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.
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.
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.
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.
Before a sizeable and thoroughly engaged online audience, the Asian Business Empowerment Council, or ABEC, made its programmatic debut with a lively forum designed to elevate the voices of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) business community and a number of panelists in position to collaborate with them.
Retired Partner, Goodwin Proctor LLP
Director, The Boston Foundation
Helen Chin Schlichte
Co-Founder, President Emeritus
South Cove Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility
Chief of Staff
Casner & Edwards, LLP
Director, Environmental Sustainability
Analog Devices, Inc.
Chief Executive Officer
Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
Jeffrey Hsi, Ph.D.
Wolf Greenfield & Sacks, P.C
Senior Program Associate, Economic Inclusion and Arts & Culture
The Boston Foundation
Clark Lau LLC
Mei Mei Restaurant Group & Prepshift
Small Business Strong Manager
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
Associate General Counsel
Executive Director, Lowell
EforAll (Entrepreneurship for All)
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: email@example.com.