It took more than two years, but Hassan Shire finally got a loan to start his business.

He hopes to get a permit soon to build his cafe — Kushite Gourmet Coffee — on West St. Germain Street.

“It was a happy ending,” he said through interpreter Mohamoud Mohamed, founder and director of the St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization.

But those two years weren’t easy. Shire, a Muslim, had difficulty obtaining a loan that would accommodate his faith. Islamic laws forbid Muslims from earning or paying interest.

SASSO is working with some area banks to help more Somali Muslims find success through home ownership or entrepreneurship.

Banks are creating loan programs that allow Muslims such as Shire to obtain financing for homes, businesses or cars. The programs meet American banking standards and regulations while complying with Islamic beliefs.

Because so many of the St. Cloud area’s Somalis are Muslim, the need is great, Mohamed said.

As a way of compromising with banks, and to help local immigrants learn about American finance, SASSO will teach financial literacy and home ownership classes this year.

At the end of each class, participants receive a certificate to show banks they have basic financial knowledge — something Mohamed said is required to obtain the specialty Islamic loans. (MORE)


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