NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- From a bakery and restaurant specializing in Caribbean cuisine to corporate training classes, millions of immigrant entrepreneurs are flourishing in the U.S.
According to the 2007 U.S. Census Survey of Business Owners, 2.7 million, or 13.6%, of U.S. business owners are foreign-born -- entrepreneurs living the American Dream.
And according to the latest Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, created by the Kauffman Foundation, the rate of businesses started by foreign-born entrepreneurs rose to 0.62% last year, after rising 0.51% in 2009.
Immigrants face a host of unique issues when starting a business in a foreign country, from communication issues (not fully understanding the language) and culture issues to building (or rebuilding) a network of friends and business contacts.Further, access to capital and wading through the regulatory and legal system is particularly troublesome for immigrant-business owners. David Egner is the executive director of The New Economy Initiative, a philanthropic initiative aimed at accelerating the transition of southeast Michigan into an innovation-based economy. Fostering entrepreneurship, including businesses started by immigrants, correlates with the group's goal, Egner says. "There's a very large population of immigrants starting businesses in the state that we need to nurture and bring into our culture," Egner says. "It's hard to find the connection to the right resources as an immigrant. We've got to make sure that entrepreneurial ecosystem is supported." On the other hand, immigrant entrepreneurs have a lot of advantages. "First of all, by the very definition they are risk takers," says Foulis Peacock, founder of Immpreneur, a recently launched website dedicated to immigrant small-business owners. "These are people that have left the security of their home country -- basically giving up all that security to come here and start a new life." "America is the land of opportunity. We want to come here and really take advantage of those opportunities," says Peacock, who came to the U.S. from the U.K. some 20 years ago. "The best way to achieve the American Dream is becoming an entrepreneur." These entrepreneurs can start by tapping their ethnic community in the U.S., Peacock says, and "recognize a need that's being unmet right now. These niche markets are small -- maybe overlooked -- and it gives you the opportunity then to fill that need." Here are five examples of successful immigrant business owners: