Op-ed OEX24-05

Op-Ed by Chiling Tong and Beto Yarce: Meeting Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Entrepreneurs Where They Are

Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) entrepreneurs have been an integral part of the fabric of American society for generations. They have played a pivotal role in the history and development of our country, and their importance and contributions continue to increase significantly.

May is designated as AANHPI Heritage Month and it’s a time for those of us serving the small business community to pause and reflect on the challenges, successes and perseverance of AANHPI entrepreneurs.

AANHPI businesses – particularly small businesses – offer a range of products and services that enrich our daily lives. Whether it’s our favorite corner store, quality personal care services or high-tech innovators, AANHPI business owners work hard to ensure the needs of customers, communities and our nation are met.

The National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship – better known as National ACE – along with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) work collaboratively year-round to help AANHPI small business owners realize the American dream of successful business ownership. 

National ACE and the SBA are just two of the partners in this strong relationship between entrepreneurs, business service providers and advocates for small businesses and the last few years have provided ample testament to the benefits of their continued commitment to the success of minority business owners. AANHPI entrepreneurs now own more than 3 million small businesses across America, employ more than 5.2 million people and generate $985 billion in sales annually. They have the highest rate of entrepreneurship with one in ten businesses being AANHPI-owned.

This is part of the historic small business boom we’ve been enjoying since President Biden took office in January 2021. In fact, nearly 18 million new business applications have been filed since then. In addition, the number of loans to AANHPI small businesses are up 44% and the loan dollar amount is up 36% in that timeframe. In prime federal contracting, Asian American and Subcontinent Asian American-owned businesses saw an increase of $1.5 billion and $1.3 billion (respectively) over the previous year. Total federal contracting dollars increased to $2.1 billion and $2.8 billion, respectively.

Within SBA’s Region 10, which serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, we’re seeing impressive results as well. Both the number of loans and the dollars loaned through our most popular programs over the last few years to AANHPI businesspeople have steadily increased.

These successes are due to intentional outreach, services and support. For example, although many AANHPI businesses have seen great successes, challenges such as language accessibility and access to capital still exist for the community.  Over 30% of AANHPIs have limited English proficiency. Recognizing this, the SBA has translated our website and many products into the most prevalent Asian languages including simplified and traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese.

The SBA also has nine Community Navigator “hub” organizations that serve primarily AANHPI communities. Community Navigators reduce barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs often face. They help with financial assistance and access to capital, contracting and procurement, industry-specific training and other critical services for small business owners.

National ACE’s work with the Minority Business Development Agency’s Capital Readiness Program has also helped further advocacy efforts by connecting AANHPI small businesses to capital, networks and the means to scale their businesses. Through small business accelerators, one-on-one coaching, grants and digital resources provided by our generous sponsors, National ACE’s Capital Readiness Program continues to bolster and expand the AANHPI small business community through this exciting season of growth.

The remarkable achievements of AANHPI entrepreneurs are a testament to their strength and valuable role in both American society and the economy. As we celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month, we honor the contributions of AANHPI-owned enterprises to national and local economies and acknowledge that more work is needed to support and invest in an economy and environment that AANHPI businesses can flourish in.

The collaborative efforts of the SBA and organizations like National ACE have been pivotal in supporting this dynamic growth. We’re proud to offer resources that help AANHPI businesses with access to capital, technical assistance and contracting opportunities. We’re also continuing to expand our language offerings to ensure that all AANHPIs have access to these important resources. It is crucial that we build on investments in AANHPI entrepreneurs not only during AANHPI Heritage Month, but all year long.

For more information on how the SBA can assist your small business start, grow or expand, please visit www.sba.gov. Para Español visita www.sba.gov/es .

(Chiling Tong is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Asian & Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship (National ACE). National ACE advocates for AAPI business interests and works closely with over 130 AAPI affiliate chambers and partner organizations throughout the country to bring resources to 2.91 million AAPI-owned small businesses.

(Beto Yarce was appointed by President Joe Biden to oversee

the SBA’s programs and services as the agency’s Regional Administrator for the

Pacific Northwest serving Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.) 


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To schedule an interview with Chiling Tong or learn more about National ACE, please contact:

                Sarah Haque
                Talk/text: (703) 717-2076

To schedule an interview with Beto Yarce or learn more about the U.S. Small Business Administration, please contact:

               Silvia Klatman
               Talk/text: (206) 852-7538                              

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About National ACE

National ACE’s mission is to serve as a strong advocate of AAPI business interests and positive change on all issues that enhance and advance the goals and aspirations of AAPI business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. National ACE strives to do this by supporting and promoting issues that impact the AAPI business community, improving the economic development and economic impact of the AAPI business community, advancing coalitions, enhancing community building and fostering the next generation of AAPI entrepreneurs and executives.



About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

Media contacts

U.S. Small Business Administration