The Changing Face of the American Entrepreneur

Karl R. LaPan President & CEO, The NIIC

Who comes to mind when you think of a famous entrepreneur from the past? Maybe Edison, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Larry Page. What do they all have in common? They are white males. The history books have long told the stories of this cohort of entrepreneurs, but the tide is changing, for sure. The rising star in the entrepreneurial world is the immigrant entrepreneur. As an INC. magazine article concluded in February 2015, “the most entrepreneurial group in America wasn’t born in America.”

What do I mean? The Kauffman Foundation’s 2016 Index of Startup Activity finds that immigrant entrepreneurs account for 27.5 percent of all new entrepreneurs in America. This nearly doubled the rate from 1997 and close to a two-decade high of 29.5 percent in 2011. Foreign born innovators are also an industrious bunch. According to the same report, immigrants are more likely than native-born Americans to launch new businesses, at a rate of 0.53 percent compared to 0.29 percent, respectively. Disproportionately, immigrant businesses are more likely to export. This is an essential component to US economic growth.

Immigrants are also succeeding at the same time. In fact, 20 percent of the 2014 Inc. 5000 CEOs were immigrants. Immigrant-owned businesses employ 1 in 10 Americans who work for private companies. And such companies generated more than $775 billion in sales. Put simply, immigrants are an important and essential component of our country’s entrepreneurship efforts.

What are we doing to foster this activity? On a national level, we can advocate for policies that benefit foreign-born innovators. I believe there is also great potential to affect change on a local level. For example, Dayton, Ohio created the “Welcome Dayton” plan to integrate immigrant residents into the community. Similarly, the Ohio Small Business Development Center, funded through the US Small Business Administration, assists immigrants in accessing resources that can help spur growth, provide business development assistance in order to overcome common marketplace and commercialization barriers. Locally, the NIIC is committed to supporting and nurturing all types of entrepreneurs through mentorship, capital access, and growth tools like WKI and business model canvas.

Mentorship is another way to advance the cause of the foreign-born entrepreneur. At The NIIC, our entrepreneurial guidance is hands-on. We are engaged and our energy is dedicated to you, the entrepreneur. We offer a network of volunteer mentors and trusted advisors to increase your likelihood of success and to accelerate your venture’s market entry and growth.

When you come to The NIIC, our engaged mentorship approach matches you with subject-matter experts, serial entrepreneurs and service providers. Mentors are chosen based on their expertise as it relates to your needs, business challenges and strategic opportunities.

Let’s talk, give us a call at (260) 407-NIIC (6442). Dream Big. Get Real @ The NIIC.


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