Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2012

Latino Immigrant Entrepreneurs: How to Capitalize on Their Economic Potential

Alexandra Starr

July 2012

Council on Foreign Relations


Latino immigrant entrepreneurs are making important contributions to the U.S. economy. They have founded highly successful companies in the frozen food, construction, financial services, and high-tech industries. Many of these companies owe their success to cultural connections with Latin American markets abroad and U.S. Latino consumers at home—markets that are set to grow rapidly in the coming years. Small-scale Latino immigrant entrepreneurs, meanwhile, have helped revitalize city commercial strips and small-town Main Streets across the country. But roadblocks are preventing the United States from capitalizing on the entrepreneurial potential of Latino immigrants. Visa issues can make it difficult for even promising and well-funded entrepreneurs to establish themselves in the United States. Isolation from mainstream business networks and lack of access to credit can undercut business growth for some companies. More should be done to foster the connections of U.S. Latino–owned companies with growing Latin American economies.