II, and pass the Ethics and Jurisprudence Exam.

It was a long and expensive process, but Moez was eager to complete each step. Unfortunately, he only had a low-wage job, which barely helped him pay the bills and send money back home. Luckily, through Directions for Immigrants, he found out about Windmill Microlending.

Once Moez received the financial support he needed, he started the licensing process by submitting his documents for evaluation and preparing for each exam by attending Directions for Immigrants’ study groups. A loan from Windmill helped Moez pay for living expenses, exam fees and books.

After passing the first three exams, Moez started a part-time internship with a Canadian retail pharmacy chain. Since it was unpaid, and Moez needed to pay the bills, he also worked at a grocery store and restaurant.

When Moez finished the internship in November 2020, he got a part-time pharmacy assistant job with the same company but at a different location. Later that month, he received his license. Then, in January 2020, Moez was hired full-time as a pharmacist with Public Health doing COVID case investigations.

In 2021, Moez went back to practicing community pharmacy with a chain of supermarkets located across Western Canada. He’s a full-time floater pharmacist covering shifts at different pharmacies in their Alberta stores.

Now that Moez has a Canadian pharmacy license, there are two goals he wants to achieve: apply for additional prescribing authorization (APA) and specialize in travel health.

To immigrants wanting to continue working in their profession in Canada, Moez offers the following advice: “Be persistent because it takes time. You may get frustrated and think, ‘why am I doing this?’ but it’s worth it in the end. If you want to get better opportunities, a better job and future, you have to be persistent.”

Dr. Stephen

Dr. Stephen

Physician

Quesnel

Physician
Medicine
Dr. Stephen
Quesnel
Physician
Medicine

Lack of funds delayed Dr. Stephen’s re-certification journey in Canada. Luckily, a friend referred him to Windmill and a loan helped him cover his exam costs.

For Dr. Stephen, the expression “three times a charm” couldn’t be truer. Coming to Canada in 2015 from Nigeria with over 10 years of experience as a family physician, Stephen began studying for his re-certification to practice medicine before he even arrived in Canada.  

Settling his young family in Windsor, where his friend, also from Nigeria, had relocated, Stephen set out to take his MCCQE1 exam. Except there was one problem – the tablet that contained all of his study notes had crashed and was unable to be fixed. “I had nothing to fall back on, other than what I remembered,” recalls Stephen. Unfortunately, Stephen didn’t pass.  

Shortly after that, Stephen decided to go back to Nigeria to continue his medical practice so he could earn money in order to afford more recertification exams. This meant leaving his wife and young children in Windsor. “It was difficult, but my wife and I were determined to make a new life for ourselves in Canada.”  

Stephen stayed in Nigeria for two years. He came back to Windsor in 2017, where he prepared to take the exam a second time, this time with the help of a loan from Windmill Microlending. “A friend of mine, a fellow doctor from Nigeria, told me about Windmill (IAF at that time), and I got a loan of $10,000 to help cover my exam costs.”  

As fate would have it, technology failed Stephen a second time. With one hour left to his exam, the computer platform he was using in the exam centre crashed - it stopped working. The Medical Council of Canada told him that he would need to write the exam again. “My coach Joyce asked me what I was going to do, and I told her, I’ve made up my mind, there’s no going back. I need to write the exam a third time.” Six months later, Stephen wrote the exam and passed, much to his relief and joy.  

Today, Stephen lives in Quesnel, BC, with his wife and three children, where he works at the Holley Clinic as an independent family practitioner.  

Even though Stephen has paid off his Windmill loan, he still keeps in touch with his coach Joyce, who he considers a friend. “Joyce constantly kept in touch with me. She was always checking up to see how I was doing. This showed me what a wonderful organization Windmill is – a bank or other lenders would not have kept in touch with, nor offered support to their clients like I received.”    

“My advice to newcomers would be to not be afraid to take out a loan. I know it’s scary to add an additional burden by having debt, but in the end, it’s worth it. Without the loan from Windmill, I wouldn’t be back in my field practicing medicine. Get a loan from Windmill and go for it - your dreams will become true earlier than you can imagine.”

Peju

Peju

Audit and Compliance

Calgary

Audit and Compliance
Accounting & Finance
Peju
Calgary
Audit and Compliance
Accounting & Finance

Hoping to give her family a better life, Peju travelled over 11,000 kilometres to start a new life. However, not having a Canadian internal auditor certification made it challenging to get a job.

In the summer of 2016, Peju, a Chartered Accountant and Certified Information Systems Auditor, arrived in Canada from Nigeria with her husband and two children. Moving wasn’t an easy decision. Not only hadn’t Peju been in Canada before, but she was also leaving behind 15 years of work experience, mostly as an Internal Auditor. Her last role in Nigeria was as a Regional Controller at a Financial Institution, where she was responsible for managing the regulatory compliance and financial reports of nine branches.

Once in Calgary, Peju experienced culture shock. She couldn’t even imagine what her kids were struggling with, so she chose to stay home to help them settle in before starting to look for a job.

Shortly after arriving in Calgary, Peju applied to the Bridging the Gap for Foreign-Trained Accountants program at the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA). Starting in October 2016, for six months, she attended the program and was able to gain relevant Canadian work experience through a 10-week practicum. “The bridging program introduced me to the Canadian work environment and networking –something I wasn’t used to. They gave us lots of information that I felt was very useful,” points out Peju.

Before finishing the program, Peju received what she considered was a piece of sound advice, ‘Looking for a job is also a job, but don’t let the job search keep you indoors because you get more frustrated.’ Understanding that a job might not come easy because she was new to the country and didn’t have Canadian experience, Peju listened to this recommendation. She spent her days going to the library, volunteering and meeting people.

Once Peju was ready, she started searching and applying for jobs. Unfortunately, the job search wasn’t successful. After reading many job descriptions, she realized that the Audit, Internal Control and Compliance roles required the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification. At that point, it was clear to Peju that she needed it.

However, Peju decided to put this on hold and apply for transition jobs instead. She didn’t want to spend what was left of their savings.

One day, while talking to a colleague from Nigeria living in Toronto, he suggested getting a loan from Windmill Microlending. “I didn’t want to get a loan because I didn’t have a job, but he told me he got his loan even with no credit history. Two weeks after applying, my loan was approved,” remembers Peju.

At the same time, Peju registered for the CIA exam, consisting of three parts, through the Institute of Internal Auditors. She submitted the required documentation and started preparing for the papers.

The Windmill loan helped Peju pay for parts one and two of the exams’ fees and preparation materials, including books and interactive online tools.

In August 2017, after passing the CIA part 1 exam, Peju got her first job in Canada at a Financial Institution as an IT Risk Analyst. It was a one-year contract role. Within a few months into the role, the job became a permanent position before the year was up. Peju was ecstatic.

In 2018, Peju took part two of the CIA exam, but sadly, didn’t pass. She was working full time and juggling exams for two different certifications; the CIA and Payment Card Industry Professional (PCI ISA). Her company sponsored the latter. A few months later, Peju wrote and passed the remaining CIA exams and received her CIA designation in 2019.

In October 2019, after two years of working for the same company, Peju moved to a new position, Compliance Assurance Manager. She considers herself fortunate to be working in her field and advancing in her career, but Peju has one more goal she wants to achieve - climb the corporate ladder.

Peju’s advice to other skilled immigrants hoping to continue working in their profession in Canada is, “Know what you want and go for it. Don’t isolate yourself; talk to people. You have to be able to learn, unlearn, and re-learn. I understand it can be frustrating, especially when you have years of professional experience behind you, and you are told you have to start again. Don’t be afraid if you have to start again; all you need is to get your foot in.”

Thelma

Thelma

Nurse

Barrie

Nurse
Nursing
Thelma
Barrie
Nurse
Nursing

As a skilled registered nurse, Thelma could not anticipate how expensive and time consuming her journey to practicing nursing in Canada was going to be. However, a microloan and her husband’s support made all the difference.

For Thelma, a registered nurse (RN) from Nigeria, being accepted into a nursing program in her country was a dream come true. It was an opportunity to do something meaningful with her life. Three years of study and a one-year hospital internship later, Thelma obtained her RN qualification.

After three years of working as a registered nurse, Thelma and her husband, Dr. Chibuike, decided to immigrate to Canada. "My husband is very adventurous. He wanted to improve and challenge himself, see the world, and I wanted to be by his side,” indicates Thelma.

In 2011, while in Nigeria, Thelma began the process of becoming an RN in Canada. She applied to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS). As part of the process, she sent documents indicating she had completed a nursing education program and provided references from her last nursing manager.

Thelma and her husband planned to leave together, but her immigration process was delayed. In 2011, her husband left for Canada to start a master’s degree. Six months later, in 2012, she joined him in Saskatoon.

Within two weeks, Thelma got a job as a care aide/personal support worker through a home health care service to provide companionship to a client. Then, with her husband’s help, she found a second job in a retirement home. She provided care aid and housekeeping services. At the same time, Thelma worked in a care home as a care aide. It was a busy time for her.

Even though Thelma was very fortunate to get those jobs, they were only a means to support her household. As an international student, her husband was allowed to work 20 hours a week at the most, so she was the primary income earner. Thelma’s goal was to work as a registered nurse.

It was only two months after arriving in Canada that Thelma took the IELTS, the last step in the NNAS process. Unfortunately, she failed. “I didn’t understand the exam. I decided to prepare better and took it for the second time in September 2012. This time, I passed,” says Thelma.

After the NNAS assessment was completed, Thelma received an advisory report. A short time later, she started the application process with the Saskatchewan Registered Nursing Association (SRNA).

The advisory report indicated that to receive a license to practice in Canada, Thelma needed to take 13 courses and complete additional clinical hours. All of which were very expensive.

Thelma enrolled in the Orientation to Nursing in Canada for Internationally Educated Nurses (ONCIEN) program at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and in early 2013, she started her first course. “The program was online. It was to be completed at your own pace within five years. It was ideal for me because I had a newborn baby. My first son,” notes Thelma.

Realizing it would take a lot of time and money to complete 13 courses, later that year, Thelma applied to the Saskatchewan Association for Licensed Practical Nurses (SALPN) to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). The good news was that she only needed to take two courses and one clinical placement at the Sask Polytech.

“I wasn’t focused on my registered nursing courses as I should have. My priority was to become a practical nurse. I figured that the license was faster to get, and I could earn good money,” adds Thelma.

Before receiving her LPN license, Thelma knew it was time to resume the courses to become an RN. Since she needed financial support, Thelma applied for a Windmill Microlending loan. Her husband had already received one, and she knew how important it would be to help her advance in her career.

“I got the loan, and that helped with my education because my courses and exams were expensive. We were paying for his master’s program tuition on top of rent and other bills, so not much was left to pay for all of my expensive courses,” recalls Thelma.

In June 2014, Thelma received her LPN license, and in September 2014, she landed her first job.

The Windmill loan helped Thelma pay for most of the 13 courses, the clinicals and the NCLEX-RN exam from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

The following year, Thelma and her family moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario. After finishing the program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam in August 2016, she applied to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), submitted the required documentation and completed a jurisprudence exam.

After a couple of months, Thelma became a CNO member and got a job as an RN working in the psychiatry department in January 2017.

Since then, Thelma’s family has grown with the arrival of her second son. She has held a couple of different jobs as an RN, working full-time hours while also ensuring her schedule allowed her to spend time with her two sons.

Today, Thelma lives with her family in Barrie, Ontario. In April 2020, she landed her dream job as an RN working in the psychiatric department at a hospital in Barrie. Her goal is to accumulate more hours to qualify for a certification exam to become a licensed psychiatric nurse. In the future, Thelma and her husband want to open a practice.

Thelma’s journey to becoming a registered nurse in Canada helped her turn into a bold professional. “The courses and the training shaped me as a nurse and as a person. After graduating as an RN in 2016, I started helping other internationally-educated nurses achieve their goals. In 2019, I became a Windmill mentor. We have the knowledge, but we don’t have the boldness that it takes to challenge what we see and to question what else could be wrong with the patient. So, the process in Canada helps to build the complexity that we need as nurses. It is absolutely worth the effort,” states Thelma.

Eric

Eric

UX Designer

Toronto

UX Designer
Graphic Design
Eric
Toronto
UX Designer
Graphic Design

As the well-organized individual that he is, Eric carefully planned his move to Canada. However, it was only until he landed that he gained clarity on the steps he needed to take to achieve professional success as a graphic designer.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Eric earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in 2006. While attending university, he started a small digital agency with a fellow advertising student. For almost 15 years, Eric worked tirelessly to grow his business. However, over time, his role became more administrative. Eric preferred being a hands-on graphic designer, so he decided it was time for a change. As a result, Eric sold his part of the business and became a freelance consultant.  

Being comfortable with taking risks, Eric set his sights in Canada. Not only did he want to experience what it felt like to live abroad, he also wanted to give his family better opportunities in a new country.  

Eric travelled to Canada in 2017 and spent three weeks exploring a few cities, talking to different people along the way. “I had friends in Winnipeg and Toronto. And even though I was in the process of applying for permanent residency, it was very important to me to come and see how things were here. I liked it. I did my homework, trying to come prepared,” says Eric.  

The fact that Eric’s wife, also a graphic designer, received an invitation to apply for permanent residency through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) played a significant role in the decision to establish his family in the province. However, a couple of additional things made it easier.  

“I decided to live in Toronto because, in the Dominican Republic, I lived in Santo Domingo, the capital. We thought the transition would be easier,” explains Eric. “Also, we knew more than 30 people here. When you’re making this type of transition, knowing people is very important. They can help you with different things that otherwise you’d need to figure out on your own.”  

In the summer of 2018, Eric arrived in Toronto with his wife and two-year-old son. They settled in a short-term, furnished apartment that he was able to secure through acquaintances while still in the Dominican Republic. Eric and his family lived in the apartment for four months.  

Soon after arrival, and because graphic design isn’t a regulated profession in Canada, Eric started networking and searching for a job in user experience (UX) design. However, during his first interview, Eric didn’t feel comfortable with his English-speaking skills. He also realized that he wasn’t quite familiar with UX terminology and processes. So, Eric started evaluating his options. He considered pursuing a college program, an online course or perhaps an intensive course.  

Eric chose the latter. He decided to put a hold on his job search and enrolled in UX & Product Design, a ten-week intensive course at General Assembly. Although Eric had the means to pay for tuition, he decided to save his money. Finding a loan made more sense to him because he didn’t know how long he was going to be out of work.  

“I researched different ways to get funding, including the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), but none of the schools I wanted to apply accepted it,” indicates Eric. “When I contacted someone from OSAP, they suggested I go to Windmill Microlending. I researched a little bit about the organization and applied for the loan.”  

In September 2018, Eric used the Windmill loan to pay for his tuition.  

“My experience with the Windmill team was really nice. I didn’t have to spend a lot of time in the process. They sent me some forms, and I went to the office only for an interview. They evaluated my case, and I got the loan really fast. They have a positive approach and are very kind people. I felt very comfortable with the process,” adds Eric.  

Once Eric completed the program, he embarked on a few new goals, including studying English at a language centre, getting his driver's license and redoing his design portfolio for job interview purposes.  

In March 2019, while attending an event organized by General Assembly intended to showcase past students’ projects and connect them with hiring managers, Eric met someone from a well-known Canadian retail company. “He said, ‘I like your work. Please call me’. I had an interview, and in one week, I got a job,” Eric recalls.  

The following month, Eric started working as a UX Designer for the company’s e-commerce website. It’s a role that provides Eric with a different project to collaborate on each and every day. He enjoys being involved in the design process without stressing about all the administrative activities he once did as an agency owner. Eric plans to continue collaborating with organizations and keep growing as a professional in his field.  

