The Independent Living Accounts helped to pay two month's rent up front.
Joiningin Waterloo elevated Meenu's self esteem.
With the help of the matched credits, David began his further education in Canada.
M.B. talks about howhelped avoid OSAP debt.
Doug D. talks about the positive influencehas had on his life.
All seven award winners talk about their journey through self-employment, its challenges and its rewards.
Avinash Singh talks about his transformation from being an aerospace engineer to being his own boss.
"I honestly can't think
of another country where you get this kind of support."
the dead-end treadmill
“Are you in transition?”
asked the brochure that changed Carolyn Fraser’s life. It wasn’t
what she was expecting out of a trip to the
In 2000 Meenu Bhandar’s
husband suffered a horrible accident resulting in complete memory loss.
Meenu became the sole
In 2002, David Manirabona was
living as a refugee in Kenya, Africa. He had come to Kenya from Rwanda.
David had always valued education. He spent his days teaching French,
Swahili, and mathematics to the children in his community. He had always
had a drive for post secondary education but lacked the opportunity
I am a successful product of your research project.
Let me start off by telling you a little history of myself. I came to Canada at the age of 14 years and entered the secondary school system. I was an honour student right through and had goals of becoming a Chartered Accountant all my life. However, when it was time to choose college of university, it dawned on me that the Chartered Accounting program would cost me about four to five years of studying and a massive OSAP debt. It also dawned on me that my sister who was 13 at the time would have passed the age of eligibility to come to Canada with my mom, who I wanted to sponsor to Canada .
I saw immediately that I would have jeopardized her chances of coming here if I went ahead to university and racked up $40K - $50K of OSAP money, which I would have to pay back, and Lord knows how long it would take to pay this back. I decided instead to put my desires on hold and chose to do a short college program instead.
I did the P.S.W. course at George Brown College , which lasted for six months. I was successful at this and was employed soon after. I did community health care with an agency and worked part-time at telemarketing in the evening to bring in the income necessary to sponsor my mom and siblings. My family was in Canada within a year.
Soon after, the health care budget got slashed and the pay cheques became very unstable. At times I had to use credit to back up my monthly expenditures. My mom, being new to Canada , was unemployed for over a year, which left the burden of providing for four people on myself alone. It was not easy.
Despite all this, I decided to go back to school part-time to pursue the nursing field. I worked full-time in the days, worked three nights per week and went to school two nights per week. I got a contract to clean four offices on the weekend to fill in the gap. There was no time for leisure.
It was maybe a year later that I came upon learn$ave and what an opportune time because it was soon time for me to do this nursing course full-time. I first saw the learn$ave ad in the subway and it sounded very similar to a Biovail ad: “Looking for healthy non-smoking adults for medical research. Compensation offered.”
I believe I passed this ad in the subway twice, then I saw the learn$ave ad in the Metro paper week after week. I then questioned myself: “What will it do to you to make a phone call and find out more about it? For a short telephone call, suppose it's true that they will actually give me $3 for every dollar I save towards my education… there is no bank anywhere gonna give me 300% profit on my savings!”
I went home with the Metro paper and made the call and was invited out to an information session. At the session I learned that two out of every three persons applying will be randomly chosen by the computer and I prayed that one of the two would be me, and God answered my prayers. As I started my saving for the twelve months I prayed that at the end, my matched savings credits would be there.
learn$ave forced me to save, something I was not doing before, and sometimes in order to save the learn$ave money I had to go into overdraft, but by faith when I saw that the benefits far outweighed the cost, I made sure the end of the month did not catch me without my learn$ave deposits in the bank.
Through the help of learn$ave, I could pay my whole years tuition and books without incurring debit, for the first time ever! Prior to learn$ave, I would pay my tuition in installments so as not to rack up too much on my credit too soon. As for books, a lot of times I had to choose and refuse, but through the help of learn$ave, for the first time, I could buy my books without weighing the degree of importance for each one.
Also, let's not forget my computer. I have always badly needed a computer, which I was never able to afford. As a result, I sometimes got kicked out of the library at school as I was a slow typer and there were a lot of assignments and projects to be done. At home, I get to work without rushing, as I have the convenience of staying up as late as I can to get my assignments done. Nothing can compare to that freedom.
I graduated from college in June and recently passed my licensing exam from the College of Nurses . I am even grateful for the fact that learn$ave paid 75% of my application fee to write this exam as this was $200 I would have had to find from my own pocket, which would have had to come from credit, as most of my previous three months was spent doing free nursing practice in the hospital, a requirement of graduation. These three full-time months of practice was a real setback financially and I am really grateful to learn$ave even to this end for coming through for me.
I know that as a result of learn$ave's help, I am successful in this nursing program and I also know that it is possible to save when there are incentives. As a result of learn$ave's help, I know that my quality of life will change as I re-enter the workforce because my income will increase by at least $5/hour and the discipline of saving will be carried on.
I just want to say thanks a million times over, learn$ave… and never stop doing what you do best in helping low-income people, like myself, achieve our goals and our dreams!
With sincere gratitude,
learn$ave Participant – Toronto
I credit the learn$ave program not for what it did for me, but what it allowed me to do for myself.
At the initiation of the program I was in financial despair, with my hope lagging behind it. If my potential had a street value I probably would have sold it.
The learn$ave program helped me to realize an objective and a set of goals. How? By allowing me to save a nominal amount of money and matching it with an amount significant enough to make something of myself.
