Bill would help kickstart business creation for African communities
ST. PAUL, Minn. – In an effort to expand economic opportunities for all Minnesotans, the Minnesota Senate has created a subcommittee on Equity. This committee will hear a wide variety of bills that address equity problems in education, business, health care and transportation. Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin) authored a bill that would provide grant money to the African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) non-profit. The committee held its first hearing on Tuesday and Hoffman’s bill was one of 20 bills given a hearing that address various economic inequities in Minnesota.
AEDS helps build wealth within African immigrant communities through various economic development activities. According to the Director of Business Development of AEDS Hassen Hussein, the $750,000 appropriation in Hoffman’s bill would allow the program to address the number one problem facing immigrants, which is a lack of startup loan funding to start or expand a business.
“I am authoring and championing this bill because I’ve seen the incredible benefits that startup funding from AEDS has done for other business owners. A lot of immigrants just need a little help in order to get their business ideas off the ground – and that’s exactly where AEDS comes in. This bill addresses a specific need in the community caused by traditional banks not offering business loans. We all want to see new immigrants of color succeed and thrive in Minnesota, by supporting this bill we are making important steps forward toward that goal,” said Sen. Hoffman.
Last year, AEDS coached 20 entrepreneurs which resulted in 15 new businesses across the Twin Cities. In 2015, AEDS also trained 26 African immigrants to turn their ideas into thriving businesses. New grant funding would help the organization significantly expand its reach to help communities of color across the state.
“Senator Hoffman is a true friend of African immigrants. I personally thank him for championing our organization and for the work he’s done to end economic disparities in the African immigrant community,” said Gene Gelgelu, Executive Director of AEDS.
Hoffman is also proud to co-author a bill that helps support small businesses grow and thrive. The bill, which also received a hearing on Tuesday, would appropriate $770,000 to the Department of Employment and Economic Development for grants to the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC). NDC offers business training, gives access to credit for startup businesses, and helps strengthen neighborhoods one entrepreneur at a time.