Immigrant Access Fund (IAF) in Alberta, Canada
The Immigrant Access Fund (IAF) Loan Program in Alberta, Canada, provides internationally trained newcomers, regardless of occupation or training, with loans of up to $10,000 to help cover the costs of getting back to work in their field in Canada. While most loans cover training, professional fees, exam expenses, assessments and books, an IAF loan is for whatever will lead to employment success. In one case, IAF paid for the cost of snow tires for a doctor who had to travel outside of the city to meet his medical residency requirements. In another, a highly certified mechanic with a job offer needed a loan to buy his own tools (a job requirement). The IAF loan can also cover the costs of child care so the newcomer can attend classes.
A lending programme that is flexible and community focused is part of IAF's niche success. When starting the programme, the option of partnering with a bank or formal lending institution was excluded in favour of a flexible community-based approach that allowed IAF to lend to whomever they want, be flexible in renegotiating loan terms should a newcomer experience difficulty and ensure that their loan work is connected to the local community. Each IAF loan is rooted in the place where the newcomer lives and is based on trust. If someone is having trouble, IAF's loan managers are available and ready to refer them to community support services for help. Pre-loan, if they decide a loan applicant's learning plan isn't going to be successful, the applicant is referred to a community partner for help refining the plan. So far, IAF has loaned more than five million dollars, and $6,500 on average.
This practice was kindly contributed by Hire Immigrants, a program of the Global Diversity Exchange, Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada). See more at: http://citiesofmigration.ca/good_idea/investing-in-character-calgarys-immigrant-access-fund/.