LOS ANGELES – The Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program (API SBP) kicked off its first event in preparation for the 15th Annual Asian Small Business Expo happening on Saturday, Sept. 20. The reception was held at Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), one of the organizations involved in community partnership with API SBP. Small business owners and directors, elected officials, supporters, and community partners gathered at SIPA headquarters on Tuesday, Sept. 9 to kick-off the event with food and a short welcoming program.
Representatives from the SBA Los Angeles District Office, the California State Board of Equalization, and US Bank were all present at the reception, along with reps from collaborating API SBP organizations like the Chinatown Service Center, the Little Tokyo Service Center CDC, the Koreatown Youth & Community Center, SIPA, and the Thai Community Development Center. These organizations have worked together since 1999 to assist the development of small and micro businesses in the Los Angeles region, focusing on Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Thai communities and low-income immigrants.
API SBP announced its 15th Annual Asian Small Business Expo, sponsored by US Bank and over a dozen other bank trusts and media sponsors. The Expo will be held next Saturday at the Almansor Court Conference Center in Alhambra. Featuring a panel of speakers, free counseling and workshops, and over 30 different vendors for networking, the Expo is designed to help current and future owners/managers get their businesses on the right foot.
The event stresses the importance of networking and making connections to create a working, collective relationship.
“Power is measured by one’s ability to empower others. If we begin to connect with individuals, that power seems to flow throughout the entire community,” said Chairman Jerome Horton of the California State Board of Equalization, one of the speakers at the event. He emphasized the importance of engaging in business partnerships, being “plugged in,” and helping one another succeed.
The speakers at the reception honored and congratulated API SBP director Ron Fong for his phenomenal work providing businesses with resources, supporting an advisory network, and establishing collaborative partnerships between groups. As community business partners, they thanked their advocates and showed support for the upcoming Expo.
“Great things happen in communities where you have access,” said Joel Jacinto, the executive director for SIPA, an LA-based non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Pilipino Americans and the surrounding community.
SIPA plays a big role in the API Small Business Program, providing effective in-house business counseling and speaking in language to meet clients’ needs.
Anna Maria Cruz, a business specialist for SIPA, shared about her role within the small business community and the importance of working in collaboration with API small business programs.
“I work with clients who are thinking about making a switch from not having an income, working 9 to 5 jobs, to starting their own business. We do work mostly in the LA region, and we hope to expand to different areas of LA to better serve the Filipino community. That’s how SIPA, one of the original members of the collaborative, is involved,” she said.
Tuesday’s kick-off reception was also catered by Jack’s Special Lechon, a local San Fernando Valley catering business and the product result of a partnership with SIPA and the API SBP. The owner, Jack Aguipo, talked about meeting with a US Bank manager about a special business loan to expand and patent his unique way of cooking the lechon. Aguipo thanked the API Small Business Program and its collaborative partners for helping his start-up.
Jack’s Special Lechon is also planning to franchise and expand his business beyond the San Fernando Valley. “It’s really important [to have these expos and events] because this is where we came to meet the right people, and to know the ways of owning a business,” Aguipo said.
“As we empower together, we empower the next generation, we empower individuals, and guess what—we empower ourselves,” Chairman Horton said. “I’ve realized that the gift of life is not what you take out of the present, but what you put into the present. Let’s continue to support Ron Fong and all the work from the API Small Business Program, so that we can put the gift of life into someone else’s hands.”
The one-day Expo will feature workshops with topics like how to qualify for a bank loan, expanding business overseas, and developing creative new marketing strategies. A networking event will also take place in the Expo hall area. Panels with representatives from popular franchises like the 626 Night Market will be on hand to speak about business techniques and marketing.
The theme for this year’s 15th annual Expo is “Reaching New Markets.” The event will take place on September 20th from 9 AM to 1 PM, and admission is free.
“At the Expo, we see new people all the time because it might happen to catch someone thinking about a business issue or thinking about starting a business, and so they show up to learn about all of these different things,” said Fong. “With ‘Reaching New Markets’ as this year’s theme, we hope to open up new doors and exciting opportunities for people.”
To register for the Asian Small Business Expo, please visit www.apisbp.org/expo.
(LA Midweek September 10-12, 2014 Sec. B pg.2)