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Helping Immigrants Start Their Own Businesses

August 27, 2012
Plain English Version

Immigrants starting small businesses in Los Angeles have a friend in Ron Fong. Mr.

Photo by Katie Falkenberg for The Los Angeles Times

Fong directs the Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program.  He grew up in the El Sereno district of Los Angeles and is the son of manual laborers.

His group has worked with 3,625 clients since 1999. He assisted in the growth of 400 new businesses. Among the start-ups are a Vietnamese comfort-food restaurant, a pre-school program and a Filipino Barbeque restaurant.

Mr. Fong teaches business developers how to fill out corporate forms, write a marketing plan and do accounting. Many of his clients are first-generation immigrants. He helps them deal with language barriers.

He says many clients were professionals in their home countries. But they had to change their ways when they moved to the US. Many want to grow businesses in their own communities, such as Little Tokyo and Historic Filipinotown.

It is a challenge to keep his company in business. Banks are merging and cutting back on loan assistance programs. Mr.Fong said, “I am hoping we can ride this out and we get more corporate support once the economy improves. I would be happy just doing more small-business assistance.”

The Los Angeles Times

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