Immigrant-Owned Businesses Add Vibrancy to Seattle  

Abdul “Doolie” Mohamud, owner of Doolie’s Hot Hot Sauce, based his legendary hot sauce on a recipe created by his grandmother. Today, his sauce combines unexpected ingredients for a unique flavor and is on the shelves at several large retailers including PCC Natural Markets.

Ximena Juarez is a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy. She and her husband own Dalior Aesthetics, a company providing advanced skincare services in Bellevue, Washington.

Salvador Amezquita and his partner, Brian, own Sal’s Floral Design, a vibrant upscale business in downtown Seattle that was recently selected as the in-house florist for Seattle’s Four Seasons Hotel. Sal and Brian recently joined the Ventures Board of Directors, representing the voice of local entrepreneurs in our decision-making.

Hawa Sheikhadan has loved cooking since she was a child and dreamed of opening a business to share her food with others. But her dream was disrupted when she had to flee Somalia for a refugee camp in Kenya. After arriving in America she decided to build a business selling her famous Safi Hot Sauce.

Lilian Quintanilla, owner of Lily’s Salvadoran Catering, creates authentic delicious Salvarodean meals. She sells at a variety of farmers’ markets including Columbia City, Fremont, University District, and Redmond.

What do all these businesses have in common? They are owned by immigrants or refugees who came to the United States for better lives. These thriving small businesses help create a robust local economy and contribute to the culture and vibrancy that makes Seattle great.

In fact, according to research by the Kauffman Foundation, immigrants accounted for nearly half of all small business growth in the United States between 2000 and 2013. More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies in 2010 were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. And in 2012, immigrants were twice as likely to start businesses as native-born Americans.

On the local level, Washington is the 8th largest refugee-receiving state, and over 110,000 Seattle residents were born in another country. In 2014, these immigrants in Seattle earned $23.4 billion and contributed $6 billion in local and federal taxes.

So what does all this mean for you? For us? For our city?

It means that Seattle would not be what it is without people like Doolie, Ximena, Sal, Hawa, and Lillian. It means that many of your favorite restaurants, salons, stores, and businesses are owned by people who were not born in the United States. It means that in spite of tension and divisive rhetoric in our political landscape, America—and Seattle—remains a place of great opportunity and prosperity.  As Seattle Mayor Murray said earlier this year, “We are an inclusive, welcoming city for all – including our immigrant, refugee and Muslim friends, families, and neighbors.”

We’re glad they’re here… aren’t you?

Watch a video that shares more about the journey of small business owners at Ventures: