Access to Capital Can Empower Political Refugees to Do Extraordinary Things
WESST’s Refugee Loan Program provides micro-enterprise training and financial assistance to New Mexico’s political refugee population. With access to capital and business assistance services on an as-needed basis, entrepreneurship can be an alternate route to self-sufficiency for many minority refugees—especially for women/single mothers needing to overcome significant barriers to employment, such as lack of childcare or lack of transportation that can often be alleviated by working from home. Loans made under this program may be used to start a small business, expand an existing business or establish good credit.
The following individuals are eligible for a loan under our Refugee Loan Program:
- Cuban professionals who have formal training and applicable work skills, but lack experience with businesses in a free-market economy
- Single mothers with political refugee status with no previous work history and multiple barriers to employment in a traditional work environment
- Existing Vietnamese and Cuban business owners among the refugee population resettled in New Mexico during the last ten years, or who still do not have citizenship, and
- Others with documented political refugee status who came into the country during the last five years from countries including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, Kosovo, Laos, Liberia, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Togo, Vietnam and others.
Loan Amounts, Rates, Fees and Key Terms
- Loans range from $250 to $10,000 for start-up businesses (those in operation for less than 12 months); from $250 to $50,000 for existing businesses (those in operation for more than 12 months).
- The fixed interest rate is 5%, and all approved loans carry a 1% loan fee.
- Maximum loan term is five years.
- Collateral must be provided for all loans.
- Application fees and credit bureau report fees will be waived for this program.
How to Apply
If you are a refugee interested in applying for a loan from WESST, first please make sure you have closely read the above information about our eligibility guidelines and other important information about the loans we offer. If you believe you meet our eligibility requirements and the loan you are seeking fits within our guidelines, please complete and submit a Refugee Loan Fund Inquiry.