There are several successful immigrants who despite the lack of incentives from their host government, have managed to work hard and manage their finances properly. Let us take a look at five immigrant millionaires that achieved true success. The following individuals are the wealthy immigrants, and everyone can learn from their experiences and words of wisdom.
1. Josie Natori
Country of origin: Philippines
Occupation: Fashion Designer and founder and CEO, the Natori Company
Josie Natori moved to New York in 1964 where she attended the Manhattanville College. Considering her country of origin, this was a huge leap for Natori as the climate, sense of humor and food were completely different. It was only a matter of time before she was home sick.
After her Economics degree in 1971, she started working for a Investment bank and Stock brokerage firm on Wall street. Despite climbing the cooperate ladder and even becoming the Vice President of Corporate Finance a first for a female at the time. Josie Natori felt this wasn’t enough, she wanted something else, some thing that would prove to be a bigger challenge and that would cement her legacy.
Natori got married and became a US citizen in 1974, and with the help of her husband, Ken, she brainstormed some ideas for starting her own business. She opened a car wash and also ran a McDonald’s franchise before she stumbled on what today is the Natori company. This happened by chance when she showed an ordinary nightgown to a buyer at Bloomingdale’s who wanted her to lengthen the night gown. This kicked off what we know today as the Natori company
In the beginning, she ran her business solo, taking into consideration every essential detail from design to production of finished wears. Today, Natori company has over 300 employees with her husband and son as members of the board. Her business has also expanded to include fragrances, home decor, and eye wear. She also made over 150 million dollars in 2011, from retail sales of budget friendly lingerie and lounge wear.
Natori’s advice to immigrants is to view their status as an asset, rather than a limitation.
2. Lowell Hawthorne
Country of Origin: Jamaica
Occupation: Baker and founder and CEO, Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill
Lowell Hawthorne moved from Jamaica to the Bronx in 1981 at the age of 21 with a green card in his hand. He worked as an assistant stock handler with the NY police department. Not satisfied with his job, Lowell studied and earned an associate degree in accounting from Bronx community college. With his degree, he was promoted to accountant despite this rise in his stock he still wasn’t satisfied, so he came up with the idea for his Golden Krust, Caribbean bakery, and grill which he shared with his siblings that were already in the US.
He struggled to get a business loan because banks were hesitant to grant loans to new restaurants because of their rate of failure. Despite this challenge, his siblings took out mortgages on their homes, and they also borrowed from family and friends, raising over a hundred thousand dollars in 1989. In the same year, he opened the first Golden Krust restaurant in the Bronx. He left his job with the NYPD in 1991 after ten years and became a US citizen the next year.
Today, there are over a hundred Golden Krust locations in nine different states. He has also been featured in major publications such as the New York Times. The company generated a hundred million dollars revenue in 2011.
His advice “Risks not taken are opportunities missed.”
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Country of Origin: Austria
Occupation: Hollywood actor and former California governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally from Thal, Austria and moved to the United States in 1968 at the age of 21. He became five-time Mr. Universe and a seven-time Mr. Olympia champion which opened many doors for him especially in Hollywood. Between 1969 and 1980, he was cast in a series of movies such as Hercules in New York. His role in the movie “Conan the Barbarian” took off his acting career in 1982.
He became a US citizen in 1983 and starred in “The Terminator” a year later and has since then starred in more than twenty films. His Entrepreneurial ventures include the Arnold Sports Festival which he started in 1989. He was also one of the founding celebrity shareholders in the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain which opened in 1991. Schwarzenegger ran for governor of California and won, and he served two terms. Today, he is worth about 300 million dollars. He achieved all these by staying focused early in his career and not letting nay slayers stop him from pursuing his dreams.
He said, “don’t let others negatively discourage you from achieving your goals.”
4. Shama Hyder Kabani
Country of origin: India
Occupation: Founder and CEO, the Marketing Zen Group
Shama Kabani moved to the United States with her family in 1994 at the age of 9. She saw her parents work very hard because they were trying to adjust in a new country, it spurred her to venture into business. Her father drove a taxi, and her mother ran a café which was later turned into a Subway franchise. Kabani started her first business at age 10, which was selling gift wrapping paper and she had her younger sister as her assistant.
She earned a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 when she wrote her thesis on the impact of Twitter and social media. After graduate school, she applied for several jobs positions in social media, but she was not hired. Instead of being put-down by her rejection, she founded the Marketing Zen Group, which is an online marketing and PR digital firm. Today, her company has grown to thirty (30) employees, including her husband who serves as the legal counsel and vice president. She has been featured in national publications such as Forbes and Businessweek.
Her advice to other aspiring immigrant millionaires “pursue entrepreneurship if you have the passion for something, a lot of people see it as a way to make money, it shouldn’t always be about that.”
5. Jose Wilfredo Flores
Country of Origin: El Salvador
Occupation: Owner and founder, W Concrete
Jose Wilfredo Flores moved from El Salvador to Philadelphia at the age of 14 to escape from the brutal civil war. When he arrived D.C along with other illegal immigrants, he was released because he was a minor. Flores worked part-time cleaning offices while he was attending Lincoln Middle School. At age 15 he left school to work full time in a construction company with falsified documents until he became eligible for a legal work permit.
At age 25, he had gained enough knowledge on the concrete business and was supervising a crew of 50 workers which earned him more than 60,000 dollars a year. Despite having a good job, Flores wanted to start his own business. In 2001, he used his savings to start W Concrete, and one of his first jobs was to pour the concrete for the building that replaced Lincoln Middle School. In 2011, his business brought in 6.6 million dollars.
His advice to other aspiring immigrant millionaires is “Do it right, and nobody can stop you.”