New Report Highlights Essential Role of Groups Like REDC in Bolstering AAPI Small Businesses

REDC clients Chi-Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh at the “Coffee Project” in Brooklyn.

A new report offers powerful new evidence that nonprofit organizations which support immigrant entrepreneurs, such as REDC, provide crucial pathways out of poverty in Asian American communities. The study. by National CAPACD, revealed the significant barriers faced by AAPI small business owners, and the critical shortage of resources devoted to the Asian American small business community.  REDC was one of nine community development organizations nationwide featured in the study.

The report, “Small Business, Big Dreams,” found that data normally cited by the mainstream media and government agencies do not accurately capture the nuances and diversity in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The available data often lumps together more than 40 ethnic sub-populations, the study found, doing a disservice to our small business owners and, “diminishes the ability of AAPIs to access the resources they need to succeed as entrepreneurs.”

While government surveys often paint a rosy picture of Asian American entrepreneurship, National CAPACD found, “AAPIs living in poverty are more concentrated in metropolitan areas than any other racial/ethnic poverty population.” As it turns out, the New York City area has the highest rate of AAPI poverty in the nation. At the same time, NYC has the largest number of AAPI small businesses in the country. The study authors advised both government and private sector funders to seize the opportunity  to “address geographic concentrations of poverty” in New York and other major urban centers. According to the report, “community based organizations play a particularly important role in catalyzing place-based economic development and addressing growing poverty rates in low-income AAPI communities.”

National CAPCD concluded that, “the current level of investment from government and philanthropic sources is inadequate to meet the business counseling and capital needs of AAPI small business owners in low-income communities.” The vast majority of funding goes to groups that lack the language and cultural competency to serve minority entrepreneurs.

The report highlights the innovative strategies employed by REDC and eight of our community development counterparts nationwide to promote immigrant entrepreneurship. We participated in the study by surveying our small business clients and sharing New York-focused small business data.

AAPI entrepreneurs said they relied on their families and own social networks for small business funding, rather than turning to mainstream banks. The study authors observed that REDC and Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment, our counterpart in Los Angeles, have been especially successful at deploying loans over $25,000. National CAPCD concluded that we, “have tremendous potential and already make a big impact in reaching large markets… where AAPIs live.”

The report made several recommendations to bolster AAPI entrepreneurship, including allocation of, “robust annual funding to small business programs that increase access to culturally and linguistically competent services, particularly in communities of color that do not have significant wealth.” National CAPACD also called on the federal government to collect disaggregated data on AAPI small businesses and to implement meaningful language access plans at federal agencies.

National CAPACD includes more than 100 member groups across the country. REDC’s parent organization, Asian Americans for Equality, was a founding member of National CAPACD.

To read the full report, click here.