1.21.2007

Mmm... Immigration Doughnuts

I thought it important to comment on this interesting post Mmm....Immigration Doughnuts because it speaks to the important role immigrants play in spurring innovation and wealth creation in this country.

While relatively unknown in Cambodia, these refugees from Southeast Asia have harnessed America's love affair with the doughnut into an engine of upward mobility. They are giving their American customers a much better product at a better price.

Another example is how East Indians have transformed and dominated the news stand. Virtually all of these establishments are owned in the Northeast by East Indians, and they're not the stands of old. News stands such as Hudson News come in all sizes but they're all well-lit and smartly designed.

And of course Koreans reinvented the fruit stand into a lucrative trade that's dominated by immigrant members of their group.

It's good old American Ingenuity. The difference now is that that ingenuity is increasingly coming not from the more complacent "traditional" Americans but from new Americans, i.e., Immigrants.

The tie-in into the Latino theme of this blog is threefold:

1) Many of the Cambodian customers are Latinos since the stores are in California. Prime beneficiaries of immigrant entrepreneurialism include other immigrants.

2) Latino immigrants have focused on labor intensive industries thus far. This was the same path taken earlier by Irish and Italian immigrants. But just as happened with those groups, Latino immigrants are increasingly finding their ways into founding their own entrepreneurial enterprises, including lawn service, construction and restaurants.

3) Latinos are beginning to dominant small business development in communities across the country. Mostly of the mom and pop variety, but more sophisticated types as well. For example, a friend of mine is growing a business that produces the content for new video games. He started as an action hero illustrator.

It's clear that becoming the best in a niche market is an excellent entry and growth strategy for immigrant groups; and starting as workers and progressing to ownership has advantages. Finally, immigrants are proving that even today businesses can be started with very modest amounts of capital.