After going through the process of getting a great job in his profession, Eric has some words of advice for other immigrants. “Concentrate on acquiring the necessary skills and networking,” he says. “Go to different events related to your career. Try to connect with people. Understand what other professionals in your field are doing. Having a network is the best way to get a job here. You can probably find one and apply, but you need to create the connections to get a job.”

Clodia

Clodia

Civil Engineer

Sherwood Park

Civil Engineer
Engineering
Clodia
Sherwood Park
Civil Engineer
Engineering

Looking for a better life, Clodia moved to Canada with seven years of experience in the civil engineering field. However, lack of Canadian experience and not having a Canadian designation made it hard to get back into her profession.

Freedom Day is how Clodia remembers the day in April 2008 when she moved to Canada with her kids. Being born in Syria –where women are not considered equal to men and marriage contracts are common– and wanting to pursue a bachelor in civil engineering posed some challenges for her.  

Clodia was 19 years old when her uncle brought her a husband. She got married shortly after while attending her first year of university. Arranged marriages are still the norm in Syria, but young Clodia didn’t know at the time that her husband would ask her to quit university and stay home to clean and cook. Clodia, who believes women are as capable of contributing to their society as men, refused to give up on her education but had to put up with the mental abuse of an uneducated husband.  

She was one of two females out of forty students in her class, and it was a little challenging and intimidating. One professor told her, ‘not all girls stick around; they drop out the first year.’ Clodia was upset by this comment, but it fuelled her drive to become an engineer even more.  

When she was young, Clodia often questioned the power of men over women in the Middle East. She couldn’t understand why women were unable to make their own decisions and always have to be in the shadow of a man –dad, brother or husband. She didn’t want that for her daughter. So, when Clodia graduated, she went to the Canadian Embassy and started the process of applying as a skilled worker.  

Little did Clodia know, this process would take seven years. A lot longer than she had expected. While waiting to receive her confirmation of permanent residency, and three months after graduation, Clodia was hired by the Syrian government as a surveyor assistant in the field.  

Soon after, she changed roles. She became a draftsman, a position Clodia held for two years. Later, when someone from her department retired, she was promoted to project manager.  

When Clodia and her family arrived in Montréal, she felt relieved and happy to be in a country where women have the right to equality and freedom of choice. “When I finally landed on Canadian soil, my first thought was, oh my God, I am a free woman,” Clodia says with a sigh of relief. She didn’t have a good marriage, and this was her chance to leave her husband and start over because divorced women are frowned upon and not socially accepted in the Middle East.  

One of the first things she did in Edmonton –where she settled down– was to look for a job as a civil engineer. However, employers wanted someone with good English and both Canadian experience and designation. While visiting a settlement agency, Clodia was told that to work as a civil engineer, she needed to contact the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA).  

There, Clodia learnt that to become a licensed engineer in Canada, she needed to complete the following requirements: submit academic documents, demonstrate engineering work experience, meet language requirements, provide proof of good character and complete the Professional Practice Examination (PPE).  

Before starting this process, Clodia got her first Canadian job at a lemonade stand at the Edmonton Indy. She worked three days a week during the summer and with the money she received, she bought bicycles for her and her two kids, so that they could move around the city.  

In September, Clodia started English as an Additional Language (EAL) at MacEwan University, a full-time program that would help her to improve her English. At the same time, she got a job at a hotel as a front desk clerk three days a week for six months. It was a busy time for Clodia, but it helped her save money towards a deposit for a basement apartment.  

As soon as Clodia completed the EAL program, she decided to enroll in the Engineers’ & Technologists’ Integration Program at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN). This is an 11-month program that assists internationally educated engineering professionals like Clodia to rapidly and effectively integrate into the Alberta engineering workplace.  

In the meantime, Clodia received news from APEGA. After reviewing her academic documents, she was told she needed to complete additional courses and demonstrate her engineering work experience. To comply with the latter, she not only reported the engineering work experience obtained in Syria, but she also underwent a competency-based assessment (CBA).  

“When I was attending the Integration Program, I wanted to take the APEGA courses, but as a single mom with no job, I didn’t have the extra money to pay for the courses. It was at the EMCN when I saw a Windmill Microlending brochure. I contacted Windmill and applied for a loan. The loan was so convenient as it was low interest and allowed me to pay back over time,” recalls Clodia.  

The Windmill loan helped her pay the fees for three courses at the University of Alberta. Once she completed them, Clodia got her designation as Engineer-in-Training, which indicated that she had met academic requirements but needed more work experience to qualify as a Professional Engineer.  

Clodia needed to find a job where she could be supervised by a licensed engineer who would take professional responsibility for her work and give her a reference letter at the end of the practice. Unfortunately, she couldn’t secure a job as an engineer. However, three months after finishing the Integration Program and receiving her certificate, she got a job as a draftsman with an engineering company.

A year later, she got promoted to an assistant manager position. She stayed in that role for one year and then applied for a project manager position. During that time, she was mentored by a couple of senior engineers and finally obtained the reference letters she needed to apply for her Professional Engineering status. In 2014, Clodia received her P.Eng., and she has been practicing since.  

In 2017, and after six years working at the engineering company, Clodia was ready to tackle a new challenge as a project manager at a provincial government agency.  

For Clodia, who believes “the sky is the limit” for someone with her background and experience, her journey has not ended yet. She’s currently tackling a new challenge: Completing an online Master in Business Administration with the University of Canada West to add leadership skills to her technical background, always counting with the full support of her new husband and kids.  

In a male-dominated field, Clodia’s determination, willpower and patience were instrumental in succeeding in Canada. She started again from the bottom and worked her way up. “I feel blessed for being able to obtain my designation as an engineer and work in a field that I am so passionate about. Lots of internationally trained professionals are still working in survival jobs, and not being able to get where I am. It was a long journey but absolutely worth it,” ensures Clodia.

Denim

Denim

Lawyer

Saskatoon

Lawyer
Law & Legal
Denim
Saskatoon
Lawyer
Law & Legal

With a law degree in hand, and hoping to start a career as a law professional, Denim moved to Canada. However, it took money, perseverance, sleepless nights and a few years before he was able to represent a client in court.

In 2010, a year after graduating with a law degree from Keele University in England, Denim arrived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Up until this moment, Denim hadn’t experienced what it was like to practice law. However, he had dreamed of working in this profession since he was a teenager.  

When Denim was a kid, his grandfather bought him a Reader’s Digest “Know Your Rights” book, an unusual present for a child. He never looked at it. At sixteen, while working as a sous chef in a local restaurant, he believed the owner was taking advantage of him. One afternoon, they had a discussion, which led to his boss refusing to pay Denim his wages.  

“I went home and saw my grandfather’s book. There was a section on employment standards, which outlined the rights and obligations of individuals. I crafted a letter and posted it on the door of the restaurant. By the time I got home, my employer had called me. He was incredibly apologetic and said, ‘I’ll sort out a cheque for your four weeks, plus your holiday, and I’ll put a little bit extra in there to apologize for any inconveniences it might have caused you. It was a complete misunderstanding. My apologies.’ At that point, I realized the power of understanding the law. I knew I wanted to study law, in order to help others understand it,” recalls Denim.  

While in university, Denim discovered how difficult it would be to become a lawyer in England and work as a barrister. He wasn’t enrolled in a top-tier university, neither of his parents were lawyers, and he didn’t come from a wealthy family.  

After Denim received his law degree, he continued working as a chef in France and Italy, an occupation he had enjoyed for 13 years and that funded his way through university.  

“When I returned to England, I got the opportunity to come to Canada and potentially fulfill my dream of becoming a lawyer. A friend from university who was practicing here told me I should give it a try,” says Denim.  

Denim got a work permit through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. Soon after arriving in Saskatoon, he set up interviews with law firms. Unfortunately, they all fell through. He was back in a restaurant kitchen in no time.  

A year and a half after arriving in Saskatoon, Denim secured a job as a paralegal at the same law firm where his friend from university was practicing. A paralegal isn’t a lawyer, but paralegal work requires knowledge of the law and legal procedures. In Saskatchewan, a designation wasn’t needed to become a paralegal, so Denim was perfect for the position.  

Two years later, Denim moved to another firm as a corporate paralegal. For four months, he worked as a floating legal assistant. His initiative and willingness to go above and beyond got noticed, and he moved to a junior paralegal position. Eight months later, Denim was training his replacement and took over a senior corporate paralegal job.  

One day, via his university friend, Denim found out about the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) at the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. He contacted them and applied to start the assessment process of his law degree. The NCA explained the process he needed to embark on to become a law professional in Canada.  

At the same time, Denim learned about Windmill Microlending. “A young lady who was doing her articling placement at my firm told me about Windmill and said, ‘It’s a great opportunity.’”  

Denim contacted Windmill to learn about the application process, and a couple of weeks later, he applied. “You have a fantastic turnaround time. I think it’s almost as if you understand the urgency of people applying,” points out Denim.  

His Windmill loan was approved in 2014, and initially, it helped Demin pay for the NCA application.  

After processing Denim’s application, the NCA assessment indicated he needed to write nine NCA exams. To practice law, professionals must be permanent residents or Canadian citizens, but Denim was neither at the time. So, he put the process on hold.  

Finally, after five-and-a-half years in Canada, Denim became a permanent resident. Now it was time to continue the NCA process. In under nine months, he passed the exams, which the Windmill loan helped fund. In 2016, Denim received NCA’s Certificate of Qualification, making him eligible to apply for entry to the law society bar admission process.  

One of the steps in the process was the completion of an articling placement to gain experience working in a legal environment. However, “one of the downsides of being an immigrant is your network is limited. You need to have very strong ties with lawyers and law firms so that you don’t become another application being lost in the pile,” notes Denim.  

Denim couldn’t secure an articling placement, but he had an alternative. He could attend a law practice program (LPP). With Windmill’s support, he enrolled at Ryerson University in Toronto.  

In 2017, Denim was required to pay a call to the bar fee, and since he didn’t have enough money to cover it, he reached out to Windmill one more time.  

During the eight months it took to complete the LPP program, Denim’s life was hectic. He studied for 30 hours a week and worked as dining room manager at a restaurant for 60 hours a week. In addition to this, Denim decided to study for the Ontario Barrister and Solicitor Licensing Examination, both of which are a requirement to be called to the bar. With determination, Denim was able to pass the Bar exams, on the first attempt, and the LPP program. Denim was now a lawyer.  

In 2018, only one day after finishing the LLP program, Denim packed his car and drove back to Saskatoon. Three weeks later, he received a job offer from a law firm he had contacted when looking for an articling placement. Denim signed the rolls with the Law Society of Saskatchewan and was called to the Saskatchewan Bar in 2018. There, he was presented with a Degree of Barrister-at-Law and a Court Certificate of Qualification.  

“Had Windmill not been there to provide financial support, I don’t think it would have been financially viable for me to become a Canadian lawyer. Having an organization that says, ‘we’ll give you some financial support,’ helps a lot of people. I know. It helped me significantly,” observes Denim.

Rahul

Rahul

Accountant

Toronto

Accountant
Accounting & Finance
Rahul
Toronto
Accountant
Accounting & Finance

Before moving to Canada in 2018, Rahul found out that having a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation would play a pivotal role in achieving a prosperous Canadian career.

Rahul considers himself very lucky. He arrived in Toronto in 2018, leaving behind a four-year career as a chartered accountant (CA) in India. Yet he managed to secure a job at one of the "big four" accounting firms only eleven months after landing in Canada and before receiving his Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation.

Rahul worked hard for it. Being an organized person, he did some research before moving to Canada. He understood how important it was to receive a CPA designation – it was key to a successful career.

Rahul also discovered that international accounting credentials are recognized in Canada, but they need to be assessed first. Fortunately, CPA Ontario has a membership recognition agreement with ICAI, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, and Rahul was a member.

"Before coming to Canada, I knew I needed a license. That's important, and many people don't know it," says Rahul. He registered with CPA Ontario in 2017 while he was in India and submitted his transcripts, letter of good standing, practical experience and resume.

Armed with a bachelor's degree, an Indian CA designation and a master's degree, Rahul quit his job in Audit & Assurance at Deloitte and moved to Canada, looking for a better standard of living.

"I was pretty lucky. I arrived in February, and I started a job in April. It was a three-week contract in a very big firm during tax season. I got the job because I had experience in India with Canadian taxes. That was a good break," adds Rahul.

By that time, CPA Ontario had reviewed his application and told him that he needed to complete two modules (Capstone 1 and 2) in preparation for the Common Final Exam (CFE). "Those two modules were definitely expensive," indicates Rahul.

Rahul found out about Windmill Microlending through an arrival program for immigrants soon after he landed in Canada.

He contacted Windmill, and his loan was approved very quickly. With the funds, he paid the CPA Ontario fees and preparation classes for the CFE. "My experience working with the Windmill team was really good. I applied for the loan, then I had an interview, and the loan was disbursed," says Rahul.

For a few months, it was difficult for him to find work. He took an accounting job in the industry, although it wasn't exactly what he was looking for. "Eventually, I realized that's something everyone needs to do. You need to get into the door. You need to work in any job you can get in the profession," adds Rahul.

He wrote his exam in September 2018 and, without knowing the result, he interviewed at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He knew many people working in accounting firms didn't have designations but were in the process of getting them. He felt he had a good chance because "accounting is one field in which your knowledge is more important than a license," indicates Rahul.

But Rahul cautions that the designation is needed to grow in the field. "If you want to get a good job and grow as an accountant, you definitely need the designation. If a job requires a CPA, you will lose out on the competition even if you're qualified or you're better than the other applicants because they have the designation," says Rahul.

According to Rahul, three factors played a significant role in receiving a job offer from PwC:  

  1. His previous work experience in Deloitte India.
  2. His Canadian work experience.
  3. The fact that he was in the process of getting his CPA.

After completing the CFE and meeting the experience requirement, Rahul became a member of CPA Ontario on April 2019. Today, Rahul has the same level job that he had in India, which makes him proud. "It's a big achievement for any immigrant to reach that level in less than a year because it's difficult to get the same recognition in terms of education and work experience in a different country."

Karla

Karla

Pharmacist

Mississauga

Pharmacist
Pharmacy
Karla
Mississauga
Pharmacist
Pharmacy

Learn about Windmill loan recipient Karla, a registered pharmacist. Windmill offers loans to help immigrants reach their career goals in Canada.

The rapid growth of the pharmaceutical industry around the world has created many job opportunities and attracted a large number of young adults to choose a career in this field. Karla was one of these burgeoning professionals. In her home country of the Philippines, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Industrial Pharmacy, passed the Pharmacist Licensure Examination conducted by the Board of Pharmacy and became a Registered Pharmacist.

For six years, Karla worked as a hospital pharmacist, a role that involved dispensing prescriptions to patients. Her husband, a nurse, was employed at the same hospital.

Despite the fact that Karla and her husband had good jobs, they struggled financially, living paycheck to paycheck with little opportunity to save. They made the decision to apply for Canadian permanent residency in search of more opportunities and a better life. After completing the process, the couple arrived in Mississauga, Ontario, in 2012 with their two-and-a-half-year-old son.

“When I was in the Philippines, I researched how to apply and what exactly I needed to do to become a registered pharmacist in Canada,” says Karla. The first step in the licensure process was a document assessment, so she submitted the required paperwork to be evaluated by the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) before leaving her country.

During her first six months in Canada, Karla didn’t work; her focus was taking care of her son. It was during this same period of time that Karla received PEBC’s approval, marking her readiness for step two in her licensing journey: The Evaluating Examination. Karla began studying while juggling motherhood.

