Indians, Chinese Two of the Largest Entrepreneur Groups in the U.S.

Nearly one-third of businesses created between 2006 and 2012 had one founder of Indian origin, making the Indian diaspora one of the largest contributors to the U.S. economy than U.S.-born counterparts.


Indian and Chinese immigrants are the two largest sources of entrepreneurs in the United States, in comparison with their American equivalents, scholars said at a recent APC-CISA symposium.

In the symposium “Social Networks in a Transnational World: Chinese and Indian Entrepreneurs in the United States,” co-organized by UCLA Asia Pacific Center and Center for India and South Asia, a number of scholars discussed Chinese and Indian immigrant entrepreneurship in the global era, the demography and impact of the Asian immigrants who came to the U.S. through the 1990 Immigration Act, and the changing nature of immigrant entrepreneurship in the context of globalization.

Wei Li, Professor of Geography at Arizona State University said, “More than 70 percent of all Chinese immigrants and more than 75 percent of all Asian Indian immigrants [have come] to the United States since the 1990 immigration act that established the H1-B visa, an employment-based visa for highly skilled workers,” at the symposium.

India, one of the world’s largest economies in the world by gross domestic product (GDP), contributes a vast number of  international students and immigrants to the country and contrary to the popular belief, “Only six percent of Indian students want to stay in the U.S. permanently; most want to return home within five years, post-graduation,” said Purnima Mankekar, Professor of Asian-American studies, gender studies, and film and television studies at UCLA.

The discussion points out that Silicon Valley in California, known as the hub of the most innovative technology companies in the world, is home to a lot of Indian entrepreneurs. Indian diaspora that live in Silicon Valley, lead a major role in the developing economy of the sector and in several cases, “These communities have taken the Silicon Valley model back to India,” Mankekar said.

In the U.S. nearly one-third of businesses created between 2006 and 2012 had one founder of Indian origin, making the Indian diaspora, larger contributors to the U.S. economy than U.S.-born counterparts, stated Anuradha Basu, Director of Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship, and Professor of Entrepreneurship at San Jose State University.

Masud Chand, another distinguished scholar of the panel noted, “it was estimated that the average net worth of the businesses of an Indian diaspora entrepreneur was about $85,000, compared to the average net worth of the business of an American-born entrepreneur, which was about $52,000.” Further, Chand continued, the average household income of members of the Indian diaspora living in the U.S. tend to be higher than the average household income of the U.S. population as a whole: $107,000 compared to $56,000.”

Moreover, as opposed to the common notion, these tech entrepreneurs do not stop at creating one or two business model, they are rather recognized as “serial entrepreneurs” who “have one business and they sell it, or it goes bankrupt, and then they start another business,” Basu said.

The discussion also delved into the social aspects of the immigrants’ business model to find out that it essentially works as a transitional tie between the two countries aiding the immigrants to settle down in the new country and build communities. For example, Indian communities are largely found in California, New York and New Jersey where one can also find the most successful Indian businesses.

The booming field of immigrant entrepreneurs in the U.S. establish an essential transnational cord between the countries of their origin and their country of residence which lends to the exchange of ground-breaking ideas and a fusion of cultures, which cultivate the innate cultural richness of the U.S., the panel said.

“In addition, the contributions of Chinese and Indian immigrants — whether entrepreneurs or academic researchers — have benefited economic development and employment not just in the United States, but also in China and India,” it said.

Earlier this year, figures released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said that Indians account for the highest number of highly skilled professionals waiting to get the permanent legal status or the green card in the country, PTI reported.

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