Somali Entrepreneurs Redevelop Washington Mall into Retail and Community Space with CDFI Financing
Client: SeaTac International Mall
Client Location: SeaTac, WA
CDFI Service Area: OR, WA
Financing and technical assistance, with support from the Grow with Google Small Business Fund and Google.org Grant Program
The Bakaro Mall, an unassuming suburban strip mall in South King County outside of Seattle, housed a bustling collection of small East African businesses and community spaces. In 2019, these entrepreneurs and community leaders were displaced when the land was slated to be developed into new housing. After this painful setback, three leaders from the Somali community joined to create new retail and community spaces in a leased building that would become the SeaTac International Mall. When they found themselves unable to obtain bank financing to build out and improve their building, they were referred to Craft3 by the City of SeaTac.
With a $200,000 construction loan, partially guaranteed by loan loss reserve grant funding from King County Communities of Opportunity (COO), the project moved forward, creating spaces for 26 small businesses, a community center, and a larger market and deli. Craft3’s loan created much-needed affordable retail space serving immigrant-owned and BIPOC-owned micro-enterprises as well as housing the East African Community Center. As first-time commercial borrowers, the owners also received technical assistance from Craft3 and King County Communities of Opportunity Commercial Affordability Pilot Program. The mall’s ribbon cutting ceremony held in May 2021 was a festive event drawing local politicians, business people, and community leaders.
“Craft3 has been an invaluable partner throughout our project. Because of the work Craft3 does, projects like the SeaTac Business Center are possible,” said Faisal Mohamed, co-owner of SeaTac International Mall.
Photo: Co-owners of the SeaTac International Mall — Faisal Mohamed, Mahamud Duale, Abdirashid Hersi