MIAMI: NOT JUST A HAVEN FOR BEACHGOERS

Miami StartupsIn the United States there are over 25 million microenterprises, accounting for 88% of all businesses in the country. This is a number that’s growing, notably in Miami. According to a recent June 2015 report published by the Kauffman Foundation, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area ranked number two on the index list for start-up activity.

The report shows that there is a high startup density in Miami, with over 240 startup firms per 100,000 residents. These startup businesses have been in business for less than one year and employ at least one person besides the owner. This figure is impressive because it indicates the strong growth potential for hopeful entrepreneurs in the Miami region.

What is causing the trend?

The report suggests that what is driving this surge is opportunity. The report puts the opportunity share of new entrepreneurs in the Miami region at 73.9%, which indicates that new entrepreneurs started their businesses because they saw market opportunities rather than out of a necessity. You could compare this to San Jose, the rapidly growing tech hub, who had a 91.2% opportunity share of new entrepreneurs.

Henry is one of these opportunity-seeking entrepreneurs. He noticed a need for low cost transportation and wanted to be the one to fill it. His business, Electribike, sells and rents electric bikes to address the city’s transportation needs in a sustainable way.

One reason for the revival of entrepreneurship may be powered largely by the immigrant population. Over half of Miami’s population is comprised of foreign-born residents. Additionally, many of the cities who ranked high for startup activity have high populations of foreign-born residents. The Kaufman foundation points out that the immigrant share of new entrepreneurs is 29.5%, up from 13.4% in 1996.

When Santiago came to the United States from Ecuador, he made friends with an electrician who taught him the trade. “He inspired me to do things on my own,” said Santiago. “I taught myself plumbing, landscaping and sanitation.” Santiago used his newly developed skill sets to launch his own business, Solutions Maintenance.

At Accion, we’ve seen this trend in our work. Over half of the businesses we’ve lent to are immigrant-owned, like Santiago’s. We know that there is tremendous potential, and that access to capital can be the biggest barrier for many of these individuals. Santiago worked with Accion to receive a small loan and learn how to grow his credit. Over the years, he’s been able to sustainably invest in his business as a result. He now employs four part-time workers and is continuing to expand.

For more detailed findings, please view the interactive report: http://www.kauffman.org/microsites/kauffman-index

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