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Although the streets of America have never been paved with gold, the pervasive dream of “making it big” persists among newcomers. Thousands of successful American entrepreneurs were not born in the United States, and there should be no wall between immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs and corporate finance.

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According to Fundera, 28 percent of all “main street” businesses are owned by immigrants. These businesses are the kind of vendors most people visit all the time – grocery stores, nail salons, restaurants, clothing and liquor stores, and more. Almost half of business growth from 2000 to 2013 was attributable to immigrant business owners.

Related: The Immigrant Entrepreneurs Behind Big American Businesses (Infographic)

If you’re a budding entrepreneur who doesn’t have a long financial history in this country, here are the sources of finance you should know about.

Grants for Refugees and Immigrants

For immigrants who speak and write English well, there are grants to teach English as a second language on Tune the watch. Use the site’s search tool to search for grants specifically available for immigrants and refugees, or try the Refugee Resettlement Office.

Examine micro enterprise development Where Wilson-Poisson programs, of which the latter is an alternative model currently only available in 12 states (Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Vermont) and one county (San Diego County, California). These programs focus on early employment and self-sufficiency of immigrants.

Refugees and immigrants who are members of a minority (including women and Latinx entrepreneurs) may benefit from grants and loans from the Minority Business Development Agency.

Related: The 5 advantages you have if you are an immigrant entrepreneur

Loans for immigrants and refugees

Loans available to immigrants and refugees are limited. For example, SBA loans can go to non-citizens, but you must be a resident alien. Loan Club offers business loans and does not appear to verify citizenship or status.

Even if Stilts seems to only offer personal loans, it specializes in immigrant and visa borrowers. Personal loans shouldn’t be your first option when financing a business, but they can be all you can get. To be eligible for a Stilt Loan, you must have a physical presence in the United States and a United States bank account in your name, with a United States address. You do not need to have a social security number to benefit from it.

For loans, a consistent credit history is always helpful. Otherwise, borrowers may need a co-signer. Also, if the borrower is only in the United States for a short time, it will be more difficult to get a loan. For foreign nationals and those with diplomatic immunity, it is even more difficult to get money for a loan because lenders are not protected in the event of default.

Related: 5 important lessons from immigrant entrepreneurs


If an immigrant entrepreneur needs a small amount of money, a microcredit can save their life. One source can be local governments and agencies. For example, New Hampshire has the Greater Concord Community Microcredit Program, specifically aimed at new immigrants to do business in Granite State.

In California, immigrants can get financial help with immigration traps (eg getting green cards, etc.). The Mission asset fund offers 0% interest rate loans up to $ 2,500 to business owners for specific purposes, such as making a brick and mortar business more energy efficient or transforming into a limited liability company (LLC ).

In Pennsylvania, disadvantaged immigrants can turn to the Women’s Opportunities Resource Center.

Related: Immigrant entrepreneurs flock to franchise opportunities

Capital risk

For immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to give up some of their business capital, venture capital might be an option. Venture capitalists tend to look for great companies, so Main Street companies may not stand a chance. For truly innovative businesses, refugee and immigrant business owners can try to secure funding from Barrier-free businesses Where One-way businesses.

Angel investing

Angel investing can be somewhat formal and come from organizations created specifically for this purpose, or it can come from family and friends. Gust.com can be a great place for refugee and immigrant business owners to find financing.

Related: Robert Herjavec to immigrant entrepreneurs: “People don’t care about your color, religion or gender. They care about the value you add. ‘


Crowdfunding can be another great option for immigrant and refugee business owners. Kickstarter, for example, allows permanent residents of multiple countries to run campaigns on its platform. Usually these are countries in North America, Europe and Oceania. In Asia, the only eligible countries are Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The list of eligible countries is similar for Indiegogo, but they also have an option for China. If your business is a creative endeavor, consider Patreon – but read the fine print. We don’t know where citizenship stands, and you will need to contact directly someone out there to get the word out about your eligibility.

Warnings for immigrants and refugees

Loans may require a social security number. Being eligible for permanent residence means you can apply for a social security number. Other issues can be a language barrier and, as with US-born entrepreneurs, a lack of business credit or time spent in business.

Related: This immigrant entrepreneur and DACA recipient has raised over $ 15 million in funding (podcast)