Tag: immigrant

This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Julianne Zimmerman, managing director at Reinventure Capital, lecturer on Social Entrepreneurship at Tufts University (and named to Forbes’ 2022 “50 Over 50” list). Julianne sees first-hand how immigrants collaborate with the U.S.-born to create meaningful inventions that solve real problems – but how rhetoric, policy, and an outdated system can shut them out. Julianne now heads a firm that invests solely in companies led and controlled by Black, Indigenous, people of color and female founders. She discusses why she believes it is crucial that we work together to bring about much-needed social and economic change, and resist efforts to close ourselves off – as you’ll hear in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Steve Tobocman, head of the economic development nonprofit Global Detroit, and one of the thousands of refugee business owners he’s assisted, Mamba Hamissi, Burundi native and co-founder of Baobab Fare, an East African restaurant. They discuss their work to harness the immigrant work ethic to rebuild Detroit and infuse it with life and culture. In the early 2000s, the city fell on hard times, when population loss and the economic downturn led to the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. But that’s where immigrants and refugees come in. As they’ve done for generations, immigrants move to places with affordable rents, and they often have few other options for earning an income than starting small businesses. It’s no wonder then that they have higher than average rates of entrepreneurship. We’ll learn about how a modest investment in a newcomer’s business can help lift up an entire community, in this week’s JobMakers podcast. 

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Sheetal Bahirat, founder and CEO of Hidden Gems Beverage Company, maker of Reveal Avocado Seed Brew, and immigrant from India. Food waste is an understudied and underutilized component of our daily lives with huge implications for our bodies and the planet – it is the number one contributor to climate change. Our featured immigrant entrepreneur, Sheetal, merged science with advocacy and created Hidden Gems Beverage Company to act on food waste in the most fruitful way possible, starting with one of America’s favorite fruits, the avocado. You’ll learn about her story and success, in today’s episode of Jobmakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Dr. Liya Palagashvili, immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and affiliated research fellow at NYU Law. Dr. Palagashvili shares findings from research she co-authored on the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which fills the gap for international students between studying in the U.S. and being employed here through a work visa. The program enables America to retain talented students at just the time in their lives when they’re likely to generate ideas and start businesses, but recent legislation seeks to end the program. Dr. Palagashvili explains why such a move is counterproductive and even a national security threat. Instead, she argues, reforming and making it easier to access OPT would help enhance America’s edge in the global search for talent, and prevent that talent from moving to Canada, the U.K. and other countries – as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Josh Smith, research manager at The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, about his work to demonstrate the outsized impact immigrants have on the economy and our culture. Josh describes some of the the negative narratives and the “othering” of immigrants, even though they’re part of our communities. Despite repeated fears that each new migrant group would never assimilate, America remains a “nation of immigrants,” and this is its not-so-secret sauce – as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Khamzat Asabaev, refugee from Chechnya and cofounder of SoftSmile, a software tool that helps dentists provide affordable, quality orthodontic treatment. Khamzat pursued entrepreneurship to make basic services accessible to all, after experiencing a lack of access to basic care as a refugee and a minority. Refugees like Khamzat face terrible circumstances, but through resilience and fortitude, often make significant contributions to their adopted homeland, with higher rates of employment and entrepreneurship. That means they give back far more than we gave them, as you’ll discover in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with April Ryan, immigrant from Russia, founder and CEO of Red Iguana nail art products, and influencer to hundreds of thousands. April came to the U.S. from a poor town, speaking no English, but through tenacity and inventiveness, she achieved success by creating video tutorials of nail art, and developing a breakthrough product that became a bestseller in 19 countries. April’s story is the immigrant story, about the kind of people who embark on the journey to America, and then put their pluck and ingenuity to use for the benefit of everybody, as you’ll hear in this week’s JobMakers podcast.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Chet Manikantan, immigrant from India and founder of Aegis Studios, which builds crypto games. Chet was founder of a string of companies and a partner at two venture firms, but he was almost denied the opportunity to innovate and create jobs in the U.S. by our outdated immigration system, if not for a chance encounter that led to a workaround for select foreign-born entrepreneurs. And he’s keenly aware and grateful that this country gave him what he needed to succeed, as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers podcast.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Mei Xu, immigrant from China and founder of Chesapeake Bay Candle, which was acquired by Yankee Candle parent company Newell Brands for $75 million. Mei describes the journey to entrepreneurship, and how she created opportunities for herself. Today, she seeks to empower women business owners around the world, to show them that they too can expand economies and horizons with a little guidance. As she says in her new book, Burn: How grit, innovation, and a dash of luck ignited a multi-million dollar success story, “I hope to convince you, the American Dream remains vital and accessible to all of us,” as you’ll discover in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Cris Ramón, son of immigrants from El Salvador, immigration policy analyst, and coauthor of the new report, Immigrant Entrepreneurship: Economic Potential and Obstacles to Success published by the Bipartisan Policy Center. For the report, he scoured the nation to learn not only what immigrant entrepreneurs need, but what municipalities and the federal government can do, to help build up these businesses. The report shows that immigrants are primed to take risks due to their willingness to move to the United States, but politicians aren’t doing much to facilitate that entrepreneurial spirit. The report offers case studies, recommendations, and stories that demonstrate the value and impact immigrant business owners can bring, as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Daniel Perez, immigrant from Colombia and founder, president and CEO of DPV Transportation Worldwide, based in Everett, Massachusetts. Daniel shares what it meant to tap into his entrepreneurial spirit and become a success, pivoting into healthcare and community service when the transportation sector was impacted by the pandemic, and finding a way to use his fleet for good. He discusses his work to help communities like the one where he grew up, East Boston, long a gateway for immigrants. Not only is Daniel’s firm minority-owned, its staff of 200 is 80-percent minority, and he is focused on building opportunities for youth of color, including in entrepreneurship, as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Yuliya Tarasava, immigrant from Belarus and cofounder and chief operating officer at CNote, a platform that helps facilitate investment in financially underserved communities across America. In just six years, CNote has helped create or maintain more than 4,000 jobs in disadvantaged communities, invested more than 50 percent of capital into small businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), and invested more than 40 percent of capital into women-led small businesses, eight times the national average. Yuliya believes everybody deserves a chance at success, and dismantling the systemic barriers to such success is what she and her business are all about, as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers. 

