Support African-owned businesses
Project for African Economic Development Solutions

66.7% of African immigrant entrepreneurs in Minnesota have difficulty accessing loans to start their businesses.

Did you know that between 2,000 and 3,200 African immigrant-owned businesses exist in Minnesota?

African immigrants have a huge entrepreneurial spirit, but loan access can quickly kill the dream of a successful business before it’s realized. Loan access is a huge challenge: in a 2015 study by Dr. Bruce Corrie of Concordia University, only 9.4% of African entrepreneurs were able to get support from traditional financial institutions to start their businesses.

These entrepreneurs are people like Beko Tufa. Beko came to the United States with hopes of opening a restaurant that could generate enough income to support her family. She spent the next nine and a half years working hard and saving money by cleaning houses and cooking at a local restaurant.

In 2012, Beko finally decided she was ready to start her business and sought out a loan. But with poor credit and credentials, Beko was turned down by multiple banks. A friend directed her to African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) and we immediately stepped in to help, offering consulting and coaching. While we were only able to offer a small microloan to Beko, we used our relationships with partner organizations like MCCD and NDC to help Beko access more loan capital. By the end of 2013, Beko’s business—Dilla’s Restaurant—was a huge success: she’d doubled her revenue, added one employee, and even purchased the building.

At African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS), we work to build wealth within the African immigrant communities of the Twin Cities metro. We envision a world where everyone, regardless of race or country of birth, has the opportunity to thrive. We deliver small business coaching and consulting, a business development training program, homeownership education, and loan access to reach our goals. Supporting African artists is another way we uplift the economy and enrich the community: events like our annual Little Africa Festival celebrate African arts and culture while creating visibility for the Little Africa Business & Cultural District, an area in the Hamline-Midway District of St. Paul that’s home to over 20 African-owned businesses.

Loan access makes a huge difference. Our goal is to increase our lending capacity so we can support African businesses on a larger scale: by 2019, we want to increase our loan fund from $0 to $500,000. 

We need your help to raise $10,000 by December 31, 2016 so we can jumpstart our loan fund. Please consider a donation to AEDS and help us:

  • Build wealth and quality of life for African immigrant communities within Minnesota

  • Advocate against racial inequalities in income, employment, and homeownership

  • Create a stronger and more vibrant Little Africa community.
Thank you for believing in us!
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