We credit unions all work hard to serve diverse communities and support individual community members in a just and unbiased way. In fact, credit unions were founded on cooperative values that include equality and equity.
What’s the difference between those two values? Equality means an individual or group receives the same resources or opportunities, while equity recognizes that each person may have different circumstances to overcome. Equity and equality are both solutions for overcoming imbalanced social systems, and they are values that led us at Alterna Savings to develop our award-winning community microfinance program.
This program was designed to address an imbalance in the marketplace and has been active for more than 20 years. Its primary objective has always been to work within communities to address socio-economic inequity by creating opportunities for financial independence. It also looks to break down barriers to banking for those often excluded from financing. To date, we have given out more than 1,300 loans totaling over $7 million. It’s become part of who we are at Alterna, and we are very proud to set the Canadian benchmark for microfinance initiatives.
Alterna’s close ties to the community and local organizations help us identify individuals most likely to benefit from the program. Through research and outreach, we have developed several microfinance pathways tailored to meet the needs of five key target groups.
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