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Alterna Savings’ Community Impact Through Microfinance

Alterna Savings’ Community Impact Through Microfinance

In a revealing interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Jean Barrett, the Manager of the Community Micro Finance Program at Alterna Savings, illuminated the essence of microfinance and its significant role in advancing financial inclusion in Canada. Microfinance, as Jean explains, is more than just small loans; it’s a lifeline to those traditionally excluded from conventional financial systems. In a country marked by prosperity yet shadowed by pockets of poverty, Alterna Savings’ Community Microfinance Program is a beacon of hope, actively removing barriers for those embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship. Offering more than financial support, the program encompasses education and holistic services, aiming not just for business success but for the establishment of financial independence. Jean highlights the transformative impact of microloans at both the individual and community levels, fueling small businesses, generating jobs, and enhancing local economies. Distinguishing Alterna, Jean elaborates on its Community Impact Department and its suite of initiatives designed to foster financial resilience and inclusivity. For those seeking to learn more or engage with the program, Alterna Savings welcomes inquiries through their website and invites personal discussions with their dedicated microfinance team.

Jean Barrett has over 25+ years in banking with Retail and Commercial experience. Jean is currently the Manager for Alterna Savings’ nationally acclaimed Community Microfinance Program. Here she manages and oversees nine community microloan portfolios and manages the portfolios of over 250 plus small business borrowers in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa Region every year. With a certificate in financial literacy, Jean provides advice to entrepreneurs and community organizations. Jean regularly speaks on business planning, credit building, budgeting, and financing options to entrepreneurs to organizations such as ACCES Employment Services, Toronto Business Development Centre, Toronto Library and Youth Employment Services. She also lends her expertise to ACCESS Community Capital Loan Fund and the Ottawa Community Loan Fund Team.

Jean has been a mentor to young entrepreneurs in the local community and has been recognized by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade for volunteering and supporting Ontario Young Entrepreneurs through the Provincial Summer Company program. Jean is currently a volunteer with RISE Asset Development Investment Committee, where she lends her expertise in microfinance and small business loan reviews.

What is Microfinance?

Microfinance is a transformative approach to financial inclusion that transcends borders, designed to empower individuals and groups that lack access to conventional financial services. While it is often associated with developing countries, it is relevant in prosperous nations like Canada.

In Canada, a segment of the population faces additional barriers when trying to start a business. The financial barriers can impede individuals trying to escape poverty through entrepreneurship.

At Alterna, we’ve developed a proactive approach to assessing small business loan applications, epitomizing our commitment to addressing socioeconomic inequalities. Our Community Microfinance Program’s mission is to foster financial independence and break down barriers that exclude underserved communities from vital financial resources.

Our Community Microfinance Program extends beyond loans, offering wraparound supports and financial education. These services empower individuals with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed.

We strive to make a meaningful impact on poverty alleviation. Through this program we contribute to a more inclusive and equitable financial landscape in Canada.

How have microloans impacted small businesses?

Microloans can play a pivotal role in transforming low-income individuals’ economic and social prospects.

Our firsthand experience has shown that microloans are instrumental in building assets and ensuring future financial security for small business owners and entrepreneurs. At the micro level, these loans boost productivity, enhance personal assets, increase income, and foster self-sufficiency among individuals and their households.

Beyond individual empowerment, microloans also exert a macro-level influence by contributing to local community development and job creation. These loans not only elevate the financial well-being of individual entrepreneurs but have a ripple effect, fostering economic growth and stability within their communities.

Alterna Savings’ Community Impact Through Microfinance

What makes Alterna unique?

What distinguishes Alterna is our steadfast dedication to community impact, a cornerstone of our identity. We are deeply committed to giving back to the local communities we serve through our branch network. Here’s what sets us apart:

Specialized Community Impact Department: Alterna boasts a dedicated Community Impact department that goes beyond traditional banking. This department offers comprehensive support to entrepreneurs and small business owners, serving as a catalyst for community upliftment.

Support for the Nonprofit Sector: Our Community Impact team extends support to co-operatives, nonprofits, and charitable organizations. We provide tailored initiatives and programs to cater to the needs of the sector, recognizing the pivotal role of nonprofits in community development.

Key Initiatives: Within our Community Impact Department, four pivotal initiatives drive community economic development and forge stronger community bonds:

  • Community Microfinance Program – Empowering underserved individuals and communities through microloans.
  • Community Financial Resiliency Program – Helps improve the capacity and resilience of the nonprofit and charitable sector to build equity and strengthen their financial sustainability.
  • Community & Financial Inclusion Granting Programs – Tackling social, financial, and economic exclusion by offering grants to underserved communities.
  • Community Financial Education Program – Financial education tailored to the specific needs of individuals, organizations and communities.

Inclusive Approach: At Alterna, our mission is to combat the social, financial, and economic exclusion experienced by underserved and underrepresented individuals, organizations, and communities. We provide a holistic, wraparound approach to all Community and Community Microfinance members and partners, emphasizing the importance of financial education and support.

Alterna has an unwavering commitment to providing financial services and making a tangible and positive impact on the communities we serve. We actively foster economic development, financial inclusion, and social well-being, making a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals and communities alike.

Where can someone get more information about Alterna’s Community Microfinance Program?

You can visit our website at: Alterna – Programs & Resources

Book an appointment at: Contact Alterna’s Microfinance Team | Alterna Savings

or scan the QR code below.


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