Microlending program to expand to northwest

By Lindsay Briscoe

The Microlending for Women in Ontario program, which aims to support low-income women while they work to become business ready, will soon be expanding into the northwest.

“Finding the financing to start a business in remote communities is challenging to say the least,” stated Rosalind Lockyer, Executive Director at the PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise in Thunder Bay, last week.

Since the program began, PARO has received provincial government funding to provide women around Thunder Bay with financial literacy training, entrepreneurial mentoring and skills development and life skills support. The organization is about to receive an additional $178,500 which will enable it to expand and reach women in rural areas – with a focus on Aboriginal and Francophone communities.

The idea is that the women who receive the business training will then be eligible to receive small loans to get their business off the ground.

“Women are best able to support themselves and their families when they are empowered to become financially self-sufficient,” said Laurel Broten, the Ontario Minister in charge of women’s issues.

She went on to say that microlending has proven successful in many regions of the world – including Canada – as it is designed for low-income individuals who have the desire to get into business but not necessarily the credit history or collateral to get started on their own.

PARO is one of six not-for-profit organizations across the province to participate. According to the Ontario government, the program will reach over 800 women across the province.

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