Success Stories


Entrepreneur
: Hussein Duale
Business:
Grocery Store
Country of Origin: Somalia

Intense conversation fills the room, as the savory waves of rich Somali stews and freshly baked bread waft the air in the cozy little café Hussein Duale runs on Tukwila International Blvd
. Providing a good income for his wife and five children, as well as a place for the neighborhood to gather, eat and gossip, Hussein seems a very happy man. Surveying his lively customers, he smiles broadly, like the king of a tiny island. Hussein Duale fled the civil war in Somalia in 1991. He lived in a Kenyan Refugee camp for four years, where he studied English before coming to the United States 1995. Hussein arrived in Seattle in 2001. For the first few years here in the U.S. Hussein ran a small janitorial business, but he wanted to open a restaurant and coffee shop near the mosque he and his family frequent. Through word of mouth, he learned about the Refugee Resettlement Office. He came in and  met with Greg Hope. They talked about the possibilities of the IDA Savings Program, and Hussein signed on. He worked hard to save $2,000 in six months. The program matched his savings. With the $4,000 Hussein and his partner, Adam Farhia, were able to buy all the equipment and make all the necessary repairs and renovations to open their restaurant. Over time, Hussein’s restaurant has become a hub of the tiny Somali community in south Seattle. People meet to discuss plans, exchange news, or just to relax and escape the stresses of live in the city for a few hours. It is a wonderful place to unwind and spend time with the family. Hussein’s wife cooks all the food and brings a slice of Somalia into people’s hearts. Hussein’s whole family is thriving, and so is his community. He’s brought a small slice of the American Dream to Tukwila International Boulevard, and is very pleased with himself for doing so.  Story by: Inga Muscio


Entrepreneur: Abbasbay

Business: Baku Stars Limo
Country of Origin: Azerbaijan

Abbasbay and his wife Nigyar arrived in the USA in April 2003 after fleeing persecution in Azerbaijan. They have two small children and have struggled to make ends meet - working several low paying part-time jobs.
In July 2004 they enrolled in the JumpStart Program. They wanted to start a limo/executive car service to transport travelers between the airport and hotels, chauffeur clients to business meetings, and drive tourists around town. Abbasbay gained driving experience working for another company. They requested assistance getting business licenses, insurance and a loan. In October they also enrolled in RRO's Individual Development Account (IDA) Program to assist with saving for their car. The IDA Program provides matched savings for low-income refugees and asylees to assist with the purchase of an asset - a car, computer, or a home - or to establish a business. All savings must be from earned income (for more info about our IDA Program
click here)
By March 2005 Abbasbay and Nigyar had developed a business plan and saved $4,000. With IDA matching funds, they were able to purchase a pre-owned Lincoln Towncar. Their car has a sleek black exterior and a pear gray leather interior. JumpStart provided a small loan to cover the insurance and licese fees. Baku's Stars Towncar service earned more than $500 in its first week of business. Nigyar said that they would not have been able to start their business so soon without JumpStart's help. If you have a trip planned to the airport, or a guest arriving from out of town, call Abbasbay for a luxurious ride and quick, safe, dependable service.
Ha can be reached at this number: 206.354.5079


Entrepreneur: Kooki Davis
Business: African Connection Wearable Art
Country of Origin: Trinidad


Kooki Davis' home radiates with African charm. Brightly colored home-sewn dolls stand in the corners of the living room, and mud cloth of earth hues hangs in scraps and strips from the walls of her sewing room. Her energy is boundless.

Born in Trinidad, Kooki moved to Tukwila with her husband Gilbert couple of years ago from the Bay Area in California. When she arrived in the area, she knew that she needed to find a way to earn a living. While in California she had designed and fabricated exquisite fabric dolls, but there wasn't a market for them in Seattle. So, she applied her sewing skills and her eye for color to make "wearable art".

Kooki gathers scraps of materials and fabrics of every color and texture to use in the creation process. Her husband, Gilbert, has many friends from Africa that supply her studio with African textiles. Their favorite African textiles are mudclothes - the fabric from which the business gets its name.

Mudcloth is an African fabric made by an elaborate  process in which the artist weaves raw cotton, and then dyes it over a period of few months with natural dyes made of leaves, bark and mud. The designs are painted on with sticks, and the process is repeated many times. Kooki uses this fabric in the tunics and jackets that she sews, and to cover walking sticks that she sells to dramatic African story tellers.

JumpStart gave Kooki a loan to pay for an industrial-strength sewing machine that she could use for heavier fabrics. So far the machine has paid off, allowing Kooki to experiment with textiles she's never used before. Look for Kooki's new line of wonderful "wearable art" at local arts festivals this summer!


Entrepreneur:
Edith Masao
Business: Hygienic-Pro Cleaners, Inc.
Country of Origin: Tanzania

To run a successful business, one must possess a combination of drive, creativity, and motivation. This is true for entrepreneurs living in the United States and across the world. However, the financial and technical hurdles in this country are difficult to
overcome for anyone seeking self-employment, and are especially challenging for refugees and asylum seekers, who have already overcome tremendous struggles to simply survive.

For true entrepreneurs, however, the determination to succeed in self-employment can be indomitable. Edith Masao, an asylum seeker from Tanzania, had over five years experience as business owner and manager of Afrodiz Fashions, a high-end clothing boutique in her home city of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Following her resettlement to the United States last year, Edith pushed to start anew with her own business, despite the few financial and technical resources available to asylum-seekers in this country.

"Coming here as an asylum seeker and dealing with this new country...living on my own, finding work, and just getting used to the new culture...it was all very different to me. But still, I was eager to try something new," Edith said. Within her first five months in the country, Edith brought her ideas to the Jump Start Fund, the microenterprise arm of the Diocesan Refugee Resettlement Office, seeking a micro-loan for her planned retail business. "This opportunity gave me the chance to invest in my business, and to build a good credit history for the future," Edith said.

ENK Closet, Inc. would be her first business venture - an online shoe & clothing store that allowed her to work part-time while maintaining her passion for the fashion industry at home. During its start-up stage, Edith received free business-planning and web design assistance from Jump Start staff.  “The training from the Jump Start Fund helped me out a lot. The staff were always very supportive," Edith said.

Between trips to local flea markets and processing online orders, Edith found moderate success, but had still grander ambitions. In order to build a better, stronger business, Edith put ENK Closet on the shelf temporarily and pushed forward with another business venture.  

"I started a cleaning business because it had very low starting cost and had potential to raise the funds I needed to run a clothing business in the future," Edith said. With this goal in mind, she developed Hygienic-Pro Cleaners, Inc., which provides affordable, environmentally sustainable cleaning services throughout the Puget Sound area.

Within the first few months of operations, Edith’s new business began receiving positive word of mouth reviews, with many testimonials appearing on her website. Within three months, Edith began advertising through daily deal specials like Amazon coupon and Groupon, which helped her monthly sales skyrocket. To date, Hygienic-Pro has become a trusted small business for over 300 loyal clients, from West Seattle to Woodinville. Hygienic-Pro continues to grow, and has currently opened a position for hire.

With only a small amount of encouragement and help along the way, Edith’s example serves as a testimony to the will power of America’s new generation of entrepreneurs. Reflecting on her experience with the Jump Start Fund, Edith had the following to say: “I’m so happy to be where I am. I’m happy I’m here. And I’m happy to be me."


Entrepreneur: Wafa
Business: Five and Dime
Country of Origin: Egypt

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