According to a 2016 Harvard Business school report approximately 24 percent of all business owners are immigrants. Yet they only make up 15% of the population. A regional effort is working to attract and grow foreign entrepreneurial talent and strengthen bi-national partnerships.
Victor Cruz is fabricating a prosthetic hand with cutting edge techniques and a 3D printer at New Mexico State University. He said he has been experimenting with different materials to produce more affordable prosthetic medical products since he began studying engineering in his native Mexico.
“Other technologies cost like 11,000 dollars for example bionic. With this new technology you can print the hand. I don’t know in a couple of days." Cruz said "It is cheaper and also the functionality of the hand it is very accurate.”
Cruz said his project really started developing after he came to the U.S.
“America has a lot of opportunities for everyone" Cruz said "At this time we are taking advantage of these opportunities in America.”
Also from Mexico Jose Carlos Murguia is developing health food products and sun powered technologies. He said he came to the U.S. because that’s where entrepreneurial prospects were bright.
“If you have an idea and you are just looking for opportunities what ever they are you
just take the advantages you find." Murguia said :I would like to have a company to start a business here or in Mexico or any where in the world.”
Murguia and Cruz are developing their companies in New Mexico because of 'Activando Emprendedores' - a bilingual entrepreneurship training program at New Mexico State University's Arrowhead Center.
The program offers student training for college entrance exams... business English courses...and entrepreneurship and technology commercialization internships.
“That will help me to go deeper on to my customer discovery and then after that I will be willing to decide if I want to open a company with that technology or not.” Murguia said.
Griselda Martinez is bi-national programs manager.
“We have an incubator with a technology components" Martinez said "We have Spanish programs that are available for people around the world."
Martinez said entrepreneurial opportunities often defy national borders for a region to have a place in the global market partnerships need to minimize obstacles facing foreigners like language and immigration status.
“An entrepreneur goes to where the opportunity is. If you are in the looks for opportunities you will find it in a different city from where you are, in a different country, a different industry. So if you see an entrepreneur as someone who see an opportunity regardless of where it is.” Martinez said.
According to a 2016 Harvard Business study there are good reasons to accommodate foreign entrepreneurs… while immigrants make up just 15% of the population, they account for 25% of the business owners. Another study by Partnership for a New American Economy found that immigrants were named in three out of four technology and product patents.
Martinez said entrepreneurs from other countries and cultures are often able to bring different solutions to problems and recognize market opportunities.
“Definitely being in another context is very helpful – because you look at the opportunities in another way, you look everything in other perspective for your country.” Cruz said.
“The city I come from we have several products, different products and I have found
an opportunity here. In the U.S. market I can’t find those products. They are high
quality products and I would like to to import them. To bring them from Mexico.” Murguia said.
Foreign entrepreneurs disproportionally large stake in the U.S. economy could be partially linked to their education levels. A Kauffman foundation study found 74 percent held graduate or postgraduate degrees.
Whether our region will be able to reap the full economic benefits of these projects may have less to do with bi-national partnerships like Arrowhead and more to do with immigration policy.
“If my product takes me to another place in the world I will go.” Murguia said.
Martinez said more could be done to allow foreign entrepreneurs to launch businesses and create jobs in the U.S.
“I do believe there may be additional ways to support bright minds to stay in the U.S. if they choose too” Martinez said “I believe if you are of value to the society in greater terms than in average, I believe that the way is too make this possible should be there."
Currently there is no dedicated visa for foreigners to start companies in the U.S. The last effort to create one died in Congress in 2015. According to New American Fortune in 2010, 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the children of immigrants.