January 26, 2017
by Yanki Tshering
The recent election and its ensuing policy proposals have compelled many of us to think carefully about what it means to be a patriotic American. For the staff at BCNA, it means working to strengthen all of our communities in New York City by helping our immigrant and refugee clients rebuild their lives, start businesses, and contribute to the local economy. We consider it an honor and are proud to participate in the American tradition of welcoming and supporting newcomers, and are more than ever committed to continuing to do so.
As we start the new year and work on our goals for 2017, we are delighted to share with you that in fiscal 2016 we supported clients from over 44 countries. Those small business entrepreneurs include people like Natalia Konovalova of Le'Bulga, whose loan allowed her to meet the growing demand for her successful ladies handbag designs, and Mohammed Ali, whose loan helped him operate his hot dog cart more efficiently and increase his sales.
We are particularly pleased that last year a record 54 refugees graduated from BCNA's IDA savings program and invested $379,928 in further education, micro-businesses, and re-certification.
Our IDA program has been transforming refugees' lives in dramatic ways since its inception. The credit workshops and one-on-one counseling that Aaron Lackman, Manager of BCNA's Refugee Microenterprise Program, provided, for instance, enabled Rokia Mariko, a refugee from Mali who operates a hair braiding business, to increase her FICO credit score from 664 to 775. This is important because a high credit score can save a low to moderate-income borrower approximately $200,000 over the course of their financial life.
Behzard Pouryafar, a refugee from Iran and another successful 2016 graduate of BCNA's savings program, used his savings of $2,000 and match of $2,000 to purchase a computer and text books to help him successfully complete his coursework at Brooklyn College. This is the kind of real, concrete difference this important program makes to the healthy economy of New York City.
And finally, with our help our clients created 96 full-time and 50 part-time jobs while retaining 660 full time jobs; invested over $3 million in the local economy; and added to the rich cultural diversity of New York City, which contributes inestimable value to New York as a community and as a cultural and tourist mecca.
For 2017 we reaffirm our commitment to making an enormous difference in the lives of New Americans, refugees and all New Yorkers. They get the job done!