In January 2013, Karla passed the Evaluating Examination and started volunteering as a pharmacist assistant. After three months of experience in the role – and due to her hard work – Karla was hired as a part-time pharmacist assistant. Soon after, she took on a second job for a similar position at another pharmacy.

Step three on the licensure process was writing the Qualifying Examination Part I, a Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) format assessment. “At my first attempt, I failed. So, I was required to enroll in the International Pharmacy Graduate (IPG) program at the University of Toronto (U of T),” recounts Karla.

Some time passed and Karla, before pursuing the program at U of T, attempted the Qualifying Examination Part I once again. This time, she passed it. However, because she had failed the exam the first time, it was still mandatory to enroll in the IPG program.

Since money was tight, Karla planned on taking a loan from a bank in order to afford her program. However, while researching financial support options on U of T’s website, she found a link to Windmill Microlending. She started her loan process right away.

“It’s a good thing that I got approved by Windmill because my husband and I weren’t sure how we’d get the funds for licensing,” explains Karla. “I used the loan to partially pay for the U of T program and also to pay for my other exam fees.”

In 2015, one month after finishing the IPG program, Karla and her husband welcomed a new baby to their family, a daughter. A few months later, she attempted the Qualifying Examination Part II, the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). “I failed my first attempt. To gain my confidence, I felt I needed to enroll in preparatory courses at PharmAchieve so that I could practice more. That helped me a lot. After I finished the program, I passed the exam,” says Karla.

The last step in Karla’s licensure process was completing a training program in a licensed pharmacy environment. In August 2016, after two years spent working as a part-time pharmacist assistant at two different pharmacies, Karla quit both jobs to concentrate for nine months on her full-time, unpaid studentship and internship.

After completing the training program, Karla received her license in May 2017. “Immediately after, I asked one of my previous employers if they needed a pharmacist, and fortunately, they did,” she says.

Almost three years later, Karla continues working at the same community pharmacy, a job that is commensurate with the one she held in the Philippines. “I feel very happy and grateful because I’m able to work as a pharmacist in Canada. Before it was just an impossible dream, but now, I’m living that dream,” says Karla.

For Karla, achieving professional success in Canada was possible, thanks to Windmill, but she gives her husband a lot of credit as well. “My husband helped me a lot. He said, ‘Study for the exam, take care of our child, and I’ll work.’ Then, during the [licensure] process, I wanted to work more to help him, and he said, ‘No, focus on your studies. It’s okay; I’ll work more so we can survive.’ And when I was pregnant and going to Toronto five days a week for six months to study, he said, ‘You can do it even though it’s hard. Don’t worry about the house. I’ll clean and take care of our son. Finish your studies.’”

To other immigrants, Karla gives this piece of advice: “Even if it seems impossible, and you face many struggles – financially, emotionally, physically –  it is possible to get back into your profession with the help of your family and organizations like Windmill Microlending. It helped me a lot to achieve my dreams, and I feel really grateful.”

Ester

Ester

Accountant

Kitchener

Accountant
Accounting & Finance
Ester
Kitchener
Accountant
Accounting & Finance

Ester arrived in Canada from Zimbabwe in 2017. Even though she had ten years of work experience as an accountant in her country, Ester found it difficult to find a suitable job for her international professional experience.

Originally from Zimbabwe where she worked in accounting, Ester arrived in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario, on Christmas Day, 2017. It was a white Christmas. The snow itself didn’t shock her, but “if one thing surprised me about Canada, it was how long the winter is,” says Ester with a big smile. During a previous trip to New York, Ester experienced snow for the first time. However, that didn’t prepare her for the chilly, long Canadian winters.

Ester completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in accounting, while in her home country. Before arriving in Canada, Ester had ten years of work experience as an accountant in Zimbabwe, where she last worked as Finance Manager for a company in the automotive industry.

“Because I hadn’t been to Canada before, I didn’t know what to expect.” However, this didn’t stop Ester and her husband from applying for Express Entry. One thing was clear: Canada offered a better life for them and their children, a girl and a boy. Shortly after they applied, they received an invitation from the Government of Canada, prompting them to apply for permanent residence.

A friend from Zimbabwe welcomed them in their home while they looked for a place to live, which they found two weeks later. “We decided to live in Kitchener because we had someone we knew. Also, because when we were in Zimbabwe, we researched the city and found out it was quiet, a good place to raise a family,” adds Ester.

“Before arriving in Canada, I researched how immigrants can get access to a career coach and found out about Conestoga Career Centre. As soon as I got here, I reached out to them, and they helped me with my resume and interview skills,” indicates Ester.

Despite this support, Ester couldn’t find a job that was suitable for her international professional experience. She faced two challenges -not having a Canadian qualification and no Canadian work experience. It took her three months to find a job as a payroll administrator at a school board. For some, three months might seem like a short period, but this wasn’t the case for Ester. “It was difficult to get my first job, difficult but bearable.” This job wasn’t at the same professional level as the one she had in Zimbabwe, but it was a good start.

“Soon after, I decided to go for my CPA designation,” says Ester.

It was through her career coach at Conestoga Employment Centre that she learned she needed to obtain a designation through CPA Ontario. “We were exploring opportunities to see what I could study that would help me get a job at the same professional level as the one I had before.”

Thankfully, CPA Ontario has agreements with different accounting bodies outside Canada, including The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants UK. There, she was a member in good standing, so Ester was eligible to become a CPA in Ontario.

Ester gathered all the required documents, including the assessment of her educational credentials done by World Education Services (WES) and proof of practical experience in accounting in Zimbabwe, completed an application for membership and paid the prescribed fees and dues.

After reviewing her documents, CPA Ontario credited her previous experience but asked Ester to complete two online courses in Canadian tax and law. “That’s when I used the Windmill Microlending loan program. I was not working at the time.”

“I found about Windmill doing an online search. I was looking for information on how I could get funds as an immigrant and use them to bridge the gap. It didn’t take long to get the loan after I applied.

The loan helped me pay for the courses and a laptop since it was instrumental in helping me achieve my learning plan,” recalls Ester.

Ester received her CPA designation in early 2019 and moved to a different organization where she landed a job as a Senior Accountant. This time, her position was at the same professional level as the one she had in Zimbabwe, “… maybe better because it’s an international organization.”

Even during some tough times, Ester never thought about moving back to Zimbabwe. “I think it’s because we had friends here. We quickly got a community of people around us. They were always supporting and encouraging us. Also, seeing success stories of other people made me think it was possible. It was just a question of time.”

Alexandra

Alexandra

Dentist

Whitby

Dentist
Healthcare
Alexandra
Whitby
Dentist
Healthcare

Looking for a better life for her kids, Alexandra, a Colombian dentist, moved to Canada thinking she probably wouldn’t work in her profession again.

Feeling unsafe in Colombia due to ongoing violence, Alexandra and her husband decided to apply for permanent residency in Canada. They arrived in Brampton, Ontario, in 2011 - eighteen years after Alexandra had first begun her career as a dentist.  

“The first time I thought about being a dentist, I was seven years old,” recalls Alexandra. “My dentist inspired me. She had a practice in her house and was able to be a mother and a professional at the same time. Since I always wanted to be a mom, I felt motivated.”  

After completing five years in dental school and earning a dentistry diploma from Universidad del Valle in Colombia, Alexandra was required to complete one year of paid compulsory government service to receive her license.  

“I worked in an aboriginal region and ended up staying for seven years. Things were a little rough in that part of the country. I had to travel by horse and sometimes work without electricity. It was a hard time, but I enjoyed it,” she says.  

Eventually, Alexandra and her husband decided to move to Canada in the summer of 2011 in pursuit of better opportunities for their family. Before leaving Colombia, Alexandra learned that in order to be a dentist in Canada, she would need to go back to school; a situation that seemed impossible to harmonize with her family life at the time “I had two kids and a husband,” she explains. “How could I go to university for two years? So, I decided that dentistry was no longer for me. I sold my books and my instruments because it was the end of my career.”  

Once in Canada, and through a connection, Alexandra landed her first “survival job” cleaning offices. However, Alexandra wanted to find work in the health sector, and knew her first step in doing so would be to improve her English-speaking skills. Initially, she enrolled in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at Sheridan College. Then, she took their Enhanced Language Training (ELT) program as well.  

 

Armed with better English skills, Alexandra thought it was time to find a new career.

She approached HealthForceOntario and found out about changes in the process to become a dentist in Canada. “I found out that I wouldn’t have to go to university. I could complete three assessments and one final examination. I was surprised. I talked to a dentist from Colombia who was going through the process, and I felt encouraged to do it.”  

In the meantime, Alexandra met yet another dentist from Colombia who was assisting at a private practice. They needed a dental assistant, and Alexandra was offered a temporary hourly job. “Dentistry took me back,” she says. “I was trying to get away, but then I realized I was doing dentistry again.”  

After some time, and in order to be able to do more than assisting with teeth cleanings, Alexandra enrolled in the Dental Office Radiography Certificate at George Brown College and obtained a license.  

Determined to become a dentist in Canada, Alexandra sent her international dentistry credentials to the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) to complete their equivalency process. Once her credentials were verified and the application approved, she was ready to take the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK).  

In preparation for the evaluation, Alexandra didn’t work for a month and instead immersed herself in her studies using Dental Decks – flashcards that prepare students for board exams. “I knew people that were taking preparation classes for the exam, and it was expensive. The cost of the process itself was quite high, and my husband and I were barely surviving,” points out Alexandra.  

Alexandra took the AFK in 2014 but didn’t pass it. She knew she needed to enroll in preparatory courses to make sure her second attempt at the AFK was a successful one, but money was still an issue.  

“I asked my family in Colombia for help. I got some, but it wasn’t enough. I applied to many banks for loans, and I couldn’t get any. I didn’t have a good credit history in Canada; I didn’t have properties. I was a newcomer, so it was tough to get a loan,” says Alexandra.  

Fortunately, a bacteriologist from Colombia told her about Windmill Microlending. “She said there was an organization that could help me. So, I contacted Windmill. I had a Skype interview and submitted the required documents. Soon, I received the loan which helped me pay for the AFK preparation course at Prep Doctors.”  

Alexandra took the AFK for the second time in February 2015 and passed. Four months later and after another preparation course, she took the Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ). Finally, after a new preparation course, Alexandra went on to take the Assessment of Clinical Skills (ACS) in December 2015.  

“The results for the ACS came in February 2016, and I failed. I was destroyed. But with help from Prep Doctors, I applied for an appeal. In May 2016, the appeal was approved, and I passed,” indicates Alexandra with a sigh of relief.  

In December 2016, Alexandra took the Board exam, which consisted of a written examination and the OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination). She passed both and immediately applied for the license to practice dentistry in Ontario, which she received in February 2017 from the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario.  

Today, Alexandra lives in Whitby, Ontario, and works as a dentist in two different practices in Oshawa and Brampton. She’s very grateful for all the support she received from her family, and in the future, she plans to specialize in dental implants and open her own practice.  

To other internationally-trained dentists, Alexandra offers the following advice: “Start the process to become a dentist in Canada. It’s possible. You’ll need to push yourself and make a lot of effort. It’s not easy, but it pays off.”

Rajan

Rajan

Veterinarian

Vancouver

Veterinarian
Healthcare
Rajan
Vancouver
Veterinarian
Healthcare

Armed with the knowledge that would help him succeed as a veterinarian in a foreign land, Rajan arrived in Calgary from India in 2012.

Rajan earned a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (BVSc & AH) in India and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

After completing his master’s and then for seven years more, Rajan gained experience working in India. As a general practice veterinarian, he examined and treated sick and injured animals at a government hospital.

Although he was a successful veterinarian, Rajan began to consider moving to Canada in search of more opportunities to grow professionally. Since veterinary practice is regulated in India by the Veterinary Council of India (VCI), Rajan assumed it was the same in Canada. He did some research and found the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)’s website, which detailed the steps required to receive the Canadian certification.

Since he received his master’s from a school accredited by the Council of Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA COE), Rajan decided to register with the CVMA National Examining Board (NEB) and write an exam. So, he started the registration process in India. He took the English exam and gathered all of the required documents for assessment. Once the NEB reviewed his application, they indicated the next steps. After passing the Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BCSE), he started preparing for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), which is a theory exam.

It didn’t take long for Rajan to make up his mind and decide to emigrate. He was single at the time, so it was an easy step to make. On why he chose Calgary, Rajan explains: "a family friend was there and told me there were more opportunities in that city. Also, better taxation and better living.”

Soon after arriving in Canada, Rajan started working full-time as a security officer. Although he was grateful for the opportunity, it wasn’t his dream job. Rajan made just enough money to cover his living expenses. “My job was good, and I liked working there,” he says. “The work environment was good, and my supervisor was great. But it wasn’t something I wanted to do my whole life. That wasn’t my goal.”

In Canada, and after a little bit of effort, he passed the NAVLE. At this point, he was ready to tackle the Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE), a hands-on, practical exam; however, money was tight, and his savings weren’t enough. He had already invested a significant amount of money paying for the two previous exams’ fees, training and travel expenses.

Luckily, Rajan found out about Windmill Microlending while doing some online research. “I was trying to get any loan, and I came across Windmill’s website. I called and asked about the process. Everyone was friendly and cooperative. The loan was approved a couple of weeks after. Overall, it was a good experience,” he says.

At the time his loan was approved, Rajan was working on and off because he was preparing for his final exam. “The loan helped me pay for my last exam fee, which was my practicum,” indicates Rajan.

He obtained a Certificate of Qualification (CQ) and became eligible to practise as a veterinarian in Canada by the end of 2016. Rajan wasted no time. He immediately received a job offer from a clinic that specializes in dogs and cats in Vancouver, left his job as a security officer and moved to British Columbia.

Rajan’s Windmill loan provided the financial support he needed to finally achieve his career goals in Canada. “It took me several years to be where I am because I didn’t have enough funds. With a little bit more money, I could have done it earlier,” recalls Rajan.

Today, Rajan’s life couldn’t be better. He continues to work at the same clinic that offered him his first full-time job as a veterinarian. Now married, he and his wife find great enjoyment in Vancouver’s beauty, pleasant weather and all the different foods that Canada has to offer.

“Now, my goal is to grow. I want to get additional training and some more advanced practicum. I would like to upgrade my knowledge and advance my skills, and learn more about dentistry and internal medicine,” says Rajan.

After a long re-certification process and few challenges, Rajan tells other professionals: "Stick to your goals. Keep on working hard to achieve them. Sometimes it can be a tedious and frustrating process, but once you attain your goals, things get easier. So, it’s better to stay focused, keep trying. That’s what you’re here for.”

Leroy

Leroy

IP Video Administrator

Mississauga

IP Video Administrator
Information Technology & Software
Leroy
Mississauga
IP Video Administrator
Information Technology & Software

Leroy arrived in Canada with ten years of experience as an Information Technology (IT) professional. However, he soon learned that having Canadian experience was going to be instrumental in finding a job in his field.

Having lived in Jamaica all his life, Leroy arrived in Canada with his wife and kids in 2014. With a bachelor’s degree in computer studies management and ten years of experience as an Information Technology professional, Leroy imagined it would be easy to find a job in his field.

Leroy left behind a tropical island and some of his relatives to start a new life in Mississauga, Ontario: a much colder climate than he was accustomed to. Soon after he arrived, Leroy tried looking for a job in IT, but he didn’t have much luck.

With his career situation uncertain, Leroy had to find a “survival job” – a circumstance that many internationally-trained professionals find themselves in upon arrival to Canada. Due to the time of year – the holiday season – there were a number of warehouses searching for seasonal employees. However, Leroy was competing with many fellow job searchers vying for the same roles. Eventually, he was successful in obtaining a part-time warehouse position.

