You’re living in a new country, and you want to start your own business. You will probably need funding, and you’re wondering what challenges you may face as an immigrant entrepreneur. There is no single set of circumstances you can expect, much depends on your personal finances and your ability to navigate any legalities and requirements associated with obtaining business capital.
Let’s assume that you will you face the challenges that any small business owner must deal with when trying to acquire funding, and may also have to cope with language barriers, financial documentation requirements and perhaps language barriers.
Your Immigration Status
Legal requirements vary by nation, you will need to check the laws of your country of residence. If you have immigrated to the United States, these are the basic guidelines.
If you are a naturalized citizen, you will rarely be confronted with special restrictions or requirements to qualify for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan or a traditional bank loan. If you meet the qualifications, you should be approved.
If you have a Permanent Resident (green) Card, you are also eligible for government loans such as an SBA loan, and if you can meet loan requirements should be approved for traditional bank loans.
If you are officially a permanent resident, but don’t have your green card yet, government lenders such as the SBA and some banks will accept your valid immigrant visa, with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection stamp, as proof of your status.
If you have a work visa, but do not have permanent resident status, you may still be able to qualify for a small business loan from the SBA or a short-term loan from bank.
If you have sought asylum or have refugee status, and are a lawful permanent resident, you may qualify for an SBA loan or traditional bank loan.
If you are undocumented, you will not qualify for government or bank loans. You may find assistance through community programs, local support networks, or other venues.
Best business funding options for immigrants.
Traditional funding options such as small business loans, credit cards, and lines of credit aren’t easy for any new business owner to obtain. And as a new arrival, you face even stricter challenges. For example, you may have had a great credit history at home, but that history does not follow you here – you will need to start all over again.
But as many small business owners have learned, traditional funding isn’t always the best course of action for everyone. Let’s look at several alternative funding options that do not require a lot of documentation, or a great credit history.
Community-based nonprofit groups
These funders offer loans that meet their mission statement, helping people who may be underserved by traditional business financing to access business funding. They have flexible financial qualification requirements, and typically low – or no – interest rates. You will likely need to meet a specific set of requirements such as age, background, experience or achievements and there may be restrictions on how you can utilize the funding. There are often many applicants for a limited pool of money, and you may have to prepare a business plan, proposal and other documentation explaining why you should be chosen.
Microloans are offered by nonprofit organizations, government agencies or community-based investments. There are often restrictions on how you can use these loans; working capital and business growth is allowed, repaying existing debt or buying real estate is often prohibited. Eligibility requirements for microloans tend to be far less strict than those required for a traditional bank loan, and the borrower doesn’t have to worry about putting up collateral. Microloans are a good option for businesses that don’t have great credit, you can borrow up to $50,000 but most people tend to apply for $10,000 or less.
Taking on debt isn’t the only way to raise capital. Crowdfunding serves as a viable alternative to traditional loans. When crowdfunding, businesses accept small investments from their customers until they reach a specific financial milestone. In return for their investment, customers will typically receive special perks such as significant discounts or free products. Crowdfunding is not only a great way to raise capital without getting into debt, but it also allows you to raise funds quickly. Look at platforms like Kickstarter but be aware that you are essentially making it easy for family, friends and fans to loan you small amounts of money. If you don’t have that sort of social circle, crowdfunding is unlikely to work for you.
This option connects small businesses with funders that include individual investors and institutional investment groups such a hedge fund or investment bank. Depending on the platform, peer-to-peer can provide an excellent way for small businesses with solid credit histories to access funding. But you typically need to have a strong credit rating, 700+ range is preferred.
Merchant Cash Advance
If you are already in business – even for just a few months – and have steady revenues but your credit history isn’t great, a Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) may be the best option for you. Because MCAs focus primarily on incoming revenue, business owners who have past bankruptcies or low FICO scores can still be approved for funding. When it comes to paying back the lender, a predetermined percentage will automatically be deducted from your daily sales until the debt has been paid. You do need to have a business bank account to qualify for an MCA, as well as meeting some requirements regarding monthly business revenues. You may qualify if you’ve been in business for at least three months and make about $5000 monthly. The application process for MCAs is typically easy, and can often be done online.
How to qualify for small business funding
MCAs and other flexible funding options are offered by alternative funding sources. But how do you find a trustworthy source that’s right for your needs?
One easy way is to talk to One Park Financial. Fill in the preapproval form – its super easy, fast and private and can be done online. Once you are preapproved, you get access to a funding expert who can discuss your business needs and options to determine what funding type works for you and your business. One Park Financial will then work with its network of funding partners to find you an offer. Accept the offer, and you can have funds in your business bank account, typically within just 72-hours.