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Basil Ajuo

Executive Director

505-204-5927

PO Box 43721

Minneapolis, MN 55443

bajuo@mnafricansunited.org

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Workforce Initiatives

The distance between an employer and an African immigrant continues to widen. Baby boomers are retiring and as a result, the gap of skilled employees in Minnesota will continue to grow. Meanwhile, the growing population of African immigrants, who represent the future workforce of Minnesota, is educated and skilled. Yet, they are unable to access job opportunities because of obstacles like lack of credential evaluation, lack of access to employment-related information and training, and lack of appropriate and relevant educational backgrounds. Immigrants accept employment that is entry level compared to their employment from their home countries. When they arrive in Minnesota, they are put into group homes versus being offered fair and equitable housing. Additionally, it is hard for them to get on their feet to fill jobs because their credentials are not recognized in the states which makes them hesitant to apply for jobs that they are qualified for. The gap that exists between the immigrant community and the workforce is rather large. If more of them have jobs, they will contribute to Minnesota's economy while making Minnesota their home. 

Most African immigrants are coming from their respective countries because of political crises.  Others are settled in the US through Diversity Lottery and family reunification opportunities provided by immigration laws.  As a result, these African immigrants bring diverse skills and experiences. It is not unusual to find doctors, lawyers, teachers, administrators, airline technicians, bankers, etc., among them.  However, when arriving here there are limited means for them to be appropriately placed in the workforce for which they have sufficient experience. In other words, African immigrants are undervalued and under-employed.

 

One of the strongest indicators of the resilience of African immigrants is that some of them start their own businesses.  As you all know, there are many restaurants, grocery stores, barber shops, beauty shops in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas which were started by members of the African immigrant community. Unfortunately, many have not been fortunate enough to find the capital or the training to do the same. Thus, a significant number of highly skilled African immigrants are still driving taxis, working in day labor, etc. 

What's the solution? 

• Increase the number of African immigrants into the Minnesota workforce.

• Create continuing education programs for African immigrants that validate their existing credentials.

• Integrate workforce training into education for African immigrants; include how to align future studies/training with existing credentials

• Help professional Africans with Bachelor’s degrees and above get into professional jobs with livable wages by connecting them with partner companies.

• Promote diversity and employment services.

• Build a pipeline from entry level to executive level positions. 

More specifically:

  • Minnesota Africans United will build its own African immigrant workforce database through consultation with other African-centered organizations and state demographers office

  • Minnesota Africans United will Serve as a clearinghouse for all information on labor/work/career availability relevant to African immigrants throughout the state in general and metropolitan area in particular;

  • Minnesota Africans United will consult with area employers and serve as a source of African skilled workers for their needs;

  • Minnesota Africans United will provide all immigrants with relevant information associated with workforce training and provide the training as resources warrant; and

  • Minnesota Africans United will provide training to African immigrants on matters relevant to job search, educational resources to improve their capacity, etc.

The impact:

• Helping African immigrants and graduates fill job opportunities (creating resumes, training for jobs,)

• Linking job seekers to jobs (Review their LinkedIn Profiles)

• More people will have validated credentials from their home countries

• Increase the number of people going into the workforce

• The disparity will be closed in the workforce area.

• Build a job database and training centers to increase the number of immigrants getting available jobs

• Increase partnership with public and private corporation Investment Build technology infrastructure (database) of immigrants that could be made available to employers for recruitment and hiring.  

Business development

African immigrants represent the future economic engine in the state of Minnesota with a collective income of $1.6B. However, African small businesses owners are unable to access capital due to high-interest loans, limited training and access to resources. Loan requirements and restrictions due to bad credit, higher interest rates, and higher taxes have caused small businesses to struggle. Moreover, these businesses are scattered all over the Twin Cities and there is no specific area or neighborhood that they have invested in to increase their market - despite the ties that African immigrants maintain with their friends, families and African nations that increase Minnesota exports.

 

The solution:

 MAU wants to connect African businesses to access capital and resources by building out an incubator in an area that is inclusive within their own market. Community Connections MAU has established relationships and connections with over 27 African nations in Minnesota, including 700 individuals and small business owners in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. We continue to expand and expect to reach collective goals with all of the African nations and ethnic business communities represented in Minnesota. Structure/Benefits There will be an increase in access to capital and support for African businesses to strive, expand and maintain jobs for Minnesotans. 

 

More specifically:

MAU wants to support the provision of African small business and nonprofits to access capital by building out an incubator in an area that is inclusive within their own market. This bill will increase access to capital, infrastructure support and training African immigrants with entrepreneurial spirits how to start and grow a small business in the Metro area.

Community Connections

MAU has established relationships and connections with over 27 African nations in Minnesota, including 700 individuals and small business owners in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. We continue to expand and expect to reach collective goals with all of the African nations and ethnic business communities represented in Minnesota. 

 

Structure/Benefits

There will be an increase in access to capital and support for African businesses to strive, expand and maintain jobs for Minnesotans. 

African immigrants come to the United States with credits, prior learning, and degrees from their home countries. But, those degrees do not transfer into the US education system or workforce. The future of Minnesota’s workforce and economy heavily relies on immigrant populations. However, these jobs are hard to fill particularly in the business sector. Credentials do not transfer and it is a barrier for the workforce. Immigrants accept employment that is entry-level compared to their employment from their home countries. When they arrive in Minnesota, they are put into group homes versus being offered fair and equitable housing. In addition, it is hard for them to get on their feet to fill jobs because their credentials are not recognized in the states which makes them hesitant to apply for jobs that they are qualified for. The gap that exists between the immigrant community and the workforce is rather large. If more of them have jobs, they will contribute to Minnesota’s economy while making Minnesota their home.

We want to:

• Increase the number of African immigrants in the Minnesota workforce

• Create a continuing education program for African immigrants so that credentials from their home countries will be validated.

• Integrate workforce training into education for African immigrants

• Help professional Africans from Bachelor’s degree and above to get into professional jobs with livable wages by connecting them with entry-level jobs within their companies.

• Promote diversity and employment services.

• Build a pipeline from entry level up to executive level positions. Impact

• Helping African immigrants and graduates fill job opportunities (creating resumes, training for jobs,)

• Linking job seekers to jobs (Review their LinkedIn Profiles)

• More people will have validated credentials from their home countries

• Increase the number of people going into the workforce to close the disparity in the workforce 

• Build a job database and training centers to increase the number of immigrants into jobs

• Increase partnerships with public and private corporations.