Leroy continued working in the warehouse role for eight months before being hired by a large office retail company. It was a part-time position, and his shifts occurred late at night. However, he longed to continue working in his field. Knowing he would have a better chance of securing a job in IT with some support, Leroy enrolled in the IT Infrastructure Bridging Program at Humber College.

It was through Humber College that Leroy learned about Windmill Microlending. “The loan helped me cover the tuition fee for the bridging program. So, I didn’t have to dig deep into my pockets to come up with that money.”

“The experience with the Windmill team was awesome,” remembers Leroy. “The process was pretty easy, and the processing time very quick.”

While in the bridging program, Leroy attended an event where former students shared their experience. Many students suggested volunteerism as a way to gain experience, and Leroy took note of that advice.

For some time, Leroy’s days were tough, long and busy. He volunteered during the week for approximately six hours and attended classes in the evenings - including weekends - all while balancing his part-time job. “I volunteered to get Canadian experience. For five months, I worked from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as a Service Desk Analyst at an IT company,” he says.

After finishing the bridging program, Leroy secured a government position at the municipal level in a neighbouring city’s Corporate Security Section. A few months later, there was a job opening for an IP Video Administrator. He applied and got the job.

Today, Leroy is working in a position that he considers it’s at the same level to the one he previously held in Jamaica. Still, he has more goals to achieve. He wants to pursue a certification in project management for IT. “I recently moved to the project department within the City. I’m still an IP Video Administrator, but I’m taking on an additional role in project management,” he explains. “All of this experience will be valuable towards my certification.”

If there is one thing Leroy wishes he knew before arriving in Canada, it's this: even though Information Technology isn't a regulated profession, Canadian experience and credentials are crucial to securing employment.

Leroy’s advice to fellow newcomers involves patience and persistence: “You’re not going to land your dream job right away,” he says. “You have to start from the bottom and work your way up. And even when you have the qualifications and certifications, you still need Canadian experience. So, volunteering is a good option because it increases your chances of getting the job you want.”

Olufemi

Olufemi

Civil Engineer

Toronto

Civil Engineer
Engineering
Olufemi
Toronto
Civil Engineer
Engineering

Olufemi came to Canada in 2016. Once here, he found it could have been beneficial to obtain some additional certifications in Nigeria. This would have made becoming a civil engineer in Canada much easier.

Wanting to start a family in Canada, Olufemi, a civil engineer from Nigeria, arrived in Toronto with his wife in 2016.

Before coming to North America, Olufemi earned a Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering (B.Tech) and a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering (M.Sc). Both degrees were instrumental in starting a successful, nine-year career as a structural engineer and later as a lecturer in a Nigerian university.

“As soon as I arrived in Canada, I tried to look for a job as a civil engineer. I sent some applications and got a phone call, but I never had an in-person interview. They told me I needed to get Canadian experience,” Olufemi recalls.

To be a professional engineer (P.Eng.) in Canada, an internationally-trained immigrant needs to become licensed by a Canadian engineering association. However, individuals can still work in engineering —even without a license— as long as they are supervised by a P.Eng. Even with this knowledge, Olufemi’s lack of Canadian experience became an obstacle.

Realizing it was going to be challenging to find a job at the same professional level as the one he previously held internationally, Olufemi went back to Nigeria a couple of months after arriving in Canada. In Nigeria, he had maintained a job as a lecturer in a university and was required to complete his contract.

After six months, he returned to Canada and applied to the Engineering Skills Enhancement Bridging Program at Humber College. He wanted to be trained in the latest technical and software skills that were in demand by Ontario employers, as well as to sharpen his communications skills.

“I found out about Windmill Microlending through Humber College. At that time, I was unemployed. I applied for the loan and received the help that I needed. With the loan, I paid for the program,” Olufemi says.

After only one month in the program, Olufemi got his first job as a Quality Control Inspector at a well-known construction company in Canada. He was able to work full-time because his classes took place evenings and weekends. For eight months, Olufemi did asphalt mix design and quality assurance, as well as control of asphalt materials.

“It wasn’t easy to get my first job. I lacked the knowledge on how to go about getting a job. I thought a lot about going back to Nigeria for good,” Olufemi comments.

After completing the program, Olufemi received a Certificate of Achievement from Humber College and a one-year membership with the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE). A few months later, he left his job for a new role as a Senior Field Inspector in a company that provides engineering and construction services in various industries.

In the meantime, and through Construction Specifications Canada (CSC), Olufemi completed an additional program and became a Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA).

Now, Olufemi works as Construction Inspector on a water main project at a firm that provides management and consultancy services. Although this position is at the same professional level as the one he had in Nigeria, Olufemi’s plan is to return to academia.

“All my academic research in Nigeria was based on construction materials and how they could be improved. I wish I could still go on that path, hopefully in the future,” Olufemi explains.

Although Olufemi isn’t a P.Eng. in Canada just yet, he has been an engineer-in-training since 2017 and hopes to soon become a fully qualified engineer. Since he is gainfully employed now, he wants to take his time accumulating experience and studying for the mandatory Professional Practice Examination (PPE), which tests a professional’s knowledge of ethics and Canadian law as it relates to engineering.

“As a civil engineer from another country, you must upgrade your knowledge and obtain a Canadian certification. It’ll help improve your odds of getting a job interview and probably the job. If you have to take a loan for that, do it. It’ll pay off in the end.”

If there is one thing Olufemi misses the most about Nigeria, it’s his network. “You never know that you have a network until you move to another country and see how important it is to have networks in your professional field. I moved to Canada, and I saw the effect of the networks. It’s not just about getting the job; it’s about having the right information.”

Three years have passed since Olufemi arrived in Canada, and he’s still amazed at how diverse the Greater Toronto Area is. “There’s probably a person from every country in the world [here]. It amazes me how easily you come across a lot of people from so many countries. Many of whom I never thought I was going to see in my life.”

Navjit

Navjit

DevOps Specialist

Brampton

DevOps Specialist
Information Technology & Software
Navjit
Brampton
DevOps Specialist
Information Technology & Software

For Navjit, moving from India to Canada was an easy decision. However, not understanding the Canadian job market proved to be difficult for this IT professional.

Navjit had ambitions to progress in his life and career but found that India didn’t offer the opportunities he was looking for. So, he made the decision to move to Canada in 2015. Since technology is evolving at a rapid pace, Canada’s tech sector has become the fastest growing industry in the country. This presented Navjit with a golden opportunity to restart his career as an IT professional.

Although Navjit held a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) in Mechanical Engineering, he shifted to IT early on in his career and was able to accumulate six years of experience handling hardware related issues, writing documentation and optimizing system performance.

Navjit arrived in Brampton, a city his brother had relocated to after attending university in British Columbia. Moving from Delhi to Brampton was a little shocking for Navjit. He was accustomed to the noise that only a crowded city with more than 11 million people like Delhi could produce.

“At the beginning, I had mixed feelings about Brampton since I came from Delhi. It took some time to get used to it,” says Navjit.

Since IT is not a regulated profession in Canada, Navjit started looking for a job soon after arrival. However, he didn’t realize he would soon face his biggest challenge yet: the Canadian job market. “It’s very different how it works here compared to India. It took me three months to understand the job market. Especially [when it comes to] what employers were looking for.”

Luckily, Navjit received a lot of feedback during his job search. “I talked a lot with recruiters,” he says. “They told me what I was missing and what I needed to improve. They helped me understand the job market.”

Armed with this information, Navjit realized he needed to update his professional knowledge of information technology. He found the IT Infrastructure Bridging Program at Humber College. However, paying for it turned out to be challenging because he didn’t have much money at the time.

When Navjit visited Humber College, the staff told him about Windmill Microlending. That’s when Navjit realized he had found Windmill online once before. Navjit applied for the loan, which he used to help pay for the bridging program.

It was during his fourth week at Humber College that Navjit got a job as a contractor with one of the three largest banks in Canada. For over a year, he worked in Linux system management, the same type of work he was doing in India.

Then, a permanent position opened up at the bank. “They were looking for a DevOps Specialist. That was completely different from what I was doing as a contractor because it was a support role. The hiring manager talked to my manager, who explained that I should be considered based on the work I was doing. So, the hiring manager was willing to give me a chance even though I didn’t have any experience,” recalls Navjit.

More than two years later, Navjit, who continues working as a DevOps Specialist at the bank, reflects on his professional journey: “Even though I had various IT certifications from India and several years of experience in my field, having Canadian credentials is extremely important to get a job. In this country, employers don’t solely look for technical skills.”

In Navjit’s case, receiving a certificate of achievement was vital. During the bridging program, he not only gained industry-specific concepts and skills, he also acquired knowledge of labour market trends, workplace culture and communication in Canada.

Although Navjit doesn't look back negatively on the challenges he faced in Canada, he now believes he could have done a few things differently. He recommends that newcomers become familiarized with how the Canadian job market works and what types of credentials may or may not be recognized here before making the move to Canada.

Harmanjeet

Harmanjeet

Millwright

Delta

Millwright
Trades
Harmanjeet
Delta
Millwright
Trades

Looking for a better life, Harmanjeet moved to Canada with his wife and child in 2014. However, not having a Canadian welding certification made it hard to get a job in his trade.

A businessman at heart, Harmanjeet knew early on that his future was in Canada. Though he held a Bachelor of Arts degree in India, he chose to learn a trade – welding – for better success abroad.

Soon after obtaining his certification, Harmanjeet got a job as a welder and gained valuable experience. “After two years, I started my own business doing general welding work. I lived in an agricultural area, so I was building agricultural implements,” he says.

After five years, Harmanjeet sold his business in India and made the move to Canada with his wife and child. He arrived in Delta, British Columbia, as a permanent resident in 2014.

Choosing Delta as his new home was easy: Harmanjeet had close relatives there, and the thought of being surrounded by them made him happy. Not only did Harmanjeet’s relatives offer his family much support, they also invited them to live in their house while they got settled in their new community.

Fifteen days after arriving in Canada, Harmanjeet got his first job in a truck trailer repair shop doing mechanical work and some welding. Although he was working full-time, the position did not pay well. So, he left the job two-and-a-half months later and started working in a food warehouse instead. “I was making good money,” says Harmanjeet. “But it was a non-skilled job. I wasn’t working in my field.”

Still looking for a welding opportunity, Harmanjeet and his family moved to Edmonton, Alberta in 2015. His cousin lived there and told him there were good jobs for welders in Edmonton. Luckily, a compatriot who repaired dump trucks needed assistance and offered him a job as a welder.

With excellent experience in welding, his certification from India and a bachelor’s degree, Harmanjeet began to feel as though he could be earning better pay. When he approached his boss with this concern, Harmanjeet’s employer told him that he needed a welding certification from Canada. Harmanjeet began looking for a new job, but found that any jobs he wished to apply for also required a Canadian certification.

One day, while sharing his job frustrations with a friend, Harmanjeet learned that any experience tradesperson can challenge the Red Seal Exam. Passing the examination meant receiving a Red Seal endorsement on his trade certificate, which could be very helpful in obtaining gainful employment.

Harmanjeet decided to apply for the Red Seal Exam through the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board. He learned that as an experienced tradesperson, he would be assessed by his work experience, skills and knowledge against the standards for certification in his trade.

Harmanjeet applied online and was approved to write the Red Seal Exam. His goal was to pass both the theoretical and practical components on his first attempt. He knew he needed to prepare by taking some classes. However, paying for them was going to be challenging.

“I was desperate to get my trade certificate, but I needed money for that. I had to pay about $8,000 for classes, fees and supplies. I felt sad. I didn’t have that much spare money,” he says. “I received a Windmill Microlending flyer at the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board office. Windmill is wonderful. I applied for the loan, got approved and received the money.”

For three months, Harmanjeet took two preparation courses at a local welding college. “The practical course was important to me because I needed to understand how the Canadian standards worked. I had ten years of welding experience in India, but there’s a huge difference between both countries. The theory is the same; the technique is different.” Harmanjeet learned four different welding techniques in Canada – quite a difference from the basic welding he had been doing in India.

Harmanjeet passed both exams in his first attempt in 2016 and received a Red Seal endorsement and his Canadian trade certificate in 2017. Soon after, he moved back to Delta. Three months later, he got an excellent job as a welder in a large company constructing barrels for gas tanks.

Being the hard-working tradesperson he is, Harmanjeet started a part-time job during the weekends as a welder and millwright helper in a mill. A year-and-a-half into his second job, he was offered a full-time position as a millwright. He was ecstatic. “Now I’m in a new trade,” says Harmanjeet.

Although he now needs to obtain a millwright trade certificate, he got this job because his employer was satisfied with his skills and knowledge. They already registered him as an apprentice, which means that in addition to the work experience he’s gaining, he’ll need to complete eight weeks of technical training each year, for four years.

“Right now, I’m on the next part of my journey. I have a better job, and I bought a house. Everything is going smoothly and according to plan,” says Harmanjeet proudly. “I’m really thankful to Windmill. They helped me in a big way. I’m very happy.”

Harmanjeet’s advice to others is: “When I was home, I thought my Indian work experience and certification were going to be enough to get a good job in Canada, but it doesn’t work that way. If you want to succeed here, you need a certification. Without it, you’re going to be underpaid.”

Sandeep

Sandeep

Supply Chain

Edmonton

Supply Chain
Business & Management
Sandeep
Edmonton
Supply Chain
Business & Management

Sandeep arrived in Canada in 2011 with six years of successful supply chain experience. However, he knew that without a designation, it was going to be tough finding the right job in his field.

Moving a product or service from supplier to customer isn’t easy, but it’s what Sandeep loves to do. Originally from India, he started his professional career in the hospitality industry and went on to work for different media groups. He always had a supply chain role, but he got a taste of various business sectors as a buyer and purchaser.

Holding two Bachelor degrees, one in Hotel Management and another in Commerce, he came to Canada because “there were more opportunities in terms of professional growth.” Still, Sandeep was aware that it would take work to continue his career in Canada.

“I knew I had to start from scratch because I was moving to a different country, and I didn’t have any experience here. I knew I had to go through some hurdles,” says Sandeep.

Immigrating as an international student, Sandeep enrolled in the International Business Management program at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. With a work permit in hand, he got a part-time job working in the kitchen of a small local restaurant for the last four months of school.

After completing the program, Sandeep moved to Mississauga. “I went looking for a job, but I couldn’t find much. I got a three-month contract job in an office. It was an administrative job with no relationship with supply chain,” adds Sandeep.

A little frustrated, Sandeep moved to Calgary in 2012. “The economy was much better at the time, and there we more opportunities,” indicates Sandeep. It took him two months to find the right job in his field, so to pay for his monthly expenses in the meantime he took a job in retail as soon as he arrived.

“I got a job in Teavana as a District Manager, supporting their supply chain needs,” says Sandeep. “At the same time, I got another job with a big furniture company in Edmonton, also supporting their supply chain. So, I was working five days in Calgary and two days in Edmonton.”

Almost two years later, he moved permanently to Edmonton to work full-time for the same furniture company. He went on to work at Loblaws as an inventory and supply chain manager.

Even though his profession isn’t regulated, Sandeep knew he needed a Canadian Supply Chain Management Professional (SCMP) designation to accelerate his career. So, he decided to go for it. Since he met the pre-requisites for the SCMP Designation Program, educational credentials and a minimum of three years in the last seven years of related work experience, he was able to enroll.

