International Entrepreneurship and Innovation

What do you think Better Business Bureau does?

For most people, Better Business Bureau is a resource: a place to access reviews and establish trust in companies. People look for positive recommendations through reviews or the BBB Trust Seal to know that the money they spend is in good hands.

The value of BBB Business Accreditation doesn’t stop there. At Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest, we are committed to being a resource for business knowledge and management tips. Every Accredited Business has access to a full range of services and offers to help them learn to grow their business.

Unfortunately, a lot of these resources can be out of reach for new and fledgling businesses, especially those owned and operated by people in immigrant or minority communities. Like many others, we have meditated on how to bridge that gap to make those resources more readily available for under-served communities.

Diversity as Innovation

Why is it so important to strive to make that connection and provide resources to these communities?

Research has shown that inclusivity and diversity foster innovation. Innovation is based on people. Bringing together minds from different backgrounds and experiences develops strong and inventive ideas.

With an inclusive pool of diverse mindsets, more potential bad decisions are caught before they reach production. The ideas that may alienate or cause harm are never pushed forward because a diverse group is more likely to notice anything that may make them problematic.

Great products and solutions are born at the intersection of ideas, experiences, and challenges. If necessity is the mother of invention, then diversity is a critical part of innovation.

Statistical Impact of International Entrepreneurs

According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, minority-owned businesses accounted for more than 50 percent of the two million new businesses started in the United States over the last 10 years. This brings the total number of minority-owned companies in the United States up to four million, with total annual revenue totaling $700 billion.

There are still strides to be made. Though the recent numbers are encouraging, minority-owned businesses still only make up 18 percent of the total business population. Additionally, the average gross receipts for existing minority-owned businesses dropped by 16 percent.

Entrepreneurs in minority communities face many challenges in starting and maintaining their businesses. According to Benetrends Financial, minority business owners are less likely to receive small business loans, and when they do, they typically get them in smaller amounts.

Providing resources like education and access to capital is one way to help minority-owned businesses continue to form and thrive. Rising tides lift all boats, and with a more empowered base of minority business owners, the sails will be primed for the winds of change and innovation.

International Entrepreneur Summit’

BBB invites all minority and refugee entrepreneurs to the second annual International Entrepreneur Summit, powered by GoDaddy.

This one-day virtual summit, to be held on April 7th from 11:30 AM — 2:00 PM, will cover the foundational topics of incorporating your business, financing your business, and marketing your business. This educational summit is perfect for those who are looking to start and early-stage entrepreneurs as we will share resources and tools available to immigrant communities.

We have initiated this virtual conference with the vision of honoring refugee and immigrant business owners seeking tools and mentorship to reach the next level. BBB is committed to being a resource and providing resources for all business owners and entrepreneurs. We recognize that entrepreneurs in minority communities are often underserved, and we hope this summit will help them to explore the opportunities available to them.

To reflect the diversity ideas and backgrounds welcomed at BBB, below we highlighted three stories of the international and immigrant experience:

Linda’s Story

It was early on in my life that I experienced life as an immigrant. At the age of four, my family was forced to flee from Iran, the country I was born into, to France. While my family was in a very vulnerable circumstance it was my father’s resolute spirit that led him to be a successful entrepreneur.

My family settled in Paris, France where my father opened his own plastic surgery practice, ensuring a safe and comfortable life for us. As I grew up, my parents were adamant that I study and learn as many languages as possible to build a multicultural, and multifaceted outlook. As I look back on my life I know it was my parents encouragement that led me to be the person I am today.

After college I received my Masters degree in Luxury Industry Business Management and I started working at the Hôtel Ritz Paris. After seven years solidifying my career as the Public Relations and Marketing Director, my desire to move and explore new cultures skyrocketed. It was during this time that I looked back on my childhood for direction.

When I was a teenager, I had the opportunity to visit the United States and discover the incredible city of San Francisco. I was blown away by the modernity and “the sky’s the limit’’ mentality. It profoundly resonated in me.

Being fluent in English, French, and Spanish, I thought I could share my expertise in hospitality in the United States.

In 2008 I was sponsored for a H1B visa in San Diego. While I was incredibly excited for this new opportunity I had to take a junior position and work my way up the ladder. It felt like starting over again. I worked hard for seven years and in 2015 I was eligible for my green card. Since then I have been able to call the United States my third home.

My cross-cultural experiences have been rich in connection and innovation.

A few years later, I reached a moment where I wanted to work in the non-profit sector and share my own experience to energize immigrants from all backgrounds and empower them to thrive in their business endeavors. That’s when I found Better Business Bureau.

Working at Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest as Director of Hospitality and Business Development gave me that opportunity and brought a tremendous amount of meaning to my life. Embracing my background and sharing it with other people changed my life for the better.

It is through my experience that I am continually inspired to help the immigrant community.

Rosie’s Story

Though I didn’t realize it, entrepreneurship has been a constant in my life. In fact, it was not until recently that I discovered that I come from a family of entrepreneurs.

From a young age, I was surrounded by strong, powerful women. Looking back, I realize that it was their entrepreneurship that inspired me to be the woman I am today. Prior to immigrating to the United States, my mother and grandmother endeavoured in many business ventures.

From selling produce at the local market to even owning a convenience store, my mother and grandmother always found a way to be successful. It was also during this time that my father worked as a carpenter for his family’s business.

The entrepreneurial spirit migrated to the United States with us. I have memories of helping my mother bake cakes, flan, cheese cake, and other desserts to sell to neighbors, family, and friends. When you move to a new country at the age of 5, there are many things you do not understand until later in life. As immigrants, it can be very difficult to find your footing. The resources available to you are very limited and the barriers of access to these resources are limitless. Many immigrants, like my family, turn to entrepreneurship for a sustainable source of income and livelihood.

It is because of my experience and background that I now devote myself to advocate for the immigrant community through the work that I do. I am honored and appreciate being able to create programs and summits like our International Entrepreneur Summit to support and empower immigrant entrepreneurs.

Maria’s Story

In the early 2000’s, my parents were faced with financial struggles and unemployment while living in our hometown in Navojoa Sonora, Mexico. Ultimately this led to my parents sacrificing the only home they knew, leaving behind their family and friends to provide my siblings and I better opportunities. We moved to Arizona in 2004 when I was 3 years old. As a migrant family, our growth and success has been challenged again and again. . We didn’t speak English, we didn’t know a lot of people, and we were still struggling financially. I was well aware of my parents’ struggles and I can still recall when my dad would worry if we would have money to put food on our table. However, my parents were determined to pull us forward by working hard and encouraging us to continue our education.

I would escape into school work with the dreams of one day being the reason my parents no longer worried about money. My dream to pursue a higher education was driven by the constant reminder that I was here to succeed. It was a goal I knew I had to accomplish for myself and for my family who always emphasized the importance of education.

The hard work paid off when I was offered a full-ride scholarship to continue my education at Grand Canyon University. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to pursue. I sought guidance from others; still it was my father’s hard work that led me to shape the career goals I set upon myself. He always carries his equipment, with his shoes and clothes permanently stained with dust and paint from working as an auto body technician. There are those rough days when he doesn’t have customers, and yet I was inspired by his determination to build a small business out of what he enjoyed doing. . I followed in his footsteps with the aspiration to pursue a career in entrepreneurship and marketing.

I am now a Junior at GCU and majoring in marketing and advertising with a minor in entrepreneurship. In 2019, I got the position as a Community Concierge Assistant at Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest, where I am surrounded by individuals who give me opportunities to learn something new everyday, who embrace cultural differences, and who encourage me to challenge myself.

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