© 2024
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The Colorado Dream Podcast

Newcomers Welcome: Entrepreneurship

Kenyan immigrants Josphat Ombacho and his wife Mable Matini prepare to-go meals inside their food truck, Msosi Kenyan Cuisine.
Stephanie Daniel
Kenyan immigrants Josphat Ombacho and his wife Mable Matini prepare to-go meals inside their food truck, Msosi Kenyan Cuisine.

Foreign-born residents have higher rates of entrepreneurship than those born here in the U.S. Aurora supports these business owners as part of its immigrant integration plan. The goal is to increase entrepreneurship by providing information, training and lowering the barriers to entry. There are hundreds of immigrant and refugee-owned businesses throughout the city including Msosi Kenyan Cuisine food truck, owned by Kenyan immigrant Josphat Ombacho.

In 2016, Ombacho and his wife started a traditional catering business. They sold food at events like Aurora’s Global Fest and Taste of Colorado. Eventually, they decided to buy a food truck but they needed money to make the investment.

“We went to various banks to see if we can get a loan to buy a food truck because we didn't have enough money,” Ombacho said. “We couldn't get (it) because our credit was low.”

After getting turned down at traditional banks they heard about CEDS Finance in Aurora and received a loan from the non-profit, federally-funded, small business lender.

“Our mission is all about how do we help refugees create the American dream? And we define that as financial self-sufficiency,” said Alex Wise, CEDS Finance executive director.

The nonprofit loans up to $100,000 dollars to clients and doesn’t require a minimum credit score. CEDs is also the only lender in the state that offers an Islamic-compliant loan, an alternative type of financing that adds an administrative fee rather than charging interest.

Ethiopian refugee and Aurora resident Ermias Gurmu owns a small trucking business called Line Trucking. He hauls food across the country for big chain stores like Wal-Mart and King Soopers. He’s on his second CEDS loan and is one of more than 300 entrepreneurs the lender has supported.

“I'm planning to get more trucks and to have some more employees to expand my company,” Gurmu said.

Links and Credits

Msosi Kenyan Cuisine on Social media

CEDS Finance on social media

The Colorado Dream: Newcomers Welcome is a production from KUNC. This episode was written and reported by Stephanie Daniel. Editing by Sean Corcoran. This season's theme song was composed by Jason Paton. Jennifer Coombes is the digital editor.

The “American Dream” was coined in 1931 and since then the phrase has inspired people to work hard and dream big. But is it achievable today? Graduating from college is challenging, jobs are changing, and health care and basic rights can be a luxury. I report on the barriers people face and overcome to succeed and create a better life for themselves and their families.