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by Hung Pham

Leave the fear behind - Griselda Barajas
Family is at the core of all success
- IIan Frank
An entrepreneur is someone who doesn’t have any other choice. All heart. All in.
- Francois Muse
Train people into leaders
- Mooniek Seebregts
It takes all kinds to make the world spin (words from her Irish father)
- Kit Dillion Givas
I worked hard to live the American Dream - Ognian Gavrilov
Excellence & Passion -
Myrnalyn Murray
Go to school (without debt)
- Stephanie Anthony
Creativity, future & desire to grow (reasons for starting her business)
- Koy Saephan


"Foreign-Born Entrepreneurs" by Dr. Ramya Ghosh, BPI Advisory Board

Many of us are probably aware that the foreign-born entrepreneurs in this nation founded or co-founded some of the most successful enterprises in the world such as Intel, eBay, Yahoo and Google just to name a few. But probably very few know that immigrants in this nation are more than twice as likely to start a business as the native-born. A 2012 report by The Partnership for a New American Economy noted that the immigrant business-formation rate in 2011 was 550 new businesses per month for every 100,000 immigrants, while the native-born rate was only 270 new businesses per month for every 100,000 native-born.

Another 2012 report by the Fiscal Policy Institute revealed that 18 percent of U.S. small businesses were owned by immigrants – significantly higher than the approximately 13 percent immigrant population in the country. Some states are doing even better in that regard. For example, in 2011, 36.6 percent of all business owners in California were foreign-born. Several California metro areas, including Sacramento, have relatively high levels of immigrant business ownership relative to the foreign-born share of their populations.

According to the same report, there are more than 4,000 foreign-born small-business owners in the Sacramento region. BPI Global Talk brought together seven such entrepreneurs at an event held on July 16 at Pennisi’s Deli in downtown Sacramento. The event was titled “Building Business Success: Sacramento’s Foreign-Born Entrepreneurs Talk” and it featured speakers who shared their stories and revealed the strategies that helped them to become successful entrepreneurs. The speakers represented diverse industries and were born in various countries including Bulgaria, Canada, France, Israel, Laos, Mexico and Netherlands.    

The numbers above clearly indicate that immigrants are highly entrepreneurial. One explanation for that is people who decide to come to America from other countries already possess certain character traits that are crucial to entrepreneurship. Immigrants are usually very hard-working, resourceful and more willing to take risks. A great example of that is Ognian Gavrilov, Managing Partner of Gavrilov & Brooks law firm, and a speaker at the BPI event.

“I worked hard to live the American Dream,” Gavrilov, a Bulgaria native, said. “Took a lot of risks and somehow made it."

Many immigrants are also not afraid to step out of their comfort zones and they are able to see things from different perspectives. Griselda Barajas, owner of Griselda’s Catering and Event Planning, did not have any prior experience of managing a business but she was willing to give it a try.

“Don’t be afraid to start your own business,” said Barajas, who was born in Mexico City and immigrated to the States when she was 12 years old. “It’s a wonderful journey as long as you are willing to be humbled and learn from it.”

The event was a huge success. It was very informative and the audience loved the intimate setting, the wonderful speakers and their fascinating stories. I am already looking forward to the next BPI event. The next event will be held at Drexel University at 5:30pm on Wednesday, October 14. The title of the event is “Broadening Horizons: Sacramento’s Global Business Owners Talk.” Hope to see you there.


Fairlie, Robert (2012). “Open for Business: How Immigrants Are Driving Small Business Creation in the United States”, A Report by The Partnership for a New American Economy, August 2012.

Kallick, David (2012). “Immigrant Small Business Owners: A Significant and Growing Part of the Economy”, A Report from the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative, June 2012. 

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