Somalian refugee offers inspiration to other immigrants who want to start a business

Sep 25, 2017
Originally published on September 25, 2017 4:48 am

When refugees and immigrants come to the U.S., language is often a big barrier to getting a job.

Isse Abukar is a Somalian who came to Rochester 21 years ago after spending four years in a refugee camp in Kenya.  Abukar speaks multiple languages but he still had trouble, at first, making the right connections to secure contracts for his commercial cleaning business.

Now, Abukar has several clients and hopes to sign a contract soon with the Rochester Housing Authority. He has four employees.

"That's the only reason I started this business,” he said. “My goal is to make sure that those people can understand that they can do anything. For the time being they can go to school in the morning and get some kind of education."

Abukar will be talking about his challenges and successes as a business owner at a class for prospective immigrant entrepreneurs.  It's being offered by the Catholic Family Center.

The center's immigration program manager, Bharati Verma, said they see many immigrants who have experience running a business from their home country, but still they need help with English, financial literacy, licensing, taxes, and more.  Verma said there are a number of possible ventures that capitalize on their skills.

"Restaurants, stores, interpreting services; we had someone come through with a rug import-export business, child care, house cleaning."

The class for immigrant entrepreneurs is 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 27 at the Catholic Family Center at 87 North Clinton Avenue. The program is funded through a grant from the New York State Office for New Americans and is  for both immigrants and foreign-born Americans.

To register or for more information, call (585) 546-7220 ext. 4730 or email [email protected].