News / USA

Immigrant's Success in US Creates Great Opportunities for Many

Immigrant's Success Creates Abundant Opportunities for Many Othersi
X
June 21, 2013 8:54 PM
America is often called “The Land of Opportunity.” And in 2011 alone, more than a million immigrants became permanent residents on the path to citizenship. Many come to the U.S. to escape hardships where they live, and some to give their children better opportunities. But for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, the United States sometimes helps them realize their dreams. And when that happens, it can change other people's lives as well. Arash Arabasadi of VOA's Persian News Network has one example.
Immigrant's Success Creates Abundant Opportunities for Many Others
Arash Arabasadi
America is often called “The Land of Opportunity.” And in 2011 alone, more than a million immigrants became permanent residents on the path to citizenship. Many come to the U.S. to escape hardships where they live, and some to give their children better opportunities. But for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, the United States sometimes helps them realize their dreams. And when that happens, it can change other people's lives as well.

What you’re looking at is the 'American Dream.' Ali Saifi left Iran nearly 40 years ago to start a life in the United States.  

“It’s a most interesting country because it allows you to do what you want to do,” he said.

What he wanted to do was open a restaurant. So in 1981 he did just that, acquiring a Subway franchise in Greenville, South Carolina.

“This is the very first Subway that we opened in Greenville 30 years ago,” said Saifi as he shows the store.

Today he has more than 400 stores.  

“400 restaurants employ nearly 4,000 people.”

The payroll for those 4,000 people is an estimated $40 million. And the taxes they pay on that money are about $6 million.

“Then there’s a significant amount of non-direct employees. The food distributor. The truck driver. The packers. All of these people that we buy products from and they deliver to us,” said Saifi.

That’s the other part of the American Dream. The dream that one man’s success can help others realize their dreams, too.

“This store is a lot more to me than just my job. It’s kind of part of my life,” said Lakim Campbell, who manages one of the Subway restaurants for Saifi.

She joined Subway a couple of years ago as an employee earning the minimum wage.

“Three months after starting I became pregnant, and I was out three weeks and I came back. I started right back where I left off,” she said.

Campbell worked her way up to a manager's job.

And with management, came benefits like paid vacations, paid sick days, and healthcare.  

“It was really great for me. To be able to get insurance, to be able to go to the doctor whenever I need to, and not whenever I could afford to,” she said.

And not just for Campbell, but health benefits for her newborn child, and a roof over both of their heads. Now, multiply that by 4,000, and that’s the type of impact this one man has had.  

But not every shop Saifi opens is a financial success.

“He was willing to take a chance on a restaurant that perhaps profits were going to take a second place to people,” said Crystal Hardesty. She’s the regional marketing director for Goodwill Industries. It's a non-profit organization that trains people for low paying, entry level jobs.
 
Saifi helped Goodwill open a Subway restaurant within the store to prepare people for jobs in the food service industry.

“A lot of us see a job as something simple. Perhaps we take it for granted. But for a lot of people that really is something that they perhaps thought was unattainable, and, when they have that, it really changes their whole outlook on life,” said Hardesty.

“They train people less fortunate than the rest of us… the people that you and I would typically not hire. With a checkered past or maybe abused, battered women. This is an entity that gives you a hand up, not a handout,” said Saifi.

During its 2012 fiscal year, the Greenville Goodwill helped find jobs for nearly 7,300 people - people who otherwise might have depended on taxpayer-funded assistance programs. Instead, they collectively earned more than $75 million. All because of help from one man who came to the United States chasing his own dream.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lance Johnson from: USA
June 22, 2013 12:33 PM
An interesting new worldwide book/ebook that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understand crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also informs those who want to learn more about the last remaining superpower and how we compare to other nations on many issues.
As the book points out, immigrants and minorities are a major force in America, as Mr. Romney and the GOP recently discovered. Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation’s population growth and own 11 percent of US businesses and are 60 percent more likely to start a new business than native-born Americans. They represent 17 percent of all new business owners (in some states more than 30 percent). Foreign-born business owners generate nearly one-quarter of all business income in California and nearly one-fifth in New York, Florida, and New Jersey. In fact, forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by an immigrant or a son of an immigrant, making for 10 million jobs and seven out of ten top brands in our country.
They come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon, as did the author’s grandparents when they landed at Ellis Island in 1899 after losing 2 children to disease on a cramped cattle car-like sailing from Europe to the Land of Opportunity. Many bring skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago. In describing America, chapter after chapter chronicles “foreigners” who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need guidance in Anytown, USA. Perhaps intelligent immigration reform, White House/Congress and business/labor cooperation, concerned citizens and books like this can extend a helping hand, the same unwavering hand that has been the anchor and lighthouse of American values for four hundred years.
Here’s a closing quote from the book’s Intro: “With all of our cultural differences though, you’ll be surprised to learn how much…we as human beings have in common on this little third rock from the sun. After all, the song played at our Disneyland parks around the world is ‘It’s A Small World After All.’ Peace.” www.AmericaAtoZ.com

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs