Economic development program was created to address the economic needs of Somali and other East African families - most East African families in San Diego are comprised of single mothers, several children, and extended family members: nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. Many families have as many as 6-13 children. A large percentage of the families are on public assistance. East African refugees and immigrants, having left nations with agrarian subsistence economies and high illiteracy, face specific difficulties in urban settings with securing jobs and means of income. The community members try to solve the situation by opening their own businesses, however, they run into another set of problems of licensing and other regulation processes for new businessmen and women.
The dependence on public assistance disfranchises the community while it cannot provide any solid background to new immigrants and refugees and its members cannot economically rely on themselves. In a long run, the lack of job opportunities and programs integrating East African population into the wider San Diego community results in loss of the productive and economically potential members who opt for moving to different parts of the country.
SFS comprehensive economic development program is based on educational workshops and individual sessions, which introduce the East Africans to many aspects of the U.S. economic system and provide them with knowledge on how to become economically self-sufficient. The SFS Economic Development Program focuses on seven main areas:
• Financial Literacy Education
• Small Business Development
• Employment Services
• Individual and Business Tax Education
• Business Technology Education
• Case Management
• ESL classes
SFS program plays a crucial part in economic independence of the East African immigrants and refugees. Due to its specific culture, the members of this community differ from other refugees and immigrants in San Diego and are in need of programs specific to their problems, which are not offered by any other organization or services in the area. SFS's comprehensive Economic Development Program, with its unique culturally and linguistically approach, fills this gap.
• In 2010, SFS served over 250 clients with its economic development services.
• Almost 200 people were outreached with information on how to open or expand small business and 18 new businesses were opened.
• SFS holds bi-monthly workshops on financial literacy.
• Job development and ESL programs were started.
• A tracking system on all services was established to capture data about program participants, number of people served and most frequent problems the clients face. The services are evaluated by surveys filled out by clients.
SFS projects to double its numbers in 2011 - the overall number of clients is expected to be 500 and number of workshops on financial literacy, small business development and tax education will be doubled.
The economic development program is run thanks to gracious funds provided by: