Breaking Down Barriers for Immigrant Entrepreneurs
New Americans bring entrepreneurial energy into the local communities that sparks economic growth. Welcoming cities capitalize on this by reducing the barriers for immigrants: helping to demystify regulatory barriers and financing structures, providing technical assistance and access to lending and micro-lending services, and addressing the myriad of challenges that any new or expanding business might face.
The Banglatown neighborhood of Detroit, MI serves as a hub for immigrants. Its diverse ethnic, immigrant, and racial groups make this neighborhood truly unique. Along with a large numbers of African-American, this neighborhood is home to Bengali, Yemeni, Polish, Bosnian and other diverse residents. Global Detroit began collaborating in this neighborhood in 2016 with a strategic community engagement of local residents and businesses to determine the community’s resource needs and future aspirations.
Our team at Global Detroit, upon learning that local business owners lacked the time for 7-8 weeks of classroom training to learn about ways to improve their business, came up with entrepreneurship workshops. The business owners that we met were knowledgeable about business practices, but had struggled to find sources of capital and other small business supports — largely because the vast array of Detroit’s networks of small business support is invisible to immigrant entrepreneurs. In response, Global Detroit brought the small business support ecosystem to them.
Thirteen small business support providers participated in the workshop – showcasing alternative lending deals, business grant competitions, access to technical assistance, business tax preparation, business mentorship, and an array of other services.
Three local entrepreneurs shared their success stories. Rezaul Karim, owner of the Everyday Super Discounts told workshop attendees, “Global Detroit helped me to apply for the NEIdeas grant competition which I didn’t intend to do at first, but eventually I did and won a $10,000 grant to grow my business. I appreciate Global Detroit’s efforts and I would say to the business community to keep in touch with them to get access to resources to improve their business.”
With 31 attendees hailing from the Banglatown neighborhood and beyond, the Global Detroit team helped to highlight the strength of the neighborhood’s business community to the small business support organizations, while bridging the gap between these services and entrepreneurs. Attendee Milton Putman said, “the event was productive with lots of valuable information that I was unaware of.” Md. Layes Uddin said, “to bring all the different resource providers under one roof was an unbelievable task that Global Detroit has done.” Finally, Gias Taluker said “This program is very beneficial for me, I came here and got answers to my questions.”
Many thanks to the resource providers who were present at the event including the U.S. Small Business Administration, ProsperUS Detroit, ACCESS, SCORE, Accounting Aid Society, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC – Motor City Re-Store), Patronicity, KIva, Invest Detroit, Detroit Development Fund, Security Credit Union, Hamtramck Bookkeeping Services, and Hussain & Co. C.P.A.
Too often Detroit nonprofit and government agencies have solid solutions and programs that can assist residents, business owners, and communities like Banglatown, but a lack of outreach keeps services and opportunities from those who can really utilize them. Neighborhood entrepreneurs struggle to find time to travel to classroom learning settings outside of their neighborhood, especially in languages that are not their own. Global Detroit is working to break down these barriers and connect opportunities. By catalyzing the growth and development of immigrant entrepreneurs, we are helping to create jobs, revitalize neighborhood commercial corridors, and revitalize Detroit neighborhoods. We hope you will join us for our next neighborhood entrepreneurship workshop!
— Md Abdul Muhit