Name: Ibtisam Bahri
Business: Dallas Jones BBQ, a popular Lower East Side restaurant
Loans: 3 Accion USA loans, the most recent for $11,000
When Ibtisam Bahri first moved to the U.S., she was enthusiastic about finding a job in finance, her specialty in her native France. “As an immigrant, my job options were really limited,” recalls Ibtisam. “Restaurants are one of the only businesses that are open to hiring immigrants.” So, she put her job search in finance on hold and started waiting tables.
Ibtisam did well enough financially working in a restaurant, but knew she could do better if she owned her own place. She started searching for restaurants to purchase in New York City, and stumbled upon Dallas Jones, a run-down barbecue take-out place. Using her savings, she bought the restaurant’s assets and got to work breathing life into the business—she painted, renovated, and decorated until it was the restaurant of her dreams.
However, things moved along slowly. As an immigrant, Ibtisam didn’t have the credit history needed to borrow money for renovations. ACCION USA helped her start building her credit with a very small loan, and then provided two additional loans to help purchase equipment. “In three years, ACCION USA took me from no credit to outstanding credit,” she says.
Today, Dallas Jones BBQ is a bustling Lower Manhattan destination with a friendly dining room full with customers craving Ibtisam’s signature pulled pork sandwich and other Southern specialties, some infused with French flair. She’s continuing to build her business, and works on building credit every day. “The road ahead is still difficult,” she says. Thankfully, ACCION USA will be there to help.
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