Over 500 individuals participated in the 17th Annual Asian Small Business Expo in Alhambra, California to network and learn about resources that could help their small businesses.
The annual expo, which had the theme “Recipes for Growth,” was organized by the Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program (API SBP) and featured numerous workshops — from opportunities in financing to finding your target market — and an entrepreneurship panel with three successful women business owners in Southern California.
“This year’s expo was a smashing success. We’ve drawn are largest crowd in years with well over 500 attendees. Entrepreneurs had access to a lot of great information to help start or grow their small businesses, and our sponsors and exhibitors were very pleased to be of assistance to so many people,” API SBP Executive Director Ron Fong told the Asian Journal.
Jerome Horton, a member of the California Board of Equalization, and California Assemblymember Ed Chau also appeared at the expo to give remarks.
On the women’s panel, Annie Choi (owner of Found Coffee), Khiow Hui Lim (founder of iDigBrand Inc.) and Ginger Lim Dimapasok (owner of Café 86) shared how they began their businesses and the challenges that came during the process.
The three women detailed how they did not come from business backgrounds beforehand.
Choi, a Korean American, was an assistant editor for reality TV shows, but pursued her dream of opening up a coffee shop. She interned at Demitasse Coffee Roasters and worked her way up to manager of one of the stores, before eventually starting her own shop in Eagle Rock.
Dimapasok, who had experience in the property tax industry, was a stay-at-home mom prior to starting Café 86 — a bakery/cafe featuring Filipino-inspired desserts — with her husband and two business partners.
Instead of going out to eat all the time, Dimapasok and her husband thought of opening their own place “that would make everyone in our family happy and [where] we could introduce a little bit of our Filipino heritage.” To date, Café 86 has locations in Chino Hills and Pasadena, with another one on the way in Cerritos.
Lim, who is from Malaysia, shifted from editing and producing commercials to the technology industry.
All three entrepreneurs agreed that even though they think about their businesses 24/7, it’s important to take breaks, because it enables them to be more productive, creative and the best versions of themselves.
“As entrepreneurs, we tend to run ourselves into the ground. We’re always thinking about our business. Even when I took vacation this year, I was thinking about my business…,” Choi said. “I think something that I have learned to not feel guilty about is to actually take a break once in a while because you’re always going to think about your business. You’re always going to think about what you’re going to do next [and] how to improve.”
API SBP is a 501(c)(3) organization that works as a collaboration of Chinatown Service Center, Little Tokyo Service Center CDC, Koreatown Youth and Community Center, Search to Involve Pilipino Americans and Thai Community Development Center.
The organization is also funded in part by the SBA as a Women’s Business Center.
Event sponsors included US Bank (Title Sponsor), Wells Fargo, Cathay Bank, Pacific Premier Bank, Union Bank, UPS, Bank of Hope, Bank of America, Boston Private, First General Bank, City National Bank, Comerica, The Port of Los Angeles, HSBC, California Bank & Trust, Southern California Edison, Wing Hop Fung, CTBC Bank, Chase and Hanmi Bank.
Media sponsors were LA-18 and The Korea Daily, while the Asian Journal was the exclusive Filipino-American print media sponsor of the expo.