At first, it is easy to assume that refugees and immigrants are possibly the lease likely entrepreneurs. After all, they face enormous obstacles both before and well into resettlement. There are language barriers, the struggle to access credit, a lack of knowledge in regards to the local market and economy, and more. However, despite all of this, immigrants are far more likely to create their own businesses than native born populations. In fact, immigrant entrepreneurs represented nearly 30% of all new entrepreneurs in 2015. This statistic is seen consistently in other countries outside of the United States as well.
One such immigrant entrepreneur is Manar, an asylee from Yemen. Manar arrived in North Carolina with the help of USCRI in early 2015 after fleeing persecution that she and her family suffered in Yemen, given her husband’s employment with the US embassy there. Shortly after a grant of asylum for her and her family, Manar was placed into our Matching Grant program. Through in-kind donations and funding obtained through Matching Grant, USCRI NC was able to gift Manar supplies to start her business, as well as to provide support in creating a menu, researching potential customers, and connecting her with a local entrepreneur who volunteered to mentor her.
Now, Manar owns her own catering company, Sweet and Salty, which specializes in Yemeni foods and desserts. She has plans to create a website and has already started booking catering orders, including a catered business lunch and desserts for a large party. Her delicious foods are a huge hit here in the Raleigh Triangle!
Manar’s story is just one of the many. In cities across the United States, it’s easy to find local startups headed by immigrants. It only emphasizes that money may be better spent on assisting migrant entrepreneurs than on building border walls. After all, immigrants get the job done!