Immigrants Are Changing The Landscape of Small Businesses




By: Kristina Busch

Entrepreneurial immigrants are bringing new ideas to the table. Leaving a home country to start a new life is a daring act in itself, and starting a new business is even more admirable.

We depend greatly on immigrant entrepreneurs, and previous research proves it. According to The Partnership For a New American Economy, immigrants or their children founded more than 40 percent of America’s Fortune 500 companies. The Fiscal Policy Institute reported that immigrants now own more than 18 percent of all incorporated businesses in the United States. Knowing this, there’s no doubt that immigrants are continuing to change the game in the business world.

Why is this important? The prevalence of immigrant entrepreneurs and their roles in the U.S. economy is only growing. Immigrants are now more than 2 times more likely to start a business than those born in the United States. They are also responsible for more than one in every four (28 percent) of U.S. businesses founded in 2011, according to The Partnership For a New American Economy.

Immigrants who start new businesses are filling the gap, as our country attempts to grow its way out of a recession. They are starting more businesses, which creates more jobs, and then brings more revenue to the economy. These facts should be vital to policymakers looking for ways to promote economic recovery.

This growth does not come without challenges, however. Policies to support immigrant entrepreneurship are vital. According to the Transatlantic Council on Migration, a project of the Migration Policy Institute, some challenges include: difficulties accessing credit from financial institutions, a lack of familiarity with the local markets and business environment, difficulties dealing with administrative burdens, and immigration and visa policies. Policies to support immigrant entrepreneurship, such as business-support programs and structural policies promoting an entrepreneurship-friendly environment will continue to be important for these populations.

The goal is that business-support programs (like the Prosperity Initiative) will empower minority entrepreneurs by fostering human, social, and financial capital. They will be able to access favorable conditions in order to establish and grow their businesses. Knowledge-based services, such as multilingual financial literacy and entrepreneurship training help develop country-specific human capital and business skills. Mentoring and network-building events are crucial as well.

The Prosperity Initiative is offering knowledge-based services to our clients, one being Start-Up Essentials. Start-Up Essentials is a once-a-month workshop held in both Rochester and Mankato. The event is filled with helpful information on how to start a new business. During the workshop, there is a guided discussion on these topics: feasibility of ideas, products, and services, why a written business plan is so important, supports and resources available, legal aspects of starting a business, and financial literacy. Followed by Start-Up Essentials is also a co-working event, where attendees can ask additional questions and put into practice what they’ve learned at the previous workshops.