WORTHINGTON, Minn. —Nathalie Nkashama recently opened World Mart in Worthington to serve the growing African community in the area. Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) partnered with the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Southwest Regional Development Commission to finance Nkashama’s venture.
Prior to World Mart, there was no African Food store in Worthington, though Africans make up about 5.5 percent of the population in Nobles County. World Mart offers a variety of traditional African foods, including a large selection of items familiar to those from east Africa. The store also has jewelry, clothing and hair extensions.
“There is a great need for a grocery store to provide the special ethnic foods and cultural products African people desire. World Mart will be a place that will attract African immigrants and other minorities in Nobles County and nearby,” Nkashama said.
Born in the Congo, Nkashama lived in several west African countries while growing up. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Hamline University in St. Paul and previously worked in human services, most recently as a child protection social worker with Nobles County. Nkashama speaks five languages and is happy to share her knowledge of resources that are available for African families.
“World Mart is a great example of how our economy can benefit from meeting the needs of all community members. We’re excited Nathalie has opened this store, and we’re proud to be part of helping her get started,” said SWIF Economic Development Officer Jackie Turner.
Loan programs have been a key function of SWIF since its inception to support communities and businesses throughout southwest Minnesota. In 2001, microlending was added to existing programs as a tool to support small businesses and people looking for self-employment opportunities.
Microloan clients receive free technical assistance from SWIF staff to improve their business management skills. Areas of support include business planning and financials analysis, QuickBooks training, marketing assistance and other training opportunities for the life of the loan.
This microloan program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact SWIF at 800-594-9480, 320-587-4848 or [email protected].
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) is a nonprofit community foundation connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities to create a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive. Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has distributed more than $75 million through its grantmaking and business finance programs. Learn more at swifoundation.org.
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