USCRI: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

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USCRI NC Newsletter

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Community Spotlight: Refugee Women’s Childcare Program

Entrepreneurs and small business owners are in no short supply in Raleigh, especially so within North Carolina’s refugee and immigrant communities.

With dreams of endless opportunities, refugees and immigrants come to this country with diverse hopes and fresh ideas. Yet more often than not, new arrivals are unable to pursue these dreams because their immediate responsibilities- getting a job, putting food on the table, learning English, sending their children to school- take precedent.

In 2012, USCRI NC developed a program for refugee and immigrant women that fosters that entrepreneurial spirit and provides them with top-notch training and skills. In learning how to develop, manage, and run a home-based business, the Refugee Child Care Microenterprise Program builds the capacity for local refugee and immigrant women to become self-supporting, provide a service to their communities, and empower themselves.

USCRI NC is inspired by the drive and passion of the participants of the program, Carmen, and her adult daughters Maydaris and Maeli, in particular. These three remarkable women have all opened home-based child care centers after successful graduation from the program. Yet just several years ago, after arriving in the U.S. from Cuba, Carmen and her daughters were living in a one room basement apartment, and secured late-night cleaning shifts in order to support themselves. While Carmen was a licensed math teacher in Cuba, she was unable to put her skills and passions to use.

When the women read the advertisements for the program at the USCRI NC office in Raleigh, the three women jumped at the opportunity to participate. Passionate about child education and committed to success, all three women graduated from the course, received their child care licensure from the state of North Carolina, and have each opened their own business. Carmen moved out of the basement and has begun renting her own townhouse apartment, where she runs a bilingual preschool for her neighbor’s children. Maeli and her husband were able to buy their own home, and built additional rooms where she now operates her child care center and preschool. Maydaris moved out of the basement apartment as well, and is currently managing her child care business and providing much needed services to her neighbors, as she is one of three home-based child care providers in her entire zip code.

Carmen and her daughters are an inspiration for all refugee and immigrant entrepreneurs out there- women and men alike. With a little bit of help, they are bringing their passions and skills to meet the needs of their communities.

Community Spotlight: Individual Development Accounts Program

In late 2013, USCRI NC set up an Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program for refugees and immigrants interested in receiving targeted assistance to build skills in money management, budgeting, financial literacy, and small business development. Through this innovative program, participants have the opportunity to work closely with staff at the Latino Community Credit Union to develop long-term budget plans, open savings accounts, and save for specific assets: a home or vehicle, small business, or their continuing education. They develop a savings plan with USCRI NC staff and when they meet their savings goal, they receive a dollar-to-dollar match of up to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 per family.

At USCRI NC, we believe that the accumulation of assets is integral to reducing poverty and building the financial empowerment of families and individuals. The IDA program is a way to accomplish those goals, and build stronger relationships between the refugee and immigrant community and a financial institution they can trust. With the program just getting off to a running start, there have been a large number of interested participants. USCRI NC is excited to share the stories of success and empowerment that will come out of this program!

Both programs are made possible through funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement. For more information on these programs and how you can get involved, contact our office at info@uscrinc.org or call 919-334-0072.

USCRI North Carolina IDA program's first class of students!


Find out what you can do to help refugees resettled in Raleigh and other parts of North Carolina >>

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