More than 30 budget counselling organizations, including Ottawa’s EBO Financial Education Centre, met on September 19, 2019, near Québec City, to discuss and share the results of the impact study by Desjardins Mutual Assistance Fund as well as its recommendations. The microloan program has been in existence since 2002 and is offered today by 35 community-based budget counselling organizations with Desjardins’ support.
This financial inclusion program allows individuals with financial issues or having one-time emergency expenses to have access to:
- free and confidential budget counselling and objective advice;
- and, under certain conditions, a small loan (often interest-free) of up to $1,500 with repayment terms tailored to their financial capacity.
The EBO Financial Education Centre, one of Ontario’s Financial Empowerment Champions, has been the only organization providing this microloan program outside the Province of Québec since 2008. Hundreds of financially vulnerable people have benefited from an individual support in financial counselling. Of these, more than a hundred were granted an interest-free microloan while the others were able to identify, with the help of a counsellor, other alternatives to solve their situation. In the course of 11 years, the program has been able to lend four times the loan capital of the fund.
In addition, the EBO Centre was part of a discussion panel on field initiatives aimed at facilitating financial inclusion. We were able to share with the 50 or so people present the outcomes and lessons learned from a microsaving pilot project to complement the EBO Centre’s low-income microloan program.