Economic integration through integrated services in Philadelphia, United States
Access to capital and business counselling promotes entrepreneurial success and helps revitalise city neighbourhoods.The City of Philadelphia has recognised the role of immigrant entrepreneurs in revitalising communities, providing goods and services to neighborhood residents, and developing the local economy. To help immigrant entrepreneurs navigate the system, the Department of Commerce recruited multilingual and multicultural staff and introduced language services. However, technical assistance programmes and language training were not the only issues standing in the way of immigrant business success. Immigrant entrepreneurs needed access to credit to grow their businesses and confidence in the financial institutions that could help them develop sustainable investment practices.
A Rotating Savings and Credit Association (ROSCA) was launched in 2010 when the city invited two of its community partners, micro-lenders FINANTA and Entrepreneur Works, to design and coordinate a lending circle programme for low-income business owners. ROSCA lending circles are typically made up of 14 entrepreneurs who receive a $1,400 loan and must pay back $100 per week during a 15-week period. Participants gain credit history while developing professional networks and relationships with lenders (who report back to credit bureaus). Business counselling workshops help entrepreneurs improve their business processes as well as appreciate the importance of credit and on-going investment in their businesses.
This practice was kindly contributed by Hire Immigrants, a program of the Global Diversity Exchange, Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada). See more at: http://citiesofmigration.ca/good_idea/the-philadelphia-story-economic-integration-through-integrated-services/.