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Microcredit Developing in Southwestern Alberta
Category: Microcredit | By Editor, 26-Oct-2011 | Viewed 2430  Comments 0
Microcredit is famous for creating economic opportunity for those in need in the poorest areas of the world.  What about the poor in our own communities?  Can it work here as well?

A new non-profit organization operating out of Lethbridge and the surrounding area believes so.  The Southwest Alberta Community Loan Fund (SWACLF) was officially founded in November 2010 with the purpose of working with local low-income entrepreneurs to build pathways out of poverty through microcredit. 

The SWACLF 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, SWACLF 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. 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 SWACLF is already making strides. This past month (September 9th), they became the newest Alberta community partner of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF).  The CYBF is a national charity focused on supporting youth entrepreneurs (age 18-34) with coaching, loans 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 SWACLF'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 SWACLF looks forward to spreading the word about the opportunities this partnership presents for youth in our communities and to shortly reviewing their first youth business plan!

The SWACLF has also entered into a partnership with the University of Lethbridge to help develop our infrastructure and eventually to evaluate our impact in the community.  As part of this work, the SWACLF will be holding community meetings in Fort Macleod and Lethbridge in the latter half of November (all Rotarians and friends are welcome to attend).

To find out more about the SWACLF and their work, including the possibility of having them give a presentation to your Rotary club, visit their website at and/or contact Steve Pedersen, SWACLF President, by email at
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