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 fill the social-financing gap within the local community. It started out with a dedicated working Board and a single staff member. Over the years OCLF has actively participated in enhancing community economic development (CED) in the Ottawa area. As of 2013, OCLF provided over 200 microloans, totalling approximately $2 million and about 90 percent of these loans are repaid. Since its inception in 2000, it has constantly pursued its overarching goal; to ensure their loan recipients eventually have access to traditional financing, increase their assets and/or achieve the professional development.
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 Futurpreneur Canada. Through this CED initiative OCLF grew to expand its services with a focus on assisting internationally trained professionals gain Canadian accreditation. The Internationally Trained Talent Finance Initiative in conjunction with Local Agencies Serving Immigrants World Skills (LASI) enabled OCLF to develop its social mandate.
OCLF took proactive steps to address the heart of community economic development; the integration or merging of economic and social goals to bring about more far-reaching community revitalization. Economic goals involve increasing the percentage of the economically active population. However, skilled immigrants and the community were unable to apply their skills due to lack of accreditation and/or training. OCLF addressed these societal needs and has expanded to offer various programs in an effort to provide 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, professional development, affordable housing and social enterprise development.