Partnership helping immigrants in Maine obtain zero-interest business loans

Deborah Bafongo started her South Portland business, Angels of Love Event Design, in 2019 without any outside loans or grants.

Bafongo specializes in providing decorations for formal events, especially weddings, and had hoped she would be able to work on enough weddings in 2020 to be able to earn back the money she spent on equipment. However, when the pandemic hit and weddings were canceled en masse, Bafongo found herself in need of some extra help to keep her business afloat.

Through a mutual friend, she heard about a program being offered through the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center that would provide interest-free loans to business owners like her. Bafongo, who immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014 and lives in South Portland, received a loan of $2,500 with a repayment term of 21 months. She plans to use the funding to purchase a bigger storage unit to use as a showroom for her designs, as well as more equipment.

“I…

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