1. Who is eligible to benefit from International Hartford?

Any foreign born adult living in Hartford, and their children. Also, any foreign born adult living outside Hartford who has or will set up a business in Hartford.

2. Will starting a business cost money?

Yes. Yes, at least some. For example, you should incorporate your business with the State, which usually costs $120. We often recommend you take a few business skills classes at the University of Hartford, which are most often free, but the more extensive ones have a cost. (Financial aid is available on a sliding scale). To qualify for a loan, expect to invest money in the business, or persuade your family and friends to do so.

3. Who pays for International Hartford?

Government and philanthropic grants. We do not charge clients for our services.

4. Who offers the small business classes?

University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center, with sites in East Hartford and Hartford. Community Economic Development Fund, located in Meriden, Spanish American Merchants Association (classes in Spanish), sited in Hartford.

5. Does getting ready to start a business take a long time?

Yes. Time is a key resource you must invest if you want to succeed. Only 1 in 10 business startups last 5 years, so if you want to beat the odds, you must pour your heart and soul into your venture. There may be additional challenges faced by immigrants and refugees, but we help you every step of the way.

6. What is the value of market research?

It’s a way to test your business idea to learn if it has the potential to win customers. Sometimes clients come to us with one business concept and together, we tweak or change it to another idea where there’s less competition or greater demand.

7. Is my identity or any other information I give to Inter Hartford available to the federal government?

Absolutely not. Everything you tell us is strictly confidential, including legal status. We do not discriminate, and we do not inform. If you wish, we can refer you to people or places to support you in gaining citizenship. Only with your permission would we share data with cooperating partners like schools or lenders.

8. How do I get a loan to help me start my business?

You get loans through us, not from us. It’s a 2 step process: a. We help you get your financial records in order. If you don’t have a credit history or have flaws in it, you can create or strengthen it. If you don’t keep track of your income or sources of income, we help you organize it. If some banks won’t accept you as a customer, we’ll find you one that will. This will help you get a “yes” when you ask for a loan.

b. We introduce you to a non-profit lender, with more flexibility than a bank, that wants to help you start your business.

9. Once I start the business, am I on my own?

Not if you want more help. We assign you a counselor who understands your language, or a counselor with a translator, to provide continuing advice and support.

10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of starting a business?

Pros: You can exploit a market opportunity others haven’t seen, or haven’t filled adequately. You are your own boss, master of your own fate. You can be imaginative. In time, you can probably earn more building a business than by working for someone else. You can own something solid, selling or passing it to loved ones when you finish. You create jobs for relatives and friends. Cons: There’s more risk of failure, or lack of regular pay, than at a regular job. By legal means, you can limit your risk of loss, but you will still have to post some security for a loan. You will work long hours. You will think about business even when you’re not working. It will likely take years before your business is secure.