In January 2012, when Mariama Jallow arrived in the United States from her home country, The Gambia, she had ambitions to be a part of the growing immigrant business-owner community in Portland, Maine. After overcoming many hurdles, including advocating for and seeing the shift in a state law, developing a business plan, and opening a type of business that was new to the state of Maine, she now owns and operates Mariama’s Beauty Supply store on Forest Avenue in Portland.
After working with CEI to work through a challenging regulatory situation, Mariama opened her business in the summer of 2016 as a hair product retail store. After a few months, some of her clients began renting rooms in the store for their personal hair braiding services. While Mariama is not a hair braider, she is excited to offer a space where skilled immigrants can earn a living for themselves. In the Portland area, there are no stores that are solely dedicated to African hair sales and services. Some hair is sold in small grocers, but Mariama’s Beauty Supply is the first hair‐only
In May 2018, CEI provided her with a $5,000 SBA Microloan to help her expand her inventory.