February 4, 2005--There's long been an American dream of a man immigrating to the U.S., setting up a business, and providing for himself and his family. Now, a new report shows, immigrant women are embracing that dream, and in higher numbers than native-born women.
The number of immigrant women entrepreneurs has increased 190% since 1990, and 468% since 1980, says the Immigration Policy Center report. They make up 8.3% of the employed immigrant female population; only 6.2% of employed native-born women are business owners.
Who is this female entrepreneur? She's most likely to be from Mexico (16.5% of all immigrant women business owners), Korea (6.1%), Vietnam (4.9%), the Philippines (4.0%), El Salvador (3.7%), Germany (3.6%) and Canada (3.3%). Her age is probably between 36 and 45, the most represented age group for immigrant female and male entrepreneurs.
Industry-wise, while the top five industries are stereotypical--private households (13.7%), child day care (9.2%), restaurants/food service (8.3%), beauty salons (6.0%) and services to buildings and dwellings (3.9%)--immigrant women are well-represented in other areas. Real estate (3.4%), construction (1.8%) and management, scientific, and technical consulting (1.2%) make the top 20 industries, for example.
Geographically, immigrant women business owners are distributed throughout the States. The most popular metro areas are Los Angeles/Riverside/Orange County (which counts 13% of all of these women among its population), New York/Northern New Jersey/Long Island, San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, Washington/Baltimore, and Chicago/Gary/Kenosha.
The report notes immigrant women often start their businesses with less capital and lower skill levels than men, and suggests entrepreneurship programs make larger amounts of start-up capital available to women, and offer programs specific to female immigrant business owners. "There is reason to expect that the numbers of immigrant women entrepreneurs in the United States will continue to rise," the report concludes, "and that their economic contributions will continue to be of benefit not only to themselves, but to the entire U.S. economy and society."