When Abraham Lincon said “My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth”, his thoughts seemingly sunk across millions of people in the globe. In America today, there are tens to hundreds of immigrants who harnessed their past unfortunate experiences to better their lives and those of other native Americans and even others across the globe.
Entrepreneurs are basically people who have established or created success from the ground, from nothing, commonly referred to as “rags to riches” story. The land of opportunity being open to all, our focus will be on some of the people who survived past pandemic experiences and later left their mark on the American economy. These people range from small traders to boardroom decision-makers. Here are some of the economic leaders from outside the famous US immigrant entrepreneurs who succeeded despite past their adversity.
10 Famous US Immigrant Entrepreneurs
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Austria-America)
Well, Arnold is not your everyday American, he is, for lack of better words, superhuman. But the story behind his success is so inspiring. Born in Austria to an abusive father, he rose against all odds to even become the first immigrant governor of California. His Nazi father was so poor that it forced him to build up the desire to be self-made at a very tender age. At 13 he was already lifting weights, at 17 he officially kick-started his road to success through bodybuilding. At 21 years of age, he moved to the US with nothing in his pockets, no money, the future was bleak. He barely spoke proper English either. But right now he is the renowned actor, businessman, politician and author, with notable success in every inch of those careers.
His war-torn native Austria was a living nightmare for young Arnold. Coupled with a father who sided with the enemies, the abject poverty only motivated him from the inside. After moving to America, he settled in California, made few friends and started training for his bodybuilding competition. History records that he is the youngest ever Mr Universe crowned winner.
Starting from bricklaying venture, then mail-order business, bodybuilder champion, successful Hollywood career and then to a successful political career, this man is a self-made millionaire, he is currently worth about 400 million dollars.
2. Steve Chen (Taiwan-America) & Jawed Karim (East Germany-America)
Have you ever asked yourself who the brilliant chaps who invented youtube are? There you have it, these two gentlemen, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim are responsible for the success of many musicians are business, not forgetting the fun for everybody else on the famous social networking platform. Born to Taiwanese parents in 1978, Steve’s parents moved to America when he was 8 years old in search of a better future. The tiny Asian nation was undergoing through a tough economic recession at the time, luckily for his parents, they managed to escape to America.
Jawed Karim, the first-ever person to upload a youtube video, is of a Bangladesh-German decent. Xenophobic attacks in East Germany at the time forced his parents to cross the border in the early ’80s. In 1992, his family settled in Minnesota, he went to college and graduated with a degree in computer science.
Both Steve and Jawed worked for PayPal before joining hands and creating this groundbreaking invention, youtube in 2004. Steve is now worth about 350 million dollars, with his friend Jawed also worth a cool 140 million dollars.
3. Jan Koum (Ukraine-America)
Well, this man is a true inspiration to millions across the world. He is a computer programmer who founded the largest mobile social networking platform, WhatsApp. He was born in Kiev, Ukraine, when the country was still under the USSR. Together with his mother and grandmother, they moved to America in 1992. They were extremely poor that a local social support program assisted them in getting a house in the neighbourhood. His mother worked as a babysitter while he worked as a cleaner in a grocery store.
This man would later become the influential man he is today through his selfless hard work and determination. Despite dropping out of college, he co-founded WhatsApp back in 2009. The application was sold to Facebook in 2014 for a whopping 19.3 billion. Jan currently has a net worth of 10.1 billion dollars.
4. Dikembe Mutongo (Democratic Republic of Congo-America)
Anytime the name Congo is mentioned what comes into mind is crimes against humanity. The mineral-rich African nation has been an epicentre for civil war for decades. One man, Dikembe Mutongo, a native son of the soil, made it against all those odds to get to the top. The towering 7 feet 2 is a renowned retired basketball player in the NBA league.
He moved to the US at the age of 21 to enrol in a college. His physical appearance would convince his teaches that in basketball he would eventually find success, and that’s how the journey began. He is regarded as one of the best defensive shot-blockers in NBA history. He started the Dikembe Mutongo Foundation in 1997 to help improve the lives of others in the Congo. After learning how to leverage success, he used his networks he had established to become a celebrated humanitarian activist.
