FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, undocumented immigrants are finding new paths to build an income through entrepreneurship. Fresno City leaders and the Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC) hope to fuel that entrepreneurial spirit with access to capital.
The California Legislature approved a bill in 2020 establishing the Social Entrepreneurs for Economic Development, or SEED. Immigrants Rising leads a coalition of eight partner groups including Fresno-based CVIIC and has been awarded more than $4 million to disperse microgrants to immigrant business owners.
"The SEED program was established last year by the state of California and funded this year to enable immigrants in California to receive online entrepreneurial training," said Jesus Martinez, executive director of CVIIC at a press conference on Tuesday.
Undocumented immigrants and permanent residents who complete the online training can apply for one of two grants:
$5,000 grants for individuals starting or growing a business/non-profit.
$10,000 grants for individuals growing a business or non-profit with annual gross business revenue of more than 100,000 in 2020.
"It allows them to pay their permit fees, expand their business by buying additional equipment, getting a bigger space and generating more sales tax revenue for the city of Fresno which they live in," said Miguel Arias, a Fresno City Councilmember.
Immigrants make up a large portion of the Central Valley workforce. CVIIC hopes the funding brings out its entrepreneurial spirit.
"It's a way of not only of seeking self-employment opportunities because they lost their job or what they make in their current job is not enough to pay for the bills," said Martinez.
The Central Valley Immigration Integration Collaborative accepts appointments for in-person assistance every Friday.
To make an appointment with CVIIC: