Seattle and King County attract high numbers of refugees and asylees every year, many with advanced career skills or entrepreneurial experience in their country of origin. JumpStart Fund programs allow these talented new comers to make a positive transition to life in the Unied States and continue to advance their careers. By helping refugee and asylee entrepreneurs achieve self-sufficiency, JumpStart positively impacts the economy of the entire region.
The JumpStart Fund at the Refugee Resettlement Office assists refugees/asylees interested in starting their own small business. The JumpStart Fund awards affordable loans to local refugees who present viable business plans. To talk to someone about the JSFund, please stop by our office or call 206.323.3152 Ext 101 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jumpstart micro-loans and business technical assistance build strong communities and local economies. The program has recently launched a new Childcare business division, providing start-up funds to refugees opening in-home childcare operations. These home businesses offer an array of convenient, affordable, culturally appropriate childcare options for other refugees and community members.
The mission of JumpStart is to assist self-employed refugees, asyless and other qulifying newcomers who have limited or no access to traditional business credit, so that their business can contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. JumpStart serves this mission by providing small, low-interest loans and business technical assistance to help entrepreneurs start or strengthen their business, stabilize their incomes or create additional employment opportunities.
Eligible applicants are a refugee, asylee or other qualifying newcomer, at least 18 years old, residing in the Puget Sound area, with a viable business or business idea. Applicants are required to attend an orientation about the program and provide information to help assess character and the viability of the business. Applicants then meet with a business development specialist in a one-on-one consultation to discuss whether enrollment in the program is appropriate.
Once enrolled, each JumpStart participant will receive assistance in completing a business plan and a loan application. Loans are issued pending JumpStart loan committee approval. Loans range between $500 and $10,000, up to five years, and bear interest at 4% above prime. Participants will also receive business technical assistance to ensure the growth of their business and increase their ability to repay their loans. Since its start, JumpStart has assisted entrepreneurs from Somalia, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbeijan, Iran, Nepal, and Iraq.
Ali Aden and his new truck
Always smiling and upbeat, Ali Aden says “Business is hard but I like the challenge and working for me”. His can do attitude is an intangible asset that most successful entrepreneurs posses. That was immediately evident when Ali came to the Jump$tart Fund to discuss his business opportunity. Though he had no credit rating,Jump$tart viewed Ali’s credit as a positive – it meant not only that he paid all his bills on time but also that he responsibly resisted getting into debt with credit cards after his arrival in the U.S. Thanks to a micro loan from the JumpStart Fund, Ali is now the proud owner of a new truck and works with the Port of Seattle to carry loads coming in from China and throughout Washington. But the road to self-employment was not an easy one for this resourceful entrepreneur. A successful businessman in Somalia, he operated a clothing store and a trucking business that carried goods throughout East Africa. Ali and his trucks would carry almost anything from vegetables to diesel fuel -and occasionally both at the same time! In 2000 Ali was forced to flee his home for Kenya because of the civil war in Somalia. In 2004 Ali and his family of 10 arrived in the United States as refugees. Though Ali left his businesses behind, he didn’t leave his entrepreneurial spirit. At first, Ali struggled to adapt and provide for his family in the new and dramatically different environment of Seattle. He worked for a number of different companies and eventually got a job as a truck driver for companies at the Port of Seattle. All along, though, he knew that this job was just a stepping stone. Trucking for the Port doesn’t pay well unless you own the truck you drive and Ali knew that he needed to buy his own vehicle if he was going to earn enough to support his family.But because of his Islamic beliefs, which strictly forbid paying or earning interest on loans, Ali couldn’t get a loan to buy a truck. So, in order to find a way to borrow money without paying interest, he attended a meeting between the Jump$tart Fund and potential Somali entrepreneurs at the Somali Community Services Coalition. There, he found the way to finance the purchase of a truck without sacrificing his religious ideals. In addition, Ali also signed up for the DO-IDA program. DO-IDA is an asset building program for refugees. For every dollar that Ali saves, DO-IDA will match it with another dollar up to $2,000. This money can then be used to strengthen Ali’s business. To receive the matching funds Ali will take financial training courses to help him run his business and personal finances better. These classes, combined with technical business assistance offered by the JumpStart Fund, have put Ali on the path to business success here in the United States.
To schedule a meeting with one of our business development specialist, fill out a request form below:
To find out more about the JumpStart Micro-Enterprise Program please visit us at www.jumpstartfund.org or click on the jumpstart logo below.