Sandeep was accepted into the program and became a Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA) Alberta member. He registered for a series of courses he needed before writing the final examination. “I received credits for four courses I took in India and needed to pass nine additional courses to write my final exam,” adds Sandeep.

Even though he was able to pay for most of the program with his savings, he needed to take some of the financial burden off his shoulders. While attending a job seminar in Edmonton, he found out about Windmill Microlending. He applied and received the loan in 2015, which helped him pay for his courses.

“I’ve taken all but one of the courses, which is a six-week intensive course. After that, I can write my exam,” indicates Sandeep.

His goal is to write the final examination next year because “I’ll have better prospects to grow, although right now, I’m pretty happy where I am.” However, one of his long-term goals is to start his own business as an exporter and importer in supply chain.

Today, Sandeep has 14 years of experience in his field and continues to live in Edmonton with his wife and three-year-old daughter, where he works for Fat Franks as Director of Operations, a position he was able to take because he’s working towards his designation.

To people who want to continue their career in supply chain in Canada but can’t do it just yet, Sandeep gives this advice: “If you really want to work in your field, you need to get your credentials assessed and get your designation. It will pay off in the long run for sure.”

Nadia

Nadia

Teacher

Pickering

Teacher
Education
Nadia
Pickering
Teacher
Education

Nadia came to Canada with 19 years of experience in teaching, education leadership, conference speaking and facilitation.

Nadia was born in Jamaica, where she began the process of becoming a licensed teacher. Eventually, she moved to London, UK to pursue her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education and Social Justice.

Throughout her career, Nadia accumulated a wide array of experience in the education field. She worked in several different cities around the world, including Bangkok and London. Overall, she had acquired 19 years of experience in teaching, education leadership, conference speaking, and seminar/workshop facilitation.

In March of 2016, Nadia and her husband, who was also a teacher in the UK, decided to move to Canada with their three young children. Prior to their move, they researched the reaccreditation pathway they would both have to complete in order to become licensed educators in Canada. Despite her impressive resume, Nadia was aware that she would face challenges in working as a teacher in Canada. Yet, her immense passion for her work motivated her to strive for success.

Six months after her arrival in Ontario, Nadia applied to the Ontario College of Teachers. She discovered Windmill Microlending’s loan program through her online research, and she was thrilled to receive the necessary funds for her licensing process.

Nadia completed her courses and was able to secure a job as an elementary school teacher in the Durham region in Ontario. Last year, she and her husband welcomed their fourth child to the family, a baby boy.

Nadia’s success has now motivated her husband to consider applying for a Windmill loan as well. She has also introduced friends and colleagues to the microloan program – people who were previously working survival jobs because they were unaware of the opportunities that Windmill affords.

She believes that Windmill is a uniquely helpful organization and she is grateful for her incredibly positive experience with our team.

Trupti

Trupti

Nurse

Etobicoke

Nurse
Nursing
Trupti
Etobicoke
Nurse
Nursing

Ten years into a successful nursing career in India, Trupti decided to move to Canada. She was looking for a better future for her family and the opportunity to advance in her profession.

Trupti arrived in Etobicoke, Ontario in 2012, and soon realized that she couldn't find a job as a nurse without a license. She wasn’t sure what to do and didn’t know about any of her options. She asked for help at a non-profit organization called the Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses (CARE), where they explained how nursing works in Canada and guided her through the steps she needed to take.

Being an internationally-trained nurse, Trupti wasn't registered to practise in any Canadian jurisdiction, and her overseas training wasn't fully taken into consideration. With this in mind, she applied to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) to become a Registered Nurse (RN) and a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN).

After her arrival and for the first eight months, Trupti was a stay-at-home mom while waiting for the CNO's assessment. However, she needed to support her husband with household expenses, so she got a factory job. That wasn't the right type of work for her and, after six months, she decided to look for a different position. The thought of going back home crossed her mind. "I left a very reputable job in India and came here to start a factory job," says Trupti. "I felt like that wasn’t me."

Thanks to her nursing background, Trupti was hired to look after seniors as a caregiver. She arranged her part-time hours according to her husband's schedule so they could both look after their daughter. It took her an hour and a half to get to work, but she knew she needed nursing experience. "My priority was to get the job, no matter how far from my home," adds Trupti.

Trupti completed the CNO assessment, passed the RPN exams and received her RPN eligibility. Unfortunately, she didn't meet one requirement demonstrating that she was working as a nurse for the last three years. As a result, she needed to complete additional courses and practical hours. She couldn't afford to pay for the required courses because her husband was working at a minimum-wage job.

While inquiring about student loans, Trupti saw a Windmill Microlending flyer. She contacted Windmill, had an interview with a staff member, and was approved for a microloan to help cover the cost of courses and textbooks. "I had a very good experience with the Windmill team. Their loan staff helped me a lot, and they assisted me in organizing my career goals," indicates Trupti.

Trupti enrolled in the Academic Pathway for Internationally Educated Nurses Graduate Certificate at George Brown College with the funds provided by Windmill. She graduated in 2016 after completing 14 courses and 400 practical hours. Two weeks later, she received her RPN license and, within a month, she was working as a Registered Practical Nurse in Etobicoke.

Today Trupti is waiting for a decision about her Registered Nurse eligibility so that she can become an RN.

Trupti has advice for anyone who wants to continue working in nursing in Canada: "Choose any healthcare profession job and learn more about the healthcare field. If you have an RN or an RPN license back home, you can get a personal support worker (PSW) or caregiver job in Canada. It's one step back, but it's good to give you knowledge about healthcare."

From being a head nurse working in an operating room in India, to a factory worker and caregiver in Canada, Trupti has faced many challenges. However, being able to work as an RPN in Ontario is the biggest reward she could have received for her effort. "In the beginning it was hard," she says. "But once you achieve your goal, you feel like you did it."

Dr. Ali

Dr. Ali

Dentist

Mississauga

Dentist
Healthcare
Dr. Ali
Mississauga
Dentist
Healthcare

Working as a security guard is a popular “survival job” for many internationally-trained immigrants in Canada. That’s what Dr. Ali, an orthodontist from Pakistan, chose to do after arriving in Toronto in 2013.

In Pakistan, Dr. Ali worked as an orthodontist in his own private practice. However, translating that experience to Canada proved difficult. Becoming licensed in Canada is a challenge for many international professionals. For Dr. Ali, the process was particularly tough due to the fact that Pakistan and Canada don’t have a mutually recognized system of accreditation for dental training. For this reason, Dr. Ali couldn’t apply directly to take the national dentistry exam administered by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB).  

Dr. Ali’s Bachelor of Dental Surgery, one-year compulsory internship, fellowship in orthodontics and thirteen years of dentistry experience didn’t guarantee a Canadian dentistry license. His education was considered non-accredited. Back in Karachi, the sixth-most-populous city in the world, Dr. Ali served as head of the Orthodontic Department in different colleges and had a private practice. “I taught in the dental college in the morning and my clinical hours were from 5 to 10 p.m. My associates covered the morning sessions, and I covered the evenings,” says Dr. Ali.  

However, he did have some luck. A colleague from Pakistan who lived in Mississauga started guiding him before he arrived in Canada. Although Dr. Ali did his research, this colleague was instrumental in knowing what to expect of the dental courses and exams. Dr. Ali needed to complete three assessments: Fundamental Knowledge (AFK), Clinical Judgement (ACJ) and Clinical Skills (ACS), and one final examination. “You must take four exams in a row, and if you pass them, you’ll receive the license. I didn’t want to go back to school for more than two years and get a big loan. But the option I chose was still expensive because I had to pay for every exam,” adds Dr. Ali.  

Knowing that getting his dentistry license would take some time, and having three children and a wife to support, the first thing Dr. Ali did when moving to Canada was to look for a job. “My friend advised me to get a license in anything because that would be my asset. So, for my survival job, I got a security guard license,” indicates Dr. Ali. He completed the mandatory basic security guard training and test and got his license. Then he began a long process to find a job in this new field. In all, he worked for four months as a security guard because he had to take care of his family and their expenses plus his examination fees.  

Even though the security guard job offered him some time to study during slow shifts, Dr. Ali made the decision to concentrate on his studies. “If I do this job long term, I might be derailed from my track, which is the examination,” recalls Dr. Ali.  

Dr. Ali had invested a large amount of money towards his Canadian dentistry license and supporting his family, which made a significant impact on his savings. “I was planning on taking the Assessment of Clinical Skills, but there was already a funding issue,” adds Dr. Ali. “Windmill Microlending changed my life. They gave me a great deal of support that made my journey easy.” His loan from Windmill was approved in 2017 and helped him pay for the ACS and the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).  

“Once I received my license, I started my struggle in Toronto as a dentist,” Dr. Ali indicates. “Most of the opportunities I got were close to Mississauga. I was commuting hours every day, so I decided to move there.”  

“My first objective after receiving my Canadian dentistry license in 2018 was to pay the Windmill loan,” says Dr. Ali, and he paid in full later that year.  

It took him several years of hard work and studying, but today Dr. Ali is an associate dentist in a number of clinics across Toronto, Mississauga and Brantford. With a license and Canadian dentistry experience, Dr. Ali’s next objective is to open his own practice later this year.  

“Never think about failure. Be focused, set a goal, weigh in your options and follow a game plan,” is Dr. Ali’s advice to any internationally-trained immigrant who wants to continue their career in Canada.

Ebrahim

Ebrahim

Lawyer

Kitchener

Lawyer
Law & Legal
Ebrahim
Kitchener
Lawyer
Law & Legal

The Syrian civil war impeded Ebrahim from practicing law in Syria, but thanks to opportunities in Canada, he’ll soon be working as an authorized law practitioner.

Originally from Syria, Ebrahim arrived in Kitchener, Ontario in 2015. He had a bachelor’s degree in law from Damascus University and a master’s degree in international commercial law from City, University of London in England. While in the UK, the situation in his country deteriorated, and the war started. So, after graduation, Ebrahim couldn’t go back home.  

As a result of the armed conflict, his journey wasn’t easy. He left the UK with an expired visa and went to Jordan as a refugee. He stayed for only three months. “It wasn’t easy to get a job. It’s not allowed. You could work illegally, but I didn’t want that, so I went to Lebanon looking for better opportunities,” says Ebrahim.  

Once there, he found that the work situation was the same as in Jordan. However, he managed to volunteer as a translator for a non-profit organization. “I was translating documents from Arabic to English and helping coordinate communications between organizations that provide funding and the ones that aid people inside Syria.”  

By now, Ebrahim had been in Lebanon for almost three years, and things got more difficult. The number of Syrians in the country had doubled, and relationships between Lebanese and Syrians became tense. Ebrahim’s uncle, who lives in Canada, contacted an organization that sponsors refugees and explained Ebrahim’s situation. The organization agreed to sponsor Ebrahim and his younger brother.  

After arrival, they stayed for two months at their uncle’s house until they found an affordable apartment. Eventually, Ebrahim got a job at a fast-food business, where he worked for four months. Then he started working at Library Services Centre, a not-for-profit that serves libraries across Canada.  

The war stopped Ebrahim from starting a career as a lawyer, but the bullets didn’t shatter his dreams. He was determined to finally start his career in Canada. “I imagined I needed to take some exams or something to be able to practice law in Canada. But I wasn’t exactly sure what the process was. It took me about a year to figure out what I needed to do,” says Ebrahim.  

He contacted an organization that works with newcomers, and they pointed him in the right direction. He got in touch with the Law Society of Ontario and learned that he needed to apply to the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) to have his legal education credentials evaluated before starting the licensing process.  

The Committee assessed his legal training and, in order to receive a Certificate of Qualification, “I was asked to attend and complete eight law school courses. It’s a long and expensive process,” says Ebrahim. However, in his opinion, this was a much better option than studying by himself and writing the exams. “Once you finish the program, you send the transcripts to NCA, and you don’t have to take the exams. Then, you receive your license.”  

When Ebrahim decided to register in school, as he was participating in the WR Connectors Program offered by the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, where newcomers gain insight into their professional network with the help of other professionals, and by talking to the program manager, he found out about Windmill Microlending.  

He searched online, emailed Windmill and started the process in 2017. “I got my loan in the same week,” says Ebrahim. “I wanted to enroll at York University. However, this program wasn’t eligible for OSAP. At that time, I didn’t have that money. So, the loan helped me pay the tuition.”  

After completing the LLM in Canadian Common Law at Osgoode Law School in December 2019, Ebrahim received a Certificate of Qualification issued by the NCA in early 2020 to start the licensing process. Now, he needed to pass both the Barrister and the Solicitor Licensing Examinations and complete an articling program.  

Ebrahim devoted himself to study and passed the Barrister Licensing Examination on the first try. In May 2021, he completed the articling program. It was a 10-month full-time paid position at a law firm under the direct supervision of a practising lawyer. Ebrahim focused on real estate, guiding purchasers and sellers with legal transactions, documents and insurance.  

In June, Ebrahim will be ready to write the Solicitor Licensing Examination. Once he gets the results, he will file all documents required to receive the Call to the Bar, take the oath and obtain the Law Society of Ontario’s Certificate with the designation of “Degree of Barrister-at-Law” and the Court’s Certificate that designates him as a Solicitor. After this, he could practice law in Ontario.  

“Since I already have the experience of working in real estate, I want to concentrate in this field. I am also interested in the immigration and refugee law, so maybe in the future I could add that to the practice,” indicates Ebrahim with enormous satisfaction and excitement.  

All this time, he has kept busy, not only with work and school but also with different volunteer jobs. “Since I arrived, I have done volunteer work, especially with churches that sponsor Syrian families, and I also volunteered for almost one year at CLASP, the free legal clinic at York University,” says Ebrahim.  

Even though his immigration journey is ongoing, Ebrahim has important advice to other internationally-trained immigrants: “Make as many connections as you can, speak with an organization that works with newcomers because they have a good deal of information that you’re not aware of. Do as much volunteer work as you can because it’s a great opportunity to work on your English, make some friends and give back to the Canadian community.”

Dr. Eva

Dr. Eva

Veterinarian

DeWinton

Veterinarian
Healthcare
Dr. Eva
DeWinton
Veterinarian
Healthcare

Eva’s story is one of passion, commitment and struggle. A veterinarian trained in Slovakia, she has extensive credentials but her 13-year journey in Canada has not been easy.

Eva, and her now husband Maros (also a veterinarian), arrived in Calgary knowing no one, with only $10,000 in cash and two backpacks of books. Without Canadian history and references, they struggled to convince any landlord to rent to them.  

“After six refusals I begged a landlord to accept us by prepaying six months’ rent,” says Eva. “Then the very same day we hunted for jobs,” says Eva. “Many people wouldn’t consider us as we had so many qualifications. But we wanted any kind of work so we could get started in Canada.” Eva was eventually hired by a dog groomer. “But—because I had ‘no experience’ they only let me bathe them,” laughs Eva. “But at least I was working with animals.”  

Eva soon secured a position as a technician working with animals at the University of Calgary and the couple attended evening classes to improve their already good English language skills. However, it took several years to complete the necessary exams and licensing to establish their veterinarian credentials in Canada.    

With a loan from Windmill Microlending, Eva travelled to Oklahoma State University for a week where her skills were tested. “In Canada it was a three year wait to take the practical exams and I just couldn’t wait any longer to work in my profession,” says Eva. “I was really thrilled that Windmill would lend me this money. Nobody else in Canada had given us anything and this felt wonderful. It let me focus on my goal.”  

From 2006, the couple both worked as locum veterinarians for more than 60 clinics in Calgary. In 2008 they opened their own practice in DeWinton, Alberta, where Eva is focused on her exotic animal practice. It’s her area of specialty and one she speaks and writes about internationally.  

