The American Dream: Immigrants and Entrepreneurs

The United States has long been the destination for people in pursuit of a better life. The “American Dream” draws immigrants seeking out freedoms including the opportunity for prosperity and success. These dreams include the chance to start their own businesses. The recent U.S. Census found that immigrants own 18% of small businesses in the U.S., a six percent increase from 1990. To put this into perspective, immigrants only account for 13% of the total U.S. population (Arora). Although immigrants have had to confront the poor economy and the lack of opportunities to secure traditional financing, they have proven themselves to be formidable entrepreneurs using determination and hard work to create successful businesses.The entrepreneurial drive demonstrated by immigrants was born through the sacrifices made coming to the United States. Leaving their country and family behind in hopes of finding a better life provides the drive to succeed. Jim Blaine, CEO of the State Employees Credit Union, said “Latinos are following in the footsteps of European immigrants a century ago. They all come in, and they have to be entrepreneurs” (Deconto). The numerous immigrants that I have interviewed over the past decade have shared that they have sacrificed to come to the United States in order to have the possibility of a better life for themselves and their children. They don’t mind working multiple jobs to support themselves and their families both here and back home while they also save up to start-up their own business. Although the current economy crisis has had a major impact on many within the United States, and many are fearful of the uncertain future, it is the immigrants who hold onto hope that even through these challenging times there is room for growth and a chance at a better life that what they left. There are many reasons for people to immigrate to a foreign land but most come hoping for the possibility to embrace a new life where they are in control of their destiny through certain freedoms that are afforded to all within the United States. These freedoms include freedom to: choose your own religion, operating in a capitalist society, seek out an education, and make a better life for your family.Even before the financial crisis started and funding became more challenging, immigrants faced the reality that seeking traditional financing would be difficult. Traditional lenders request a variety of documentation and proof of financial stability to support loans. This can be challenging for many immigrants. Any immigrant who recently immigrated would not have a credit score, nor access to credit or a solid job history, even if they earned a decent living in their home country. The culture of holding tight to family bonds and supporting each other collectively is what makes financing possible for many new start-up ventures of immigrants. Stieber writes, that although “there are many government resources available to would-be entrepreneurs, most still rely on family and friends for most financing and other forms of support” (Stieber).Interestingly enough, the majority of the immigrant entrepreneurs do not have college degrees (Arora). Even when immigrants have a degree from a higher educational institutions, their qualifications are often not recognized within the United States. Due to the limited employment opportunities, immigrants decide to start their own businesses and hire other immigrants to work with them and help run their businesses. However, an estimated 4.7 million U.S. workers are employed by immigrant owned firms gathering some $776 billion in revenues, according to the most recent figures in the Fiscal Policy Institute report (Koba). This observation that immigrants who do not have any formal higher education are able to start-up businesses in a foreign country is an example of how attitude and hard work go a long way in the entrepreneurial realm.History has shown that immigrants in the United States of America provide remarkable economic strength. The U.S. attracts immigrants with its pro-growth culture and outstanding universities who often stay and create valuable, fast-growing startup firms. The current fear surrounding the economic crisis has capped visas and green cards available to immigrants, which has led to a decline in foreign workers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. As a result, the U.S. is currently at risk of losing its footing as the “brain magnet” compared to other nations (Immigration & Entrepreneurship). What will the future administration decide in regards to immigration? One thing is for sure: the passion and drive that is required to be a successful entrepreneur can be found in many immigrants who come to the U.S. seeking out a better life.Sources:Arora, Rohit, Immigrants and the American Dream of Small Business Ownership, FOX Business. July 03, 2012.”Census Bureau Reports Hispanic-Owned Businesses Increase at More Than Double the National Rate” The United States Census Bureau. September 21, 2010.Deconto, Jesse James, “Small loans build Latino business dreams” News & Observer Newspaper, August 17, 2010.Immigration & Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship, Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship, Kauffman Foundation.Koba, Mark, How immigrants are changing US Businesses,, Sept 4, 2012.Stieber, Zachary,Immigrant Entrepreneurs Lean on the Familiar Government help available but families provide most support, Epoch Times.

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