The USA is the great melting pot of people from many cultures – and it is that melting pot factor that helps drive the innovation taking place today.
In my earlier post, Five Reasons Why America Is A Great Place to Run a Business, I listed one of the success factors as follows:
"The third point I want to make is a combination of the first two reasons. America has from the beginning been a “melting pot” of individuals from all possible corners of the world. The open-minded attitude to the open immigration is a prerequisite for America to continue to be an entrepreneurial country. We need not be born in the country in order to succeed here. We can begin with two empty hands and work our way up to create a business empire." (Open Forum, December 8, 2008.)
Immigrants have helped drive the innovation in the United States historically – and continue to contribute. Example: the founders of Google and Intel came to the United States from other countries, as noted in Farhad Manjoo's article, Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Startup Founders:
"Andy Grove, Intel's former chairman and CEO, was born in Hungary in 1936 and immigrated to the United States in his 20s. Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo, was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and moved to San Jose, Calif., with his family as a child. Sergey Brin, who co-founded Google, came to the United States from his native Russia when he was 6. They aren't special cases: About one-quarter of American tech companies are founded in part or entirely by foreigners." (Slate, September 14, 2009.)
I am a member of the Scandinavian-American fraternal, cultural and educational organization called The Vasa Order of America. I was interested to learn that some of the famous business people and inventors with Swedish heritage are:
- John Ericsson, the inventor of the screw propeller.
- Charles Walgreen, the founder of Walgreens.
- Eric Wickman, the founder of the Greyhound Company.
If you needed more examples of how immigrants have added to the innovation in the United States, I found two interesting reports via Elizabeth Kelleher's post, Immigrants Fuel Small Business Growth in the United States. The first is The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity:
The immigrant entrepreneurial activity rate increased sharply from 0.37 percent in 2006 to 0.46 percent in 2007. In previous years, immigrants were more likely to start businesses than were the native-born; they are now substantially more likely to start businesses. (Kauffman.org)
The second is Future of Small Business Report by Intuit (PDF):
As new entrants to the economy, immigrant entrepreneurs have the advantage of seeing a market with fresh eyes and will be able to identify and customize products for new and previously undefined market niches. They may also discover the products missing in a domestic market that were available in their home market. (Phase Three – The New Entrepreneurial Economy, February 2008, page 27.)
To get a perspective on the difficulties, problems and challenges with moving to another country, please check out Cross Cultural Marketer & International Sales Strategist, Cindy King's post, Movies On Adapting To Different Cultures and the story about Njoroge Kabugu's handicrafts business in the post, Just like A Hollywood Movie – A Success Story, at Business in General blog.
Yet, motivated entrepreneurs manage to overcome these challenges – and add to the business vibrancy and innovation of the United States.
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About the Author: Martin Lindeskog is a “trader in matter & spirit” and an entrepreneur in Gothenburg, Sweden. He is a board member of the Swedish National Association of Purchasing and Logistics (Silf, Western Region). Martin also writes a long-standing blog called Ego.