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Asian Business Empowerment Council

Advancing the AAPI Business Community

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The Asian Business Empowerment Council (ABEC) aims to coordinate and unify a vibrant community of business owners, entrepreneurs, service providers, and advocates to build a strong collective voice for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) business community across Massachusetts. ABEC is a new venture that is being incubated by the Asian Community Fund with generous seed funding from the Eastern Bank Foundation and the Boston Foundation. ABEC supports AAPI businesses, particularly immigrant-owned businesses, to overcome historic inequities in access to capital and public contracting opportunities, and to increase opportunities for economic growth and success.
Asian Business Empowerment Council logo

The Goal: The Asian Business Empowerment Council serves as a platform to increase economic power within the AAPI business community and to address systemic disparities that limit business ownership, growth, and sustainability. ABEC will serve as an organizing force and central hub for entrepreneurs, business owners, advocates, and service providers by advancing four priority areas.

THE ABEC APPROACH

Advocating to expand opportunities for and address concerns common to the Asian American business community in order to promote business success and equitable access to economic prosperity. ABEC will act as a voice for the Asian American business community in creating and sustaining inclusive business, finance and government regulations and pathways, including state and city business opportunities for minority-owned businesses.

Building a community of stakeholders and supporters of Asian American entrepreneurs and small business owners to provide equitable access to business resources and capital for the Asian American business community. ABEC’s interactive collection of resources for Asian American entrepreneurs and small business owners will include nonprofit organizations, financial institutions, established businesses, technical service providers and experienced businesspeople to address issues unique to the Asian American business community, such as access to financial resources, language translation, and navigating government requisition and regulatory processes.

Educating Asian American entrepreneurs through existing programs to grow and sustain their businesses. ABEC will partner with nonprofit organizations, technical service providers and educational institutions to support the educational growth of Asian American entrepreneurs through programs to develop language skills, technical skills, financial acumen, and business knowledge.

Collaborating with other communities of color to amplify equitable change for business owners of color. ABEC will work with other similar organizations serving other communities of color to leverage shared issues and common mindsets to create greater impact for sustainable growth for businesspeople from all communities of color.

Meet the ABEC Director: Qingjian (Q.J.) Shi

Qingjian Shi

On June 1, Qingjian Shi began her role as the first-ever Director of the Asian Business Empowerment Council. Qingjian joins ABEC after serving as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Program Officer at Tech Goes Home, a nonprofit dedicated to bridging the digital divide that posed a significant barrier to opportunity and success for thousands of students, workers, and families.

As Director, Q.J. will shape, communicate, and execute on ABEC's vision to support and empower the Asian American business community and strengthen workforce development opportunities, cultivating and coordinating a vibrant community of business owners, entrepreneurs, service providers, and advocates.

Needs of the AAPI Business Community:

With the wide range of education, language skills, and income levels within the AAPI community, the hurdles to business ownership, growth, and sustainability for Asian entrepreneurs are extremely high. A report in 2019 from the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development on AAPI small business owners found the most frequently cited barriers to securing mainstream financial capital were poor credit, difficulty in navigating the loan application process, linguistic barriers, and lack of knowledge of capital availability. More than any other racial or ethnic group, AAPIs turn to personal resources, friends, and family for startup business financing, which favors resources for those who have preexisting and personal connections to significant wealth (2018 SBA Office of Advocacy).

Furthermore, the challenges faced by AAPI businesses have been magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses closed, and for those businesses that remained open, the overlapping anti-Asian sentiment and public health concerns caused businesses to suffer significant declines. According to a 2021 report from Boston Indicators entitled Building AAPI Power, an outsized percentage of Asian-owned businesses were represented in higher-risk industries or industries where in-person work was required. ABEC aims to address these systemic disparities by cultivating a strong network of Asian-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, expanding access to technical assistance and growth opportunities, and advancing a unified advocacy voice for AAPI businesses across Massachusetts.

Many thanks to the following community leaders for their guidance in ABEC’s development:

Paul Lee
Retired Partner, Goodwin Proctor LLP
Director, The Boston Foundation

Helen Chin Schlichte
Co-Founder, President Emeritus
South Cove Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility

Stephen Chan
Chief of Staff
Northeastern University

Renee Inomata
Partner
Casner & Edwards, LLP

Kimberly Blakemore
Senior Manager, ESG
Analog Devices

Ben Hires
Chief Executive Officer
Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center

Jeffrey Hsi, Ph.D.
Shareholder
Wolf Greenfield & Sacks, P.C

Anna Jen
Senior Program Associate, Economic Inclusion and Arts & Culture
The Boston Foundation

Vincent Lau
Managing Partner
Clark Lau LLC

Lisette Le
Executive Director
VietAid

Irene Li
Co-Founder
Mei Mei Restaurant Group & Prepshift

Douglas Ling
Small Business Strong Manager
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

Raj Melville
Executive Director
Deshpande Foundation

Daniel Park
Associate General Counsel
TScan Therapeutics

Sophan Smith
Executive Director, Lowell
EforAll (Entrepreneurship for All)

For more information:

To learn more about how you can participate in building the Asian Business Empowerment Council at the Boston Foundation, please contact ABEC Director Qingjian (Q.J.) Shi at: gjkewVOB8hKIpL08hShW+0x4DiUB9TSYJ+DRLfw3RksG4pkzAecumaCjDf9s0GzjnG+BfGeZEhINg6y2LvN8CxEBqJO4NZNTWFbmDyczCYkJdw9/zc8RGM0UB3Bvn9VrqOxt2FE0JrRUdQizkHjCeG0MMhZIOJ35W7S7fofdMbI=.