The entrepreneurial spirit among immigrants and refugees allows them the flexibility to pursue unexpected courses of action, adapt, accept risk and make the most of opportunities they didn’t even know of before. For Dr. Amar Sawhney from India, that started at the University of Texas at Austin with 30 job rejections out of 30 applications. But he charted a path that would see him go in directions hitherto unknown to him: getting a PhD, helping found a company, journeying to Boston, and starting a string of new companies, using his chemical engineering background to save lives through remarkable local therapy innovations. To date, he has founded eight companies accounting for 4,000 jobs and more than $2 billion in revenue. He’s been named a “Champion of Change” by The White House, one of the “five most innovative Medical Device CEOs” by MassDevice, the EY regional entrepreneur of the year, The Immigrant Learning Center’s own Immigrant Entrepreneur Awardee for Life Science Business. But his influence extends well beyond that space into environmental conservationism, safeguarding refugees, mentoring and promoting STEM education, and building public understanding of America’s Sikhs, as you’ll hear in this week’s episode of JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Max Faingezicht, an immigrant who founded ThriveHive, a marketing software company for small businesses, and Telescoped, which uses remote software engineering to connect Latin American engineers with U.S. companies in need of their skills. The entrepreneurial ecosystem of Boston and Cambridge have allowed Max to achieve dreams he didn’t even know he had when he arrived. He can now foster entrepreneurship in his home country of Costa Rica while bringing much-needed talent to U.S. companies, all the while influencing what the future of work will look like. In this episode, he shares his fascinating immigration story, as well as his ideas on where workers go next.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Hilda Torres, an immigrant from Mexico who runs My Little Best Friends Early Learning Center in Malden, Massachusetts. One of the most successful businesses in the city, the center enrolls over 100 students whose parents come from more than 25 different countries. In this episode, Hilda shares how she used the tools of education, and her own grit and determination, to make her mark in the land of opportunity.

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Immigrants have higher rates of entrepreneurship than the U.S.-born at 11.5% compared to 9%But there’s one group with even higher rates of business generation: refugees. Refugees have a 13% rate of entrepreneurship. They are good for our economy, but we also save lives by accepting them. There are at least 79.5 million people worldwide forced to flee their homes. For some perspective, that’s less than 1% of the world’s population, and yet last year the U.S. settled an astonishingly low 11,814 refugees. 

For Hong Tran of Worcester, Massachusetts, his early life in Vietnam and even the journey to seek safety in the U.S. was filled with tragedyHe was orphaned while fleeing and lost his baby sister to pirates in the ocean. Thankfully, the U.S. gave him and his remaining family refuge, and they have given backThey have excelled at entrepreneurship, with his aunt and uncle launching three businesses while he grew up, and today Hong has a diner, a laundromat, a liquor store, a real estate company, and a law firm under his belt, creating more than 50 jobs in the process. Hong knows what it’s like to have nothing. Even with the rise in anti-Asian bigotry, he is determined to use his influence to help other immigrants and refugees get a leg up in their new homeland

This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Sandro Catanzaro, who started several businesses in his native Peru but had no idea he’d end up helping NASA go to Mars, or that he’d use that same technology to plan and buy video ad campaigns. Now Head of Publisher Services Strategy for Roku, which acquired the company he founded, dataxu, in 2019, Mr. Catanzaro is an emblem of ingenuity and inventiveness. His demand-side platform, device graph technology and analytics platform help accelerate Roku’s ad tech roadmap and ability to serve a wide array of advertisers. But he’s not done yet!

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Immigrants and refugees are a net economic benefit to host countries like the United States. Research has consistently shown they help create jobs and add an important dynamism to our economy. This is the case even when there is initial investment on behalf of the state, through education, English classes or welfare. Immigrants pay more into the system than they get out.  For Christina Qi, who started a hedge fund at just 22, the welfare she was on in her early years in Utah after moving from China helped stabilize her youth and pave the way for her to attend MIT. She went on to co-found Domeyard, a quantitative trading firm, in 2013, among the longest running high-frequency trading hedge funds in the world, and was trading up to $7 billion dollars a day. In 2019, she founded Databento, an on-demand data platform for asset managers and quantitative analysts. Being an immigrant, Asian and a woman in the cutthroat, male-dominated world of Wall Street didn’t deter her. Nor did she forget those who helped get her to where she is today. As you’ll soon learn in this week’s JobMakers podcast.

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Welcome to JobMakers, a new, weekly podcast, produced by Pioneer Institute and The Immigrant Learning Center. Host Denzil Mohammed explores the world of risk-taking immigrants, who create new products, services and jobs in New England and across the United States.

In the debut episode, Denzil talks with Herby Duverné, CEO at Windwalker Group, an award-winning small business with more than 25 years of experience in physical and cybersecurity solutions that protect and prepare companies through custom learning and training solutions. Herby shares his background as a Haitian immigrant, and some of the challenges of moving to America, working through college to support his family, and embarking on a career path. They discuss what inspired him to start his own business, how he prepared for success, lessons he has learned along the way, and how he gives back.

JobMakers is a weekly podcast, produced by Pioneer Institute and the Immigrant Learning Center, in which Denzil Mohammed explores the world of risk-taking immigrants, who create new products, services and jobs in New England and across the United States.