Cultures & immigration beat: Business training expands to suburbs

  • Article by: Allie Shah
  • Star Tribune
  • August 28, 2012 - 7:42 PM

For 19 years, the Neighborhood Development Center has been training people in poor neighborhoods in Minneapolis and St. Paul how to start their own businesses.

About half of their clients are immigrants.

Now, the NDC is taking its program to the suburbs, home to a growing number of immigrants.

The idea behind the entrepreneur training program, explains Dean Sanberg, the NDC's development director, is to teach the ins and outs of running a small business to people with skills that could be leveraged into a successful business.

For example, a woman who braids hair out of her basement for her neighbors could open a beauty shop.

"We train low-income entrepreneurs to be able to open up a business, support their families, and in many cases, hire people," Sanberg said.

On Wednesday, 13 aspiring entrepreneurs originally from Somalia and now living in Eden Prairie will graduate from the NDC's Entrepreneur Training program. It's the first suburban class to graduate from the program.

Their ideas for businesses include day cares, computer repair stores, coffee shops, clothing stores and restaurants.

"Most of them came in with the passion of wanting to continue their entrepreneurship skills," said Hussein Farah, who taught the students how to write a business plan and provided personal coaching.

"Most either had their own businesses back in their native countries or their families owned businesses," Farah said. "They just want to see if they can pursue that dream [here]."

It's too soon to know which of his students' business ideas may become real storefronts in Eden Prairie, he said.

Since starting the entrepreneurship training program, the NDC has trained more than 4,000 people, and there are currently 525 businesses up and running, Sanberg said.

The NDC's next entrepreneur class will be held in Brooklyn Center, working with West African immigrants.

Allie Shah • 612-673-4488

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