A natural entrepreneur, he invested in a gas station, and several years later used
That was in 2008.
"Any business needs time to establish," he said of the decision to open in the teeth of the recession.
But fallout from the economic downturn, coupled with underground pipe repairs that closed his street for 15 months, nearly undid him. Last year, months behind in rent for the store and his apartment, Pathmatasan, 41, thought he'd have to shutter Abi Quick Shop.
Salvation arrived in April via the Women's
WORC is one of 20 agencies that administer such programs nationwide using ORR Microenterprise Development Grants. So far, ORR has doled out about
WORC allotted Pathmatasan
This week, with a nod to World Refugee Day on Friday, the nonprofit announced loans ranging from
Yurfee B. Shaikalee, an asylee from
Shaikalee, who has a background in environmental activism, used his
The interest rate on WORC loans is 7.25 percent. Repayment terms are six to 24 months, depending on the loan.
In addition to Pathmatasan and Shaikalee, local recipients include a West African catering company, a cleaning company, a hair-braiding shop, and a limousine service, among others. The 11 recipients were chosen from 18 applicants.
At Abi Quick Shop near
"I get about 100 customers a day, but just 10 make purchases," he said from behind the counter, wearing a Rocky T-shirt. In
With his inventory refreshed, he said, he hopes to improve his sales. And with a little more working capital, he said, he would stock other items in demand by tourists, like hats and sunglasses.
A nose-to-the-grindstone type who says he mans the shop alone every day, works three overnight shifts a week as a nursing home aide, and wants training in occupational therapy, Pathmatasan said he learned his work ethic from several gas station customers, successful men in their 80s, who owned apartment buildings, restaurants, and hotels.
"They told me, 'There is gold everywhere in America,' " said Pathmatasan, " 'but you are the one who has to mine it.' "
There are language barriers and cultural differences between the way business is done in America and in their homelands, she said. For those reasons, applicants generally attend four training sessions about establishing good credit, repaying loans, and applying for licenses and permits.
WORC works with the
WORC was founded in 1984 to promote social and economic self-sufficiency, "primarily for economically disadvantaged women and their families."
Its program of loans for asylees and refugees helps fund start-ups and expansion of existing businesses. Provided WORC shows evidence of the program's worth, it has a commitment for federal funding through 2017.
"It's a great start," White said. "We'll be able to affect the lives of a lot of refugees."
More information is available at www.worc-pa.com, or by calling 215-564-5500.
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