Kuran Malhotra On the Challenge of Financial Literacy for Immigrant Owned Businesses

Kuran Malhotra believes in the American Dream. He believes people of all creeds, ethnicities, and backgrounds should have access to the tools and networks required to run a small business in American. He helps immigrant-owned businesses navigate the American market. “Small Businesses are often described as the backbone of the United States.”, Kuran Malhotra states emphatically. New data collected in 2019 shows that Immigrant-owned businesses employ nearly 8 million Americans and wield $1.1 Trilling in spending power*. With nearly every city and community containing immigrants and immigrant-owned businesses, it’s no wonder immigrant-owned businesses are a large contributor to national employment and stability.  In order to have a successful and financially thriving community, education of and access to financial institutions are necessary for all individuals.

English Proficiency Challenges Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Most first-generation immigrant business owners have what is called Limited English Proficiency*. This is a term used to describe those individuals that are not fluent in the English language. “These business owners face tough challenges when navigating the financial system within the United States.”, states Kuran Malhotra. There are many different acronyms and financial terms in the banking industry such as FDIC(Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), DSR(Debt Service Ratio), SBA(Small Business Association), SLA(Service Level Agreements), and so on. Trying to understand these terms when fluent in English is difficult, let alone in another language. 

In addition to the abundance of financial terms that an immigrant business owner must learn, many banking institutions are not equipped to service native, English-speaking business owners as well as immigrant business owners. While advancements have been made in the banking industry there are still a number of improvements that need to be made, including hiring more bilingual staff, providing bilingual and native language materials, and bilingual websites.

Despite having English Language Proficiency difficulties, immigrant business owners typically find alternate financial assistance. These alternative forms of assistance are usually common scams that specifically target immigrant business owners who are not fluent in the English language nor US financial terms*. This means that immigrant business owners are more susceptible to scams and illegitimate financial practices. These business owners, who are unfamiliar with US financial institutions and best practices, more often than not find themselves in situations where they are deceived by high-interest loans and high-cost predatory financial products.

Due to the rampant deception and lack of bilingual assistance within financial institutions, immigrant businesses typically, and rightfully, distrust traditional banking within the United States. Many immigrants have not only had negative experiences within their native countries but experience them once they get to the US. This makes them less likely to want to build relationships within any legitimate financial institution. The challenge of building relationships is further complicated when banks don’t strive to have the ability to communicate properly with those immigrants seeking financial resources.

Kuran Malhotra Stresses The Importance of Multilingual Hires 

Being fluent in Spanish and English has allowed for Kuran Malhotra to see first-hand what disadvantages exist for immigrant business owners within the financial community. He believes it is imperative that every financial institution seek out, hire, and train individuals that are multilingual to better service immigrant-owned and run businesses. Kuran Malhotra states, “In order to have successful small businesses across all areas of the United States, further efforts need to be made within the finance industry to incorporate immigrant business owners.” In addition to hiring qualified personnel and reaching out to the immigrant community, financial institutions should equip themselves with the capability to incorporate modern translation technology into everyday usage for banking employees and immigrant business owners. Making changes to increase banking and financial access to immigrants will grow their companies while growing the banking institutions themselves. As a member of the ever-growing financial industry, Malhotra strives to provide access to the best information and resources to each and every one of his clients.

 

 *https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/press-release/new-data-shows-immigrant-owned-businesses-employed-8-million-americans-immigrants-wield-1-1-trillion-in-spending-power/

*https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/special-topics/limited-english-proficiency/index.html

*https://www.ct.gov/smartconsumer/cwp/view.asp?Q=590934