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New Small Business Loan Program Launched for First-Generation Immigrants in N.H.

Robert Garrova for NHPR
Tikam Acharya says he started his company, AS Insurance, with the help of a small business loan from the Regional Economic Development Center

The non-profit Regional Economic Development Center is launching a program that will provide business loans to first-generation immigrants in New Hampshire. Called the New Hampshire New Americans Loan Fund, it will offer micro-loans capped at $50,000, with interest rates starting at seven percent.

The Fund has its roots in a program developed for new residents in the City of Concord, says REDC President Laurel Adams.

“Within a year of successful operation, many people in cities such as Manchester and Nashua, contacted us, asking if they could have the same type of opportunity we were offering in Concord,” Adams says. “So we decided this spring to take the Fund statewide.”

Tikam Acharya came to New Hampshire as a refugee from Bhutan in 2009. He says he earned a business degree in India, but when it came time to getting credit in the U.S., he kept getting denied.

"Any lender will look for a very strong resume, having experience doing business in the United States,” Acharya says. “Which, as new Americans, we don't have it."

Through the REDC,  Acharya was able to secure a loan and start his insurance business, which he says now employs four people full-time.

The Center hopes to expand that opportunity to about eight others in the first year of the Fund.

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