A New American Economy study finds that a more diverse America benefits both high- and low-wage workers. The NEA report shows that when diversity increases through immigration, meaningful wage benefits accrue to all workers—from the highest earners down to the lowest and that wages rise for all workers. “This report should encourage the many U.S. cities and firms creating policies to welcome and integrate immigrants,” said in a press statement John Feinblatt, Chairman of New American Economy. “With Congress gridlocked, local leaders are taking the initiative – and increasingly bringing the economic benefits of diversity to their communities.”
Not only does diversity increases wages for all, but another study also shows that in contrast to native-born Americans, new Americans have been found by the Kauffman Foundation to be twice likely to be successful entrepreneurs and start new startups. A nonpartisan group, Partnership for New American Economy, has also indicated that out of all the new businesses in 2011 across the United States 28 percent were started by immigrants. These ventures were also found to employ one of every ten U.S. workers amidst generating revenue of over $775 billion. From small businesses such as auto repair shops, restaurants, and others to huge tech companies with over $1 billion value, immigrants are now ranked among America’s richest.
Here are five immigrants who arrived in America with absolutely nothing, rolled their sleeves and worked hard making a fortune in the process.
CEO of Chobani Yogurt, Hamdi Ulukaya
Ulukaya was born in 1972 in Turkey and grew up in a dairy-farming household. He arrived in the United States in 1994 with the intention of improving his English literacy and to take some business-related courses. Around 2002, his father advised him to start a small feta cheese factory. In 2005, he made a gamble and bought a yogurt plant that had become non-operational in New York’s upstate area. Ulukaya had zero experience in running a yogurt business, but over a decade later the business, Chobani, is valued at more than $1 billion in yearly sales. He has a few facilities in a number of states after his Greek-style yogurt went national. Ulukaya was named the World Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 2013. Ulukaya made front-page news last year when he announced that he would share profits with his employees.
Restaurant Investor, Deen Haleem
Deen Haleem was born in Kuwait to a Palestinian father who had left Palestine with his wife and seven children to Jordan. He had owned a hotel and a trucking company before they lost the hotel to a fire. When he moved to Kuwait Haleem was born. They arrived in America in 1972 when Haleem was only eight years of age. Haleem worked hard to absorb the new and fast American culture and learned English. At 17, the young man joined the Marines, got discharged, moved to California, started a Chinese restaurant that flopped badly and left him with a $40,000 debt at only 23 years old. He also took college classes at night while managing the restaurant.
Haleem returned to the Marines during the Gulf War. His mastery of Arabic language was critical there. Later on, he completed finance and accounting degree at the Boston University of Massachusetts. After two decades at Putnam Investments, he had amassed over $3 billion in assets. At 48 years of age, Haleem retired from the investment company and together with his wife helped their son open the Portland, Boston, restaurant in 2015. While he doesn’t own it, he’s invested $4 million into the restaurant, a 300-seat place employing over 60 employees. The restaurant serves 40,000 to 50,000 individuals yearly.
Anurag Jain is a native of India and the co-founder of Prepay Nation in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. By allowing immigrants to send small gifts of cell-phone minutes to relatives back home, Jain’s company “solves two problems that most immigrants have,” Jain said in a press statement. “One is that immigrants want to help their families back home, but often they have minimum-wage jobs. And you really can’t send money overseas without ridiculous fees.” His business model allows individuals to transfer as little as $2 worth of minutes at a time with no fee to the sender or recipient, to family overseas. The company earns revenues through a commission on sales paid by Foreign cellular network operators. Additionally, with Prepay, senders control where the money is going. “People want to take care of relatives’ basic needs,” Jain says, “but they don’t necessarily want to pay for parties and alcohol.” The company, founded in 2010, has revenue of more than $110 million.
Immigrant founders started 52 percent of all new Silicon Valley companies between 1995 and 2005.
Co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin was born in the Soviet Union in Moscow, Russia, specifically. At six years old his family moved to the United States. Brin was a tech student, and while working on his Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University, he met Larry Page. Together, the two dropped out of college with a view to working on their startup, Google. Currently, Sergey is the special projects brains for Google and involved in top tech projects such as self-driving cars and Google Glass. With a 16 percent ownership of the company, Brin’s net worth is estimated to be above $24 billion.
Yahoo Founder, Jerry Yang
Born in 1968 in Taipei, Taiwan, Jerry Yang lost his father when he was just two years of age. Together with his mother and the entire family, they moved to California’s San Jose. Yang was only eight years old. Yang arrived in America without any knowledge of English but soon excelled in academics after breaking the language barrier. In 1990, Yang graduated from Stanford. Yang started Yahoo in 1995, and the rest is history. Yahoo is now one of the most recognized names in the world today and an internet juggernaut. As a result, Yang’s net worth is put at about $1.15 billion even after stepping down from the company he founded in 2012.
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