Prevent your business from stalling or even failing when revenue is scarce. Knowing where to look and what to do can help you gain access to funding and other resources.
immpreneur.com assembled the following information and resources for immigrants to help you find or generate funding and business development.
Immigrant Business Financing Options
Starting and running a business can often be overwhelmingly expensive. For an immigrant business owner, however, you may be able to take advantage of the following financing, grant, and resource opportunities:
Federal Government Grants for Immigrant Businesses
Microenterprise Development Program – This program, overseen by Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), assists immigrants under refugee status by providing training and assistance in:
- Business Plan Development
- Business Management
- Business Marketing
This program’s services include short-term training, technical assistance, and financial assistance in the form of micro-loans of up to $15,000.
Learn more about this program by contacting ORR at:
Administration for Children and Families
Mary E. Switzer Building
330 C ST SW – Room 5123
Washington, DC 20201
Or call (202) 401-9246 for inquiries about this and other ORR programs and services.
For more information about requirements for documentation of refugee status, visit govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2000-title45-vol2/pdf/CFR-2000-title45-vol2-sec400-43.pdf
Note: You do not have to be a refugee to request or receive money from the government. Visit grants.gov regularly to see what assistance is available. Competition for these financial opportunities is fierce, be sure that your applications are thoroughly and correctly completed and submitted.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans
An SBA loan is one of the most affordable small business loans available. Applying for an SBA loan, however, involves an extensive amount of paperwork and precise eligibility rules.
To get started in understanding eligibility (page 110) and requesting a loan from the SBA, read the SBA’s Lender and Development Company Loan Programs at https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2017-10/SOP%2050%2010%205%28J%29_FINAL_.pdf
Note: If you possess permanent resident status or are a working visa holder, you are likely eligible to do business with the SBA. Make sure you familiarize yourself with and meet the eligibility rules to prevent delays or rejection of your loan application.
Business Credit Cards
Business credit cards can offer a fast, short-term source of capital. In the beginning, you may have to rely on your personal credit score (check out your credit score and get a snapshot of your TransUnion and Equifax reports for free at creditkarma.com).
The following credit card companies frequently have interest-free introduction promotions and/or tailored programs to better fit your business’ needs:
- American Express
- Capital One
Credit card companies offer many other services and support like rewards programs, savings accounts, checking accounts, and even access to cash withdrawals/advances.
Tip: Credit limits typically start out low in value, but as you grow your revenue, use your credit line, and pay it, your credit limit is likely to quickly rise.
Bank and Credit Union Loans
Where you do your business banking may be the best place to turn for a small business loan. Besides having access to the details of your banking habits, you have likely developed a relationship with your account manager.
Note: Over time, banks and credit unions offer their members various products like savings accounts linked to checking accounts, loans with reduced interest rates, and credit cards with low or 0% introductory interest rates. Contact your bank or credit union management team for more information about what is available to you.
Friends and Family Personal Loans
In many European, Latin, Asian, Southeast Asian, and other cultures, friends and family often pool their resources to support a friend’s or family member’s business.
Just because this practice is less common in the United States doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Their financial support or sponsorship may be the key to making your business successful and profitable.
Tip: Keep detailed records of how much you receive and from who. This information will be useful when repaying your friends and family. It may become necessary when it’s time to file taxes for your business.
The idea of crowdfunding is raising funds for a venture or project by appealing to a large group of followers or targeted individuals for a donation that supports your idea or cause.
The following are some of the more well-known crowdfunding sites:
Lending Club – Provides personal and business loans that are usually easy to qualify for.
CircleUp – Offers both credit financing and equity capital. This site has a competitive selection process and minimum revenue requirements and is best for businesses looking to scale up and network with other businesses.
Kickstarter – One of the most popular crowdfunding platforms, Kickstarter allows you to set a funding goal and a period to reach that goal. This is an all or nothing platform, meaning that you must complete your fundraising campaign before getting your funds.
GoFundMe – While more popular for emergencies and charitable causes, the platform can be utilized for business fundraising as well.
Business Incubator or Accelerator
Business incubators are companies that assist startups and young companies in their development. They do this by offering various services, including office space, when needed. Business incubators are defined by the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) as a catalyst for regional or national economic development.
Business incubators often partner with the US Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) to offer a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurial development and support.
The difference between a business incubator and a business accelerator is that an incubator allows a small business to develop and grow at its own pace, offering management training and business development services. A business accelerator provides a majority of the same services in a highly compressed timeframe, functioning as intensive advisors and trainers.
Note: Incubators and accelerators help businesses establish strong networks and often connect developing businesses and entrepreneurs to investors, grant opportunities, and other financial benefits.
For more information about this type of assistance, visit nvision.life/business/what-is-a-business-incubator/
Grants and Resources for Immigrant Businesses
In this article, you discovered helpful resources for immigrants for locating or generating business loans, grants, and other funding or business resources to grow your business.
By applying for or requesting loans and/or funding, you can give your business the financial boost it needs to grow.
Rejecting the idea of financial gifts and credit during hard times may put your business in a vulnerable position with a higher likelihood of failing.