An unforeseen challenge presented itself after I was about half way through my savings program. I lost my job. To be blatantly honest I might have spent all of my last dollars on all the drink I could have to help me forget about my predicament. It was too late though. I had hope instilled in me, and although I had heard hope brings strength, I now experienced it first hand. I was not going to neglect my goals.
I have enrolled in night school. I have started my own company. I am taking daytime business courses to bolster my endeavor with more education to ensure its success. I can say my name with a new found confidence and believe my wishes are no longer words. Words like success and happiness are in my grasp.
I owe none of it to the learn$ave program.
I owe it all to the hope learn$ave gave me.
- Vancouver Participant
The difference between being an employee and an employer is not just a question of know-how and ambition, it's also a mindset. Avinash Singh learned the lesson firsthand through SEDI's SEA Program, thanks to which he has learned everything there is to know about creating a thriving IT consultancy company called Relevate. "I had identified a gap in the market," says Avinash. "But my experience was management-based…I needed to learn about all aspects of running my own business… I knew my business, but I became a businessman only after going through the Program. Singh created an organization with a dozen or more contractors in a field that most believe has had its day. Relevate is competing against large corporations and often winning because it offers more flexibility, among other reasons. Relevate has seen incredible growth and continues to build momentum. Through it all, Avinash lives and breathes his business – it's become who he is and he's never been happier.
Caya is a Sanskrit word meaning image, perception and silhouette – an apt name for Sonia Prashar's line of luxury beauty products. Her company, Caya Group, has achieved remarkable success selling a range of natural Ayurvedic skin, body and hair-care products imported from India. So much so in fact, that it will soon expand to include personal accessories, jewellery and home décor. But Sonia was not always a businesswoman. When she arrived to Canada in 2001, she had to work hard at a job that she did not particularly enjoy. Getting laid off from that job was therefore a blessing in disguise – it was the perfect motivation to pursue her dream of launching a business. Sonia had plenty of expertise, determination and creative ideas but had no idea how to go about building a viable business from scratch. SEDI's Self-Employment Assistance/Benefits program filled that gap. "I honestly can't think of another country where you get this kind of support,” says Sonia. “If I didn't have this support, I wouldn't be at this stage."
For many years, Kris was stuck on a treadmill of low-paying jobs or receiving social assistance. But last year, she found the solution to a brighter future - she learned about SEDI's learn$ave program at her local community centre. Kris had always wanted to start her own home-based consulting business, so she decided to join. She learned how to create a business plan and budget, researched companies that could help her, and got motivation from group meetings. She attended business seminars and beefed up her computer skills. Each month, she put aside every spare dollar she had, sometimes saving just $5 a week - she cut grocery coupons, walked instead of taking public transit, whatever it took. She worked hard, but bit by bit, her savings grew. In just one year, Kris' savings totalled $1,500, which meant that SEDI's learn$ave program could contribute $4,500. So in fact, she had accumulated $6,000 to start her new business. Not only has she found personal freedom, but her business is also helping people reach their dreams too.
Dennis attributes the successful launch of his newspaper to his persistence and the help he received from his self-employment assistance (SEA) Business Advisors at CBRC. SEA is now assisting Dennis with a strategy to expand TANSI's distribution throughout Ontario and Canada.
When Thomas arrived in Canada almost a year and a half ago, he was ill equipped to manage his personal finances. He was a refugee from Ethiopia and the eldest of seven brothers and sisters, forced to seek refuge from the political repression his family faced in his homeland. He began a new life in Calgary, but quickly experienced the challenges of living on a low income and getting a university degree. He decided to join SEDI's learn$ave program to learn how he could save money for an education. Thomas was able to save over $850, which allowed for $2,550 in matched funds, for a grand total of $3,400 in just over six months. He saw how steady savings, even if they are just small amounts, can really add up. SEDI's Financial Management Training sessions also taught him how to better manage his money in areas such as personal taxes, budgeting, and credit. Today, Thomas is secure, self-confident and in better control of his future.
In 2001, SEDI was part of a
Russian-Canadian Women and Labour Market Reform initiative which produced
breakthrough results in Russian national legislative reform, amendments
to major collective bargaining agreements, a higher profile of women's
issues in the media and a host of employment and entrepreneurship-related
activities. The project has been so successful, that our Canadian Prime
Minister, the Right Honourable Jean Chretien and Senator, Joyce Fairbairn,
have visited the project and heralded the initiative as an exemplary model
of effective partnership. Similar sentiment has been expressed by senior
Russian government officials.
In 1990, Susan Renaud was injured
in a car accident that left her unable to return to work. That's when
she started crafting (embroidery, crochet work, decoupage, picture frames)
and building things for the house. She had dreamed about owning a business,
so when she saw an advertisement for the Building A Dream Program by PARO
(a SEDI community partner) a few years later, she jumped at the chance
to enroll. During her time at PARO, she met many wonderful women and learned
a great deal about becoming self-sufficient. Her dream became reality
on March 7th, 2002 when she launched her business, Diverse Embellishments.
Her creations now range from woodcrafts and faux painted household items
to wedding floral designs.
After spending 16 years working
for a large corporation, Donna Brown made the leap to self-employment
by launching PC Medic. The company's motto: "Healing Your Computer Ills".
Donna is hands-on personal trainer, troubleshooter and software support
technician who makes on-site calls to home and business computer users.
It all started with an article in the PARO newsletter (a SEDI community
partner) offering excellent business advice, peer support and mentoring.
Donna explored things further and discovered the tools she needed to become
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