February 09, 2018
by Yanki Tshering
When I asked our loan portfolio manager, Jessica Martin, to bring me our most recent numbers for a report last week, I wasn't expecting the extraordinary news she was about to share.
In January, we issued our 3,070th loan, bringing the total amount of small business loans BCNA has disbursed since its first loan in 1998 to a remarkable 20 million dollars!
What makes this milestone exciting is more than just the excellent work of our terrific loan officers. It is that each dollar went to helping our clients – the vast majority of whom are recent immigrants or refugees - realize their dream of building a small business of their own here in New York City. These new businesses not only help support their families, but also help the city of New York by creating jobs and providing critical services, thereby building economically strong and culturally vibrant communities.
We were particularly honored last year when Wells Fargo's Diverse Community Capital Program, in partnership with the Opportunity Finance Network, selected BCNA as an awardee, with a grant and a low interest loan of $500,000 earmarked to increase lending to diverse small business owners. To date, it has allowed us to provide $376,000 in loans to 12 businesses, and contributed to our passing the 20 million dollar mark.
One of those businesses was Thakali Kitchen, a popular restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens, which is fast becoming the go-to neighborhood for Himalayan cuisine. Meats abound in Central Nepal so Thakali Kitchen not only serves vegetarian dishes but also regional dishes like pangra like fry gizzards; sekuwa, marinated meat which is grilled on skewers; buffalo chili; and dried buffalo sukuti. For many Nepali and Tibetan immigrants, this restaurant is home away from home. It's also become popular with other New Yorkers and with tourists as a result of stories in New York Magazine, Trip Advisor, and several influential food blogs. The loan from BCNA enabled Sharmila Sherchen, the owner, and manager of a staff of 7, to purchase new equipment to grow her business even further.
Another entrepreneur we were able to help last year was new deli owner Shamsan Allahabi, who used his life's savings to purchase 81st Deli after gaining experience by working in other Brooklyn delis. Shamsan used the loan from BCNA to invest in several new refrigerators, enabling him to carry more frozen items and beverages in addition to the cold cuts, sandwiches, smoked fish, cheeses, and bakery products typical of New York delis. The increased selection – and clean new look the refrigerators give the store - has resulted in increased revenue for Shamsan, who has created jobs for 3 full-time employees.
It is seeing the ripple effect created by small business loans for entrepreneurs like Shamsan and Sharmila and for our New York communities that makes what we do so fulfilling. While we're proud to have reached $20 million, we're now looking forward to reaching $30 million as we continue to work with immigrants, refugees, and other New York entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses and contribute in so many positive ways to their communities her in New York.