African Development Center Boosts Efforts to Connect To Support Rural Entrepreneurs

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (July 10, 2017) – During their recent summer meeting, Blandin Foundation trustees awarded 49 grants totaling $4.3 million that strengthen rural Minnesota communities. One of these awards will support a rural entrepreneur initiative of the African Development Center (ADC). Part of a larger campaign to raise $2 million in flexible loan funds, $200,000 from Blandin Foundation will help in doubling the number of loans disbursed to rural entrepreneurs.

As the African refugee and immigrant community continues to grow in Minnesota – up from 5,000 in 1990 to more than 73,000 now – the need for culturally-aligned supports is also increasing. ADC launched in 2004 to meet those needs specifically by providing services and funds to grow business, build wealth and increase reinvestment in the African communities in Minnesota.

ADC couples loan disbursements with educational and training services in nine different languages to help African entrepreneurs overcome a range of barriers to financial success. These include low incomes, few assets, no credit history, limited language ability, and little experience with business or real estate.
“ADC is a one-stop shop for high-quality business service,” said Nasibu Sareva, ADC’s executive director. “We hope to raise $10 million over five years to increase access to capital for African immigrants throughout the state.”

While immigration is often thought of as an urban phenomenon, close to 10,000 of Minnesota’s African immigrants call Greater Minnesota home. ADC partners with local chambers of commerce, educational institutions, nonprofits and foundations to seek out emerging and established entrepreneurs among those 10,000 rural residents.