AAC Journal – Vol. 1, Issue 1: The Importance of AAPI-Owned Small Businesses, and Resources for Entrepreneurs

The Importance of AAPI-owned Small Businesses, and Resources for Entrepreneurs

By Johanna  Arguello

Did you know that last year the U.S Department of Commerce reported that
“Asian American-owned employer firms account for over 40% of all minority-owned
employer firms in the U.S., create 4.6 million jobs per year, and contribute over 58% of
the $1.4 Trillion in revenue generated by all U.S. minority-owned firms?” 1 Clearly,
business ownership and entrepreneurship are of central importance to the AAPI

Historically, AAPIs have used entrepreneurship to fulfill their American Dream.
Not only has entrepreneurship and business creation been a source of financial security
for the AAPI community, but it has also boosted local economies across the United
States — considering job creation and consumer participation. Because of these
benefits to the U.S. economy and the creation of financial security within the community,
support to AAPI-owned small businesses is of utmost importance.

This is especially important considering the anti-AAPI hate crimes, xenophobia,
and racism that rose rapidly during the Covid-19 pandemic. AAPI small business
owners were physically, mentally, and economically affected by the rise of anti-Asian
sentiment. For small AAPI-owned businesses this often represented itself as vandalism
and decreased business visits. 2 Note for instance that Asian-owned businesses had the
steepest drop in revenue from all minorities amidst the Covid-pandemic according to the
2021 Connected Commerce Council report. 3 A survey by the National ACE (The
National Asian/ Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and
Entrepreneurship) also showed that “more than 84% of AAPI business owners say
COVID-19 had a negative effect on their business, and [that] one in three female AAPI
owners [have] experienced racial bias.” Additionally, during the rollout of the Paycheck
Protection Program, small minority-owned businesses including AAPI-owned small
businesses struggled to access the loans because of language and technology
barriers. 4

How can local communities assist AAPI entrepreneurs and small business

Clearly, the pandemic brought many challenges to AAPI-owned small businesses
because of anti-Asian sentiment. Therefore, it is essential to bring attention to how local
communities can step in to help AAPI-owned small businesses. One example of this the
RI community stepping in to help was when the Center for Southeast Asians of Rhode
Island and the Papitto Opportunity Connection non-profit awarded micro-loans to 12
Rhode Island AAPI-owned businesses this past February. 5 Supporting these non-profits
as well as bringing awareness to the struggles that AAPI-owned small businesses have
faced throughout the pandemic is of uttermost importance to strengthen the AAPI
business community.

Importantly, if you are an AAPI entrepreneur interested in starting your own small
business, there are many resources available nationally and in Rhode Island too! One
organization providing assistance and mentorships to entrepreneurs in Rhode Island is
EforAll: Turning Dreams into Businesses. They offer appointments with
entrepreneurship advisors and have different business accelerator programs you can
benefit from!

Additionally, if you are an entrepreneur committed to creating social impact, you
can contact Rhode Island’s Social Enterprise Greenhouse. They offer programs focused
on mentorship, networking opportunities, and educating you on how to assess your
business profitability. Their applications are due at the end of July for the Fall 2022
“SEG Ideator” program!

Lastly, a great government resource for AAPI entrepreneurs is the City of
Providence Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise. They can refer minority
business owners to local social resources focused on “financial help, mentoring,
counseling and more.” You must call (401) 680-5766 for more information on this great
resource. 6

Overall, AAPI-owned small businesses are very important to the community and
our economy as a whole. If you are interested in starting your own business, remember
there are many new resources determined to bridge the access inequality gap that the
pandemic revealed. Don’t forget to support AAPI-owned small businesses in Rhode

About the author. Johanna was an administrative intern at AAC-CSEBRI in the summer of 2022. You can find her bio here

End Notes: 

1 U.S. Department of Commerce, https://www.commerce.gov/news/blog/2021/05/recognizing-aanhpi-heritage-month-commerce-department-offers-
2 National ACE, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5dd45b834ed45716078d0628/t/629a7e584ba2ec72911b2bef/1654292057576/overall+report.pdf
3 National ACE, https://connectedcouncil.org/celebrating-asian-american-pacific-islander-aapi-small-businesses/
4 “Staying afloat : How Asian communities helped their small business survive Covid-19” by Maddy Kline,
https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2021/08/10/staying-afloat-how-asian-communities-helped-their-small-businesses-survive-covid-19/5 “Local nonprofits partner to support AAPI-owned businesses recovering from pandemic” by Temi-Tope Adeleye,
6 “ Rhode Island free grants and loans for minority and women owned businesses”, https://www.womenandminoritybusiness.org/rhode-island-free-grants-and-loans-for-minority-and-women-owned-businesses/