The United States prides itself on being the great melting pot. We are a country not just built by immigrants, but made great by them; their entrepreneurial impact has made a lasting impression on the American economy. Consider some of these staggering facts about immigration and Fortune 500 companies, according to research from the Center for American Entrepreneurship:
- 43.2 percent of Fortune 500 Firms were founded by first- or second-generation immigrants.
- 57 percent of the Top 35 Fortune 500 Firms were founded by first- or second-generation immigrants.
- 9 of the 13 most valuable brands in the world (Forbes) were founded by first- or second-generation immigrants.
- 23 percent of Fortune 500 companies featured on the 2017 list were not on the 2010 list.
These mind-blowing statistics “are in part a reflection of past immigration waves to the US… started by European arrivals more than a century ago,” according to the study. This includes names like Henry Ford, the son of Irish immigrants and founder the Ford Motor Company, which he established in 1903. But as the last statistic indicates, there are plenty of new arrivals to the scene, and many of these players are immigrants, too.
Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Eduardo Saverin, and Jeff Bezos are all first-or second-generation immigrants holding some of the most valuable and technology-based brands in the world, with Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, respectively. All of their businesses skyrocketed to success in recent decades, illustrating just how much America still depends on her immigrant population to drive innovation. Clearly, the importance of creating strong educational networks and support programs for immigrants and their children cannot be understated for the future of American ingenuity.
That’s where businesses like Los Defensores come in; they’re an advertising agency specializing in ad campaigns for the legal industry and focusing even more specifically on helping their brands connect to the growing Hispanic population in the United States. They spend approximately $12 million every year on TV, radio, print, event, and internet advertising for clients like Los Defensores, which helps Spanish-speaking community members find lawyers through strategic and targeted marketing.
More importantly, though, Los Defensores supports first-generation Latinos pursuing law degrees through scholarship opportunities, enabling the brand to strengthen their immigrant communities from the inside out. More than one-third of California’s population is Latino, and the bi-annual scholarship works to bridge the gap between the meager 4% of practicing Californian attorneys who are Latino and enormous population they strive to serve as they assist Latino law students in the California community, according to the website.
The investment companies make into the American immigrant generations driving the future will continue to have a substantial impact on both American and global economies; in fact, it could become the key factor for some startups’ survival.
“Skilled immigrants who want to start companies in the U.S. are finding support in a group of venture capitalist investors who aim to ease their challenges,” explains Elizabeth Woyke at MIT Technology Review. “Such assistance can be crucial to immigrant entrepreneurs because the US… lacks a so-called startup visa. In July, the Trump administration delayed the International Entrepreneur Rule, an Obama-era regulation that would have helped international founders stay in the U.S. for up to five years and has indicated it plans to rescind it.”
With dozens of Silicon Valley’s hottest and most successful startups and tech companies thriving under the leadership of first- and second-generation immigrants, it’s not hard to see why businesses and investors are stepping up to support them. WhatsAPP, Instagram, Etsy, and many other immigrant-founded tech startups continue to paint a more complex and nuanced illustration of immigration’s complex economic impact.
“Contrary to much of the rhetoric on the topic, immigration can contribute to economic growth and expansion of the labor market,” Yale Insights states. “Immigration to the U.S. has little negative effect on employment levels of native workers and that the presence of immigrants is associated with greater economic productivity.”
Providing research and scholarship opportunities, backing promising startups financially, and promoting progressive legislation are all positive first steps in shifting the American mindset back toward our country being the land of opportunity. “We should be looking to immigration as a creative force in our economic favor,” asserts The New York Times. “The world economy will most likely grow more open, and we should be prepared to compete. That means recognizing the benefits -- including the employment benefits -- that immigrants bring to this country.”
If history bears any indication of the future, one thing remains clear; those companies who work to create opportunities for the next generation of American immigrants are likely to see quite the return on their investment.
Do you know a business or organization striving to keep the dream alive? Please share the opportunity in the comments section an on social @latina