Categorized | News

Macleod meeting set for community loan fund

RONDA REACH – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
How do we create economic opportunity in our community? Come to Luigi’s Pizza and Steak House on Tuesday, Nov. 22 to find out!
There is no single answer or strategy in response to this question, however, a new non-profit organization serving Fort Macleod, Lethbridge and the surrounding area has been hard at work to do its share.
The Southwest Alberta Community Loan Fund is working with local youth and low-income entrepreneurs to create economic opportunity through microcredit.
The fund is modeling its efforts after successful like-minded Canadian organizations such as Momentum in Calgary and the St. John Community Loan Fund in New Brunswick.
Based on an analysis of the latter’s impact, Southwest Alberta Community Loan Fund president Steve Pedersen cites the potential locally focused microcredit initiatives can have.
“Eight years after initiating operations they (the St. John Community Loan Fund) have received over 950 loan inquiries and given out close to 150 loans at an average value of $1,250,” Pedersen said. “These loans have helped to end reliance on provincial income assistance, have helped families become self-reliant, have generated over $3,000,000 in new income for their local economy, and have saved the government over $450,000 in social assistance payments. We believe that over time, we can have a similar impact.”
The Southwest Alberta Community Loan Fund is already making strides. On Sept. 9 it became the newest Alberta community partner of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.
The Canadian Youth Business Foundation is a national charity focused on supporting youth entrepreneurs aged 18-34 years with business coaching, loans of up to $15,000, and most importantly, matching with a mentor to guide the youth entrepreneur as they work to build their business.
As a community partner, the Southwest Alberta Community Loan Fund’s role is to help youth connect to the program and to operate a loan review committee comprised of local community members to review completed business plans.
The Southwest Alberta Community Loan Fund looks forward to spreading the word about the opportunities this partnership presents for youth in our community and to reviewing their first youth business plan.
The Southwest Alberta Community Loan Fund has also entered into a partnership with the University of Lethbridge to develop a series of networking events with stakeholders in the communities of Fort Macleod and Lethbridge.
Stakeholders, businesses, municipal government representatives and community members who want to enhance rural development and create opportunities for low-income individuals in these communities are invited to participate in a community meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at Luigi’s Pizza and Steak House in Fort Macleod.
This meeting will be a first step in a longer-term process for rural development.
Future plans include engaging partners in a process of collaborative development, researching and evaluating models for microcredit and social enterprise in rural Alberta.
Researchers will later follow the socio-economic impacts of the microcredit model and examine it as a means to reduce poverty and create sustainable development both for individuals and the community of Fort Macleod.
To find out more about the Southwest Alberta Community Loan Fund and its potential for Fort Macleod come to the meeting Nov. 22 at Luigi’s.
Contact Ronda Reach at 403-553-5353. Also visit www.swaclf.org.

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