The negative impacts of the pandemic affected Asian-American women owners at a higher rate than their male-owned and non-minority-owned counterparts.
More than 50 percent of AAPI entrepreneurs are experiencing challenges using federal, state, and local assistance programs for small enterprises. The government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided $800 billion to small company owners, while only $7.7 million went to AAPI-owned enterprises.
“Acknowledging the need is step one, but we need actual, tangible support,” says Erica Chan, Lead North America growth and brand strategy for Alibaba.com
During AAPI Heritage Month, Chan has spoken to Hello Alice, an online platform that helps businesses launch and grow. They have discussed the problems that AAPI women business owners face and how corporations could help them. She was with Darien Siguenza from Hawai’i FoundHer and Elizabeth Gore from Hello Alice.
Hawai’i FoundHer offers an accelerator program tailored specifically to the needs of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and/or Asian women and mothers starting businesses in five core markets of Hawaiʻi’s economy: Tech, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Food System/Restaurants, and Keiki/Education.
“While this effort is Hawaii-based, this is the kind of intentional support we need to see more nationally to continue to propel AAPI women entrepreneurs forward,” Chan said.
In their conversation, they’ve concurred that there is no substitute for capital access. At Alibaba.com, Chan said that they have an extreme focus on fueling the growing entrepreneur economy and while we realize that no two small businesses are the same, access to capital is a core constraint when it comes to growing a business.
During their conversation, they all acknowledged that there is no other way to get access to capital. Chan said that Alibaba.com’s main goal is to help the growing economy of entrepreneurs. “This was why we partnered with Hello Alice to launch the inaugural Alibaba.com Grants Program in 2021” said Chan.
The initiative awarded a cash grant of $10,000 to 50 US-based entrepreneurs and provided materials on a variety of business-related issues to completely help Americans in the process of growing their enterprises online. Over 10 percent of their recipients are self-identified AAPI businesses.
“As a member of the AAPI community and small business enthusiast, it is imperative that we all take a step back and ask what we can do to support our fellow women-preneurs year around,” Chan said, “ whether that’s having meaningful conversations and exchanging knowledge, funding grants programs, backing women-focused accelerators, supporting their businesses directly as a consumer, or creating other supportive business initiatives.”