For those coming to America, one path to success is common—starting your own business. Small businesses owned by immigrants are a significant part of the economy, with popular choices ranging from restaurants to technology. In fact, some of the world’s biggest businesses were started by immigrants in the USA, including Google and Chobani and dating back to Levi Strauss.
But the costs of starting a small business can be challenging, and the economy is unpredictable. Before taking the plunge and starting your life in America with a big risk, it’s important to know the resources available—both for small business owners and immigrant entrepreneurs in particular.
Support for Immigrant Entrepreneurs
There are many resources for immigrant business owners to give your business a leg up and protect your investment. For example:
- U.S. Small Business Administration– The SBA should be your first stop when thinking about starting a business. The website contains everything you need to avoid common mistakes, including instructions on how to create and flesh out your business plan. This free service also provides business counseling and guides to local laws.
- Accompany Capital– This New York-based nonprofit, formerly known as the Business Center for New Americans, helps new immigrants with business and homeownership. It can help you obtain microloans, but its biggest asset is education, offering business management classes, financial solvency, and property ownership.
- ACCION USA– Without a credit record in this country, it can be challenging for immigrant entrepreneurs to get the loan they need to start their business. ACCION USA specializes in affordable small business loans, also known as microfinance. The foundation has provided over $119 million in small business loans in 30 years.
Exclusive Financing Opportunities for Immigrants and Refugees
These financial resources are exclusively available for new Americans seeking to launch their own business.
- The Microenterprise Development Program for Refugees– This program is geared towards refugees and combines financial support with help in financial independence. The program offers training in business development and management, as well as marketing and financial literacy.
- Wilson-Fish Program– This program starts by providing support in early employment and continues to provide social services and financial support to refugees. It concentrates on helping new refugees integrate into the U.S. and provides coordination between multiple agencies. Wilson-Fish is currently available in 12 states and provides financial assistance and overall support.
- Stilt– While personal loans may not be the first choice when applying for financial support for a business, Stilt provides an opportunity to immigrants and visa-holders. This company only requires a presence in the U.S. and a bank account to qualify for a loan.
Opportunities for Any Small Business
Whether you’re an immigrant or were born and raised in the U.S., these resources can help any small business owner start on a strong footing.
- The Small Business Association– As previously mentioned, this government agency provides financial support to new businesses in multiple areas, including research & development, exports, and relief for financial losses due to national circumstances. To apply for a small business grant, visit their website for all available resources.
- Grants.Gov– This site is an excellent omnibus resource to find all available government grants. Divisions like the Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs offer specialized grants, and the odds are high that any entrepreneur will find an opportunity.
- Small Business Development Centers– These local resources are often affiliated with colleges or state economic development agencies. Not only do they offer support for small businesses and start-ups, but they offer counseling and training and can connect you with local sources for financial aid.
- National Association for the Self-employed– If you register for this organization during one of their quarterly application periods, you’re eligible for monthly small business grants. Not only can you receive $4,000 a month for your business, but the association offers college scholarships for dependents of the business owner.
Immigrant-owned Businesses Set Up for Success
Starting a small business is always a risk. However, there are resources to offset those challenges for immigrants and refugees. Before filing the paperwork for your business, apply for one of these many financial opportunities and set yourself up for lasting success.