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Amid adversity, the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) business community stays strong

In the video below, the leader of a San Diego business association discusses the challenges API owners face — and a new program to help them thrive

Collectively, the more than 30,000 Asian and Pacific Islander (API)-owned businesses in the San Diego region are a powerful cultural, creative and economic force, accounting for nearly 90,000 area jobs and contributing $5 billion to the local economy in 2021 alone.footnote1 Even with their significant contribution, many API small businesses still needed some basic tools to be fully viable during the pandemic — and beyond. For example, a good number lacked the technology needed to continue day-to-day business during the coronavirus. What’s more, one out of 10 reported being racially harassed or discriminated against, as anti-Asian bias increased during the pandemic.footnote2 As Asian Business Association of San Diego (ABASD) President and CEO Jason Paguio notes in the video below, “A number of compounding issues severely impacted API business throughout the pandemic.”

The ABASD offers educational workshops, technical assistance, business mentorships and access to capital to minority-owned small and disadvantaged businesses, entrepreneurs and startups in hard-to-reach communities in the San Diego region. While the pandemic amplified the needs of API businesses both locally and nationally, the issues many of them face have existed for much longer. Roughly 2.2 million API-owned businesses operate in the U.S. today,footnote3 and as many as 21% of them said they would not apply for financing because they did not think they would be approved.footnote4 Research by Bank of America found that during the pandemic, more than two-thirds of API business owners relied on family and friends for financial support. “The past couple of years have shown that we still have significant work to do within the community to address long-standing issues of inclusion and racial inequality,” says Alex Yamashiro, a vice president and relationship manager at Bank of America and ABASD board member.

That work includes new assistance for the ABASD to help communities experiencing discrimination and local businesses affected by the coronavirus as part of the bank’s $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity. The program will build upon the ABASD’s track record to expand efforts to promote the growth and competitiveness of the API small-business community.

State of AAPI Businesses in San Diego 2021-22,” Asian Business Association of San Diego


State of AAPI Businesses in San Diego 2021-22,” Asian Business Association of San Diego


Back to Business: Are AAPI Small Businesses Rebounding from COVID-19?,” Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship and Reimagine Main Street, June 2021



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