The Most Entrepreneurial Group in America Wasn’t Born in America
Immigrants now launch more than a quarter of U.S. businesses. All entrepreneurs should welcome reform that would make it easier for this class of strivers to stay–and succeed.
Derek Cha arrived in America as a 12-year-old with his parents and three siblings. They came for familiar reasons: “In 1977, South Korea was a poor country,” Cha says. “My parents were looking for better opportunities and education for us.” After the family settled in California, his mother worked as a seamstress; his father had jobs as a dishwasher and janitor. Cha delivered newspapers, helped his father with cleaning work after school, and got his first job at McDonald’s at age 16.
Today, at 49, Cha is the owner of the 350-store chain of SweetFrog frozen-yogurt shops, which has more than $34 million in annual revenue. He employs about 800 part- and full-time workers in the 70-some locations he operates himself. (Like all the companies featured in this story, SweetFrog made the 2014 Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies.) Cha founded the Richmond, Virginia-based business in 2009, as the U.S. was slowly emerging from deep recession. …more