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Subject: Profiles of MRNY
Type: Media Coverage

Five Community Partners Join the Immigrant Business Initiative

The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, in partnership with Citi Community Development, today announced the five community-based partners selected to participate in the Immigrant Business Initiative, which was first announced in May and funded through a $250,000 contribution from Citi Community Development. The selected community partners include the Business Outreach Center Network, Brooklyn Public Library/HABNET Chamber of Commerce, Make the Road New York, Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, and Shorefront YM-YWHA.

Through a Request for Proposals, SBS asked community organizations to identify the specific needs of the immigrant entrepreneurial communities they serve, and propose tailored solutions. The five community partners will execute their tailored plans, and also provide free business courses, one-on-one counseling, and community-based outreach in five target languages: Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Haitian-Creole, and Russian. Services will be available in late-fall.

“Immigrant entrepreneurs are vital to the City’s identity and economy, opening businesses that create jobs and bring great diversity and energy to our most dynamic communities,” said Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Thanks to Citi Community Development, the City will work through the Immigrant Business Initiative with five community organizations to help tailor available assistance, and better assist immigrant entrepreneurs with free services that will help them start, operate, and grow.”

“This initiative underlines Citi’s commitment to empowering immigrant entrepreneurs, who are critical contributors to the economic vibrancy of this city and nation,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development. “Immigrants make up almost half of all small business owners in New York City, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, and across the U.S., immigrant business-owners are more likely to hire additional employees, reports the U.S. Small Business Administration. That’s why immigrant-owned small businesses are more than an important asset-building vehicle for owners, as they also serve as economic engines for their communities.”

“Immigrant businesses are not only a vital engine in our economy – they make our City a more exciting place to live,” said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “I am proud to support this important initiative, which will help even the playing field for immigrant entrepreneurs by breaking down the barriers of entry to starting and growing a small business.”

“The Department of Consumer Affairs is committed to helping immigrant entrepreneurs in New York City reach the American Dream and open their own business,” said Julie Menin, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs. “I’m proud of the work that DCA has done as part of the Administration’s goal to provide access to immigrant communities across the City so they can start and maintain their businesses, including free one-on-one financial counseling, inspections in their language of choice, and more educational outreach on information they need to know as business owners. We are looking forward to our continued partnership with SBS, and with offering many more resources in as many languages as possible in the near future.”

“It’s so exciting that these targeted business services for immigrant populations will roll out this fall. Each of the funded non-profits has a wealth of experience and resources to share and it’s wonderful that with Citi’s support, they will have this opportunity to increase their effectiveness,” said New York City Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Chair of the Small Business Committee. “On behalf of these businesses, I extend my thanks to these groups, SBS & Citi for this important partnership.”

“The work that Deputy Mayor Glen, Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Torres-Springer, and Citi have done to enfranchise immigrant business owners is a model that could be replicated across agencies and perhaps, even nationally. The back-bone of our communities—primarily those in the outer boroughs—is the diversity and vibrancy of our immigrant communities who are engines for economic growth,” said New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration. “The Immigrant Business Initiative is uniquely equipped to help further the reach of immigrant-owned businesses in their own communities, and will help to ensure that these businesses are connected to culturally sensitive tools that can ensure their success.”

“Through these partnerships, our immigrant‎-owned businesses will become better positioned to grow and compete, which is good for everyone: their families, consumers and the workforce alike,” said New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras, Chair of the Committee on Finance. “These small businesses are an economic engine in our community and now they’ll have more support services to help them succeed‎.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. In many of our neighborhoods, especially in Queens, you will find that the majority of small business owners are immigrants. That is why the Immigrant Business Initiative is so important, and these partnerships are so vital in moving its mission forward. Many small business owners will be able to access invaluable tools such as free business courses, one-on-one counseling, technology assistance, and workforce development. And this assistance will be available in several languages, including Chinese and Korean,” said New York City Council Member Peter Koo. “As a small business owner myself, I can tell you that this type of information will be very beneficial, so I urge as many people as possible to take advantage of this great initiative. I’d like to thank Citi Community Development for their generosity by making these partnerships possible, and I commend Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer for her leadership and vision, particularly on matters such as this.”

