This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Jo Napolitano, journalist, former Spencer Fellow at Columbia University, and author of the new book, The School I Deserve: Six Young Refugees and Their Fight for Equality in America, about the enterprising spirit of immigrants and refugees across the nation and at the U.S.-Mexico border. She’s seen children fight to go to good schools so they can fulfil their dreams, learning with donated tablets in tents in Mexico during the pandemic, and she’s seen the outcomes: ambitious young adults who used education and the relative safety of the United States to thrive. They discuss her conviction, drawn from her own immigrant experience and her observations, that educating immigrant children, including those who are undocumented, is not only the moral thing to do but an investment in our collective economic well-being. With better jobs, they can contribute more, and they can improve lives for all Americans.

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This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Umesh Bhuju, owner of Zumi’s Espresso in Ipswich, Massachusetts, about how a business model based on selling nothing but fair-trade products can thrive in a world driven by profit. He describes his early experiences in his homeland of Nepal, where he witnessed child labor, and how that has shaped his pursuit of the American dream. Over the past 20 years, through his successful business, he’s been educating Americans about just how far their dollar can go – paying farmers respectable wages, reducing environmental impact, and supporting developing economies; as well as how businesses can catalyze social progress. In this episode, Umesh shares how he has extended his activism to fighting for the rights of immigrants, preserving local habitats, and combatting food insecurity during the pandemic, even as his own business has battled the downturn.

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This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Dr. Babak Movassaghi, founder of InfiniteMD (acquired last summer by ConsumerMedical), which connects patients with top U.S. medical professionals through second-opinion video consultations, guiding patients to better care. When the world shut down due to COVID-19, Dr. Movassaghi’s company was already prepared to serve patients via telehealth. In this episode, they discuss his fascinating pivot from physics and professional football in Germany, to healthcare and innovation here in the U.S., an extension of his ability to navigate multiple identities as an Iranian-German living the American Dream.

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This week on JobMakers, Guest Host Jo Napolitano talks with Jitka Borowick, Founder & CEO of Cleangreen, a cleaning service committed to environmentally-friendly practices, and Nove Yoga, launched during COVID. Jitka grew up under communism in the Czech Republic. Determined to learn English, she made her way to the U.S., initially with plans to stay for only one year – but ended up making it her home. In this episode, they discuss the difficulties of learning another language and culture, her pathway to entrepreneurship, and her courageous decision to open a new business during a pandemic. Jitka shares insights on how her companies have successfully adapted to the challenges so many small businesses have encountered over the past year.

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This week on JobMakers, Guest Host Jo Napolitano talks with Josh Feast, the CEO and Co-Founder of Cogito, a Boston-based software company that deploys Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help employers in a wide variety of industries improve their customer service call centers. Josh got his start creating innovative technology to improve case management for a social services agency in New Zealand, before coming to America on a Fulbright scholarship to earn an MBA at MIT Sloan. In this episode, they discuss the many applications of Artificial Intelligence, how it helps provide emotional intelligence to augment management practices at large organizations, and how to address some of the concerns about privacy and bias that have been raised around its use.

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This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Mahmud Jafri, who built on a legacy started by his grandfather and began importing hand-knitted rugs from his native Pakistan, creating opportunities especially for women who traditionally couldn’t work outside the home. Today, he has three Dover Rug & Home stores across Massachusetts, including the Back Bay, which have experienced an uptick in sales during the pandemic’s “renovation revolution.” Jafri discusses why he made the journey to the U.S., and challenges he encountered, such as the “concrete ceiling” in the corporate world for foreigners at that time. He also shares thoughts on how to ensure the United States remains a welcoming country, and what can be done to more effectively integrate all immigrants for the benefit of everyone.

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Every immigrant experiences some kind of shock when they move to the United States, no matter their skin color, language or country of origin. And yet despite this, they learn to adapt to new laws, a new culture, a new education system, and eventually flourish. It takes a special kind of person to do that.  On this week’s episode of JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks to Larry O’Toole, founder of the multi-state Gentle Giant Moving Company that started in 1980 right here in the Boston area. They discuss Mr. O’Toole’s journey at a young age from Ireland to Brookline, Mass., the challenges of being uprooted, and the ability to thrive despite barriers such as skills gaps, that many immigrants face. That is why he’s part of a group that advocates for state and federal policies that foster complete economic integration of foreign-born talent and sustained prosperity for everyone, as we’ll hear more about in this week’s JobMakers.

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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.