Latino Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Opening Doors to More Latin American Trade
Subscribe today for Free Enterprise Updates
- Latest business trends and best practices
- News about legislation and regulation impacting business
- Business how-to articles from industry experts
- Commentary and interviews with newsmakers in business and politics
Alexandra Starr at the New America Foundation wrote a report about Latino immigrant entrepreneurs for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). These risk-takers face many of the same problems as other entrepreneurs: difficulty accessing capital; troubles with regulations; taxes; a sluggish economy. They also face a work visa burden that immigrant groups like those from South and East Asia and elsewhere experience.
However, I want to go in the direction of where the CFR’s Shannon O’Neil went in her write-up:
The report finds that immigrant entrepreneurs often have a distinct advantage due their ability to understand and work within both the United States and their home countries, allowing them to appeal not only to immigrant communities within the U.S. but also to export markets back home. Due in part to these benefits (as well as geography), Mexican immigrants have taken the entrepreneurial lead, starting more new companies (in sheer number) than any other immigrant group.
Latino immigrant entrepreneurs often retain close connections with their home countries and possess useful knowledge of both the American market as well as that of their home. This puts them in a great position to develop new business opportunities and build deeper economic connections between the U.S. and the growing Latin American economies.
Edward Alden at The Atlantic Cities notes a few examples of such business connections in his summary of the report:
Brightstar, the Miami-based cell phone distributor launched by Bolivian-born Marcelo Claure, has become dominant in several South American markets. ITS Infocom, a brain child of Peruvian-born Andres Ruzo, provides IT and customer service support for U.S. multinationals operating across Latin America. Closer to home, Mexican-Japanese entrepreneur Alfonso Tomita has built a chain of sushi restaurants across Texas, while Jesus Sebastian moved from his avocado plantation in Mexico to San Antonio to launch the Ole Avocado brand of packaged guacamole products.
These immigrant entrepreneurs could also help the U.S. connect with growing tech start-up communities in South America, opening doors to trade, investment, and new jobs.
The U.S. has trade agreements with 11 Latin American countries. Once the Panama-U.S. FTA is implented, there will be a continuous chain of FTA countries stretching from the Rio Grande all the way to Chile. Lowering tariffs and other barriers is one step in generating more trade. Another is tapping into business networks. Latino immigrant entrepreneurs can be ambassadors in finding job-creating business opportunities in a fast-growing region.