“We are grateful to partner with the City in this important initiative to support New York City’s immigrant businesses,” said Nancy Carin, Executive Director of the Business Outreach Center Network. “This is a very important priority for BOC Network and we look forward to collaborating with the Department of Small Business Services and all of the organizations selected to advance the interests of immigrant owned businesses in New York City.”

“Over the past decade, Brooklyn Public Library has helped launch over 100 businesses throughout the borough as part of the PowerUP! Business Plan Competition. We are thrilled to offer a new version of the program specially tailored for Brooklyn’s large Haitian Creole community and are grateful to the Department of Small Business Services and Citi Community Development for making this possible,” said Linda E. Johnson, President & CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. “Our PowerUP! programs are natural extensions of the essential educational, financial and cultural programming we offer at our branches every day. We are proud to support the economic well-being of our patrons, and to help generate new jobs and opportunities in neighborhoods across Brooklyn.”

“At HABNET we are very pleased to work with SBS and the Brooklyn Public Library to bring business services to the Haitian community,” said Jackson Rockingster, President & CEO of the HABNET Chamber of Commerce. “HABNET has a long history of serving Brooklyn’s Haitian community and we are excited to launch PowerUP! KREYOL to support Haitian entrepreneurs as they start and plan for their business.”

“Make the Road NY applauds the Department of Small Business Services’ dedication to immigrant entrepreneurs,” said Daniel Coates, Lead Organizer at Make the Road NY. “We are enthusiastic to be working with SBS to bring the much needed education and resources to the immigrant small business owners in our neighborhoods in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Jackson Heights, Queens and Port Richmond, Staten Island. We would like to thank Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer for her vision with this initiative and her investment in immigrant neighborhoods across New York City.”

“Renaissance’s experience working with Chinese and Korean immigrant communities leads us to believe that offering technical and financial assistance to small business owners in their native languages enables sustainable business growth and greater access to much needed capital,” said Chris Kui, Executive Director of the Renaissance Economic Development Corporation. “The Immigrant Business Initiative will enhance our ability to provide business services and create new jobs in New York City.”

“The Shorefront YM-YWHA is thrilled to be expanding our work with the immigrant communities of South Brooklyn by helping immigrants establish and develop strong small businesses,” said Susan Fox, Executive Director of Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach, Inc. “Thanks to New York City’s Department of Small Business Services and this Immigrant Business Initiative funding, we are looking forward to supporting emerging entrepreneurs in the Russian and Chinese communities successfully bring their business ownership dreams to life and learn about and explore the wealth of resources and support offered by NYC Business Solutions.”

The five selected community-based organizations will design and execute new community tailored business services, and will also partner with SBS to deliver NYC Business Solutions services, coordinate community-based outreach, and connect immigrant business-owners with existing services offered throughout the City of New York in five different languages. The five Immigrant Business Initiative community-based partners and their community-specific business services include:

Business Outreach Center Network – Latino Entrepreneurship Technology Initiative

For more than 17 years, the Business Outreach Center Network (BOCNET) has supported New York City minority, immigrant, and female entrepreneurs – working extensively with Latino entrepreneurs. BOCNET has been providing loans and technical assistance and training programs in business development, financial literacy and management to Hispanic immigrants throughout New York City since its founding. Through the Immigrant Business Initiative, BOCNET will also launch the Latino Entrepreneurship Technology Initiative, which will conduct a technology assessment of IT and financial management skills of Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs, and deliver specialized training and individual counseling on technology strategies and tools for small business. In addition, BOCNET will partner with SBS to deliver NYC Business Solutions services in Spanish throughout Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Brooklyn Public Library & HABNET Chamber of Commerce – PowerUP! KREYOL

