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Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit brings education, opportunity

Over the course of 15 years, more than 1,800 business owners have attended the summit.

ANKENY, Iowa — Whether it's getting a loan approved, finding workers, or dealing with a cranky customer, business ownership has a way of keeping people busy.

"Then being an immigrant on top of that, we're dealing with some assumptions, some biases, and just sometimes it's challenging to thrive," said Claudia Schabel, owner of Schabel Solutions.

Originally from Brazil, Schabel now calls Iowa home. She runs her own consulting business, and on November 19, she joined over a hundred fellow business owners for the Immigrant Entrepreneur Summit.

"It's invaluable to be here with other business owners and see how they're doing, being inspired by them and continue to thrive on our own paths," Schabel said.

Before settling down in the United States, participants hailed from 27 different countries. Attendees were able to attend workshops taught by fellow immigrants on how to deal with challenges they might face, such as language barriers or understanding local laws and regulations.

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Some even got to practice their business pitches for a panel of experts, with $5,000 on the line. Organizers say these business owners play an important role in their communities.

"They're creating jobs. They're creating opportunities for businesses to create, to generate income. And ultimately, it's the communities that are benefiting from it," said Catherine Tran, Executive Director of the Immigrant Entrepreneurship Summit.

And while attendees walked away with more tools to help their businesses grow and thrive, there are still ways that the Iowa community can help make their journeys as easy as possible.

"Understanding, empathy, forgiveness, being proactive in the kind of information that can be shared with us is always very helpful," Schabel said. 

2022 was the summit's 15-year anniversary. During that time, participants have started more than 1,800 businesses across the country.

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