New York CDFI Helps Fulfill American Dream with OFN and HSBC Bank Investment

Caroline Valvardi

Shelly Marshall, co-owner of Brooklyn-based Island Pops

Founded in 1997 and based in New York City, Business Center for New Americans (BCNA) focuses on providing access to capital and specialized training to low-to-moderate income immigrants, refugees, and women entrepreneurs. A CDFI with roots dating back more than 60 years, BCNA was originally part of the now-defunct New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) founded in 1949 to resettle World War II refugees.  

Today, BCNA is looking to grow even further with more than 3,691 loans closed to date, totaling more than $27 million, for micro and small businesses in New York City—businesses that have created more than 2,135 jobs and retained 6,223. Additionally, each year more than 300 participants attend BCNA’s workshops or receive one-on-one business advisory services. 

An OFN member since 2012 with a track record of delivering strong financial and impact performance within the immigrant community in New York City—serving clients from more than 55 countries in 2019—BCNA closed on a $500,000 equity equivalent (EQ2) investment in January from OFN and HSBC Bank’s Good To Grow CDFI Investment Fund (G2G Fund). 

Like many CDFIs, sustainable growth is an ever-present challenge for BCNA without appropriate sources of capital that allow the organization to then lend that capital to borrowers at affordable rates. That’s why OFN and HSBC Bank USA partnered in August 2018 to establish the G2G Fund, which provides  long-term, flexible EQ2 investments up to $2 million in CDFIs, with total investment of $25 million over three years. 

“This investment of $0.5M in BCNA’s Loan Fund by OFN is a commitment to a shared mission in welcoming and supporting immigrants, refugees, and their families. They come seeking safety and security, and establish businesses as a pathway to self-sufficiency which in turn strengthens the local economy and contributes to the rich cultural diversity of our city,” stated Yanki Tshering, Executive Director of BCNA. 

BCNA’s latest G2G investment will help the CDFI continue growing its services for clients like Shelly Marshall who, with her husband Khalil Hamid, started Island Pops, an ice cream shop in Brooklyn. Specializing in Caribbean flavors from her native Trinidad like sorrel rum, coconut, and honey roasted peanut, Island Pops has become a popular destination after rave reviews in the local press and the New York Times.   

“Our team was very impressed with the investments made by BCNA in New York City especially within the immigrant community,” said OFN Investment Officer Christopher Chaplin. “We believe that these investments will help our country to grow and help to support the entrepreneurial spirit of our new Americans. We look forward to working with the BCNA team and are excited for the future.”