Solving The Fundamental Challenges of the Immigrant Business Owner

By Karlene Sinclair-Robinson
The Immigrant Business Owner

The immigrant business owner can sometimes be easily recognized, by their outward appearance, language, or their accent. However, there are those whom you would not immediately recognize as being from another country. Whether is easy to ascertain their nationality or not, many of these business owners are often operating in an environment that is not always effective to growing their companies.

We often see communities specifically associated with the Asians, African or Caribbean small businesses. These are often tight-knit communities that provide products and services targeted to said population.

Again, we do business with those we ‘know, like, and trust.’

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, many of these communities were severely tested, as they were not connected to the small business ecosystem. Many of these business owners had operated solely within their network and had not engaged or associated with business development and support services.

It is noted that many of these immigrant entrepreneurs were not even aware of some of the legal processes for operating their companies within their local market.  Thousands of these very entities missed out on gaining access to much-needed grant dollars for this very reason.

Resources to Consider:

  • Business Development Centers – Women’s Business Center (WBC), Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and other local support organizations should be a top priority as these centers are tasked to helping individuals start, grow, and sustain their companies. Contacting with the local area sources is an important part of growing and supporting the immigrant entrepreneur. During the height of the pandemic, thousands of immigrant owners were seeking support for the first time. Many did not know how to navigate the sea of information to even find sources like these centers that are established for the sole purpose of assisting those dreamers seeking to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams.
  • Local Government – Engaging the local county, city, or town business division and their ‘Economic Development Authority or Agency,’ is vital as there might be additional requirements for operating within that jurisdiction. Many immigrant businesses did not have the applicable licenses or other requirements to access grants funded offered by the local government during the pandemic.
  • Financing Sources – It is important to know who your local community lenders are and what they will finance, even if you do not need it at that point. Understanding what is available prior to needing to borrow can help set your business on the right track if a need arises. The time to look for money is never when you are in dire straits to get access to money.

The impact to immigrant entrepreneurs not accessing the emergency funding made available at the start of the pandemic dealt a negative blow to so many of these companies. The opportunity to not experience the same negative impact is only stymied by their lack of knowledge in not knowing and connecting to these sources.

So, start seeking out these sources to help alleviate such a challenge!


Karlene Sinclair-Robinson is the Founder and Managing Member of KSR Solutions, LLC, a business consulting and entrepreneurial coaching firm. Karlene has been called a ‘Business Knowledge Superstar,’ and “The Queen of Business Financing.” She is considered a foremost expert in ‘Alternative Business Financing,’ business development, growth strategies, credit management, small business, and start-up management for success. Karlene has been an entrepreneurial instructor and trainer for over eleven (11) years and is also the author of the bestselling book: Spank The Bank: THE Guide To Alternative Business Financing’ with more to come.