The Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF) is a non-profit organization providing microloans for business and professional development purposes, as well as creating awareness of the importance of a strong credit history.
OCLF was formally launched in July, 2000 to provide micro-credit in the community of Ottawa. With a dedicated working Board, a single staff member, the not-for-profit organization set out to fill a social financing gap in the city. Initially the organization targeted individuals who were trying to establish small businesses and who were not eligible for traditional financing. A special focus on youth was made possible through a partnership with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. Soon after launching, the Internationally Trained Talent Finance Initiative was developed with Local Agencies Serving Immigrants World Skills (LASI) in order to help internationally trained professionals obtain Canadian accreditation and employment in their fields of expertise. A major community investment milestone was reached in the summer of 2007 when OCLF awarded its 100th loan. In December 2008, OCLF was responsible for over $1 million dollars investment in the Ottawa community.
Throughout its history, OCLF has also worked collaboratively to further the community economic development (CED) capacity of the region and has contributed to CED leadership activities at the national and provincial level. At its heart, CED is integration or merging of economic and social goals to bring about more far-reaching community revitalization. In response to community demand, OCLF is actively working to grow its programs and services to include a full range of CED support within the city. This has resulted in the organization and its partners expanding their scope of activity to include new micro-financing products, business technical expertise, financial literacy training, affordable housing and social enterprise development.