America’s most successful entrepreneurs aren’t all from America

Sergey Brin and Diane von Fürstenberg, seated, in electronic headwear (AP Images)
Russian-born Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Belgian-born fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg wearing Google Glass. (AP Images)

Googol. It means the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. It  also inspired the name of a certain search engine you may know: Google. The word captured the possibilities of the powerful new tool for its co-founder, Russian-born Sergey Brin.

Brin immigrated with his parents to the United States at age 6 to escape Soviet persecution of Jews. “It was really for my father and my mother about having opportunity,” Brin told ABC News. He learned English, then earned degrees in math and computer science at the universities of Maryland and California. After building one of the world’s most successful tech companies, he now has estimated wealth approaching $30 billion.

Graphic showing immigration fact (State Dept.)

Brin is among the many immigrant entrepreneurs who strengthen America’s economy and create jobs for their fellow citizens and for people everywhere. Here’s how:

  • Immigrants are twice as likely as native-born Americans to start a business.
  • Immigrants are 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for 30 percent of small business economic growth.
  • Over 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, including Apple, eBay and General Electric, were founded by immigrants or their children, says a Partnership for a New American Economy report.

Businesses owned by American immigrants employed about 10 million people worldwide in 2013.

Graphic showing immigration fact (State Dept.)

Even some of America’s most iconic brands were created at the hands of immigrants and their children: Levi’s blue jeans were created by Levi Strauss, who immigrated from Germany in 1847, and Ford automobiles by Henry Ford, whose father hailed from Ireland.

City street scene showing large Levi's sign (AP Images)
The denim work pants created by Levi Strauss, an immigrant from Germany, have become one of the most recognizable fashion brands in the world. (AP Images)

Immigrants bring America new perspectives and experiences. Sometimes they see business opportunities that other entrepreneurs miss.

The possibilities, like googol, are greater than can be imagined.

Ready to start a business? Learn about creative ways of funding through crowdsourcing. Get involved in Global Entrepreneurship Week and join the Global Entrepreneurship Program, where the U.S. State Department and its partners support budding entrepreneurs across the globe.