By: Dan Delany, Chief Strategy Officer
Recently, the Center for an Urban Future released a thought provoking report, Launching Low-Income Entrepreneurs. The depth of information and analysis is great and everyone should take some time to read this important report.
For NFTE, it got me thinking about the students who just recently competed in all our regional youth entrepreneurship challenges – presenting business plans in fields from technology, to apparel, to food, to consulting services and more. They were vying for seed grants and a trip to New York City to compete in the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge on October 3rd for a chance at a $25,000 prize package.
These kids are highly motivating for all of us at NFTE. What struck me this year, and strikes me almost every year, is just how many of them are either immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants. Just like the Center’s report says for NYC, immigrant students are over-indexing against other kids in the top echelons of the NFTE program. The report goes into a vast varieties of reasons why this might be the case and lots of good ideas – many already in practice – to make entrepreneurship more accessible to native-born low-income people.
Ultimately, clearly there is something inherent in the ‘immigrant dream’ that helps these entrepreneurs push through the informal phase of a business and take it to the next level. I live with an immigrant entrepreneur actually and I know personally that dousing the flame of that dream is next to impossible. Hopefully, all of us in this field can figure out how to ignite the immigrant spirit in all entrepreneurs.