African Development Center

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Immigrant entrepreneurs are still the lifeblood of Cedar-Riverside

The brightly colored green and orange building on Riverside and 20th Avenues is a beacon of hope for many aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs. It houses the African Development Center which provides business and home loans for African, Asian and Latin American immigrants as well as training on financial literacy, business development and home ownership.  It serves many of the same functions as Scandia Bank (now Associated Bank on Cedar and Riverside Avenues) did for Scandinavian immigrants 100 years ago. 

ADC was founded by Somali American Hussein Samatar in 2003. In 1991, Samatar was an aspiring economist and had just graduated from college when his home country was engulfed in civil war. “It makes you who you are, if you go through that humbling experience. One day, you are on top of the world, and the other day, you are fleeing from shelling, killing and mayhem.” Samatar fled the violence and in 1993 was allowed entry to the U.S. He arrived by himself, leaving family and friends behind, “But I never looked back; I looked forward.” He learned English at a Minneapolis library and went on to get an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. 

After working for a bank for a few years he was inspired from his own experiences to create the ADC to help other African immigrants and refugees get the financial training needed for their new lives in America. Many of these services were not available through traditional channels: ADC, for instance, responded to the needs of Muslim entrepreneurs by creating interest-free loans. 

One business the ADC helped was the Afro Deli, a popular restaurant that offers a fusion of East African and Middle Eastern cuisine. Abdirahman Kahin, a Somali American entrepreneur, founded it in 2010 as "a social venture that attempts to weave together business with community and culture." It was one of the first businesses supported by the ADC from its flagship location in Cedar-Riverside. 

The ADC now has locations throughout Minnesota and has helped hundreds of immigrants and refugees gain the economic tools they need to realize their dreams. Several ADC-sponsored businesses are located in its building on 1931 S. 5th St. 

Images

African Development Center, 2015

African Development Center, 2015

The African Development Center provides education and financial services for immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. It was the first financial organization in the U.S. to provide interest-free loans to Muslim entrepreneurs. Image courtesy of Anduin (Andy) Wilhide | Creator: Anduin (Andy) Wilhide View File Details Page

Hussein Samatar, 2013

Hussein Samatar, 2013

In addition to his entrepreneurial spirit, Samatar had a passion for education and civic engagement. In 2006 he was appointed to the Minneapolis Library Board of Trustees by Mayor R.T. Rybak and then, in 2010, he was elected to the Minneapolis School Board. Samatar was the first Somali American elected to office in Minnesota. Samatar's inspiring journey was cut short by leukemia; he died on August 25, 2013. | Source: The Big E, “Hussein Samatar dies Sunday, 45 years old,” MN Progressive Project, August 26, 2013 View File Details Page

Community Collaboration

Community Collaboration

Immigrant entrepreneurs, Hussein Samatar and Ramon Leon, helped create the Midtown Global Market. Leon created the Latino Economic Development Center in 1999 to help Latino immigrants start and build businesses in Minnesota. Samatar sought Leon's advice when he was planning to create something similar for African immigrants and refugees. The Global Midtown Market opened in 2006 and provides new entrepreneurs with a place to develop their businesses. | Source: "Hussein Samatar and Ramon Leon at the Global Midtown Market in 2011," Wikipedia | Creator: Martin Merzer View File Details Page

Abdirahman Kahin in Afro Deli, 2016

Abdirahman Kahin in Afro Deli, 2016

After working in local restaurants, Abdirahman Kahin had a dream to start his own. He founded Afro Deli in the ADC's flagship location in 2010. He and Hussein Samatar hoped the Deli would be both profitable and popular with diverse audiences. In 2014, Kahin opened a second location in St. Paul. In 2016, he closed the location in Cedar-Riverside but will re-open on the University of Minnesota's East Bank campus in 2017. | Source: “Abdirahman Kahin in Afro Deli” Minnesota Daily, June 22, 2016 | Creator: Zach Bielinski View File Details Page

Dalab Jewelry, 2012

Dalab Jewelry, 2012

Barlin Aden grew up in Somalia but had to flee her homeland in 1991 when civil war erupted. During their escape, Aden and her family were in a car accident which claimed the lives of her siblings. Aden eventually came to the United States in 1999 and in 2002 she moved to Minnesota to join the Somali community here. She was inspired by her uncle to create her own business. He helped get her started by supplying jewelry from China. Aden now imports a variety of items from the Middle East and India. Image courtesy of African Development Center | Source: “Dalab Jewelry: A Shining Example of Success,” African Development Center, 2012 View File Details Page

Business Training Class, 2010

Business Training Class, 2010

The ADC offers workshops on business development for aspiring entrepreneurs. These training sessions are a first step for many who want to start a business, and also help the ADC get to know the drive and dreams of its clients. For Samatar, “The best part of my job is to see people develop their dreams into reality.” This workshop, hosted in 2010, included a woman who was an event planner and wanted to open a restaurant, a woman who ran a used clothes store and wanted to open a boutique and a man who wanted to open a frozen yogurt business. Image courtesy of African Development Center | Source: “New ADC Clients on Their Way to Owning Businesses,” 2010 View File Details Page

Innovative Business Roots

Innovative Business Roots

Before the African Development Center moved in, this building was home to the North Country Co-op Grocery, the first food co-op in Minneapolis. It began when the Shroyer sisters, who were living in Cedar-Riverside at the time, started the People's Pantry where they sold organic food at bulk prices from their porch. In 1970 their business became the worker-controlled North Country Co-op (NCCP) with its own building on 2129 Riverside Avenue. NCCP was part of the "new wave" Co-op movement for organic and healthy foods that originated in the 1970s. It was very successful, and for almost four decades provided the neighborhood with bulk organic foods. In 1998 it moved to 1931 S. 5th'St. It closed in 2007. The African Development Center moved in in 2009.' | Source: North Country Co-op Grocery Facebook Group View File Details Page

Video

The Afro Deli Story

Source: http://www.afrodeli.com/ View File Details Page

Street Address:

1931 S. 5th St., Minneapolis, MN 55454 [map]

Official Website:

African Development Center

Cite this Page:

Anduin (Andy) Wilhide, “African Development Center,” Augsburg Digi-Tours, accessed November 19, 2017, http://digitours.augsburg.edu/items/show/17.
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