Are you (or do you know) an immigrant entrepreneur or immigrant executive that has a great success story to tell? If so, I would love to hear it. I am collecting stories for my forthcoming book, Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Pursuit of the American Dream. Please leave a comment on this post or email me at joe {at} with your contact information and the details about your company.

Immigrants have moved to the U.S. for centuries to escape persecution, create economic opportunity, and pursue the “American Dream.” Some of our country’s most reputable companies were founded by immigrants: Proctor & Gamble, Intel, Pfizer, eBay, Yahoo! and Google.

Sadly, the word “immigrant” now signifies something negative to many Americans even though almost all of us can trace their roots to another country. Immigrants constitute the very roots of America’s desire and determination to make it. Yet today, we make it nearly impossible for them to move here. Ironically, the brightest foreign students who attend U.S. graduate programs now find it easier to start businesses and create jobs in their home country.

In his introduction to my book, Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico, tells the stories of his German-American grandfather on his father’s side who emigrated from Cincinnati, Ohio to Mexico as well as the story of his grandfather on his mother’s side who emigrated from Asturias, Spain. Mr. Fox continues by saying:

“Joe Kutchera, in this fascinating book, gives readers the opportunity to discover a few of the many stories of immigrants’ struggles on the road to success that have helped make the U.S. great, through their effort and commitment, and through their love and passion. In his book, he puts into clear perspective the dignity of immigrants around the world.”

A few of the stories that I feature in this book include:

Arianna Huffington moved from her native Greece to England and then on to the U.S. where she became a media mogul, as the founder of The Huffington Post. She recently sold her news site to Aol for $315 million dollars.

Bismarck Lepe grew up spending half the year in Mexico with his grandparents as his Mexican-American migrant farm worker parents worked their way up the West Coast picking the crops during the harvest season. His parents, both of whom had a grade-school education, told him and his brother that they had no idea how college worked but that they could work to earn the money they needed to attend college. Bismarck received a scholarship to Stanford University, studied engineering, and started working at Google in the company’s early days. After cashing in his Google stock options, he started Ooyala, one of the leading online video companies with his brother who also attended Stanford and worked at Google.

Norberto Guimaraes moved from his native Portugal to the “Mecca of Start-Ups” – Silicon Valley – to attend the MBA program at UC-Berkeley. He started while in school, a company that makes custom granolas with high-quality, low-sugar cereals mixed with dried fruits and nuts. Consumers could customize each package with a unique message for family, friends, or clients. In a very short time, the company became cash flow-positive, hiring a number of Americans. But, because he could not obtain the proper visa, he had to sell the company and return to Portugal.

Ernesto and Heriberto Villareal moved to Milwaukee as young men in their early twenties, leaving their family behind in Mexico. They happened to move next door to a nice Mexican-American family with two young daughters, Criselda and Olivia, who gave them winter coats during their first winter. Many Mexicans moved to Milwaukee during the 1960’s for the numerous manufacturing jobs at companies like Harley-Davidson and Miller Brewing Company. Yet, all of the Mexicans in Milwaukee had to drive to Chicago, four hours round trip, to buy fresh corn tortillas every week. Ernesto married Criselda and Heriberto married Olivia and later, the two couples started El Rey Foods. Today, they employ 350 Milwaukeeans at four grocery store and one tortilla factory.

Saeed Roueenfar escaped his native Iran during the war with Iraq, moving around Europe as a refuge. Finally he flew to Mexico City and then to Tijuana, walking across the border nearly penniless. He called his brothers in Los Angeles, California for help. Today he owns two Mexican grocery stores and two discount retail stores. He learned to speak both English and Spanish without any formal classes.

What immigrant entrepreneur do you know? Email me at joe {at} kutchera .net or via twitter @joekutchera to tell me their stories. And please pass this around to other immigrant entrepreneurs that you know.Thank you!

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