By Asheesh Agarwal

As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us honor the many Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) who have helped to shape our lives and drive our economy.  From scientific breakthroughs to global leadership roles, APAs have transformed the landscape of technology, innovation, and small business in the United States. Now, as our country faces numerous challenges both at home and abroad, APAs will continue to promote American leadership and values throughout the globe.

Pioneering Technological Advancements. The APA community has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation to transform how we interact with the world. From the co-founding of tech giants such as Google (Sergey Brin) and Yahoo! (Jerry Yang), to the ongoing leadership of Microsoft (Satya Nadella), Adobe (Shantanu Narayen), IBM (Arvind Krishna), and others, APAs have left an indelible mark on the technology landscape.

We continue to need this type of visionary leadership and entrepreneurial spirit to maintain our place in the world. American technology protects our citizens and allies, generates broad economic growth, and keeps the global internet free from censorship. But we cannot take our leadership for granted. A recent report finds that America has fallen behind a nation with an authoritarian government, China, in 37 of 44 categories of strategically important technologies. The country with the strongest technological and innovation sectors will secure a significant national security and economic advantage for the next century. 

Growing Small Business. APAs have been instrumental in fostering the growth and success of small businesses. With a strong emphasis on education, hard work, and perseverance, many APAs have brought their unique perspectives and innovative ideas to the national forefront. From founding successful startups in the Silicon Valley to launching ventures in various instance, NVIDIA, a company important to the growth of both artificial intelligence and semiconductors, was co-founded by Jen-Hsun Huang, an immigrant from Taiwan.

Their contributions help to create jobs and grow small businesses across the economy. America’s 33 million small businesses rely on our tech sector to find customers, enter markets, reduce costs, and build wealth. Zoom, a tool that helped many businesses survive the pandemic, was founded by Eric Yuan, an immigrant from China. We must continue to promote our entrepreneurial, small business culture through sensible policies that promote investment and protect intellectual property.

Bridging Cultural Divides. Our APA community can bridge cultural divides and spread American values of freedom and liberty around the globe. As a community that encompasses diverse ethnicities, languages, and cultural backgrounds, APAs bring a unique perspective to leadership roles. Indeed, Asian Pacific American tech leaders hail from every corner of Asia and the Pacific. They possess the skills to navigate multicultural environments, foster collaboration, and build bridges across different communities both here and abroad, a crucial asset in our globalized and interconnected world.

Mentoring the Next Generation. Recognizing the importance of fostering the next generation of leaders, APAs have taken an active role in mentoring and supporting aspiring entrepreneurs, technologists, and innovators. Through mentorship programs, scholarships, and community initiatives, they provide guidance, resources, and opportunities for young talents to excel. By investing in the development of future leaders, APAs contribute to a more diverse and inclusive leadership landscape in the technology and innovation sectors, ensuring sustained growth and progress.

Asian Pacific Americans have paved the way for transformative change in technology, innovation, and small business. Even as we celebrate their vital accomplishments, we must keep in place the welcoming culture and sensible policies that attracted APAs, and their parents and grandparents, to the United States in the first place. Together, we can build upon their rich legacy and create a brighter future for all.