ILC honors three with Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards
From Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic and India, the three winners of The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.’s (ILC) 2012 Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards all journeyed to Massachusetts to pursue the American Dream. Along with their personal successes, they also contributed to the uplift of their communities and the advancement of their fields of work.
On Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, MA, The ILC honored these three Massachusetts immigrant entrepreneurs, who were chosen by selection committees from the 21 nominations received:
Larry Dossantos, 912 Auto Center, Dorchester, MA (Outstanding Neighborhood Business)
Julia Silverio, Silverio Insurance Agency, Lawrence, MA (Outstanding Business Growth)
Amar Sawhney, Ocular Therapeutix, Inc., Bedford, MA (Outstanding Science/Technology Business)
Before a full house of 150 entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators, the awards were presented by Richard A. Davey, Jr., secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and ILC trustee; Diane Portnoy, ILC president and CEO; and Marcia Hohn, director of The ILC Public Education Institute. Click below to watch a video of The ILC 2012 Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards Dinner.
Larry Dossantos came to Boston as a child from Cape Verde. Today, like other immigrant business owners, he plays a pivotal role in the revitalization of his neighborhood (see ILC study Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Neighborhood Revitalization).
Dossantos realized that his business, 912 Auto Center, while serving the needs of his community, was also a source of pollution. He then began using eco-friendly products, installed a rooftop garden and created community gardens for young people.
Dossantos also used his business savvy to launch a neighborhood advisory group to support minority business owners.
In photo, Diane Portnoy, ILC President and CEO, greets family members of Larry Dossantos, center.
Julia Silverio arrived in Salem, MA, as a girl from the Dominican Republic. In school, she excelled at math and English, which became useful when she moved to Lawrence, MA, and discovered that there were few services catering to the burgeoning Latino community.
Working out of her home, Silverio became the go-to person for translation, tax, insurance and travel services. She soon founded Silverio Insurance Agency, which is one of the few Latino-owned and operated businesses in the Merrimack Valley. From 2009 to 2011, the agency’s revenue grew 56 percent to hit $2.5 million.
Silverio congratulated the other nominees, saying, “We came to this country in pursuit of the American dream and a better life for ourselves and our families. By that mere fact, we are all winners.”
In photo, Silverio speaks after accepting her award for Outstanding Business Growth.
Sawhney is linked to more than 100 patents in biotechnology and medical devices. He also cofounded Incept LLC, a platform to support other entrepreneurs.
Sawhney noted how America’s acceptance of immigrants paved the way for entrepreneurs like him. “The United Statesis singularly accepting of entrepreneurs,” he said, “providing a fertile ground on which to grow the seed of creativity and create wonderful ventures. For this adopted homeland I am very grateful.”
In photo, Richard A. Davey, Jr., Secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and ILC Trustee, left, poses with ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur award winner Amar Sawhney.