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Can refugees establish their own small business?

Bakhshan Abdullah with children

Starting a small business is an ambitious project.

I remember when our asylum case was granted in 2015. I asked my husband – now what shall we do? We were very excited that the government of the United States decided to grant us protection. That was the beginning of our real thinking of what we do next in this country. My husband and I have lots of discussions at that time for our best strategy in making our life better. I was focusing on the idea of starting a small business even though I did not know what type of business we should start.

I preferred to start a small family business for supporting our family and helping other people in the community. My husband was thinking differently. He was much more patient than me in his decisions. He asked me to learn the English language first, go to college to get a degree, then think about a small business.

My husband said that to start a business we need two things: an academic or professional degree and some financial resources. 

Finally, I decided to go with my husband’s strategy of language and college degree first. 

After passing all my language courses and tests, I started to enroll in a local community college in Lincoln, Nebraska. Due to family and financial challenges, I decided to work part-time and study at the same time. This was not easy especially to balance. Being a mom of three kids, working part-time at college, and taking classes really needs a strong will. 

Anyway, I continued to work and study patiently despite all the mentioned challenges for almost two and a half years. Finally, that patience paid off. I finished my degree at Southeast Community college with a degree of an associated degree in Early Child Development program. The first condition to start a small business was achieved.

With my degree, the idea of starting a new childcare center was more doable than before. What we needed next was to find some financial resources to open a childcare center. It might be challenging to do but not impossible. Everything can become a reality once you have a strong desire and will to do it.

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To fulfill the second condition, my husband and I decided to work and save money. It might take a while, but it is do-able too, just like the first step.

I decided to work in a local professional Childcare center for a couple of years. The reason is first to get more practical experience for my future childcare career. Second to save some money and prepare for starting the business.  

 Opening childcare in Lincoln, Nebraska is going to be my priority for the next two years. I know this is not easy, but we, as a refugee family, are working on that. There are several motivations behind this idea. First, the desire and the ability to do it. As a mom and a graduate student from a child development program, I have learned and gained lots of experience and information in this regard. Second, there are many refugees and immigrants who have the desire to work in this field. As a board member in a local refugee non-profit organization, I had found out that many refugees are willing to work with me and even making partnership in this future career. The other reason is that many refugees, for cultural and social reasons, prefer to send their kids to a daycare that owned and managed by refugee-background people. 

The point here is that refugees and immigrants can contribute to the development of their communities and societies if they have a clear vision and strategy.

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