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Jackie Krick, immigrant from Colombia and founder, president and CEO of ECU Communications in Manassas, Virginia. They discuss the entrepreneurial spirit of the newest Americans – immigrants – and why they are twice as likely to start a business and create jobs. For Jackie, it took a few tries, but she learned the system, used available resources, and today, she runs a successful digital communications and cross-cultural services agency focused largely on federal contracts. She started an award-winning nonprofit called Impacto Youth to give underserved teens access to education and skills training. And she cofounded Centerfuse, a coworking space for microentrepreneurs to discover, learn, train and be mentored by successful business owners like her, as you’ll discover in this week’s JobMakers. 

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Karina Calderon, deputy director of The Lawrence Partnership, about her work to help immigrant entrepreneurs drive economic growth in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The Lawrence Partnership is a collaboration of business and civic leaders started in 2015 that helps by incubating, training, assisting, loaning, basically doing everything they and their partners can to grow the city’s businesses. The model they’ve adopted is replicable for sure, and is one based on longstanding relationships and trust between new and longtime residents. Karina explains how it works, shares some of the success stories of their immigrant small business owners, and details her own immigration story, as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.  

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Evan Silverio, child of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, President and CEO of Silverio Insurance Agency, and founder of Diverse Real Estate, both in Lawrence, Massachusetts. With the example set by his mother, who founded the agency, Evan has achieved success, despite getting into real estate during a housing bust. Evan has since purchased nearly 100 properties across the commonwealth. He describes the examples set by his immigrant mother and grandfather, and how that shaped not just his approach to business but also giving back to the community that nurtured him, as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Dr. Avak Kahvejian, an inventor, entrepreneur and CEO as well as general partner at Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences venture capital company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For generations, his family was forced to flee from genocide in what was then Armenia (now eastern Turkey), to Syria, Lebanon, and then to Montreal, Canada, via the U.K., and finally, by choice, to Boston.   His risk-taking, persistence, and ambition drove him to a place where people from all over the world come to innovate, ideate, and create: the United States. America has always attracted this kind of person, and that’s what has made it into the powerhouse it is today. As Avak cautions, if that well were to run dry, the result would be disastrous for all of us, as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Dr. Celina Miranda, executive director of the Hyde Square Task Force in Jamaica Plain’s Latin Quarter, today one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Massachusetts. Dr. Miranda knows keeping the kids in school, firm in their cultural identity, and welcoming to all others is crucial to maintaining the area’s renewed stature. And she knows how hard their immigrant business owners, from countries as diverse as Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, are working to make that happen. This week, we’ll look at how immigrant entrepreneurs contribute to sustaining their neighborhoods and people economically, philanthropically, and socially. Dr. Miranda hopes the example of Jamaica Plain’s Latin Quarter and the role of its business owners would be replicated in communities across the U.S. to help overcome our heightened divisiveness, as you’ll learn now on JobMakers.

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Celina Miranda is the executive director of Hyde Square Task Force. Miranda has spent her career engaged in work that enables underserved communities to access the resources and opportunities they need for a better future. Miranda joined HSTF from her position as senior program officer at the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, where she managed grants in education and economic mobility since 2012. Prior to this, she was the vice president and charitable giving manager for BNY Mellon Public Affairs. As a program associate at the Hyams Foundation, she managed youth development grants and initiatives. Miranda teaches at Boston University School of Social Work and is a trustee of the Rutland Corner Foundation, which supports girl-serving programs throughout Greater Boston. She was named a “Boston Latino on the Move” by the Boston Business Journal. Miranda received her Ph.D. in social work and sociology from Boston University. She earned an MSW and Ed.M. from Boston University, and a BA from Smith College.

This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Reinier Moquete, son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic and founder of CyberWarrior, a cyber security services provider in Boston, Massachusetts. Reinier shares why he is continuing the entrepreneurial tradition started by his grandmother and mother, who moved to the U.S. in search of a better quality of life for their families. Reinier describes his efforts to give back to the country that gave his family a chance, through non-profits and foundations he has launched that elevate disadvantaged communities, expose children to STEM education, and uplift particularly Latinx people in the U.S., as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Dinesh Wadhwani, founder and CEO of ThinkLite, LLC in Natick, Massachusetts, and immigrant from Ghana. His journey began when his grandfather was forced to flee India, and built a business in Ghana that paved the way for the generations to come. When Dinesh moved to the United States in 2008 as a student at Babson College, he was determined to build a life and a business here in the U.S. While he was studying entrepreneurship, he became one: in just a few short years, his technology-based life science solutions business expanded across the globe and evolved into a life-saving enterprise, purifying the air in hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.

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This week on JobMakers, host Denzil Mohammed talks with Dr. Anuradha Sajjanhar, lead researcher for the report Immigrant Essential Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic published by The Immigrant Learning Center, co-producer of this podcast. She found that immigrants, despite playing an outsized role in industries deemed essential. such as healthcare, food and agriculture, and the supply chain, were largely left out of federal and state support during the pandemic, which negatively affected their safety and their efforts to help Americans weather this crisis. The report offers a path forward, as you’ll learn in this week’s JobMakers.

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