“I want to be an inspiration to others,” says Eva. “I would tell other immigrants—don’t give up. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Now I am working in my profession that is truly my dream job; we have two beautiful children. Now, we are happy.”

Gilberto

Gilberto

Paramedic

Wakaw

Paramedic
Healthcare
Gilberto
Wakaw
Paramedic
Healthcare

Before moving to Canada in 2012, Gilberto learned that to continue working as a paramedic, he needed to obtain a Canadian license, a process that takes time and money.

Gilberto, an EMT Paramedic, provided urgent treatment to patients in emergencies and worked on ambulances for fifteen years in his home country of Mexico. Also a physicist, Gilberto received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the largest public university in his country. Despite his dual skills, Gilberto worked in the physics field for less than a year because he knew his calling was to help others.

Gilberto expressed that he was tired of the crowds and traffic in Mexico to a childhood friend, who recommended a move to Saskatoon. When applying for immigration, Gilberto looked into Ontario as his destination. Upon recognizing the employment difficulties and cost of living in larger Canadian cities, however, Saskatchewan seemed ideal.

In the fall of 2012, Gilberto and his wife made the long car trip to Saskatoon from Mexico City. They didn’t let adverse weather conditions deter their travel and arrived safely to their new home and country.

“Before coming to Canada, I found out that I was not going to be able to work as a paramedic without a license. I learned this through the Saskatchewan College of Paramedics, the licensing body for paramedics in the province,” recalls Gilberto.

Being aware of this reality, Gilberto didn’t look for a job as a paramedic after arriving in Canada. However, he needed to work to be capable of paying the cost of living in his new country. Luckily, Gilberto found a job almost immediately delivering furniture.

Although Gilberto was earning money, he longed to re-enter the paramedic field. “I went to Saskatchewan Polytechnic thinking I needed to enroll in a program to receive Canadian training before writing the licensing exam. Instead, they told me to go to the College of Paramedics [SCoP].”

There, Gilberto was told that in order to begin the licencing process, he needed a credential assessment. At the time, he didn’t have money to spare. So, he made a plan to save enough money to afford the licensing process.

Not long after visiting SCoP’s office, Gilberto was looking through a series of brochures he received at Sask Polytech and found one from Windmill Microlending. He contacted the office to learn more. Gilberto applied for a loan in 2013. The loan helped him pay for the credential assessment and some of the mandatory courses he needed to take before receiving his license.

Once his credentials were assessed and his courses completed, Gilberto’s next requirement was to ride along in an ambulance in Saskatchewan. It was the best way for Gilberto to observe how Canadian paramedics treat and manage patients.

After a couple of weeks participating in an ambulance ride-along, Gilberto was suited to take the licensing exam. At that time, there were three levels of practice: basic, intermediate and advanced. “Each level had a different exam, and SCoP gave you the license according to your level. I took the advanced exam, passed it and obtained the license. Nowadays, it’s a completely different process,” adds Gilberto.

The licensing process, from start to finish, took Gilberto approximately a year. With license in hand, and after almost two years delivering furniture, Gilberto quit his job and started working full-time as a paramedic in a company providing ambulance services to a number of towns around Saskatoon.

“Getting the Windmill loan was very easy and helped me out a lot. I could save (some) money and not be forced into a strict budget. Without the loan, it’d have been harder and taken more time for me to become a licensed paramedic in Canada,” recalls Gilberto.

Today, Gilberto and his wife live in Wakaw, Saskatchewan. Five years after receiving his Canadian license, he’s still working at the same company as a paramedic: a job that’s at the same professional level as the one he held in Mexico.

“Being able to work as a paramedic in Canada is great. It’s pretty cool doing what you like to do,” affirms Gilberto.

Islam

Islam

Pharmacist

Calgary

Pharmacist
Pharmacy
Islam
Calgary
Pharmacist
Pharmacy

Islam worked successfully in Egypt as a pharmacist after graduating in 2005, and then for six years at a pharmaceutical company in Saudi Arabia. In January 2014, he arrived in Calgary ready to recertify in his profession.

He completed the first recertification exam before arriving in Canada and as soon as he arrived, enrolled in the Bredin Centre for Learning’s International Pharmacy Bridging Program. From February to December 2014, Islam studied and worked as an intern. By the end of the year, he had finished his pharmacist internship, had spent many hours studying, and was preparing for the second of four recertification exams.

Islam was cognizant of the time and effort it would take to recertify as a pharmacist, however, he wasn’t prepared for the high cost of living in Calgary and the financial insecurity he would face. With his wife and daughter having arrived in Canada, Islam now had to support his family.  

Although Islam was able to secure work as a pharmacy assistant, it only paid minimum wage.  With his dire financial situation, he figured that he would have to borrow money at a high interest rate or return to Egypt. Just as he felt he was running out of options, a friend introduced him to Windmill Microlending.  

His Windmill loan gave him the financial breathing space he needed to focus on studying to pass his upcoming exams. “You didn’t focus on how I would pay back the loan, but how you could help me. You invested in my success. I couldn’t be more thankful to the whole team. Everyone was very supportive and welcoming. I didn’t feel that I was getting charity. I needed a push and that’s what you were there for.”

In July of 2015, Islam recertified as a pharmacist and started part-time work at Shoppers Drug Mart. He also works at two independent pharmacies to gain the needed experience to achieve his dream of opening his own independent pharmacy in Calgary.    

Islam now teaches at the Bredin Centre and openly shares his experience with other internationally trained pharmacists. “If I make a small difference, it’s worth it. When I was doing my preparation exam, I got help from Bredin’s instructors. This is my way of repaying the help I got to [help] someone else going through the same experience. I tell my students, the only difference between us is that I came here before you. We are all pharmacists. You can do it,” he says.

Islam’s advice to them is, “Stay focused on your goals. You’ll have many challenges, but you’ll get there if you have a clear vision. I didn’t know about Windmill, and then Windmill appeared when I needed them the most. Focus on what you do, you’ll find people willing to provide you with advice and help.”

Ramon

Ramon

Mechanical Engineer

Calgary

Mechanical Engineer
Engineering
Ramon
Calgary
Mechanical Engineer
Engineering

Ramon and his wife immigrated to Canada in 2010 with dreams of giving their son a brighter future.

Ramon, a Mechanical Engineer in his native Philippines, was confident he would secure work in his field.

Despite his education and successful engineering career working in several countries including more than 20 years in Saudi Arabia, Ramon was unable to obtain an interview. “No one replied. I was wondering what was happening,” says Ramon. “I really thought it was going to be easy to get a job here.”

Fortunately, a friend of Ramon’s shared his insights about working in Canada. “He explained how things are done,” says Ramon. “He told me I needed education from here in order to be accepted and that I must obtain my Canadian licensing.”

Ramon discovered Windmill Microlending online and soon secured a loan to enable him to start his licensing process and undertake a Power Engineering certificate at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).  

“Connecting with Windmill was an important morale boost for me,” says Ramon. “Within two weeks I had the loan and was able to go ahead.” He also connected with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) and completed a six-month employment skills and workplace communications course to enhance his skills.  

While in his SAIT program, Ramon secured the role of Shift Engineer with the Hyatt Regency Hotel on the understanding he complete his program and licensing. Later he joined a property management company as a Building Operator, responsible for the start-up of a commercial office tower’s daily functioning. Two years on, Ramon has been promoted to Lead Engineer where he manages the operations and maintenance of the downtown skyscraper.  

Appreciative of the help he received, Ramon is passing along his experiences and insight. He has informally mentored more than a dozen new immigrants and referred them to Windmill. “I tell them they need a work plan, they need to get Canadian education and experience... and they need to earn. I tell them where I am now is because of Windmill.”

Ramon has almost completed his Canadian accreditation as a Mechanical Engineer and the future looks bright. “We have a home, work and a near normal life. My son has opportunities. My skills are being recognized. The workplace in Canada is fair and if you work hard you will be recognized. With God’s help and Windmill Microlending—we’re doing well.”

Eric

Eric

Nurse

Saskatoon|Toronto

Nurse
Nursing
Eric
Saskatoon|Toronto
Nurse
Nursing

Eric was caught in a hard spot. He was working as a Special Care Aid despite having earned a Registered Nursing degree in the Philippines. His foreign credentials weren’t fully recognized when he moved to Saskatchewan in 2010. Working three low paying jobs in Saskatoon did not provide the time or funds to upgrade his professional skills.

In May 2012, Eric applied to Windmill Microlending for a microloan to help cover the cost of courses, travel and accommodations while earning his Registered Nurse (RN) designation, a process that took two years. “It cost a substantial amount of money to get this done,” he says. “I wasn’t able to save enough money to sustain all this education so, with the help of Windmill funding, it made my plans feasible.”  

First, he was required to take an English proficiency test which, at that time, was not available in Saskatchewan. He travelled to Calgary, staying a month at his own expense. He then had to complete a clinical practicum at a hospital in Regina, after which he was required to take an upgrading course at Saskatchewan Polytechnic (formerly SIAST). The costs mounted up. “It would have been possible to accomplish this without the help of Windmill Microlending, but the help of Windmill made things quicker, easier, convenient, practical and sustainable,” he says. “It was the best option for me.”  

He also appreciated the wisdom of a Windmill Loan Facilitator, who helped him create a realistic plan for achieving his employment goals and repaying the loan. “The process was good. You make your plans together and they don’t put you in a position of being squeezed to pay it back before you’re in a stable job. That made it feasible,” says Eric, who is now working as an RN at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.

Fahad

Fahad

Business Analyst

Edmonton

Business Analyst
Business & Management
Fahad
Edmonton
Business Analyst
Business & Management

Fahad viewed Canada as an ideal country — offering excellent education, safety and a good lifestyle for a family.

A Business Analyst, he had most recently been employed in his native Pakistan, as a business manager with a land development and construction company. In 2008 he arrived in Edmonton and found temporary work related to the construction industry. “But as the recession took grip in 2009 I couldn’t find work, not even in the malls,” says Fahad.

Frustrated, and with his wife Saba in Pakistan struggling through the paperwork to join him in Canada, Fahad returned home. “I had been doing my MBA in Pakistan and had only two semesters left, so I returned to my studies and my old job.”

In 2011, Fahad and Saba returned to Canada—this time to Toronto to stay with Fahad’s father. Fahad took a two-week job hunting class followed by a five-week workplace communication course from Ryerson University facilitated by ACCES Employment Mississauga, which assists internationally trained professionals.

The course provides intercultural communication and soft skills training to enhance awareness and understanding of cultural differences in communication. “Although I had studied in English and I speak it, we culturally process messages differently. The course helped me understand this,” notes Fahad.

Securing no work in his field, Fahad found part-time security jobs and Saba worked part-time too, but they were struggling to meet their expenses. The couple decided Edmonton offered more opportunities and the family relocated.

Fahad connected with community groups assisting internationally trained professionals and received a loan from Windmill Microlending to enroll in the Business Analyst Certificate program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. He attended part-time while working 60 hours a week as a security and surveillance officer. “It was an excellent opportunity to gain Canadian education and to network with people in that industry,” says Fahad. The course also contributed to the professional development units Fahad required for his goal of obtaining his Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP) designation.

Fahad is now working as a business analyst with the City of Edmonton-Current Planning Branch. Additionally, he's contributing within the Business Analyst community and is on the volunteer board of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), Edmonton chapter, as Vice President Communications. “Windmill was really great. An extremely pleasant person helped me and I cannot believe how well the process went. It was an exceptionally good experience.”

“I am very optimistic and happy,” says Fahad, now a proud father of two sons. “Throughout this journey, I got incredible and extraordinary support from my wife. I am working in my field now because of her help. She took care of us all and it made a huge difference.”

Winifred

Winifred

Teacher

Edmonton

Teacher
Education
Winifred
Edmonton
Teacher
Education

Winifred echoes what many new immigrants to Canada experience: “The hardest part is getting yourself settled into a job that is appropriate for you, your skills—and that is to your satisfaction.”

Born and educated in Guyana, Winifred has a BSc. Sociology degree and postgraduate diploma in education; she has taught for more than 23 years. She and her husband Anthony had been living and working in Botswana for thirteen years before immigrating to Canada in April 2012 to join Anthony’s family.  

Winifred’s education was recognized by the Government of Alberta’s IQAS (International Qualifications Assessment Service) as two degrees, however, securing a teaching role in Canada proved difficult. To help support the family she began working at Walmart and volunteered at Edmonton’s Grey Nuns Community Hospital as a way to integrate into the community. “I became familiar with the role of medical receptionists during the volunteer experience and believed this could be a good alternate career for me,” says Winifred.

A loan from Windmill Microlending helped Winifred complete the six-month medical receptionist diploma program while she still worked part-time. After her studies, Winifred chose to bring her skills and passion to her role as Early Childhood Program Facilitator with the KARA Family Resource Centre.  

“I find my work very rewarding,” says Winifred. “Often the newcomer families I am working with feel disconnected and uncertain about life in Canada. I am able to share my experiences and my insight. I tell them to be open to possibilities and to utilize all the government and agency services available to them.”

Winifred is thankful to the immigration officer who welcomed her and her family to Canada. “He directed us to settlement services and it was through these I learned about Windmill too,” says Winifred.

“I have referred many people to Windmill. I tell them if you want to continue your career and want to study but don’t have the finances, this is the place to come. You must be focused on what you want to do and Windmill will help you.”

Abraham

Abraham

Supply Chain

Airdrie

Supply Chain
Business & Management
Abraham
Airdrie
Supply Chain
Business & Management

Abraham, a supply chain specialist, arrived in Canada in 2012 from Nigeria, along with his wife and son. They saw an opportunity for a new beginning in a new country. However, Abraham’s lack of Canadian experience prevented him from obtaining a high-quality job in his profession.

Starting a new life in Canada, a country that celebrates multiculturalism and presents everyone with the opportunity to grow and excel, was Abraham’s dream. His goal was to continue working as a supply chain specialist, a profession that had given him tremendous career satisfaction.  

Before coming to Canada, Abraham received a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), both from Nigeria. He had seven years of experience in supply chain, and his last job was as an Operations Manager in the telecommunication industry.  

While getting ready to emigrate, Abraham planned to settle in Edmonton, but a friend from Calgary convinced him to live there. “I didn’t know anyone in Edmonton, but since my friend was going to help me get a place in Calgary before I landed, I changed my mind. My priority was to find shelter. Arriving in a hotel in Edmonton would have cost us more,” Abraham explains.  

Hoping to return to his professional field, Abraham started sending resumes as soon as he settled in Calgary. He received a few calls from recruiters, but they all asked him for Canadian experience. He didn’t hear from those recruiters again.  

Through perseverance, Abraham managed to land his first job, a contract position. He worked for six months as an inventory planner. “Inventory planning is a branch of supply chain. In Nigeria, I managed a company’s operation. I had a much higher-level job,” he says.  

Before coming to Canada, Abraham didn’t know he would need a Canadian certification to get a job at the same professional level as the one he had back home. When his contract role ended, an acquaintance mentioned to Abraham how lucky he was to have landed the contract, considering his lack of Canadian credentials. They advised Abraham to upgrade his knowledge in supply chain.  

Abraham took the recommendation to heart. Upon researching educational opportunities, he came across the Supply Management Training program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), which was offered in partnership with the Supply Chain Management Association of Alberta (SCMA Alberta).  

Abraham wasn’t employed at the time, but he managed to pay for the first five courses using his savings. While attending the program, he found a job at a management distribution centre for the eighth-largest retailer in the United States, operated by a third-party logistics company. For a year and a half, Abraham was a warehouse coordinator.  

