Most of us are the children of immigrants. Immigration is what made us great in the first place.
This is especially true when it comes to entrepreneurship. Sergy Brin, co-founder of Google, is an immigrant. Elon Musk of Tesla fame is an immigrant. Arianna Huffington is an immigrant. Jan Koum, co-founder of WhatsApp, is an immigrant. And the owner of the auto repair place down the street from you is likely also an immigrant.
By and large, immigrants are good — nay, great — citizens
By and large, immigrants are not only good — nay, great — citizens, they are powerful drivers of economic activity. According to a report for the National Foundation for American Policy, “among the billion dollar startup companies, immigrant founders have created an average of approximately 760 jobs per company in the United States.”
And yet, that immigrants are entrepreneurial is really no secret, but what remains too much of a secret is the extent of that entrepreneurial activity. It is both impressive and extensive.
- More than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or their children
- More than half of America’s startup companies valued at more than $1 billion were started by immigrants
- Immigrants are twice as likely to start a new business as someone born here
According to the Kauffman Foundation, “immigrants have a disproportionate presence in the entrepreneurial community — i.e., immigrants make up a larger share of entrepreneurs than they make of the population.”
Why is that?
For starters, immigrants are risk-takers. Imagine leaving your home, your language, your friends, your family — your life — and starting over in a new country. To do so requires courage, smarts, initiative and most especially, risk-tolerance. These are all traits an entrepreneur must have, but that last one especially is needed to start both a new life and a new business.
Immigrants also get how to start something from nothing. What does it take to launch a successful business? An idea is needed, sure, and brains and a work ethic definitely. But in the beginning especially it requires that entrepreneurs have a vision, that they are able to see things that others cannot and do not see.
Immigrants and entrepreneurs both believe in two other, important, things.
First, they believe in themselves. Immigration and entrepreneurship both necessitate that the individuals involved believe that there is something better out there and that if they work hard and follow their vision, they will be able to reach their goal, be it a new life in a new country or a new life in their own business.
Finally, and critically, immigrants and entrepreneurs alike both believe in America.
For generations, people across the globe have seen the United States as, as Ronald Reagan once put it, “a shining city on a hill.” It is the place where dreams come true, one that rewards hard work and initiative, and a country where immigrants have the ability to give themselves and their children a better life and greater opportunity.
Immigrant entrepreneurs believe the same thing. In far too many places in this crazy, mixed-up world, creating a business holds no allure. Crony capitalism (if even we can call it that) combined with corruption makes creating a business almost impossible. But not here. Immigrant entrepreneurs know that. They have such faith in the American way of life that they are willing to bet their lives and future on that system. On us.
So enough with the immigrant bashing and instead let’s say, God bless a United States of immigrants.
(This post first appeared on USATODAY.com.)