Brooklyn Public Library has a long history of success in public programming offering free and distinctive education, enrichment and career related activities in immigrant communities. One of their most successful initiatives has been the annual PowerUP! Business Plan competition for entrepreneurs and start-ups in Brooklyn. Through the Immigrant Business Initiative, the Brooklyn Public Library will work with HABNET Chamber of Commerce to modify the existing PowerUP! Business plan program to serve Brooklyn’s vibrant Haitian-Creole community and deliver PowerUP! KREYOL. HABNET Chamber of Commerce brings years of experience serving and supporting the Haitian entrepreneurs in New York City and will support the successful launch of the PowerUP! KREYOL program by providing one-on-one business assistance and supporting community outreach. Orientations for PowerUP! KREYOL will be held at different library locations including the Flatbush branch, Central Library, and the Business and Career Library in Brooklyn Heights. In addition, the Brooklyn Public Library and HABNET Chamber of Commerce will partner with SBS to deliver NYC Business Solutions services in Haitian-Creole throughout Brooklyn.

Make The Road New York – Entérate! Network

Make the Road New York (MRNY) is the largest grassroots immigrant organization in New York City dedicated to building the power of Latino and working class communities. For 16 years MRNY has integrated adult education, workforce development, youth programming, legal and health services and community organizing. Through the Immigrant Business Initiative, MRNY will launch Entérate! Network, a community-based initiative designed to open pathways for immigrant small business owners to build relationships through mentors, a business network, and access to vital information and resources available from the government. MRNY will also partner with SBS to deliver NYC Business Solutions services in Spanish throughout Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

Renaissance Economic Development Corporation – Planning for Success

Renaissance Economic Development Corporation (Renaissance) is a certified community development financial institution who has offered financing and technical assistance services to immigrant and minority entrepreneurs throughout New York City for nearly 20 years. Through the Immigrant Business Initiative, Renaissance will work with Chinese and Korean immigrant merchants to review business plans for both new and existing businesses, and help them create a business model that will position them for growth and help access financing. Renaissance will also partner with SBS to deliver NYC Business Solutions services in Korean and Chinese throughout Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.

Shorefront YM-YWHA – Immigrant Small Business Development Centers

The Shorefront YM-YWHA (Shorefront Y) is a settlement house, social service organization and Jewish community center that has served immigrants and refugees living in Brooklyn since 1949. Shorefront Y has been successfully providing educational and vocational programs for adults with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) for more than thirty years. Through the Immigrant Business Initiative, Shorefront Y will develop Immigrant Small Business Development Centers (ISBDC) in key commercial corridors, designed to help Russian and Chinese immigrant small business owners access government resources and services. Shorefront Y will also partner with SBS to deliver NYC Business Solutions services in Chinese and Russian throughout South Brooklyn.

As part of the Immigrant Business Initiative, SBS will also partner with the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to provide immigrant entrepreneurs with personal financial education and information on additional immigrant resources in their neighborhood. A community based marketing effort led by SBS will help raise awareness of the free business services available to immigrant communities.

Through previous Citi Community Development support, the most downloaded online business resources on the NYC Business Solutions Business Library are currently available with translations in Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Haitian-Creole. Additional resources will be added as part of an Immigrant Small Business Toolkit. Interpretation services are available through the City’s Language Line Services at all NYC Business Solutions Centers.

Free business services are available to help all small businesses in New York City start, operate, and grow, through seven NYC Business Solutions located in all five boroughs. Services include helping connect small businesses with capital, business courses, recruitment, pro-bono legal assistance, help navigating government, and more.

For more information on all free business services as well as services provided through the Immigrant Business Initiative, visit or call 311.

About the Department of Small Business Services
The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) makes it easier for businesses in New York City to start, operate and expand by providing direct assistance to business owners, fostering neighborhood development in commercial districts, and linking employers to a skilled and qualified workforce. For more information on all of SBS’ services, go to

About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

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