Main Street Monday — 20% of Self Employed Born Outside of the U.S.

June 12, 2017

By Bob Coleman
Editor, Main Street Monday

Main Street Monday — 20% of Self Employed Born Outside of the U.S.

Stats to know.

Over the last 20 years, the role of immigrant entrepreneurs has grown. The percentage of the self-employed who were born abroad more than doubled between 1994 and 2015, growing from 8.6 percent to 19.5 percent.

Consider this story.

Jerry was born in Taiwan to parents who had fled there from China. His father died when he was very young, and, a few years later, his mother moved the family to the United States. Although she had taught English professionally in Taiwan, the only word Jerry knew when he arrived was “shoe.”

Jerry learned English quickly and did well in school. He enrolled in Stanford and began creating websites as a hobby. His first website was about sumo wrestlers. He also created a website about other websites called “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” Within months, the traffic it generated was such a burden for the computer infrastructure at Stanford that officials requested another host be found.

The name of the website was changed to Yahoo. Jerry, whose full name is Jerry Yang, and cofounder David Filo incorporated, obtained venture capital, and began hiring employees. The value of Yahoo peaked at over $100 billion in 2000 before declining, and the personal wealth of Jerry Yang was still estimated to exceed $2 billion in 2016.

Entrepreneurship has been growing among immigrants like Jerry Yang.

The percentage of individuals born abroad who were self-employed increased from 5.9 percent in 1994 to 6.5 percent in 2015. In contrast, the percentage of those born in the United States who were self-employed decreased from 7.4 percent in 1994 to 5.7 percent in 2015.

Source: SBA Office of Advocacy