Investing in a Stronger Local Economy through Education & Support
After spending 18 years in a refugee camp in Nepal, Bishnu Dhimal came to Akron in 2009 with his wife, two sons, and an entrepreneurial spirit. From the young age of 13 in his home of Bhutan, Bishnu pursued his passion for entrepreneurship by running small businesses to meet the needs of his neighbors and community. Over the years, his hard work and passion resulted in the growth and expansion of his businesses.
This prosperity ended when he was exiled to Nepal in 1991. Bishnu describes, “I had to leave all of my properties and had to walk out my country without everything, totally.” Yet, despite living in a refugee camp for nearly two decades, he never lost his entrepreneurial drive. With the aid of resettlement services from the International Institute of Akron, he and his family restarted their lives in Akron. Knowing that he faced many barriers, especially with language, Bishnu began his journey by enrolling in English and other educational programs at the Institute. Overall, Bishnu feels the classes he took were very valuable in preparing him for his new home and for his and his family’s future. In December 2014, after attending citizenship classes and receiving help in completing his application at the Institute, he became a U.S. citizen.
Within four years of his arrival in the U.S., Bishnu’s dream came true. In 2013, he opened Dhimal’s Mini Marts on North Hill, with his brother Krishna selling produce, food, clothing, and household items to the local community. Like Bishnu, the Institute assisted Krishna and his family in resettling in Akron in 2012, taking a path to self-sufficiency by enrolling in our classes.
“I’m 59 years old and I’ve never been to school,” Krishna says of his experience, “I wanted to try hard to improve my English and pass my citizenship test. That’s why I go to school. To make myself more strong for my kids and my job.” Bishnu agrees, “That is all I want to do. I want to give a lesson to my children: this is how we get success in our life.” He adds, “I’m really proud to be a U.S. citizen with all kinds of opportunities and responsibility. I feel Akron is my luckiest place. I opened a business, I go to school, and became a U.S. citizen here. Akron is such a really beautiful place with a field of opportunities: security, a lot of hospitality, and education.”