JobMakers is a podcast collaboration between The Immigrant Learning Center and the Pioneer Institute. In each episode, Director of the Public Education Institute Denzil Mohammed interviews an immigrant entrepreneur about their story, their business and their contributions to their community. The project highlights the unique resilience and journeys of foreign-born entrepreneurs. Explore the story of a refugee child who escaped pirates and grew up to found a law firm, a woman of color who opened a hedge fund in her dorm room and much more.
Episode 19: Shane Smyth
Keeping his five restaurants afloat through the COVID-19 crisis has given Shane Smyth unique insight into the role immigrant entrepreneurs like him play in the restaurant industry. Irish-born Smyth also discusses how immigrants make up one in five food prep and service workers and two in five agricultural workers. We have a full-length video interview here.
Episode 18: Anita Worden
As an English-born immigrant entrepreneur who founded a successful solar company, Anita Worden is passionate about welcoming immigrants and women into the growing renewable energy and tech sector. Listen to the episode to discover how she believes we can shift the narrative on immigration in the United States.
Episode 17: David Kallick
As an economics professor and researcher, David Kallick has studied the many ways that immigrants and refugees contribute to our economy. In this episode of JobMakers, Kallick shares how immigrants revitalize metros, combat economic decline, reverse population loss, create jobs and more. Tune in to hear an academic’s take on the positive impact of immigrants on the United States economy.
Episode 16: Ely Kaplansky
Ely Kaplansky had an unconventional start. Born to parents who met in a concentration camp and moved to the United States for a better life, Kaplansky dropped out of high school before launching Kaplansky Insurance as a young man. Today, Kaplansky Insurance employs 85 employees in 15 offices across Massachusetts. Listen to learn how Kaplansky took advantage of all the freedom and opportunity he discovered in the United States.
Episode 15: Semyon Dukach
Longtime angel investor Semyon Dukach started One Way Ventures to invest in immigrant entrepreneurs after he noticed how well their startups performed. As a refugee from the Soviet Union, he knew the grit and resourcefulness it took to start over somewhere new. Learn how investing in immigrant talent has paid off for Dukach, the immigrant founders and the economy!
Episode 14: Jo Napolitano
Jo Napolitano believes that giving immigrant and refugee students access to a good education is both the most moral and the most practical choice. Drawing on her own experiences as an immigrant and her years of reporting, she discusses the unlocked potential of foreign-born students. Tune in to also discover what she learned reporting on students at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Episode 13: Umesh Bhuju
Umesh Bhuju’s exposure to child labor as a young person in Nepal inspired his current investment in fair trade practices. His coffee shop ensures that their products come from well-paid farmers using environmentally sustainable practices. Listen to discover how Bhuju is combating food insecurity during the pandemic even as his business faces challenges. We also have a full-length video interview here.
Episode 12: Babak Movassaghi
Navigating his identity as a German-Iranian-American pursuing the American Dream has given Dr. Babak Movassaghi the flexibility and creativity to reinvent himself several times. Whether he’s obtaining a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, captaining the German NFL football team or founding a company that revolutionizes telehealth, Movassaghi has used an immigrant mindset to thrive. Tune in to find out how his company has kept people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic with its telehealth platform.
Episode 11: Jitka Borowick
Jitka Borowick, an immigrant entrepreneur from the Czech Republic, initially intended to spend just one year in the United States to learn English. She ended up moving to the United States permanently and founded Cleangreen, a cleaning service committed to environmentally-friendly practices, and Nove Yoga. Listen to learn about her difficulties learning another language and culture, her pathway to entrepreneurship and her courageous decision to open a new business during a pandemic.
Episode 10: Josh Feast
Josh Feast, an immigrant entrepreneur from New Zealand, has a goal anyone could get behind: make the call center experience better for everyone. In the latest JobMakers episode, he explains how he’s using AI to make it happen and creating over 200 jobs in the process. Listen to discover his perspective on ethics in the AI sector, what inspired him to enter the field and why he thinks “diversity defines America.”
Episode 9: Mahmud Jafri
When Mahmud Jafri first came to the United States from Pakistan, he hit a “concrete ceiling” in the corporate world. He turned to entrepreneurship and started a business selling imported hand-knotted rugs. Through his business, Dover Rugs and Home, Jafri is creating opportunities in Massachusetts and for women artisans abroad. Learn how he believes integrating immigrants can benefit all U.S. residents! We also have a full-length video interview here.
Episode 8: Larry O’Toole
Larry O’Toole has run his company, Gentle Giants Moving Company, for more than 40 years. He’s determined to ensure that all immigrants have the same opportunities that he did to fully participate in the economy and build something that will endure. That’s why he’s joined a group that promotes state and federal policies that foster complete economic integration of foreign-born talent and sustained prosperity for everyone. Listen to our interview to discover how he overcame the challenges of culture shock and discovered his untraditional path into entrepreneurship.
Episode 7: Amar Sawhney
Amar Sawhney turned his initial struggles to find work after immigrating to the United States from India into motivation to pursue a PhD and become a serial entrepreneur. He has started eight companies, creating more than 4,000 jobs and $2 billion in revenue. Listen to our interview to discover how he overcame obstacles along the way, his perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic and what he wants people to know about Sikh Americans. We also have a full-length video interview from earlier in his entrepreneurship journey here.
Episode 6: Max Faingezicht
Max Faingezicht’s Costa Rican background has helped him build a successful business connecting United States companies with remote software engineers in Latin America. His work has helped foster entrepreneurship in Costa Rica, bring valuable talent to U.S.-based companies and reshape the future of work at a time when remote work is booming. Learn what inspired his journey! We also have a full-length video interview here.
Episode 5: Hilda Torres
When she immigrated from Mexico, Hilda Torres found that making a living in the United States would be more difficult than she had been told. She rallied and started a multilingual daycare that quickly became one of the most successful businesses in her city. Learn how she used grit and education to make her mark! We also have a full-length video interview here.
Episode 4: Hong Tran
As a child fleeing Vietnam, Tran lost much of his family in a pirate attack. He rebuilt his life in the United States and founded a series of businesses, including a chain of laundromats, a liquor store, a real estate business and a law firm. Learn about how he overcame extraordinary adversity and what he thinks about the surge in anti-AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) hate during the pandemic. We also have a full-length video interview here.
Episode 3: Sandro Catanzaro
Catanzaro came to the United States from Peru planning to become an engineer, but he dreamed of starting his own business. In the end he did both, founding DataXu and developing technology that helped send NASA to Mars, among many other applications. Discover how he has navigated the world of tech as an immigrant entrepreneur. We also have a full-length video interview here.
Episode 2: Christina Qi
Receiving government benefits gave Qi’s Chinese American family the stability she needed as a child to eventually make it to MIT. While in college, a bad Wall Street internship experience inspired her to start her own hedge fund out of her dorm room. Learn more about how Qi paved her own path in an industry that’s often inhospitable to women of color.
Episode 1: Herby Duverné
Duverné struggled when he first came to the United States from Haiti while speaking little English. He always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to keep others safe. Learn how he combined these impulses into Windwalker Group, a cybersecurity company that employs more than 100 people. We also have a full-length video interview here.