By: Vivian Kaleta
Throughout America’s history there has always been a negative stigma surrounding immigrants. Despite this, many immigrant entrepreneurs are proving this stigma wrong with their achievements.
To start off, immigrants are much more likely to start businesses than people born in the United States. “The percentage of adults, both born in the United States and immigrant, who became entrepreneurs in 2016, was .31%. The entrepreneurship rate for immigrants during the same time period was higher at .52%, about twice the rate of those from the United States. In other words, “for every 100,000 immigrants, 520 became entrepreneurs in a given month.” (Kosten, 2018)
Immigrant entrepreneurs are also benefiting the United States economy. Immigrant- founded businesses live on beyond their founders, generating jobs and revenue for years to come. New American Economy research found that from the 2020 Fortune 500 firm companies founded, about “45% of those firms had at least one founder who either immigrated to the United States or was the child of immigrants. In 2019 alone, a collective revenue adding up to $6.3 trillion was generated by those immigrant founded firms and they employed over 13 million people” supplying United States born workers with jobs and contradicting the common belief that immigrants “steal American jobs.” Immigrant Attorney, Kathy Sak, said she thought the word “steal” was very opinionated and harsh. “In the past couple years, the United States has received greater amounts of immigrants that have higher levels of education and are seeking opportunities to use their education in ways they couldn’t in their home country.”
Regardless, immigrants are still stigmatized in business. Aleksandra Efimova, an immigrant from Russia, immigrated to the United States at age 15. She founded her business Russian Pointe which provides pointe shoes for ballet dancers. When asked about her journey, Efimova said it was not an easy task. “Everything was a big shock for being a 15 year old girl. Anything from learning the English language, establishing relationships, and adapting to a new way of life. With that in mind, America does reward those who work hard.” Efimova wanted to leave some advice for any young immigrants or children of immigrants wanting to become entrepreneurs: “Identify what the “American dream” means to you and go for it.” Although she had challenges, Efirmova sees being an immigrant as a benefit. She has connections and global experiences.