“I had six courses left and was out of money. I was going to suspend the program until I was able to raise some funds, but a fellow student referred me to Windmill Microlending because he had received a loan. I contacted Windmill, got a loan and was able to complete the program.”  

During the time Abraham attended school, he came to realize just how different supply chain operations are from country to country. “There are a lot of laws, boundaries and policies put in place. In Nigeria, there were no trade boundaries among neighbouring countries. I could move things easily. In North America, it is quite different. There are policies and guidelines to be followed,” adds Abraham.  

Upon completing the Supply Management Training program, Abraham joined a company in the oil and gas industry as a Materials Management Specialist. He was ecstatic. “Upgrading my knowledge in supply chain in Canada helped me a great deal. Before taking the program, I couldn’t get a good job in my line of work. The program opened a lot of opportunities for me,” he says.  

To other immigrants, Abraham offers a piece of advice: “No matter your level of education, there are going to be ups and downs. When it goes down, never give up. You’ll find a way to get yourself back to where you used to be.”  

Today, Abraham works in the transportation industry and resides with his family in Airdrie, Alberta, where they bought a home.  

After receiving the financial assistance required to complete his program, Abraham feels that Windmill presents new immigrants with affordable financing to obtain the Canadian qualifications needed to secure a professional job, which in turn could lead to building a career in their chosen field.

Amilyn

Amilyn

Laboratory Technologist

Grande Prairie

Laboratory Technologist
Healthcare
Amilyn
Grande Prairie
Laboratory Technologist
Healthcare

Before moving to Edmonton with her young family, Amilyn had trained to become a medical laboratory technologist. She worked for a year in her native Philippines and for eight years in Abu Dhabi.

After arriving in Canada, one of the first things Amilyn discovered was that her profession was structured differently. She learned that in order to work as a lab technologist she would need her certification from the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science.    

Until then she figured she could use her training to work as a lab assistant. She applied for lab-assistant positions all across Canada and earned money in the meantime as a cashier in big-box stores. After several months, a hospital in Grande Prairie hired her. She and her family moved once again, and Amilyn began the long and expensive process of becoming certified.  

After successfully completing two mandatory courses, she now had to tackle the challenging board certification exam. Amilyn was working full-time, living on a very limited income and looking after her family. No matter how much she tried, her time to study was almost non-existent, and as a result, she failed to pass the exam.    

To retake the courses and rewrite the exam would require paying substantial fees and having time to study. Having time to study would mean taking a leave from working full-time. She was determined to hold on to her dream, but she was tired, discouraged and disappointed.    

A friend of Amilyn’s introduced her to Windmill Microlending, and for the first time in months, she felt hopeful. “The Windmill loan I received gave me peace of mind,” she says. “It was such a relief. The loan covered our rent and the cost of the courses and the exam. It meant I didn’t have to work. I could take a leave of absence and focus on studying.”  

With time to study, Amilyn passed the certification exam, just one week before her second child was born. Now on maternity leave, she’s confident she will find a full-time job as a laboratory technologist. She and her husband feel established in Canada and look toward a bright future.

Inna

Inna

Quality Assurance

Toronto

Quality Assurance
Information Technology & Software
Inna
Toronto
Quality Assurance
Information Technology & Software

Inna, a single mother of two from Ukraine, wanted a better life for her children.

As a Quality Assurance Tester at a telecommunications company in the city of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, she was getting by but had hit a ceiling professionally. Employment was unstable and Inna was often working multiple jobs even with her skills and abilities.

A childhood friend had moved to Vancouver ten years earlier, and proposed Canada as an option. Inna and her children packed their belongings and immigrated to Toronto in hopes of a more prosperous and stable future.

As a family, they were immediately enamored with Canada and impressed with the landscape and people. They had found home. Soon, however, money became an issue as Inna struggled to find work in her field and was forced to work survival jobs in retail and as a general labourer. With a Windmill Microlending loan, Inna enrolled in .Net Solutions, a bridging program at Humber College specifically designed for internationally trained professionals.

With hard work and determination, Inna successfully completed the program and is now working as a Quality Assurance Specialist with a bright future. “My family and I worked extremely hard. With Windmill’s help, we are now in a position to give back to society as we can certainly identify with others in similar situations,” she said.

“Windmill Microlending helps immigrants realize their dreams and start a new life in Canada without the added stress of finding financial support.”

Mahendra

Mahendra

Civil Engineer

Edmonton

Civil Engineer
Engineering
Mahendra
Edmonton
Civil Engineer
Engineering

Mahendra had a successful 23-year career with the National Water Board in Sri Lanka working as a civil engineer on planning, design, construction and water supply/sewer maintenance.

Along with his wife and two sons, he immigrated to British Columbia in 2008, eager to continue his career as a civil engineer in Canada. Despite a university degree and experience, Mahendra found he needed additional training to re-enter the field.

Unable to find work in British Columbia, he moved his family to Edmonton to take advantage of the Engineers’ and Technologists’ Integration Program (ETIP), a bridging program for internationally trained engineering professionals offered by the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN).

In order to support his family financially, Mahendra began tutoring math and physics to high school and university students.

After enrolling in ETIP, Mahendra realized he would need additional financial support to complete the program. While applying for government funding, he learned about Windmill Microlending through the EMCN.

He used the Windmill loan to purchase a computer, books and other study materials to support his program. Upon graduating, Mahendra secured a job as an Engineering Technologist with the City of Edmonton.

Although back in his professional field as a Certified Engineering Technologist, and continuing as a tutor on the side, Mahendra continues his journey toward becoming a civil engineer. He has applied for his professional engineer designation (P. Eng.) and is currently in the waiting process with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA).

Mahendra is thankful for the role that Windmill has played in his journey so far. Coming to Windmill was a positive experience for Mahendra. He found Windmill staff to be friendly, with positive attitudes and a demonstrated willingness to help those who come through the doors.

Peyman

Peyman

Teacher

Calgary

Teacher
Education
Peyman
Calgary
Teacher
Education

Born and raised in Iran, Peyman graduated from university and completed his master’s degree in civil/geotechnical engineering.

Aside from his work as a civil engineer, Peyman enjoyed teaching and working with people, and taught English in his spare time as a second job. Peyman’s fluency in English and an unstable job market in Iran intrigued him with the idea of immigrating to an English speaking country that would value his skills. He applied to come to Canada and was accepted through Canada’s Skilled Worker program.

Peyman, his wife Elham and daughter Rose chose to settle in Calgary after hearing it might be a good place for engineers. To avoid depletion of his family’s savings he found a job working as a clerk at a drug store. Since the process to become a registered professional engineer proved to be a lengthy endeavour, he chose to first pursue accreditation to teach English in Canada.  

After hearing about Windmill Microlending, Peyman applied for a loan to take the CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Speakers of Other Languages) course, receiving the certification and his Teachers of English as a Second Language (TESL) Canada Certificate. With these credentials in hand, he was able to market himself and pursue English language teaching positions.

Peyman currently works part time teaching English. He has simultaneously pursued his engineering licensing through the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) and passed the NPPE exam (Law and Ethics) on his first attempt.

APEGA has accepted his credentials and previous engineering experience and has recognized him as a Provisional Licensee. Peyman must now complete one year of Canadian equivalent experience with a licensed engineer to get his Professional Engineering Designation (P.Eng.). Due to a downturn in the Alberta economy, engineering positions are difficult to come by, so Peyman is grateful for his teaching positions.

Peyman and his family have adapted well to Canada and they love the family activities and support networks that Calgary has to offer. For those hoping to pursue their professional goals in Canada, he believes that they need to “find a job right away to make money (for living expenses and to begin the process for professional licensing) and start as soon as possible getting training or certification in Canada. Employers recognize that.”

Tunde

Tunde

Inventory Control Analyst

Fort McMurray

Inventory Control Analyst
Business & Management
Tunde
Fort McMurray
Inventory Control Analyst
Business & Management

Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Tunde studied electrical engineering and worked for Cadbury, a division of Kraft Foods International. He spent over 20 years working his way up the corporate ladder from Instrument Maintenance Engineer to Procurement Category Buyer.

In 2010, Tunde and his wife moved their family to Brampton, Ontario in hopes of a higher standard of living and more opportunities. Tunde travelled back and forth between Nigeria and Canada, continuing to work for Cadbury, while his family established life in Canada. When in Canada, Tunde landed many interviews. His international experience for a multinational was enough to get him noticed, however, not being a certified professional in his field became a hiring barrier. He knew he had to get his Supply Chain Management Professional (SCMP) certification.

Tunde’s wife had received a Windmill Microlending loan for her accounting studies and found the application process to be enjoyable and straightforward. In 2013, when Tunde made the final move to Canada, he applied for his own Windmill loan.  

With his SCMP certification in hand, the job came. He and his family moved to Fort McMurray, Alberta, where Tunde currently works in supply chain management as an Inventory Control Analyst for First Nations-owned Fort McKay Group of Companies.  

Tunde expresses how Fort McMurray is such a small town compared to Lagos, known as one of the most overpopulated cities on earth. “It is easy to get anywhere in Fort McMurray and the roads are quiet. There is little traffic and it has a great community feel. Living in large cities all my life, this city is a relief to me,” he said.  

When Fort McMurray was severely impacted by the devastating wildfires in 2016, Tunde noted how important this sense of community was to him. Their house was spared from the fire, but he recounts seeing houses on the outskirts of their neighbourhood that had burned to the ground.  

Tunde describes how Windmill became part of this community connection for him when he and his wife received a phone call offering to suspend their loan repayments because of the fire and the uncertainty in their lives. He believes it is indicative of how we care for those we support here at Windmill. Tunde is grateful to be back at work and treasuring the life him and his family are building together in Canada.

Dr. Chibuike

Dr. Chibuike

Physician

Thunder Bay

Physician
Healthcare
Dr. Chibuike
Thunder Bay
Physician
Healthcare

Chibuike worked as a doctor in Nigeria, and when he arrived in Canada in 2011, he already had a career plan in mind. He would get his Master of Public Health (MPH), Epidemiology, at the University of Saskatchewan. From there, he would utilize his Nigerian experience as a General Practitioner in Canada’s public health services. Chibuike knew this licensing procedure meant incurring many expenses, from exam preparation to residency and purchasing course materials.

Chibuike heard about Windmill Microlending through a fellow doctor in a network of Nigerian-trained health professionals. He met with a member of the loan team who helped him further assess the steps needed in order for his credentials to be recognized in Canada.    

Unlike his path to certification, Chibuike says the loan application was very quick and easy. “Within two weeks, I completed the process and received my loan.” His Loan Facilitator was attentive and checked in on Chibuike’s progress regularly. On one occasion, when he failed an exam, he and his Loan Facilitator worked together to allocate funds so Chibuike could write it a second time.    

Chibuike’s wife, Thelma, had planned to accompany him when he first came to Canada, but her immigration was delayed. When she eventually arrived in Saskatoon, she started her own studies in nursing. Together, they worked toward their professional and personal goals in Canada.  

In 2013, their family grew to three with the birth to their son, Jamie. Chibuike was awarded a Master of Public Health in December and worked as an Epidemiologist in the Heartland Health Region in Rosetown, Saskatchewan. In the same year, he moved to the College of Medicine at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, where he worked as a Clinical Research Assistant.  

In 2015, their family moved to Moose Factory, Ontario, where Chibuike became Manager of Infection Prevention and Control at the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority. As he continues his postgraduate education in Public Health, Chibuike works as a Resident Physician at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Thunder Bay.    

Chibuike is constantly learning and enhancing his skills by staying up to date with the latest medical advancements. Once Thelma finishes her training as a nurse, the Chizea family will offer a dynamic duo of dedicated health care professionals.

Humberto

Humberto

Power Engineer

Calgary

Power Engineer
Engineering
Humberto
Calgary
Power Engineer
Engineering

Humberto arrived in Canada with skills and experience but struggled to find work in his field. In Mexico he had worked in operations within water treatment, manufacturing and the oil and gas sector, but found himself unable to secure even an interview here. “My job search was challenging. I applied for hundreds of jobs, but due to the lack of Canadian work experience and credentials, I was rejected for all of them.”

After months of searching for work appropriate to his skills, feeling frustrated and depressed, Humberto took work as a cashier to make ends meet. Although the income helped support his family, he began to doubt his decision to come to Canada and contemplated a return to Mexico. Through his job search, Humberto discovered Power Engineering, also commonly referred to as Stationary Engineering. His existing work experience included many skills transferable to those required by power engineers in Canada, but he would need accreditation. He applied to the Power Engineer program offered by the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society in partnership with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). He was accepted, he enrolled and paid his tuition – things were looking up.

It soon became very clear to Humberto that both working and studying full-time would be challenging. If he switched to part-time hours at work, it would not be possible to support his family’s financial needs. Luckily, a caseworker at Alberta Works introduced him to Windmill Microlending.  

Although most Windmill loans cover costs related to academic study or professional certification, a Windmill loan can also make up for a budget shortfall if a borrower must reduce their working hours to complete their learning plan.

Humberto's loan allowed him to work part-time while focusing on his studies. He graduated in the fall of 2014 and was hired immediately as a Power Engineer at Shaw. “Windmill was very important to my success,” says Humberto. “It’s a great resource for new immigrants, and the staff are friendly and helpful.”

Melanie

Melanie

HSSE Administrator

Red Deer

HSSE Administrator
Health & Safety
Melanie
Red Deer
HSSE Administrator
Health & Safety

Health, Safety, Security, and Environment (HSSE) Specialist Melanie is not the kind of person to just sit around.

After completing a Biology degree in the Philippines, her desire for adventure led her to a career in HSSE around the world. She ended up gaining a total of 8 years HSSE experience in construction, oil and gas before arriving in Calgary in March of 2016. When she started looking for a job in her field, she found her lack of both Canadian experience and the Canadian HSSE credential was seriously hurting her career prospects. Landing in the middle of one of the worst recessions in Calgary’s history made things even more challenging.  

Being the highly driven person that she is, Melanie eventually found jobs in the food services sector at McDonald‘s and Calgary’s Saddledome. While this helped her pay the bills, she was determined to put her HSSE experience to use. She knew that to be competitive in such a tight labour market, she would need to upgrade her credentials.

Melanie discovered a Health and Safety Administrator course through the Alberta Construction Safety Association. She completed the course using her own funds, but decided she needed something a step higher. She discovered the Canadian Registered Safety Professional designation (CRSP), and realized that the University of Calgary offered a certificate program that would meet the educational component of the designation. The tuition was more than she could afford and another job was unattainable due to her already busy schedule.  

Melanie first heard about Windmill Microlending from Calgary’s Centre for Newcomers. Within a week of applying, Melanie was approved for a Windmill loan and started the certificate program at the University of Calgary in April of 2016. The knowledge gained through the University of Calgary certificate program, in addition to her extensive work experience, helped her land a job at Predator Drilling in Red Deer. In May of 2017, she was offered a position as an HSSE Administrator, which she happily accepted.

“I have two more courses to complete before I can get the CRSP designation, but I am very glad to be working in my professional field. I would recommend Windmill Microlending to any new immigrants.”  

Charles

Charles

Lawyer

Calgary

Lawyer
Law & Legal
Charles
Calgary
Lawyer
Law & Legal

When Charles first arrived from Nigeria in 2012, he brought over 20 years of experience as a lawyer with him, but he lacked the license required to practice law in Canada.

Needing to support his family, Charles found himself working as a security guard, a position which greatly underutilized his extensive experience as a lawyer. However, Charles was driven to succeed and was determined to re-enter his profession.  

Charles applied to the Law Society of Alberta to have his credentials assessed, where it was determined that he write four separate exams. Upon passing these, he would then need to complete approximately one year of articling, while simultaneously taking a series of career preparation courses (CPLED).  

