Strategies Impact investing Local micro-lending (community investment funds)

Through community investment and community loan funds in regions across the country, local micro-lending enables individuals without collateral or a credit history to contract affordable loans designed to enhance their standard of living through entrepreneurship. In Québec, local microlending funds are referred to as community credit funds.

Example

Saint John Community Loan Fund

The Saint John Community Loan Fund in New Brunswick converts investments to loans to help people in the local community start businesses, return to work or secure housing. Since inception in 1999, the fund has used these investments to make 231 loans for a total consideration or more than $369 000. As a result, individuals have terminated reliance on Provincial Income Assistance, families have become self-reliant, and millions of dollars in fresh income have been generated, saving the provincial government some $500 000 in social assistance payouts.

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ACCESS

Based in Toronto, ACCESS is a registered Canadian charity which grants micro-loans based on key criteria such as applicant skills, abilities and commitment, as well as business plan strengths. To view an example of what investments finance, go to this page.

Manitoba’s Jubilee Fund

Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Jubilee Fund offers investment certificates which may be purchased as three- or five- year term deposits by individuals, businesses and organizations. The investments are used to provide loan guarantees or bridge financing for community economic development projects which would not normally be eligible for loans from traditional financial institutions. Read more about business, community and housing success stories here.

Montréal Community Loan Association (ACEM)

ACEM provides accessible credit and technical support to low income individuals and organizations which do not enjoy access to traditional forms of credit to start or expand a community or business project. ACEM targets low income persons living on the Island of Montréal, in particular single parent women, youth, immigrants, and members of visible minorities and cultural communities. Set up in 1987, ACEM currently manages a capital loan pool of more than $500 000.
Read more about investing in AECM.
For details about ACEM investment activities, click here.

Québec Community Credit Network (RQCC)

Réseau québecois de crédit communautaire groups together all community credit funds from across Quebec.
To view an RQCC video entitled ‘L’ABC du crédit communautaire’ (in French), click here.

For an overview of community credit impact in Québec over the past 14 years, click here.

Strengths and weaknesses

Strengths

  • High, direct, generally measurable local impact
  • Inspires investors to support local initiatives with a small, designated portion of their investment portfolios

Weaknesses

  • Not advisable to put an entire portfolio in this type of investment
  • Funds not available to all communities

Additional information

To locate the nearest local community investment fund, refer to this map. Click on Retail Investment Product in the Category scroll selection, and click on the fund of your choosing for further details about investment terms and conditions (minimum required investment, returns, etc.).

For Québecers seeking local community credit information, this map shows the member organizations of Réseau Québecois de credit communautaire (In French).