IRCOM’s Asset Building Program Spreads

“My name is Hubert. I am 19 years old and a grade 12  student. We came to Canada in April 2010 as a family of 8. We couldnʼt find a big house that can accommodate all of us; so I started living with my brother. It was very hard to live alone and to learn how to cook.”

Living on your own involves more challenges than just cooking. The additional responsibilities of caring for your own space, paying for your own expenses, and managing your own time all come with a bit of a shock. On top of this, like all newcomers to Canada, Hubert faced challenges integrating into a new culture which has its own way of doing things, including making financial decisions.

In September 2010, IRCOM opened a new area of programming to help ease this transition into a new financial worldview: Asset Building. Partnering with SEED Winnipeg Inc., the United Way of Winnipeg, Assiniboine Credit Union, and the Province of Manitoba, it is a program designed to help newcomers learn to navigate the complex web of financial processes and institutions. The program provides money management training and one-on-one support to newcomers as they learn how to save money.

“My involvement in the Asset Building Program was very important to learn more about my new responsibilities of budgeting and money management,” Hubert continues. “From the training I learned a lot of things: how to work with others, supporting others, sharing ideas and learning from others, pros and cons of credit, tracking expenses and income, budgeting and sticking to a budget, etc.  I always remind my family to do budgeting. With the help of the program I bought a new couch!”

In the years since IRCOM first introduced Asset Building to its list of available programs, it has expanded to include the Individual Development Account (IDA) Program. This program is designed for larger goals over a longer term (two years as opposed to six months). Itʼs aim is to help save for larger, one-time expenses.

An eager participant, Hubert is using the IDA to help him with tuition costs as he prepares to begin post-secondary education. “Now I am part of the IDA program which will help me reach my dream goal – being an Electrical Engineer.  I will be ready to cash out by September 2012 when I will likely start my post secondary education.”

IRCOMʼs Asset Building Program has helped a total of 88 participants through its Saving Circle program and 15 participants in the Individual Development Program. As word of the program is spreading in the newcomer community, an increase in the number of applicants has made the selection process more difficult for program coordinators.

IRCOM would like to thank the United Way of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba, SEED Winnipeg Inc. and Assiniboine Credit Union for their generous support of IRCOMʼs Asset Building Program.

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