Fund Aims to Help First-Generation Immigrants Start Businesses


MANCHESTER — The state’s first microloan fund targeting first-generation immigrants will offer loans to start businesses for those failing to obtain bank loans.

“It is our aim within 24 to 36 months to get them to the point where they can enter the traditional lending market,” Laurel Adams, president of the Regional Economic Development Center (REDC), said during an announcement Friday.

The New Hampshire New Americans Loan Fund expands a pilot program that helped 41-year-old Tika Acharya get his Manchester insurance company started.

He received two loans totaling $80,000 to start AS Insurance at 48 Brook St. after getting rejected by multiple banks.

“We see a big need for people like me,” Acharya said during the announcement at Jupiter Hall on Hanover Street.

Born in Bhutan, Acharya spent 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. His insurance company has four employees and around 1,000 clients.

The loan program will help “make New Hampshire more diverse and more productive and we can retain talent here as we open more businesses up,” Acharya said.

Will Arvelo, director of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, said immigrants want “to be part of the American landscape, the American Dream.”

“It is a tool that we can use to say to folks: ‘Come to New Hampshire, be part of what we do here. We’re starting new businesses. We’re being innovative. We’re thinking outside the box,’” Arvelo said.

Adams said loans are capped at $50,000 with interest rates starting as low as 7 percent.

The fund intends to grant six to eight loans in the next year. The pilot program issued five.

REDC, based in Raymond, plans to grow the loan fund through business and personal donations and government resources. The center is working with the state to participate in the Community Development Finance Authority’s tax credit program, which allows business to receive 75 percent of an eligible charitable contribution back in the form of a state business tax credit.

All first-generation immigrants, including those with U.S. citizenship, green cards or work visas, can apply for the microloans.