Our History

The Business Center for New Americans (BCNA) provides financial and business services to recent immigrants, refugees, women, and other New Yorkers  including:

  • Microloans for small businesses
  • Home ownership and down payment assistance
  • Specialized savings programs
  • Financial and business management education 

MAKING THE FIRST LOANS

Founded in 1997 and established as an independent Economic Development Organization in 2009,  BCNA was originally part of the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA), which was founded in 1949 to resettle World War II refugees. For two decades NYANA was the largest local refugee and immigrant services agency in the U.S. and assisted more than 500,000 new Americans from 145 countries achieve economic self-sufficiency, social integration, and citizenship. In 1997 NYANA formed the Business Center for New Americans with $15,000 from the American Express Foundation to start a program to provide advice to refugees that were interested in starting a business. As a result of a grant of $150,000 from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Health and Human Services, as well as invaluable advice from Eugene Williams and Rosalind Goldman, who was then at Citibank, BCNA was able to establish a formal process for loans up to $15,000. BCNA then expanded its services and capabilities by becoming an approved SBA Intermediary Lender. 

MOVING FORWARD

Having fulfilled its mission of resettling World War II refugees, NYANA closed its doors in 2008. At that time, BCNA was established as an independent nonprofit organization through the invaluable assistance of the Lawyer's Alliance, the international law firm of Debevois and Plimpton, and The Fund for the City of New York.

In 2012, after three years under the fiscal sponsorship of the Fund for the City of New York, BCNA became a fully independent, stand-alone organization for the first time.

BUILDING ON SUCCESS

BCNA has grown steadily over the years. In 1998, our first year of operation, we made 3 loans for a total of $30,000.  By the end of September 2015, we've made 2,292 loans totaling more than $14.3 million.  In addition, over 1,500 refugees have participated in BCNA's Individual Development Account (IDA) Program, investing more than $24 million from savings, matching funds, and loans in education, home ownership, and small businesses. Building on this successful track record, BCNA continues to help refugees, immigrants, women, and anyone with a business dream, become self-sufficient Americans and modern-day American success stories.