Short-term loans of a small amount of money are commonly called microfinance or microloans, and they, along with financial counselling are now available to residents of Prescott and Russell counties.
On January 19, the Caisses Populaires Desjardins and EBO Financial Education Centre officially announced the launch of Desjardins Mutual Assistance Fund, a new community service offered to the population of Eastern Ontario, providing access to its micro-loan program. The service was previously available only to residents of the City of Ottawa, but it can now be accessed by citizens of Prescott and Russell.
The Desjardins Mutual Assistance Fund has been operating in Québec for more than twenty years, and for more than 12 years in the Ottawa region through EBO Financial Education Centre, a non-profit organization that has provided a budget counselling service in the national capital region for more than 40 years.
The program helps individuals and families facing financial hardship and guides them as they aim for long-term prevention of further hardships, through free budget counselling sessions offered in both official languages.
A dedicated budget counsellor, Nathalie Lessard is trained and available to receive clients. She will assist, impartially and without judgment, those who are in a vulnerable and precarious financial situation. Such situations are of particular concern due to the pandemic, which has created economic havoc for many people.
For the EBO Centre, which will coordinate the program, being able to extend the Desjardins Mutual Assistance Fund in Eastern Ontario is significant because it knows first-hand that a little help at the right time, through an interest-free micro-loan that can be reimbursed based on the person’s ability to repay, can make a big difference at a critical time. The service will also prevent people from turning to loan options that impose abusive repayment terms to an already vulnerable population. The loans offered through the Desjardins Mutual Assistance Fund and the EBO Financial Education Centre are for a maximum of $800 with a maximum 12-month repayment term at zero per cent interest. In the communities already served by the program, more than 110 loans for an average amount of $600 totalling $75,000 have been loaned, and 90 per cent of the loans have been repaid.
More information on the EBO Centre’s services and the Desjardins Mutual Assistance Fund partnership is available at www.centre-ebo.com .