The U.S.’s EB-5 program is an intriguing funding strategy for companies. But Sara Vaziri is taking the program to a new level by helping immigrant investors overcome obstacles and getting them acclimated to the challenging U.S. business environment.
BY RICK WEINBERG, CALIFORNIA BUSINESS JOURNAL
The U.S.’s EB-5 is a federal program that enables immigrant investors to become permanent residents by investing money in a business that will employ at least 10 American workers.
Applicants can invest individually or they can choose to work through a larger investor pool via Regional Centers (RCs).
But according to EB-5 and franchise business consultant and expert Sara Vaziri, there are obstacles that make investing individually difficult for EB-5 applicants, forcing them to use a Regional Center.
“The problem with the EB-5 program is that the investment needs to be done now — and then it takes several years for the applicants to get to the country,” Vaziri says. “Moreover, a good number of franchises don’t work with someone who doesn’t have green card or is not a citizen. Additionally, landlords are not willing to let a foreigner lease a commercial place. There are also other obstacles along the way.”
But Vaziri is changing the entire landscape of this process by “setting the stage” for immigrants before they arrive in the U.S. by helping them overcome hurdles and making the transition easier for them.
“When an immigrant makes their initial investment through an EB-5 program, they have to wait at least three years to come to the U.S. and when they arrive they don’t know where to start, they don’t have any idea about the business environment in the U.S. and they don’t even have access to their investment at least for a couple of years,” Vaziri says.
So what Vaziri does is “set the stage” for them.
“We assist them to keep their business according to the business plan while they are outside the U.S. or when they arrive to the U.S.,” she says. “We also train them about the business environment in the U.S. We not only are helping them in finding job creating opportunities for the country but also we are helping them to start successfully in the country.”
Vaziri, a MBA graduate and Mechanical Engineer who helped run her family’s engineering consulting firm with 150 employees in Tehran, Iran for more than a decade, came to the U.S. several years ago and launched a franchise consulting business focused on helping foreign entrepreneurs buy U.S. franchises.
“Most business immigrants leave successful lives in their home countries to make successful lives for their children in the U.S.,” Vaziri says. “They sacrifice their own lives to come here then have difficulty duplicating the success in the U.S. that they experienced in their home country. Sometimes, they even become depressed, leading to an unsuccessful experience.
“But by setting the stage for them, we wind up getting successful entrepreneurs who help create more jobs for the community as well as happy successful families living in the community. This is what Franchise Elites is all about. We help establish a franchise business for these people years before they come to the country and we help them learn about different aspects of having a successful business in U.S.”
Vaziri starts educating them years before they come to the country by producing shows like “The Franchise World” and “Business in the U.S.” and setting up an online business education website.
“When an immigrant comes to the U.S., running a franchise business is the best option for them in today’s business environment,” Vaziri says. “Most immigrants want to come to America to provide better lives for their children. Our goal is to help them — and we want to help them avoid a disastrous situation. Many immigrants fail in this area because they’re not properly taught about American business landscape and how to succeed in business here. We want them to be fully prepared to run the franchise business and live a great life in America.”
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