National CAPACD releases new report highlighting small businesses in low-income AAPI communities
and the innovative economic development organizations that serve them.
Small Business, Big Dreams* is an important new resource for the Asian
American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community development field. Existing data
focuses primarily on the economic success of AAPI entrepreneurs. National
CAPACD developed this report to tell a more accurate and nuanced story about
AAPI business owners in low-income communities, their challenges and needs,
and the innovative strategies deployed by local organizations to create economic
opportunity and preserve our neighborhoods.

There are some 2 million AAPI-owned businesses in the U.S. today, half of which
employ fewer than 20 people. AAPIs, particularly AAPI immigrants, start
businesses at a higher rate than the general U.S. population. While
entrepreneurship is a popular and very important asset building pathway for
AAPIs, many continue to face significant barriers to starting, expanding, and
operating their businesses.

National CAPACD’s Executive Director Seema Agnani
states “The data from this report reaffirms that AAPIs in
low-income communities have limited access to capital
and culturally relevant business counseling and
technical assistance. They do not turn to mainstream
service providers and financial institutions, relying
primarily on family and friends instead. This is the case
for AAPIs more than any other racial or ethnic group. In
response, AAPI-serving organizations have developed
new programs and strategies to address the significant
needs of our small business owners.” In Los Angeles,
for example, 5 AAPI-serving organizations created a
separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Asian Pacific
Islander Small Business Program (API SBP), in order to
address the unmet small business development needs
of AAPI small business owners through collective
fundraising and programming.

The report includes important new data and
recommendations for practitioners, funders, and policy
makers. Renaissance Economic Development
Corporation’s Managing Director Jessie Lee states,
“Small Business, Big Dreams is a critical contribution to
the field of small business by providing an in-depth
analysis of entrepreneurship as a means to asset
building among low-income AAPI communities. We
must use this analysis to advocate for increased funding
and support of local trusted organizations in order to increase the chances for success in the AAPI small business community.” REDC alone has
lent over $46 million and provided technical assistance to over 1,200 businesses and 10,000 entrepreneurs in the last 20 years, thus creating
and retaining over 5,000 jobs in its local NYC community.

The report highlights nine National CAPACD members: Asian Economic Development Association, Asian Pacific Islander Small Business
Program, Asian Services in Action, Business Center for New Americans, Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Pacific Asian Consortium in
Employment, Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources, Philadelphia Chinatown Community Development Corporation, and Renaissance
Economic Development Corporation.

National CAPACD is grateful to Citi Community Development and PNC Foundation for their support of Small Business, Big Dreams