Asian American and Pacific Islander Month

In keeping with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month theme of “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity” from the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), ICIC is highlighting AAPI-owned businesses that are seizing opportunities to advance leaders and research aimed at growing awareness to generate more opportunities in the AAPI community.

Celebrating AAPI-Owned Businesses

We want to elevate a few leaders from AAPI-owned businesses inside our alumni network.

IC100_2022_WestcoastTrucking Westcoast Warehousing & Trucking, Inc.
Founder Jay Patel took a chance 25 years ago when he left a pharmacist career to launch a trucking, warehouse, and e-commerce business. A leader in last-mile transportation from ports, airports, and distribution centers, the Compton, Calif.-based business has expanded to more than 500,000 square feet of warehouse space and serves all major retailers. Under the leadership of Patel, Westcoast Warehousing and Trucking has earned multiple IC100 Awards. Read More

FreshZen Foods
FreshZen was launched in 2016 by New York native and Santander Bank’s Cultivate Small Business alum Ruby Chan. Chan learned the trade of cooking by watching her parents in their restaurant. After discovering a market for authentic Asia sauces, she quit her accounting job to start her business. Today, her sauces are in Whole Foods and more than 70 markets and specialty food stores across New England. Read More

Chris Ko, CEO & Co-founder of ER2, delivering the Key Note at ICIC’s 2021 National Conference

Chris Ko always dreamed of creating a company that would provide jobs and stability for young families like his. After working in venture capital and private equity, he left finance during the 2008 recession and went into electronics recycling. In 2010, he partnered with Rick Krug to form ER2, with a mission to recycle electronics, provide IT services, and create jobs and opportunities at the hyper-local level. The company quickly found its niche and grew fast, helping large companies and organizations install new computer systems and networks while refurbishing and reselling old electronics. They now have their worldwide headquarters in Memphis and eight locations across the US. The company focuses on hiring from underserved neighborhoods and providing opportunities for employee development, paying employees to volunteer in their communities, and providing extensive training, best-in-class benefits packages, and career guidance. ER2 also focuses on breaking down the digital divide in cities by providing electronics and computers for those without the means to purchase expensive technology. ER2 was one of ICIC’s Inner City 100 businesses in 2021, and in 2018, they were awarded ICIC’s Chevron Dorothy A. Terrell Community Impact Award. Read More

Searching for the Golden Mountain: Demystifying Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Poverty in Under-Resourced Communities and Its Implications for Economic Development
This blog, written by ICIC Senior Research Associate Devon Yee, highlights economic diversity among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. It shows how treating these groups as a “model minority” impedes economic development in their communities. Read More

Help Advance AAPI Leaders

Take time during this month to “advance leaders through opportunity” by supporting your local Asian American and Pacific Islander small businesses and nominating them for some of our upcoming programs specifically designed for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)- and/or woman-owned businesses: 

  • Inner City 100 Awards (IC100): Since 1999, ICIC has identified and celebrated the 100 fastest-growing businesses in under-resourced communities through the Inner City 100 (IC100) award. In 2022, 50% of the award winners were woman-owned/led companies, a first for the program’s 24-year history. For the third consecutive year, 50% or more of the winners were BIPOC-owned. Applications for the 2023 IC100 awards are now due on Friday, May 19.
  • Santander Bank’s Cultivate Small Business (CSB) is designed to help early-stage entrepreneurs in low-income neighborhoods build and sustain their businesses, with a focus on women, minority, and immigrant-owned businesses in food-related industries. The program provides industry-specific education, networks, mentoring, and small capital grants for business owners.
  • Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) launched in 2005 in partnership with Bank of America, helps match investment-ready companies in under-resourced areas with growth capital. The program has served more than 5,000 businesses that have raised over $2.4 billion in capital. ICCC will host 13 cohorts across the United States and Canada this year.
  • Building for Growth (BFG) is a national, online, tuition-free executive education program that helps BIPOC- and woman-owned construction contractors build capacity and develop sustainable growth strategies that position their businesses to increase revenues and profits. The BFG program launched its inaugural cohort in 2022, serving 54 construction businesses from 19 states, 91% of which were BIPOC-owned and 53% were woman-owned. In 2023, BFG is running two cohorts and is now accepting applications and nominations. The application deadline for the Summer cohort is Friday, June 9, with classes starting on Wednesday, July 26.


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