As we mark the end of Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month this May, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes how important the success of America’s 1.5 million AAPI- owned businesses is to the strength of our economy.
With more than 2.8 million workers, these firms are fueling job creation and strengthening our communities at a critical time in our economic recovery – and SBA is here to help them grow and succeed.
Four years ago, America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs were struggling in the face of the worst economic environment since the Great Depression – and a banking sector that was frozen. Since that time, President Obama has worked to expand opportunities for AAPI business owners – particularly through increased access to credit.
And we’ve seen real progress.
We already know that SBA loans are three to five times more likely to be made to minority- and women-owned businesses than conventional small business loans made by banks. And between January 2009 and March 2013, over $19 billion went to AAPI small businesses through 27,485 SBA loans.
We’ve also been working closely with our partners at the White House and throughout the Administration to reach more AAPI small business owners across the country - owners like Mei Xu, the founder of Chesapeake Bay Candles.
Mei’s is a classic story of American success. In early 1994, she and her husband both left their jobs to follow their entrepreneurial spirits and establish Pacific Trade International and their premier brand Chesapeake Bay Candles. They used an SBA loan in 1995 to invest in their business and scale their operations, and Mei recently opened Chesapeake Bay’s first American manufacturing facility in Maryland, which will employ over 100 people and produce 16,000 candles a day.
At SBA, we’re constantly looking for more ways to help business owners like Mei, who have the creativity and drive to build a successful small business. And while we’ve made progress, we know that there is more work to do.
Private sector partners like the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE) play a key role in connecting America’s entrepreneurs with the opportunities they need to start a business, or take an existing company to the next level.
Earlier today, I had the pleasure of joining ACE Chairman Bill Imada and members of the Chamber’s board to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between our two organizations.
This strategic alliance lays the groundwork for our future partnership and will ensure that entrepreneurs across the country have the tools they need to start and grow businesses and create jobs.
As President Obama has said, “The story of America’s success is written by America’s entrepreneurs; men and women who took a chance on a dream and they turned that dream into a business, and somehow changed the world.”
This memorandum brings us one step closer to helping AAPI men and women achieve this dream.
And together we’re building a more resilient and more inclusive vision of entrepreneurship – one that creates jobs and strengthens our economy nationwide.