Circles & Clusters

PARO Peer Lending Circles

A Micro-Finance Program for Women

Peer lending circles are small groups of like-minded women who meet regularly to share their experiences, offer advice to each other and expand their individual and shared contact networks. Circles are small groups of four to seven ( 4-7) women, who are over the age of 18, each of whom presently operates their own business, wishes to start their own business, or believes in “women helping women” . PARO Peer Circles help women to connect and network with other enterprising women. 

There are a great number of benefits of being a PAROCirclemember, including but not limited to: 

  • Access to and sharing of business knowledge
  • Peer mentoring, support, & encouragement
  • Access to peer loans from $1000 to $5000
  • With matching grants of $500 and $1000 (if meet criteria)
  • Access to a variety of perspectives and experiences
  • Reduced rates forPAROevents and equipment rentals

One of the key elements of a Peer Circle is that members also provide access to lending support of between $500.00 and $5,000.00. Members of the Peer Circle are involved in the review and approval of a member's PARO loan application before it is approved. Peer lending has helped many Circle members to grow their businesses and set new goals for the future. Today it is one of the strongest peer lenders of small business loans in North America”. Source: Impact – A Social Enterprise Strategy for Ontario, 2013

PARO is built upon the strength and participation of women who are Circle members. PARO is led by a Board of Directors that is made up of elected Circle Members.  In addition, a number of Circle members participate in each year’s strategic planning.

The membership of the circles is self-selecting, but cannot include immediate family members, like mother, daughter and sister.  This means that members choose each other and meet on a regular basis to provide support and advice for one another’s businesses as well as to examine and ultimately approve one another’s peer loans.  Prior to the Board of Director’s approval of the loan process, the circle members review and approve the circle loan applications. The Circle Coordinator or Loans Officer, with the supervision and support of the Executive Director, provides assistance to the circle member with the loan applications and cash flow statements before presenting to the circle for approval. The CFDC in the borrower’s area provides the loan upon circle approval.  

Women from diverse backgrounds and with mixed expertise are encouraged to form their own Peer Circles. Connect with like-minded women in your community and ask us about starting a new Peer Circle today.

Why Apply for a Peer Loan?

A Peer Loan is so much more than a small business loan. It comes with peer support, training and increased control, to name just a few benefits. A Peer Loan may be the right for solution for you if:

  • You have no or poor credit history
  • You have no cash or other source of equity
  • The loan amount you need is too small for a bank to consider
  • You lack trust in typical financial institutions
  • You want to avoid credit card debt
  • You want to leverage additional funds.

Contact us today to learn more about joining a Circle of dedicated, motivated women who can support you in making the changes you want to make in your life.

Click here to pay or re-new your PARO Circle Membership. For assistance, please contact circles(at) or call 807-625-0328.

Biz Clusters

PARO is working with entrepreneurs and visionaries across Northern and Eastern Ontario to support the development of local and regional Biz Clusters.

A Biz Cluster is a group of businesses working actively together to strengthen their competitive advantage. Working together could include sharing work space, buying bulk supplies or bidding for contracts as a group.

  • For businesses in Northern Ontario, the benefits of forming or joining a Biz Cluster are enormous and include:
  • Pooling collective business knowledge and sharing opportunities and information
  • Increased capacity and therefore improved ability to take on larger contracts and attract more customers.
  • Educating the local and wider business community about individual and collective business capabilities
  • Exposure to new networks by sharing contacts
  • Supporting and motivating one another through business challenges
  • Shared and reduced business costs.

Contact PARO for information on Biz Clusters in your community.

Provide access to grants and loans for 500 to 5000. All are intended to contribute to their amazing grant program. Donate Now