Charles took night shifts at his security job so he could allocate time during the day to study. Aside from exhaustion, one of the biggest challenges he experienced was becoming a student again, having been out of school for 20 years. It became apparent to Charles that in order to be successful he would need to dedicate more time to studying. However, if he reduced his hours at work, he would have a difficult time supporting his family and paying for his exams.  

Charles researched immigrant employment programs in Calgary when he discovered CRIEC (Calgary Regional Immigrant Employment Council). The executive director of CRIEC, Bruce Randall, referred Charles to Windmill Microlending. After discussing his situation with Windmill intake staff, Charles applied for and received a loan to cover the associated exam fees.  

In January 2015, Charles passed his final exam and started articling in September of that year at the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. During this time, Charles also applied for and received an additional loan to help cover the costs of his mandatory CPLED courses. In August 2016, Charles achieved his dream and was called to the Alberta Bar. He started his first job as a lawyer in Canada at Dawe Law Office, before moving to his present position at Shory Law.  

“Windmill made it possible for me financially to write my exams, while also supporting my family,” Charles says. “As a result of Windmill’s support I was also able to commit the needed time to properly study for and pass my exams. Without Windmill I would have had to postpone writing my exams, or maybe go back to university and re-do my law degree from scratch. Windmill really facilitated the whole enterprise.”

Sergey

Sergey

Accountant

Edmonton

Accountant
Accounting & Finance
Sergey
Edmonton
Accountant
Accounting & Finance

Sergey, an experienced accountant from Armenia, had eight years of senior level experience before coming to Canada, but struggled to restart his career.

When Sergey immigrated to Canada from Armenia in 2012, he brought more than eight years of experience as an accountant. In Armenia he worked as an auditor with one of the “big four” firms, as a financial controller, and then as a CFO. He was also contracted by large companies to assist in complex financial transactions. 

When Sergey arrived in Edmonton he found it difficult to find jobs in his field and at his professional level, despite having a B.Com in Accounting and Audit and a Doctor of Economics degree. He also struggled with culture shock, a different language, and other psychological challenges that are common to being a new immigrant. Particularly challenging to Sergey was the fact that he had left all his friends and family in Armenia, leaving their support network behind. 

Despite these challenges, Sergey was determined to find work. Soon he received an IQAS (International Qualifications Assessment Service) Canada recognition of his degrees from Armenia and, after several months of effort, found work as a Senior Accountant at Cash Store financial. As grateful as he was, it was far beneath the level at which he was capable of working. He realized that to improve his career prospects in Canada he would need to attain an appropriate Canadian credential.  

Sergey did his research and ultimately decided that the CGA (Certified General Accountant) designation was the best fit for his experience. Prior to immigrating to Canada, Sergey had written several of his ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) exams in the UK and managed to achieve the 7th level. The CGA regulatory body in Alberta recognized this and as a result he got credit for all of his entry level courses and exams. Despite this, he was still required to take twelve advanced courses and exams at CGA, an expensive prospect. 

Sergey’s job search had drained his savings and he was not sure how he could possibly pay for the courses and exams. Then Sergey learned about Windmill Microlending through a referral from Service Canada. After reading about eligibility online, Sergey submitted an application for a loan to cover the costs. He received the loan and passed all of his final exams.

Sergey’s loan from Windmill was a very important step in his success. With his CGA courses completed and listed on his resume, Sergey was able to market his senior level accounting skills more effectively. Sergey started his own accounting business and was able to gain several part-time clients. Eventually one of his larger clients asked him to move to Regina to better serve their needs as a Director of Finance. This was a dramatic improvement over his role at the Cash Store.  

After a year and half in Regina, Sergey and his partner had established themselves as one of the largest contract accounting businesses in Regina. He missed his family and friends in Edmonton, however, and decided to relocate back. 

Soon after, Sergey became a member of CPA Alberta. During the time he had been working towards his CGA designation, the three professional accounting bodies in Canada had merged under the new designation of CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant). The CPA designation is internationally recognized and has enhanced Sergey’s job and career prospects even further. As a result of this enhanced employability, he was able to secure a Financial Controller position at Intelife Income Trust Group, a company that designs home automation systems as part of the growing “Internet of things.”

Sergey is very grateful to Windmill for their support, and what that support has allowed him to achieve. 

Nelfran

Nelfran

Power Engineer

Calgary

Power Engineer
Engineering
Nelfran
Calgary
Power Engineer
Engineering

Nelfran brought more than 15 years of mechanical maintenance engineering experience to Canada.

Originally from Venezuela, he and his family had watched political upheaval in their home country get worse and worse. Life was becoming increasingly dangerous. With heavy hearts, they made the decision to leave for Canada, landing in Calgary in 2016. Nelfran knew he would have difficulty finding a job in his field without a recognized credential. He had heard about a Power Engineer program but wasn’t eligible since he did not have Permanent Resident status yet. He also considered pursuing his P.Eng designation, but he didn’t have money for the exams and was worried about the time it would take.

In addition to lacking a recognized credential, Nelfran discovered that his English was not strong enough for the Canadian job market. He also recognized cultural differences, particularly around communication, and this lack of knowledge about Canadian communication and workplace norms hurt his self-esteem.

Despite these barriers, he managed to land a job with a facility company doing basic maintenance, as well as a construction cleaning company. He was grateful for the income, but neither job involved his specialty of planning and programming maintenance for mechanical equipment. Nelfran was determined to re-enter his field and start rebuilding his career in Canada.

A few months later, he applied to a Power Engineer Building Operator Training Program through the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) and was accepted. There was one problem, however: tuition was $16,500. Nelfran didn’t have that kind of money, but after some web research he learned about Windmill Microlending.

Nelfran was eligible for a Windmill loan. A loan facilitator guided him through the application process, including the development of a learning plan, and within a week he had received a loan for $10,000. He was able to cover the remaining tuition and started his program in September of 2017.

In addition to helping him upgrade his technical skills, the program helped him improve his English, learn about the Canadian workplace, and ultimately helped him rebuild his self-confidence. Even better, through his program he was embedded for one day per week at Morguard, a large building operator in Calgary. He learned first-hand the responsibilities of a building operator and gained familiarity with the Canadian workplace. He successfully wrote his 5th class power engineering exam and, following a three week full-time internship with Morguard, they offered him a full time permanent job. He was elated.

“Without your help, I would not be working in my job today. I know there are many good things still coming. I will keep working hard and hope to give back to others in order to help them reach their dreams and be successful too.”

Megha

Megha

Solutions Developer

Calgary

Solutions Developer
Information Technology & Software
Megha
Calgary
Solutions Developer
Information Technology & Software

Megha came to Canada as a software engineer but she struggled with under-employment and the costs of getting her experience recognized.

Megha had a Masters in Computer Science and two years of experience as a software engineer when she arrived in Canada from Ahmedabad, India. Leaving her family behind was difficult, but she and her husband migrated to Canada in search of a better life.

When she arrived, Megha spent her time searching for a job within Calgary’s evolving IT sector. With recent training and relevant experience, opportunities should have been plentiful, but Megha could not find a job. She realized there were differences in technology use between Canada and India. Some companies were using the new technologies she was trained in, but also older technologies which were unfamiliar to her.

Discouraged with her job search, but armed with the knowledge that some specific training might give her the profile she needed, she decided to go back to school. She found a highly-rated Object-Oriented Software Development program at Calgary’s Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). With a 93% graduate employment rate, Megha felt this program would give her the labour market edge she needed.

She qualified for the competitive eight-month program, but it was expensive. She needed some financial assistance. An SAIT advisor knew about Windmill Microlending and suggested that Megha connect with us. With the help of her Windmill loan, Megha finished the program and promptly applied for positions in the IT field.

This time, her interviews led to a paid practicum with a company she still works for today, AgCall, as a Solutions Developer in their IT department.

Windmill was central to Megha's success. Her Windmill Loan Facilitator became a trusted confidant, encouraging and supporting her, and giving valuable advice along the journey back to her career.

Finding work in her field has put her life back on track. Megha loves life in Calgary, and many of her new friends are people she met at SAIT and co-workers. She and her husband are fulfilling their wishes to have a family in Canada.

Puangkaew

Puangkaew

Nurse

Hamilton

Nurse
Healthcare
Puangkaew
Hamilton
Nurse
Healthcare

Puangkaew, the youngest of five children in her family, watched her parents sacrifice financially so that she and her siblings could experience higher education. Puangkaew’s love of helping people led her to become an operating nurse in Thailand. Although the position paid well, Puangkaew wanted to give back to her elderly parents who had done so much for her.

She decided to come to Canada through the live-in caregiver program. She arrived in 2008 with minimal English comprehension, but her goal was to learn the language and to get back into her field. Her road to becoming a Registered Nurse in Canada was not as easy as she had hoped. Language was a barrier. Puangkaew started English as a Second Language classes around the time she submitted her credentials to the College of Nurses of Ontario. After two years of study, she was told she only needed to write a qualifying exam. 

She attempted the exam but fell just short of passing. That year, the College of Nurses of Ontario changed their requirements – now she was required to pass the exam and take a refresher course. She applied to Mohawk College’s Bridging for Internationally Educated Nurses certificate program. With the costs of the program looming, and only a minimum wage job barely covering her living expenses, she knew she needed some financial assistance.

Mohawk College provided her with information about Windmill Microlending and the connection was made. She applied for the loan and used the funds towards school fees and living expenses. With Windmill’s financial support, Puangkaew was able to successfully pass all of the requirements to become a Registered Nurse. 

Puangkaew is currently working as a cardiac surgery nurse at Hamilton General Hospital. Puangkaew came to Canada as a hopeful newcomer and encountered many obstacles, but sheer determination led her back into the operating room as a Canadian citizen.

Bhavya

Bhavya

Pharmacist

Regina

Pharmacist
Pharmacy
Bhavya
Regina
Pharmacist
Pharmacy

When Bhavya decided she wanted to move to Canada, she knew she wanted to keep working as a pharmacist. She had just spent four years studying pharmacy, and her hard work had earned her a gold medal at her university.

With this in mind, and before securing her Permanent Resident (PR) status, she decided she would go to Canada to study to become a pharmacy technician at the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. When she graduated, she worked as a labourer while waiting for her PR to be processed. Bhavya worked as a pharmacy assistant in Regina but was frustrated that her job didn’t match her education and skill level as a pharmacist. Making matters worse, she suffered a major setback in her personal life that left her feeling very emotionally frustrated and depressed. She seriously considered moving back home but, after four years of being in Canada, she knew she had to make it work.  

Bhavya decided she would pursue her pharmacy certification exams so she could be licensed as a pharmacist in Canada. As part of this process, she required a course in patient counselling which was only available in Toronto. Despite her pharmacy assistant’s salary, she had saved enough to start the process and wrote her first exam. Then she decided to pursue the counselling course in Toronto.  

Sadly, shortly after moving to Toronto however, Bhavya’s father passed away and she had to use her remaining savings to attend his funeral in India. She was unsure how to pay for her remaining exams. She seriously considered giving up. With the encouragement of her mother, she returned to finish her course in Toronto. Her mother’s advice was fortuitous, because it was while taking this course that she learned about Windmill Microlending from a fellow student.  

Bhavya received a loan to write her final certification exams. She was incredibly grateful because Windmill's support helped her clear this final financial hurdle and make it over the finish line. She landed a position as a pharmacy technician.  

After several months of studying, and with Windmill’s help to pay the exam fees, she wrote and passed her final two exams. After completing her internship, she received her license to practice as a pharmacist in Canada.  

After getting her professional license, she landed a full time job as a pharmacist in Regina. With this job security and the income it provided, she was able to sponsor her mother and her brother and, for the first time in seven years, was able to spend her birthday with her family. In this way, not only did Windmill help Bhavya re-enter her profession, but it helped re-unite her family in Canada as well.  

“Just imagine if you hadn’t approved that loan, I wouldn’t be a pharmacist right now. If I did not get this support, I would have gone back to work as a tech at a lower pay rate and below my skill level. I would not have been able to sponsor my mother, or my brother.”

Dr. Olamipo

Dr. Olamipo

Physician

Clearwater

Physician
Healthcare
Dr. Olamipo
Clearwater
Physician
Healthcare

Dr. Olamipo and her husband Kay, both doctors from Nigeria, struggled to restart their careers in Canada due to the high costs of re-accreditation.

Both saw coming to Canada as a chance to explore more opportunities to advance and develop their careers. The couple, along with their son, made the journey to Canada and moved to Saskatchewan. Coping with the weather was an adjustment, specifically on days when the temperature dipped to -40 degrees. As the family was building a home in Saskatchewan, they ventured to the Saskatoon Open Door Society where they were told about Windmill Microlending. Olamipo saw Windmill as a funding option to help alleviate the costs associated with her professional exams in her efforts to recertify as a physician, and she made the decision to apply.    

Dr. Olamipo now lives with her family in British Columbia, where she continues to practice as a family physician. She found the Windmill process to be very useful and supportive. "Windmill contributed immensely by giving me the necessary funds I needed to write the required professional exams in a timely manner," she says. "Through the loan, I was able to pay for my professional exams in order to obtain a Canadian Medical Practicing License.”    

Sudarshan

Sudarshan

Physiotherapist

Brampton

Physiotherapist
Physiotherapy
Sudarshan
Brampton
Physiotherapist
Physiotherapy

Prior to arriving in Canada, Sudarshan had practiced physiotherapy for three years in Nepal, where he had earned his Physiotherapy degree.

After researching various communities in Canada, he decided to establish his new life in Brampton, Ontario. However, when he went to look for work, Sudarshan ran into trouble immediately. He was aware that he could not practice as a full physiotherapist without his license, but he also discovered that his lack of Canadian experience made him uncompetitive in the labour market. After applying for numerous jobs he realized that he wasn’t being taken seriously by employers. He knew he needed to secure his financial situation and pursue licensure in Canada.

Sudarshan approached clinics in person to see if there were any unposted positions that might make use of his experience and didn’t require him to have a license. He went to ten different physiotherapy clinics before one offered him the chance to volunteer with their Licensed Physiotherapists a few hours per week. His efforts were rewarded when a part-time Physiotherapy Assistant position became available. He was offered the position and he gratefully accepted.

Sudarshan supplemented his part-time income with a warehouse job. This income alleviated his stress and allowed him to focus on his long-term goal of becoming a fully Licensed Physiotherapist. With his financial situation more secure, Sudarshan was able to focus on getting licensed.

Sudarshan knew the first step was having his education assessed by the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators. This is often a stressful process for new applicants as they have to collect documents from overseas and then wait to see if their education will be accepted as equivalent. To Sudarshan’s relief his education was assessed as being equal to that of a Canadian Physiotherapy degree. The remaining steps were a written exam, followed by a rigorous six-hour clinical exam.

Sudarshan wasn’t sure how to pay for either exam. His two jobs provided enough to pay his bills but not much more. He was fortunate to have a few friends from Nepal living in Canada, including one who lived in Calgary and happened to be a physiotherapist. His friend had been a Windmill Microlending client and used his loan to complete his own professional licensing exams. On the advice of his friend, he applied and after a brief evaluation period, received his loan.

With his loan, Sudarshan was able to focus his mental energy on the exams and passed both on the first try. He received his license and took his first job at a long-term care facility. Sudarshan worked there for two years before joining a private clinic.

“My financial difficulties, due to working variable hours in low paying jobs, was causing me stress and preventing me from saving the money I needed to write my licensing exams. When Windmill helped me pay for those exams and study materials, it got me back on track.”

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