Windmill Microlending

Windmill Microlending empowers skilled immigrants and refugees to achieve career success and economic prosperity. By providing microloans up to $15,000, Windmill Microlending helps clients get the Canadian licensing or training required to work in their field, or get a position that matches their level of education, skills and experience.

Client Success Story

Dr. Chibuike worked as a doctor in Nigeria. When he arrived in Canada, 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 planned to use 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 buying course materials.

Chibuike heard about Windmill Microlending through a fellow doctor in a network of Nigerian-trained health professionals. By taking a loan from Windmill, Chibuike was able to get a Master of Public Health. Today, he lives in Moose Factory, Ontario, where he is the manager of infection prevention and control at the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority and also works as a resident physician at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Thunder Bay.

Read more success stories.

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Information for applicants

Who can apply

Windmill Microlending provides a unique, community-based channel of access to credit for immigrants (permanent residents, Convention refugees, protected persons, Canadian citizens and provincial nominees) who

  • want to return to their pre-immigration careers or a related field, want to advance in their careers, or want to take their skills and experience in another career direction
  • have a plan that will lead them to employment in their field of choice but do not have the resources to pay for it
  • cannot access mainstream credit due to unemployment or low “survival job” income, lack of credit history in Canada, or lack of assets or collateral

Find out if you’re eligible for a Windmill microloan.

Conditions of the loan

Applicants don’t need collateral or a credit history in Canada. Interest is normally 1.5% above the prime rate. The average loan is $10,000, but up to $15,000 may be borrowed. Applicants are required to provide personal references, have a strong learning plan in place, and be willing to repay the loan. The loan may be used only for purposes related to

  • Canadian accreditation, upgrading, and training, including relocation costs for employment
  • course materials
  • fees for licensing and qualifying exams
  • credential assessments
  • living allowance during a period of study, while completing the learning plan

Mentorship program

Windmill’s mentorship program matches clients with former clients from the same field, to provide peer support and to help newcomers build the networks required to succeed professionally. Clients of Windmill work closely with a client success coach, who provides advice, guidance, and encouragement while the client is completing their learning plan and paying back their loan.

About Windmill Microlending

Windmill Microlending, a registered charity, is founded on a partnership of private and public sector support, combining grants, philanthropy and social impact investment to provide a unique, proven solution for immigrant underemployment. Windmill Microlending is governed by a volunteer board of directors and supported by strategic advisors.

The Windmill Microlending model is operating all across Canada, and Windmill has clients in every province.

Government of Alberta; Government of Canada; Government of Ontario; and foundation, individual, and corporate donors
Offices in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec
Year of Launch
Languages of Delivery
English and French
Newcomer Groups Served
Immigrants and refugees
Expected Results
Labour market access (newcomers obtain the required assistance to find employment in line with their skills and education)


Windmill Microlending is accountable to its funders, donors, investors, bankers and line of credit guarantors to ensure that the loans being approved are likely to be paid back. It achieves this by conducting due diligence on applicants, carefully considering each application on its merits, and applying a risk rating framework to each client and to the file. It works to reduce risk by offering clients support to meet their financial and professional goals. Public and private funders and lenders are provided with regular financial and program reports. The Windmill Microlending board meets at least 4 times a year and is aided by a Finance and Risk Committee, comprised of both board and non-board members with relevant expertise, which also meets at least 4 times per year. Financial statements and an organizational risk register are reviewed and approved by the Finance and Risk Committee and by the board quarterly.


From its establishment in 2005 to March 31, 2020, Windmill Microlending has achieved the following results:

  • 3.4x average income increase for clients
  • Client unemployment drops from 40% to less than 10% as a result of a Windmill loan
  • 92% of our clients are progressing or have completed their learning plans
  • Loans approved: over $36,900,000
  • Clients served: over 5,295
  • 97% repayment rate

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