Windmill Microlending

“Organizational Capacity Building: Managing growth, navigating change”

2018 2020

Empowering immigrants and refugees to achieve economic prosperity through microloans and supports requires a combination of fiscal sustainability plus a well-supported, highly-engaged staff team. This three-year project sought to help Windmill Microlending to seize upon a moment in the organization’s timeline to catalyze into a truly national charity poised for growth.

To meet a significant unmet demand amongst new Canadians looking to bridge their foreign credentials to the Canadian labour force would require upgrading of our own. At the outset, Windmill (then Immigrant Access Fund) was in need of enhancing and adapting some practices and policies, and in other cases, adopting brand new practices.

Improved and/or adapted practices included:

  • Establishing an organizational structure and HR policy,
  • Hosting at least two all-staff meetings during the course of the project for a two-day strategy and professional development retreat, and
  • Setting the intention to increase staff retention, improve performance management, and gain efficiencies in the organizational structure.

New practices adopted included:

  • The launch and execution of an annual Organization Effectiveness Survey that would inform the development of an action plan based on staff feedback related to 13 focus areas,
  • The adoption of a Results Management Program with which to monitor outcomes across the organization to ensure alignment with strategic growth plan, and
  • The creation of a Leadership Development Strategy.

Everyone at Windmill has a part to play in achieving the goals of the strategic plan, and the Getting It Done™ Results Management System with associated Performance Agreements and semi-annual checkpoints are critical in measuring those contributions.

A key insight from this work: 

We can only achieve our strategic objectives if the team is well-supported, respected and heard. The Organization Effectiveness Survey and many team engagement opportunities are intended to create an environment of trust, professional development and responsiveness.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity requires ongoing attention and intention. The drive for constant improvement and learning in this area relies on authentic and meaningful participation from all members of the staff that often benefits from external facilitation.


About Windmill Microlending

Windmill Microlending is a registered charity serving newcomers since 2005. We offer microloans to help skilled immigrants and refugees continue their careers in Canada. Funded by the public and private sector, Windmill is Canada’s largest and most successful microlending program for immigrants and refugees.