NEI Story Quick Facts
Grant: ACCESS Immigrant Business Support Center
Grant Amount: $400,000
- Provide training and technical assistance to underserved immigrant and non-English speaking populations to develop and grow businesses.
I was in hotel school in Iraq and Cyprus. I know many things, but I cannot start [in America] without help.
- Malik Al-Meselmawi
Access Growth Center
Immigrants face many challenges when making a home in a new country. There are cultural and language barriers to overcome, as well as the loss of support networks that may have aided them in their homeland. The ACCESS Growth Center, however, is there to assist immigrant entrepreneurs in making Metro Detroit more than a place of residence—but rather a place they can call home.
ACCESS Growth Center recognizes the contributions that new immigrants make to the cultural and economic vibrancy of our region and connects them with resources to utilize their talents and become entrepreneurs. These resources, which include access to capital, strategic planning, networking, and marketing, are tailored to the individual needs of immigrant entrepreneurs.
Chef Malik's Bakery
Malik Al-Meselmawi knows his way around a kitchen. A native of Iraq, Malik studied hospitality and culinary arts in Cyprus before launching a career as a baker and chef in his hometown of Baghdad. His restaurant was doing well until the outbreak of the Iraq War in 2003. Times were tough for his business, forcing Malik and his family to seek refugee status in 2012 and relocate to the Warrendale neighborhood on Detroit’s West Side.
It’s not easy for a person to start over in a new country, but an entrepreneur will find a way. Sometimes it just takes a little help. Malik found that help at the Access Growth Center, where he was provided bilingual guidance to navigate the process of a opening business in Detroit. Malik has now acquired a shop that opened in September 2013 as the Chef Malik Restaurant, a Middle Eastern bakery, restaurant, and grocery serving the neighborhood where he lives with his family.
Maria Cristina Hancock
Maria Cristina Hancock
Christina Hancock came to the United States in 1989, and five years later she started Unique Impressions, an arts and crafts studio that focuses on helping its clients create custom scrapbooks to preserve family memories. Her dream was to bring a little slice of her native Mexico to Michigan in the form of art, crafts, and design.
Christina turned to the ACCESS Growth Center for support, information, and inspiration that will make growing her business a little easier. With help from the ACCESS Growth Center, Christina is well on her way to getting a loan so she can move her business, which is currently run out of her basement, into a dedicated building.