The Goal: The Asian Business Empowerment Council serves as a platform to increase economic power within the AAPI business community and to address systemic disparities that limit business ownership, growth, and sustainability. ABEC will serve as an organizing force and central hub for entrepreneurs, business owners, advocates, and service providers by advancing four priority areas.
With the wide range of education, language skills, and income levels within the AAPI community, the hurdles to business ownership, growth, and sustainability for Asian entrepreneurs are extremely high. A report in 2019 from the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development on AAPI small business owners found the most frequently cited barriers to securing mainstream financial capital were poor credit, difficulty in navigating the loan application process, linguistic barriers, and lack of knowledge of capital availability. More than any other racial or ethnic group, AAPIs turn to personal resources, friends, and family for startup business financing, which favors resources for those who have preexisting and personal connections to significant wealth (2018 SBA Office of Advocacy).
Furthermore, the challenges faced by AAPI businesses have been magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses closed, and for those businesses that remained open, the overlapping anti-Asian sentiment and public health concerns caused businesses to suffer significant declines. According to a 2021 report from Boston Indicators entitled Building AAPI Power, an outsized percentage of Asian-owned businesses were represented in higher-risk industries or industries where in-person work was required. ABEC aims to address these systemic disparities by cultivating a strong network of Asian-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, expanding access to technical assistance and growth opportunities, and advancing a unified advocacy voice for AAPI businesses across Massachusetts.
This event celebrated the release of a research brief unveiling a snapshot of Asian-owned businesses in Massachusetts. The brief captures the resilience and resourcefulness of Asian entrepreneurs in the Commonwealth and highlights the significant contributions of Asian-owned businesses to the state's economy, which add billions of dollars while facing numerous barriers to accessing services that support businesses.
Before a sizeable and thoroughly engaged online audience, the Asian Business Empowerment Council, or ABEC, made its programmatic debut with a lively forum designed to elevate the voices of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) business community and a number of panelists in position to collaborate with them.
Retired Partner, Goodwin Proctor LLP
Director, The Boston Foundation
Helen Chin Schlichte
Co-Founder, President Emeritus
South Cove Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility
Chief of Staff
Casner & Edwards, LLP
Director, Environmental Sustainability
Analog Devices, Inc.
Chief Executive Officer
Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
Jeffrey Hsi, Ph.D.
Wolf Greenfield & Sacks, P.C
Senior Program Associate, Economic Inclusion and Arts & Culture
The Boston Foundation
Clark Lau LLC
Mei Mei Restaurant Group & Prepshift
Small Business Strong Manager
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
Associate General Counsel
Executive Director, Lowell
EforAll (Entrepreneurship for All)