The Azrieli Foundation is proud to support organizations and initiatives that improve the lives of marginalized and vulnerable individuals, while promoting Jewish values.
Organizations like Jewish Free Loan Toronto, the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Montreal, Windmill Microlending and Rise enable those in need to obtain the necessary assistance for their personal or professional development through training, mentorship programs and micro-financing.
Based on the Jewish value of G’milut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness), Jewish Free Loan Toronto (JFLT) has been helping community members through interest-free loans for more than 100 years. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, JFLT began delivering many of its services virtually. And, with the help of the Azrieli Foundation, it was able to start a COVID-19 loan program that did not require guarantors. To date, this program has helped 104 families access microloans for living expenses, medical and dental costs and emergency expenses.
The Hebrew Free Loan Association of Montreal (HFLA) also generously supports the Jewish community and has provided interest-free loans for more than 110 years. During the pandemic, the Azrieli Foundation helped HFLA launch its ‘microloans without guarantors’ program. The impact was immediate, with 115 loans given between October 2021 and March 2022. These loans helped people cover basic needs, improve their quality of life, and, in many cases, achieve financial independence.
Windmill Microlending has assisted newcomers to Canada since 2005. It provides low-interest loans of up to $15,000 to help skilled immigrants and refugees continue their careers in Canada. In partnership with the Azrieli Foundation, Windmill now provides loans to healthcare workers in Ontario and Quebec to help them obtain the Canadian licensing and training they require to work in their chosen fields. In 2021 alone, Windmill approved 1,096 loans, an increase of 13 per cent over the previous year.
“My advice to newcomers would be to not be afraid to take out a loan,” says Dr. Stephen Akinkunmi, who immigrated to Canada from Nigeria. “Without my loan from Windmill, I wouldn’t be back in my field practising medicine.”
Rise is a Canada-wide organization founded in 2009 that empowers people with mental health and addiction challenges. The organization enables people to achieve greater social and economic inclusion through education, mentorship and micro-financing –— and get the skills and money necessary to start small businesses.
In 2021, the Foundation became a primary supporter of Rise’s Peer Supported Startup Program (PSSP), an eight-week entrepreneurship program that gives participants the skills needed to start or grow businesses. This year, the PSSP engaged 85 participants and 20 of them joined Rise’s micro-financing program; in total, 92 loans were given.
The Foundation is proud to fund these remarkable organizations that help marginalized and vulnerable communities across Canada.