Immigrants Credit Luck & A CU Loan For Business

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If you're ever in Raleigh, stop by the Hotpoint Caf?, order a cup of coffee and a foccacia sandwich, and experience one immigrant family's American Dream.

It's there in the kitchen where the meals are being prepared, in the dining room where patrons are being served, and in the eyes of its owners, Nadia and Yuriy Kakovsky, grateful that Coastal Federal Credit Union here was willing to help.

The couple were once successful operators of a complex business network that included an apartment building, caf?, laundromat and hair salon in their homeland, Artic, Ukraine. In 1995, the fall of communism, followed by corruption and unrest and a crumbling of the old Russian economy, took away everything they earned.

"We were so burdened by high taxes," Nadia Kakovsky said. "It was hard to live with any hope of future."

Yuriy added, "It seemed like all this money that we'd worked so hard to earn just vanished . . ."

After winning a green card lottery offered by the United States, the couple and their three children landed in Raleigh, N.C., where they learned to speak English from a church group they met upon arrival. Nadia eventually got a job at JC Penney and Yuriy, an architect and construction manager, stocked grocery shelves until he was hired as a highway designer for the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Upon her successful completion of accounting classes (taken during her nights off), Nadia was hired as an accounting specialist at one of Coast Federal Credit Union's 700-plus select employee groups.

That's when the couple felt safe enough to dream about owning a restaurant.

Despite rejection after rejection from investors and lenders, the couple called Coastal FCU Business Lending Officer John Mason.

"He asked us detailed questions, showed so much concern not only for our business, but he was genuinely interested in us," Nadia said. "He told us the truth-that it may be difficult to find a loan we qualified for."

But, she added, Mason also said he would continue to search for a loan that met the couple's criteria. "He never said, 'No, we can't do this or that,'" Nadia said.

Six months later, Mason delivered the good news that he had found a member business loan comparable to their needs.

"I really wanted to make things happen for them," Mason told The Credit Union Journal. "I can't tell you the emotion that came over me the day I finally called to tell them that their dream was going to come true."

Mason said it made him feel good about what he does for a living.

For Nadia and Yuriy Kakovsky, it was a key to their future in America.

"America, as I've come to know, offers choices and many great services," Nadia said. "I can get everything I need and the services that will support me as a person from the people I trust at Coastal."

She said that she and her husband are proud to tell others they do business with Coastal Federal CU "because it is the only one willing to be with us from the beginning of our dream to the end."

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