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Micro Loans Become Big Business for Idaho Immigrants

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Thursday, December 7, 2006   

Boise, ID - What do construction services, trucking lines, mechanics, landscaping and taxi companies have in common? They're all on the list of new small businesses in Idaho started this year by immigrants and refugees. Many have used so-called "micro-loans," small advances of cash to get the companies off the ground. Ron Berning, of Micro Enterprise Training & Assistance (META) of Idaho, says new residents have a hard time accessing traditional bank loans.

"They may have credit cards or have already purchased a home, but oftentimes because they've been in the United States for such a short time, they've not built up any real strong credit."

According to Berning, they've helped immigrants, especially women, from the Balkans, Iraq, Iran, Mexico, Columbia and several African nations, just this year.

"The bulk of our customers have been people who have come to the United States and, once they've mastered the language well enough, a lot of them are interested in starting part or full-time businesses."

Berning says people are often able to get businesses started with just a few hundred dollars, and are able to pay the loans back quickly.


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