Have you ever wondered what makes the risky business of entrepreneurship so enticing for immigrants? As an immigrant entrepreneur who also happens to be the child of two immigrant entrepreneurs, I've noticed that the mindsets, habits and values practiced by immigrants largely contribute to their overall success as entrepreneurs.
They are warriors, selfless human beings who are determined to give their kids opportunities they never had for themselves. There were willing to leave behind the comfort of family, love, and language for a shot: a shot at that dream we all talk about. It's not a lavish lifestyle but a dream. This dream is achieved through access to education, a good paying job, and opportunity. And it's all for you.
When I immigrated to the United States at 7 years old, at first, this country was so completely foreign to me that I didn't yet understand that there was any such thing as living in a "poor area. Moreover, I couldn't even begin to conceive that I was most definitely living in one. The inner city was the only United States I knew.
I was born in a small country off the west coast of Africa called Cape Verde. Growing up, I was raised to speak Cape Verdean Creole and Portuguese. But at 7 years old, my family and I immigrated to the United States. At the time, I didn't really understand what that even meant. All I knew was that when I arrived the culture, way of life, and language were all absolutely foreign to me in every way. Eventually, I learned English and even Spanish. But learning the languages weren't nearly as hard as accepting myself for who I am as an immigrant.
I am an Irish immigrant. SWAAY's Founder is a Muslim who emigrated here from Morocco, and our Managing Editor is a first generation Cuban whose grandparents arrived on JFK's Freedom flights. Our stories are as diverse as they come, our backgrounds worlds apart and yet we have all ended up here in New York at the same time. There is no cosmic cause that explains why we have all met each other - there is simply the fact that this country has welcomed immigrants since its birth, and here we are, three immigrants of some variation, legally living in this country. And yet for the past week we have been questioning our very status because of a ban that persecutes those executing their right to travel here under years of agreements and contractual legislation between their countries and this one. Yes, it's been temporarily stopped by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but with our new President responding with a law suit threat, it seems the ban is far from disappearing.
Melissa "MJ" Jacques is the Director of Human Resources at Mustache Agency, a Brooklyn-based full-service creative content agency. Since joining Mustache in 2019, MJ has spearheaded Mustache's first-ever intern program, "Content-oisseurs," and promoted various internal and external diversity, inclusion, and company culture events that have bonded Mustachers. More specifically, MJ created Lunch and Learns focused on embracing Black History Month and Pride, as well as supported black-owned businesses for event specific needs. Additionally, MJ has established relationships with various companies with aligned missions, partnered with Sparked for multiple agency networking events (with diversity at the forefront of recruiting), and worked with Cutter for women-driven screenwriting and networking events.
Dr. Mary Beth Wilkas Janke is a former United States Secret Service Agent and current consultant in the fields of forensic and clinical psychology and professor at George Washington University, where she teaches Abnormal Psychology and the Psychology of Crime and Violence. Mary Beth holds a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology, a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She is also the author of " The Protector: A Woman's Journey from the Secret Service to Guarding VIPs and Working in Some of the World's Most Dangerous Places"
Aji Oliyide is a Senior Program Manager at Google who has worked on a number of projects related to product launches, and mergers and acquisitions. Aji sits on the board of directors for San Francisco CASA, a San Francisco non-profit devoted to supporting youth in the foster care system. In addition to board service, she enjoys volunteering and travelling. In 2011, she traveled to Nepal to participate in a charity trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp resulting in over $5,000 personally raised for a local Nepalese non-profit. In her spare time, Aji explores her creative side through her blog (Pivot Points) and her podcast Eat.Plank.Live. Her blog is focused on sharing insights from the decisions and events in people's lives that have influenced their path and how they interact with the world. Her podcast focuses on the role that food and fitness plays in our lives and is now live on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. Aji holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.