Anna Santos en Brazil Express en Schaumburg el martes 10 de julio.
Anna Santos at Brazil Express in Schaumburg on Tuesday, July 10.
George LeClaireemail@example.com ¬ Mario Vitlo, Anna Santos, and Luis De Oliveira at Brazil Express in Schaumburg on Tuesday, July 10.
She spent a decade serving up filet mignon, pork ribs, rack of lamb and other slabs of meat at Brazilian steakhouses across the Chicago area. Then Ana Vitelo decided she wanted her own slice of the roast.
So in mid-May, Vitelo opened her own restaurant, Brazil Express Churrasco Grill in Schaumburg, a fast-casual version of the boundless, all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse. Vitelo’s restaurant offers a more modest selection of meats and a smaller salad bar but at a third of the price of a typical Brazilian steakhouse.
While opening a restaurant in a lackluster economy is risky, Vitelo, 42, is confident, relying on her restaurant experience and her background as a native of Rio de Janeiro.
“Business has been good so far. I think in this economy, people are looking for something more affordable,” Vitelo said.
“I know opening a restaurant is risky and a lot more work. But I don’t see myself as an employee. I want to work for myself.”
Vitelo is part of an emerging group of entrepreneurs: foreign-born workers who start their own businesses in the United States.
Immigrants own almost 1 in 5 small businesses in the United States and are more inclined to start a new business than their native-born counterparts, according to a new study from the nonpartisan Fiscal Policy Institute.
Immigrants own 18 percent of all small businesses in the U.S., even though they account for only 13 percent of the nation’s population and 16 percent of the labor force, according to the study. Small businesses owned by immigrants employ 4.7 million people and generate $776 billion in annual sales, the study indicates.
“It’s almost a foregone conclusion that immigrants coming to America displace U.S. workers. This study finds that immigrants just aren’t job seekers — they start their own businesses and they are also employers,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, a researcher at the Fiscal Policy Institute.
The New York-based organization found the trend to be even more they start their own businesses and they are also employers,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, a researcher at the Fiscal Policy Institute.
The New York-based organization found the trend to be even more pronounced in the Chicago area.
Immigrant entrepreneurs own 27 percent of the small businesses in the metro area, while accounting for 18 percent of the population and 22 percent of the labor force, the study shows.
Among all foreign-born entrepreneurs in the Chicago area, Polish immigrants own the largest percentage of small businesses, at 17 percent, according to the study.
Natives of Mexico follow at 15 percent; immigrants from India account for 10 percent; South Koreans 4 percent; while natives of Greece, the Philippines, China and Italy each account for 3 percent.
Transportation, retail, construction, health care, food service, building maintenance and landscaping are among the industries where the concentration of immigrant entrepreneurship is highest in the Chicago area, the study reports.
The statistics support what small business counselors are seeing in their offices.
“I’d say those are consistent numbers,” said David Gay, program manager of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the College of DuPage. “Immigrants are very, very active when it comes to starting small businesses in industries all over the spectrum.”
At the College of DuPage center, as at similar sites at community colleges across the state, people interested in starting businesses can get advice on developing a business plan, securing financing, accounting and marketing.
John Biesiadecki, 55, a Polish immigrant, received assistance from the College of DuPage office to start Termal Shell Technologies Inc., a Rochelle-based maker of precast construction panels.
Biesiadecki was 21 years old and had $10 in his pocket when he emigrated from Poland in 1978.
He worked for years in construction before developing a way to make a construction panel that was four times lighter, and with better insulation for energy savings. He turned the idea into a business in 2002.
The entrepreneurial spirit runs in the family. His wife, Bogumila, 56, started her own cleaning business, Maid Day Service in 1996.
The Sycamore-based business provides maid services to homes in DeKalb and Kane counties, including residences in Geneva and St. Charles.
“Immigrants come to America knowing that if they work hard, they can succeed,” John Biesiadecki said. “Having their own business is their ultimate goal. They want to run their own show.”
Often, the entrepreneurial inclination is passed down from the generations. Kashyap V. Trivedi, 36, an attorney in Schaumburg, came to the United States from India in 1983 when he was 8 years old.
His father, Vikram, started his own insurance practice. That inspired his son to attend law school and establish his own law firm.
“I saw my father come here with $20 in his pocket. He started in insurance sales, and that’s as raw as it gets. You eat what you kill,” said Kashyap Trivedi, a Barrington resident.
“That memory was ingrained in me,” Trivedi said. “I said to myself, ‘If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this right. I’m going to have to do this on my own terms.’”
Trivedi practices transactional law, helping clients with real estate, small business and civil law issues. Many of his clients are foreign-born residents seeking advice on starting a business, he said.
They also come seeking advice from the Small Business Development Center at Harper College in Palatine. There, interim director Anthony Baldassano estimates that nearly 30 percent of his clients are foreign born.
“We’re primarily helping people develop a business plan. Is your business feasible? Does it make sense?” Baldassano said. “We’re also helping people with site location, village licensing and reviewing their lease.”
Baldassano said a huge challenge for small business owners these days is the lack of available financing, with banks making loan approvals more difficult following the 2008 financial crisis.
He does believe immigrant entrepreneurs have an advantage here because they have traditionally pooled their start-up money among family and friends.
Indeed, when Ana Vitelo wanted to start Brazil Express, she partnered with her husband, Mario, and friend Claudia Gois. The fellow Brazilians used nearly $200,000 in personal funds to open the restaurant.
“We worked for years to save up our money to start the restaurant,” Ana Vitelo said. “I know it will be difficult. But people like me come to
the United States because we want to make it on our own. America really gives you the opportunity. You have to go for it.”