In times of celebration and in times of pain, immigrants and refugees bring love, hope, and togetherness to local communities across America. For many – including my parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt by way of England in the 1980s – entrepreneurship is one especially beautiful way to engage with their adoptive communities. By using their talents to create inspired products and offer compassionate services to their new neighbors, immigrants and refugees model the kindness, acceptance, and unity we should all strive for. From dry cleaners to child care centers to senior living centers to doctors' offices to restaurants to barber shops to law firms and beyond, immigrants and refugees infuse joy, and jobs, into American towns and cities.
Remarkably – despite language barriers, limited access to capital, sparse networks, and many other challenges – immigrants and refugees have 2x the average rate of entrepreneurship in the U.S. There are more than 5 million immigrant and refugee-led businesses across the country, and they help support many millions of American families by creating and sustaining stable jobs. But far beyond the economic impact, immigrants and refugees are there for their communities amid the darkest times. From immigrants and refugees providing hospitality and rescue services during Hurricane Harvey in Houston, to those cooking meals and delivering them to vulnerable elderly senior citizens in Durham during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are among the most patriotic Americans – selflessly giving even when they themselves face difficult circumstances.
Unfortunately, we do not hear these unifying stories frequently enough, and we don't do nearly enough to help immigrants and refugees overcome their unique challenges to find a new home in America. We too-often, in the media and in politics for example, only hear about immigrants as one-dimensional: as mere "victims" or as "villains." And, all too commonly, this lack of respectful rhetoric is followed by a lack of tangible support. But, thankfully, beyond the fray – the media talking heads, the eye-catching headlines, and the viral videos – are quiet moments of humanity experienced together by immigrants and refugees and their adoptive communities. Quiet moments of hope, of joy, and of resilience. Moments of dignity.
Immigrant Love seeks to share those moments of dignity across America, one box at a time. The vision of Immigrant Love is threefold: First, in creating each box we source from small businesses owned by immigrants, refugees, and first-generation Americans serving communities across the nation, providing them both a major bulk order and ongoing marketing to potential new, well-targeted customers. Second, to reach even more small businesses, we contribute 5% our profits toward zero-interest, zero-fee loans to immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs through our partnership with crowdlending non-profit Kiva U.S. And third, more at the "heart" level, we aspire to help create a nation in which immigrants and refugees are celebrated. Our team’s hope is that more will see the dignity, nuance, and spirit present in the lives of immigrant and refugees across America – at least in small part – through this box.
And in doing so, that we might just be reminded of the dignity, nuance, and spirit in the lives of all those around us, no matter where they came from or how they got there.
Andrew + the Immigrant Love Team