5. Sergey Brin (Russia-America)
The co-founder of Google, one of the biggest companies in the entire United States and the world at large, is a man with a story to tell. Sergey Brin was born in Moscow when Russia was still under the now-defunct Soviet Union. Even though his parents were well educated, the rampant antisemitism at the time drove them out, the environment was too harsh. Both of his parents lost their jobs and the family went through hell, before finding a leeway to Paris France then later to the United States. With a current net worth of 59.8 billion dollars, he is now one of the richest men in the world. His leadership traits have seen him make and manage the most used search engine in the digital world.
6. Jackie Chan (Hong Kong, China-America)
When it comes to actual “nothing to something” story, Chan Kong Sang, popularly known as Jackie Chan, beats every other person hands down. The actor, film producer, musician, stuntman and martial artist is a living rag to riches testimony. Born in 1954 to parents who were refugees of Chinese civil war, through his hard work and determination Chan worked tirelessly to become who is today. While most of his businesses are in America, Chan managed to maintain his close ties with Hong Kong through community empowerment. He has a home in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.
7. Arianna Huffington (Greece-America)
Just like her former rival in the race to clinch State of California governorship, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arianna Huffington is one of the most celebrated immigrants in American history. Born in Athens Greece, she would later make her way to the United States and establish one of the best online media websites ever, The Huffington Post. She is also the founder and CEO of Thrive Global. She has also authored 15 best selling books.
8. Christiane Amanpour (London, UK-America)
When your face is the best news channel in the world is known to billions across the continents, none of them can imagine the journey started as an entry-level desk assistant at the same company, CNN. Years later, the renowned senior reporter is an inspiration to millions of upcoming female journalists. Raised in a Muslim-Christian family, Amanpour’s father himself was an immigrant from Tehran. Her past did not deter her from being the best in her field. She is a living legend.
9. Mariano Rivera (Panama-America)
Having played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball, Mariano is a legend by any measurable standards. At the famous New York Yankees, he was nicknamed “Sandman” for his exploits on the field. He was born in a poor fishing family back in Panama. He made his way to America and found success despite his status as an immigrant. Through the Mariano Rivera Foundation, he donates more than 500 million dollars annually to the unprivileged children get access to education, he also builds churches and schools both in America and Panama.
10. Phil Libin (Russia-America)
Phil moved to America when he was 8 years old. His parents escaped the civil war to seek a safe haven in the states. He overcame all odds and later become the CEO of Evernote, a Silicon Valley-based tech company. Rather than dwell on his terrible past and upbringing, he focused his energy to get the best he could the world. He is an established software engineer and entrepreneur.
5 Lessons We Have Learnt From US Immigrant Entrepreneurs
The greater purpose of reading and learning from such stories apart from being entertained is to pick some valuable lessons common and cutting across all these amazing people. With a positive mindset, we can always turn our adversities to opportunities.
1. Discipline and Commitment -There is no success story without discipline, period. Rough past should be enough indicator to develop strong discipline, both personal and organizational. Once you set your mind to achieve something, stay committed, zero second thoughts, eyes on the price.
2. Learn to Appreciate Your Past– Rough as it may be, your past will always shape your future, its only a matter of mindset. Channel the good and the bad to the ultimate good, for yourself, and for the people you care about.
3. Have the Courage To Invest– It takes one step to make everything possible. Stand out, be the bold one. Not everybody will buy your dream, but if you believe in it, take a bold step and take it.
4. Be Creative and Innovative-The world will never get tired of new ideas, new innovations. Think outside the box, take risks where necessary, the future is in your hands. Walk the path everyone else thinks is patchy, as they say, there are no traffic jams in the extra mile.
5. Show Gratitude-The only way you can celebrate your success wholeheartedly is by giving back. This is not necessarily financial, it can be through motivation, sharing your story, raising awareness, etc.
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